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Acrobat X and Accessibility. Matt May | @ mattmay | Accessibility Evangelist. Agenda. What is Accessibility? Acrobat X and PDF Accessibility Overview The Relationship Between Accessibility and Standards Acrobat X Accessibility: What’s New Acrobat X Accessibility Techniques.

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Acrobat X and Accessibility

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Acrobat X and Accessibility

Matt May | @mattmay | Accessibility Evangelist


  • What is Accessibility?

  • Acrobat X and PDF Accessibility Overview

  • The Relationship Between Accessibility and Standards

  • Acrobat X Accessibility: What’s New

  • Acrobat X Accessibility Techniques

What is Accessibility?

  • Accessibility involves two key issues:

    • How users with disabilities access electronic information

    • How content designers, developers, and authors produce content that functions with assistive devices used by individuals with disabilities.

    • Accessibility is not a feature, it’s about procedures, processes, and techniques

Adobe Acrobat X Accessibility Overview

  • All products in the Acrobat X family: Adobe Reader, Acrobat Standard, Acrobat Professional and Suite support accessibility :

    • Have built in accessibility accommodations,

    • Work with conventional assistive technology

    • Provide users of assistive technology the ability to configure their copy of the software to work with their AT

    • Pro versions provide authors the ability to validate and create accessible PDF documents and forms from a variety of original sources including scanned paper documents and portfolios

Accessibility Overview: Providing Accommodation for a Variety of Disabilities

  • Accommodation Achieved With or Without 3rd Party Assistive Technology

    • Blindness

      • (Text to Speech functionality: Read Out Loud and Screen Reader Compatibility also support for Braille output – refreshable keyboards, Braille embossers)

    • Low Vision

      • (Text to Speech functionality, Support for Magnification and Large Type Display: Reflow, High Contrast Viewing, Read Out Loud, Screen Magnifier Compatibility)

    • Limited Mobility

      • (Autoscroll, numerous keyboard equivalents, compatibility with alternate input devices, Support for Voice Recognition - Dragon, ViaVoice)

    • Cognitive

      • (Read Out Loud, Compatibility with TextHelp’sPDFAloud which highlights content as it is being spoken)

Accessibility Overview: Adobe Acrobat / Adobe Reader Built In Features

  • High Contrast

  • Reflow

  • Autoscroll

  • Read Out Loud

Accessibility Overview: Working with Conventional Assistive Technology

  • Works in Conjunction with Conventional Assistive Technology

    • Accessibility APIs

      • MSAA, IAccessible2

    • Screen Readers:

    • Windows: IBM Home Page Reader, JAWS for Windows, NVDA (Non Visual Desktop Access), Window-Eyes

    • Linux: Orca

    • Mac OS: VoiceOver

  • Voice Recognition: Dragon NaturallySpeaking (Windows)

  • Screen Magnifiers: Lunar, ZoomText (Windows)

Accessibility Overview: Optimize Adobe Acrobat / Adobe Reader for Best Results

  • Accessibility Setup Assistant Configures the User Agent for Optimal Performance with Assistive Technology

  • Adobe Acrobat

    • Tools Pane > Accessibility > Setup Assistant

    • View > Tools > Accessibility

    • Alt + V + T + A

  • Adobe Reader

    • Edit > Accessibility > Setup Assistant

    • Alt + E + Y + S

Accessibility Overview: Optical Character Recognition (OCR)

  • Useful for Scanned Content

    • Converts images of alphanumeric characters to actual text

    • Called Recognize Text

    • Correct the Results

Accessibility Overview: Authoring Assistance Form Field Detection

  • Time saving mechanism for interactive forms creation

    • Detects text fields

    • Detects check boxes

    • Adds field labels

  • Users still need to verify the results

Accessibility Overview: Authoring Assistance Add Tags to Document

  • Adds Structure to unstructured PDF documents

    • Semantic hierarchy <H1>, <H2>, <p>, ….

    • Object placement

      • <Figure>, form objects

    • Establishes content order

Accessibility Overview: Authoring Assistance TouchUpRead Order Tool

  • TouchUp Reading Order Tool in Acrobat X Pro for PDF Accessibility Repair

    • Review and correct reading order

    • Review and correct basic tagging issues

    • Add Alternate Text to Figures

    • Add Short Descriptions to Form Fields

    • Tag simple tables quickly and easily

  • Benefits

    • Quick and easy to detect tagging errors

    • Easy to fix most common errors

Accessibility Overview: Authoring Assistance Accessibility Checker

  • Feature assists with the identification of accessibility errors

    • Adobe PDF accessibility

    • WCAG guidelines

    • Section 508

    • Locates the problem

    • Provides advice on how to fix

The PDF File Format: Accessibility Requirements

  • Logical Reading Order –Does it make sense when you listen to it?

