Creating Accessible PDFs

You can use Adobe Acrobat Pro (available to all Williams staff) to create fully accessible PDFs.  This app includes the Make Accessible Action Wizard that walks you through the steps required to make a PDF accessible, and ensures accessibility by running the Accessibility Checker tool.

Scanned files are not accessible until you convert them through Optical Character Recognition (OCR).  You can also use Acrobat Pro DC to do OCR.  Scanning at 300 dpi produces the best text for conversion. At 150 dpi, OCR accuracy is slightly lower.

  • This is a quick overview of creating accessible PDF documents using Adobe Acrobat Pro DC.

    1. Create a document using Word or Google Docs.
    2. ‘Save As’ PDF in Word, or File > Download as > PDF document in Google Docs
    3. Open the PDF in Adobe Acrobat Pro DC (Request Acrobat Pro DC)
    4. Choose Tools > Accessibility
    5. Run Setup Assistant

    For each step in the Accessibility Setup Assistant, provide appropriate information. Review the information and proceed with further remediation as needed.

  • If you scan a document using a flatbed scanner, photocopier or digital sender, the resulting document is simply a singular image of the original. Images are not inherently accessible because computers cannot read the information contained in them. Therefore, you will need to convert the scanned document for Optical Character Recognition in order to make it accessible.

    1. Run Acrobat Pro’s built-in OCR Text Recognition.
    2. Manually correct “suspect” and non-suspect recognitions.
    3. Choose Tools > Accessibility
    4. Run Setup Assistant

PDF Tags

You will need to create tags in your documents after you convert them from Word or Google Docs to PDF. These tags provide assistive software and devices with semantic and structural elements to use to interpret document structure and present content in a useful manner. Acrobat's Accessibility Wizard adds tags automatically, but you need to make sure that the tags are inserted in the appropriate order and hierarchy.

Learn More

PDF Accessibility Overview (