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Making Existing PDFs Accessible

Quick Check

If you have an existing PDF document, Adobe Acrobat Viewer, and Adobe Acrobat Pro, you can run a Quick Check to verify whether or not the document is properly tagged.  The Quick Check basically tells you whether the file has tags or not. It does not identify the most basic errors, such as missing alternate text on the images. To run a Quick Check with your PDF open in Adobe Acrobat, on the right hand side select Tools > Accessibility > Quick Check .

PDF quick  check

If you do not see any tags in the tags panel, your document is untagged, and you will need to tag the file. With Adobe Acrobat Pro, you can add tags to an untagged document by choosing Advanced > Accessibility > Add Tags to Document. This process can sometimes be extremely time-consuming, and you will almost certainly have to edit the new tags manually. Still, it is a start and will probably be faster than doing all the work manually. This is especially true if the document contains tables.

quick  check results

Full Check

If you have Adobe Acrobat Pro, the Advanced Check ( Advanced > Accessibility > Full Check ) is a more detailed version of the Quick Check. Although it is more complete than the Quick Check, it is far from complete. Still, it does identify features such as missing alternate text and offers hints on how to repair some errors.

Tags Explained

The Tags panel allows you to view, reorder, rename, modify, delete and create tags.

To view the Tags panel, select View > Navigation Panels > Tags . It may be easier to view the tags window if it is docked in the side bar. To do this, click View > Navigation Panels > Dock all Panels or drag the Tags panel into the side bar. For some reason, dragging the entire window will not cause it to dock. It must be dragged by the panel.

After expanding <Tags> and <Sect>, a long list of tags should be visible. The list can be navigated, expanded, and collapsed using a mouse or keyboard.

tags tabs

Update Existing Images with Alternative Text

The easiest way to add alternative text to your images is with the TouchUp Reading Order tool. When an image is tagged as an image (or figure), the alternative text will appear next to the image. If the image has no alternative text, the caption will read "Figure - No alternate text exists."

To use the TouchUp Reading Order tool, select Advanced > Accessibility > TouchUp Reading Order . When this feature is selected, the view on the screen will change. All of the content will be enclosed in numbered boxes. Each of these boxes represents a tag and the number corresponds with the tag number in the Order panel. The TouchUp Reading Order window will also open.

touch up  tool


To add alternative text, right click on the image and select Edit Alternate Text. Enter the appropriate alt text in the dialog box.

Further pdf conversion information.

If you have questions, or would like assistance, please contact ITSS.

Information on this page provided with permission by WebAIM.

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