  • Alternate Text Descriptions for Non-Text Elements –Have alternate text descriptions been added to graphics for those with visual disabilities?

  • Logical Tab Order (Forms) – Can you navigate the form in a way that makes sense?

  • Short Descriptions (Forms) – Are audible short descriptions added to form fields for those with visual disabilities?

The PDF File Format: PDF Standards and Accessibility Standards are related

  • PDF Standards

    • Adobe PDF 1993

    • PDF/A – ISO 19005 October 2005

      • PDF/A-1a - archival

      • PDF/A-1b – archival with tags

    • PDF - ISO 32000 July 2008

    • PDF/UA - ISO DIS 14289

  • Accessibility Standards

    • Section 508 –June 2001

    • WCAG 2.0 – December 2008

Adobe Acrobat X Accessibility What’s New

  • New User Interface

  • Action Wizard

  • Accessible Portfolios

  • Improved scanning to PDF

  • Enhancements to save as a non-PDF format

Adobe Acrobat X Accessibility What’s New: User Interface

  • Task Pane Improves Efficiency Keeping Functions “Up Front”

Adobe Acrobat X Accessibility What’s New: The Action Wizard

  • Allows authors to automate routine, multistep tasks into a guided Action for making content accessible. Adobe Acrobat X includes an action for Making PDF Accessible

  • New guided Actions allow scripts to be saved

  • Sample Accessibility Actions

    • Create Accessible PDF

    • Make an Accessible Form

Adobe Acrobat X Accessibility What’s New: Accessible Portfolios

  • Accessible Portfolios. Combine a wide range of file types into a polished, organized PDF Portfolio that has accessible navigation.

    • MSAA support in the Details Navigator, or Files Mode view

    • All Windows MSAA clients, like screen readers and magnifiers, will benefit from the new MSAA support

    • Keyboard support in the Details Navigator- Tab and Arrow keys navigation.- Complex selection with Control key combinations.- Enter and Space key control activation.

    • Preference -> Accessibility option to show all portfolios in the accessible Files Mode view.

Adobe Acrobat X Accessibility What’s New: Enhanced Scan to PDF

  • Improved scanning to PDF.

    • Scan and convert paper documents and forms to PDF.

    • Make scanned text searchable automatically with OCR, then check and fix suspected errors.

    • Text can be exported for reuse in other applications

Adobe Acrobat X Accessibility What’s New: Save as non-PDF formats

  • Enhancements to Save As non-PDF functionality

    • Significantly improved quality of Save As Word output

    • Significantly improved quality of converting a Scanned PDF to Word.

    • Ability to export a PDF to DOCX format

    • Added ability to export a PDF to Spreadsheet formats (.XLSX)

    • Added ability to select a part of a page and export it to editable formats like Word, Excel, HTML etc.

Scenarios for Accessible PDF

  • You Have a PDF File

    • Scanned PDF

    • PDF Forms

      • Acrobat Forms (Forms Panel in Acrobat X Professional)

    • Searchable PDF

  • You Intend to Create a PDF File

    • Applications that Create Tagged PDF

      • PDF Maker (for Microsoft Office)

      • Other Applications

    • PDF Form

      • LiveCycle Designer (Application Distributed with Acrobat X Professional)

Scenarios for Accessible PDF

  • You want to evaluate and repair a PDF File

    • Scanned PDF

    • PDF Forms

      • Acrobat Forms (Forms Toolbar in Acrobat 8 Professional)

    • Searchable PDF

  • You Intend to Create a PDF File from another Application

    • Adobe FrameMaker

    • Adobe InDesign

    • Adobe LiveCycle Designer

    • Microsoft Word


  • You want to consolidate documents into a PDF portfolio

The PDF Accessibility Workflow....

  • Ask Yourself a Series of Questions in this Order

    • Is the PDF a Scanned Image?

    • Is the PDF Intended to be a Form?

    • Is the PDF Tagged?

    • Are the Items Properly Tagged?

      • Verifying read order

      • Verify proper tagging (i.e., figures, tables, etc.)

      • Add alternate text descriptions to graphics

      • Add short descriptions to form fields

    • Have I Missed Something?

      • Run the Accessibility Checker

        • Make recommended and appropriate repairs until no problems found

  • You Can Consolidate These Steps Using the Action Wizard

1. Open the PDF File

  • From Acrobat

    • From the Menu

      • File > Open

    • Keyboard Shortcut

      • Ctrl + O

    • Accelerator Keys

      • Alt + F + O

  • From Outside of Acrobat

    • Tab to file and select (begin typing file name)

    • Click on a PDF file

    • Right Mouse Click (“Open With...”)

