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Acrobat Accessibility Checker


Start with an accessible document

PDF files are typically created in some other application. Optimally document accessibility should begin in the native document format. For example, many documents are created in a word processing or desktop publishing application, and then exported as PDF documents. There many things that can be done in native document applications to support accessibility, such as adding alternative text for images; defining structural headings, lists, and data tables; providing document language; and setting document properties such as titles.

For assistance on adding accessibility into Microsoft Word documents prior to conversion visit the Word guides from the menu's above.

Making the native document accessible allows for less work when changes are made to the native document and the PDF document is regenerated.

Using the Acrobat XI Pro Accessibility Checker

Determine how easily persons with disabilities can access PDF documents with the Adobe Acrobat XI Pro Accessibility Checker

The accessibility checking tools in Adobe Acrobat XI Pro—Accessibility Checker (Full Check) and the Make Accessible action wizard—can identify many issues in PDF documents that may be in conflict with Adobe’s interpretations of the accessibility guidelines referenced in the application and its documentation.

These tools do not check documents for all accessibility criteria, including those in such referenced guidelines, and Adobe does not warrant that documents comply with any specific guidelines or regulations.

"Accessible Full Check"

Use the Accessibility Full Check to perform a thorough check for many characteristics of accessible PDFs, such as the use of alternative text on images, the presence of tags, document language, and fonts that can be mapped reliably to Unicode text.

From the Accessibility Checker dialog, it is possible to choose which kinds of accessibility issues to look for. There are also options to view and save the results.

To run the Accessibility Full Check, perform the following:

Acrobat Menu

Open the Accessibility Tool pane.
  1. Select View > Tools > Accessibility from the Adobe Acrobat XI Pro menu.
  2. Select Full Check from the Accessibility tools.
  3. The Accessibility Checker Options dialog appears
  4. Acrobat XI Pro Accessibility Checker Options Dialog
  5. Set Report Options.
  6. You can save the results as an HTML file or attach the report to the
  7. Select a page range if you prefer to perform a check on individual sections
    of a document.
  8. Select checking options.
  9. Choose a category from the dropdown, and then select the accessibility options to check for. By default, everything but “tables must have a summary” is checked.
  10. You can select Document; Page Content; Forms, Tables and Lists; and Alternate Text and Headings to reveal checkboxes that let you set the level of testing that you want Acrobat to perform.
  11. Activate the Start Checking button.

Run Accessibility Check


After the check is completed a new side bar will appear on the left hand side of your document.

The results will be broken down into categories so you can easily identify any issues.

Each category on the list will indentify issues(an X), success (a checkmarkcheckmark) , action required (a question markquestion mark), or a caution (caution).

Checker Results

Fixing Results

When you review the results that are provided you can right click on the individual items to receive a list of follow up commands.


Acrobat either fixes the item automatically, or displays a dialog box prompting the user to fix the item by entering information or making a choice. For example, a dialog is displayed allowing the user to enter alternative text for an image.

Skip Rule:

Deselects this option in the Accessibility Checker Options dialog box for future checks of this document, and changes the item status to Skipped.


Opens the online Help.

Check Again:

Runs the checker again on all items. Choose this option after modifying one or more items.

Show Report:

Displays the accessibility report for the page range/ document with links to tips on how to repair failed checks. The link to tips is the same as the help that is provided by the “explain” item. Once the report is shown, a new option to attach the report also appears.


Opens the Accessibility Checker Options dialog box where checking options can be set.


For more indepth examination of these setting please refer to the Repair Workflow pages.

Often overlooked details

Document Language and Title Indication

Specifiying the document langage will enable some screen readers to switch the current speech synthesizer to the appropriate langauge, allowing correct pronunciation of the conent in different languages.

Adding a document title allows the user the identify which document they are accessing.


With a pdf you can restrict user from printing, copying, extracting, editing or adding comments. This can cause interference with screen readers. It will be important for these settings to ensure the check box for screen reader support is enabled. Thereby allowing the screen reader access to the text.

Document Structure Tags and Reading Order

To read a document’s text and present it in a way that makes sense to the user, a screen reader or other text-to-speech tool requires that the document be structured.

Document structure tags in a PDF define the reading order and identify headings, paragraphs, sections, tables and other page elements.

The tags structure also allow for documents to be resized and reflowed for viewing at larger sizes and on mobile devices.

Alternative Text Descriptions for Non-Text Elements

Document features such as images and interactive form fields cannot be understood by the
user of a screen reader unless they have associated alternative text.

Though link text is available to screen reader users, it is possible to provide more meaningful descriptions via replacement (actual) text.

Alternative text for images and tooltips can aid many users, including those with learning disabilities. Equivalents for multimedia, including any audio and video elements, must also be present.



Materials for this training document were providide and modified for this site from:


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