A document or application is accessible if it can be used by people with disabilities such as mobility impairments, blindness, and low vision. Accessibility features in Adobe Acrobat, Adobe Reader®, and Adobe Portable Document Format (PDF) enable people with disabilities to use PDF documents, with or without screen readers, screen magnifiers, and braille printers.
Making PDFs accessible tends to benefit all users. For example, the document structure that enables a screen reader to read a PDF out loud also enables a mobile device to reflow and display the document on a small screen. Similarly, the preset tab order of an accessible PDF form helps all users not just users with mobility impairments fill the form more easily.
Accessibility features in Acrobat and Reader fall into two broad categories: features to make the reading of PDF documents more accessible and features to create accessible PDF documents. To create accessible PDF documents, use Acrobat, not Reader.
Preferences and commands to optimize output for assistive software and devices, such as saving as accessible text for a braille printer
Preferences and commands to make navigation of PDFs more accessible, such as automatic scrolling and opening PDFs to the last page read
Accessibility Setup Assistant for easy setting of most preferences related to accessibility
Keyboard alternates to mouse actions
Reflow capability to display PDF text in large type and to temporarily present a multicolumn PDF in a single, easy-to-read column.
Read Out Loud text-to-speech conversion
Support for screen readers and screen magnifiers
Creation of tagged PDFs from authoring applications
Conversion of untagged PDFs to tagged PDFs
Security setting that allows screen readers to access text while preventing users from copying, printing, editing, and extracting text
Ability to add text to scanned pages to improve accessibility
Acrobat Standard provides some functionality for making existing PDFs accessible. Acrobat Pro and Acrobat Pro Extended enable you to perform taskssuch as editing reading order or editing document structure tagsthat are necessary to make some PDF documents and forms accessible.
Creating accessible PDF documents: www.adobe.com/accessibility
General accessibility tips: acrobatusers.com/forums/aucbb/
Facts and openions about PDF accessibility: www.alistapart.com/articles/pdf_accessibility
David J. Hark
P. O. Box 201 Shepherdstown, WV 25443-0201
Last updated: 3 July 2008
© 2008 David J. Hark