2. Analyze the Content – Give Yourself an Idea of What Lies Ahead

  • Determine the Complexity of the Document / Page

    • Short document (a few pages) or a long document (many pages)

    • Single Column / Multi Column?

    • Are there graphics present?

    • Tables?

    • Does it appear to have multiple headings?

    • Does it appear to have form fields

    • Is the layout easy or difficult to follow (side headings for example)?

3. Determine if the PDF File is a Scanned Image

  • Verify the presence of searchable text

    • Zoom In, Look for “Jaggies”

    • Search for Text on the Page (Ctrl-F)

    • Run “Read Out Loud” on the Page

    • Run a Screen Reader

If it is a Scanned Image... Perform OCR

  • Optical Character Recognition

  • Tools Pane > Recognize Text

  • Menu: View > Tools > Recognize TextAlt + V + T

4. Locate URLs and Activate Links

  • Use Acrobat’s Create Links from URLs Command

  • Tools Panel > Document Processing > Create Links From URLs

  • Menu: View > Tools > Document Processing (Alt + V + T + U)

5. Determine if the PDF File is Meant to be a Form

  • Visual Inspection

    • Does the Document Appear to be Soliciting Information – Name, Address, Social Security Number?

    • Read Out Loud / Screen Reader Also Offer Clues for the Visually Impaired

If the PDF File is Intended to be an Interactive Form...Add Form Fields

  • Automatically detect Form Fields

  • Add form fields using the Acrobat Forms Tools

6. Determine if the PDF File is a “Searchable PDF”

  • If you have performed the previous steps on the other PDF file types, your PDF will be a “searchable” PDF at this point

    • You Have Ruled Out or Corrected for the Scanned Document

    • You Have Ruled Out or Corrected for the Form

    • Now It Behaves as if it Came from a Word Processing or Desktop Publishing Application

7. Determine if the PDF File is Tagged

  • Verify the presence of tags

  • Add tags if necessary

If the PDF File is Not Tagged...then add Tags to the File

  • Add Tags to Document

  • Tools Panel > Accessibility

8. Determine if the Items are Properly Tagged

  • Use the Touchup Reading Order Tool

  • Tools Panel > Accessibility > TouchUp Reading Order

9. Make Sure You Have Not Missed Anything

  • Run the Accessibility Full Check

  • Tools Pane: Accessibility > Full Check

Create an Action for Your Accessibility Workflows

  • No Need to Commit All These Steps to Memory – Create an Action

  • Two are Provided

    • Create Accessible PDFs

    • Make an Accessible Form

  • Tailored Actions for Specific Documents

Microsoft Word to Accessible PDF – Use the Adobe PDFMaker

  • Add Alternative Text to Graphics in the Word File

  • Do NOT Use Spaces, Tabs to create tables, use the Table Editor

  • Do NOT Use Character formatting for Headings, Use Styles

  • Set Your Preferences from the Microsoft Word Menu: Make sure “Enable Accessibility and Reflow with Tagged PDF” option is selected

  • Convert with Adobe PDFMaker

  • Check the Results in Adobe Acrobat X

  • Follow the Suggestions for Repair, Repeat Until No Errors Detected

Loose Ends (Some Common Errors That Crop Up)

  • Check the Language Attribute in Acrobat

  • Use Tags Panel to Provide Table Headers <TH> in First Table Row

  • Fix Tab Order Does Not Correspond with Read Order Error

A Caution Regarding Automated Checking

  • There is NO Accessibility Button – Accessible Content Creation is a Process NOT a Feature

  • Achieving Accessibility Requires Human Testing in addition to Automated Checking

  • Checking Can Only Detect for the Presence or Lack of Required Items

  • Cannot Check if an Item is Correct or Appropriate

  • Accessibility is a New Item for the Production Workflow – Like Authoring, Layout, Proofreading, etc.

  • Note Also, Publishers Will Need to Employ a Variety of Techniques and Methods

Adobe Acrobat Pro Review of Accessibility

  • Compatible with Conventional Assistive Technology – Screen Readers, etc.

  • Provides Built in Accessibility Accommodations

  • Facilitates Accessible Authoring

  • Create Accessible PDF Documents and Forms

  • Produces Standards Compliant Content

  • Creates Accessible PDF Documents from Other Sources

For More Information

  • Adobe’s Accessibility Website


  • Acrobat Accessibility Home Page


  • Acrobat Accessibility Training Resources


  • Adobe’s Voluntary Product Accessibility Templates (VPATs)


  • Adobe TV Accessibility Channel


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