What are the Guidelines for Accessible PDF?

What are the Guidelines for Accessible PDF?

Portable Document Format or PDF is a globally used file format for sharing and presenting documents. However, users with disabilities, such as those who are visually impaired, have not always had access to PDFs. This lack of accessibility was a significant barrier for individuals who rely on assistive technology to access information. Accessible documents ensure inclusivity for all digital users, including those with various disabilities. PDF files are often used to exchange information, but if accessibility is not taken into account, accessibility issues can occur. In this blog, you will learn about PDF Accessibility Services guidelines for creating accessible PDFs so that people with visual impairments and other disabilities can effectively access and interact with your content.

What are PDF Accessibility Guidelines? 

PDF accessibility allows assistive technologies such as screen readers, screen magnifiers, and refreshable Braille displays to access and interpret the content of PDF files. It involves including alternative text for images, utilizing proper headings and document structure, including relevant link text, and applying clear, concise language It is also intended to provide PDF forms and interactive elements for electronic entry and submission. PDF Accessibility Guidelines are standards and recommendations that provide instructions for creating PDFs that are easy to navigate, read, and understand for people with visual impairments and other disabilities. By following these guidelines, professionals and content creators can ensure that their PDF documents are inclusive and can be accessed by a broad range of users. These typically include WCAG 2.1, PDF/UA (PDF/Universal Accessibility), PDF/A (PDF/Archive), 508 Remediation, ISO 32000-1, and EN 301 549. Let’s understand each guideline in detail.

Why PDF accessibility matters

An accessible PDF is a document that is universally easy to use and happens recognised accessibility standards. This allows most people to view, read, and interact with documents. Documents must support assistive technology, as the target audience may include people with visual, hearing, motor skills, or cognitive disabilities.

  • Screen readers
  • Text-to-speech programs
  • Braille displays
  • And more

For example, the more accessible a PDF is,  the easier it will be to listen to it on a mobile device. Or look with a magnifying glass. Or type without using the keyboard. In fact, this increased ease of use benefits all audiences, regardless of their various abilities. 

So let’s take a closer look. What is PDF accessibility and how can you apply it to your next document?

Features of Accessible PDF Documents

Basic features of an accessible PDF file include: document title, assigned language, implementation of heading structure, correct use of tags, alignment, descriptive alt text  links, logical reading order, no text images, and color. Contrast ratio, text zoom up to 200% included. We don’t just use color  to convey information. 

Accessible documents are searchable text files as well as image scans. The structure of a document is indicated by tags. The reading order is clear and easy to understand. All graphics, links, and form fields are configured with descriptive alternative text. The document contains navigation aids and has a language specified. It has form fields that are interactive, fillable, and accessible. You can use document tools to extract characters from text. 

Advanced accessibility features include adding bookmarks, merging separated cells, mapping header cell IDs to data cells, ensuring all header tags properly match content, and more. 

How to create an accessible PDF

First, review the PDF accessibility standards outlined in the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines. These guidelines provide the minimum requirements and steps to make your documents publicly accessible. This is not a complete list, but here are some of the things that make up the most accessible PDFs.

  • Document structure tags
  • Navigational aids (links, headings, and so on)
  • Alternative text descriptions
  • Appropriate title tags
  • Document language indication
  • And other accessible features

Your area is to make your PDF accessible to as many persons as potential. Stop for a moment and think about your audience. Then, take all the steps necessary to ensure that the document can be found, accessed, and manipulated as desired. Start with a tool like Adobe Acrobat’s Accessibility Setup Wizard.

How can I improve my PDF accessibility?

Improve accessibility support for PDFs, especially for visually impaired users. We often use screen readers to read text aloud. Adobe Acrobat Pro is one of the most popular and best tools on the market.

Tips for improving accessibility support are:

  • Using selectable text-to-speech software
  • Adding alternative text to images
  • Checking for proper reading order
  • Adding tags to indicate heading structure
  • Setting up a meaningful title
  • Specifying the document language


Once your accessible PDF files are created, it is important to check their accessibility using screen reader software such as JAWS, NVDA, Window Eyes, etc. You also get support from an experienced team in accessibility testing and assistive technology. Any feature you feel is missing can be troubleshot and revised.

Accessibility to electronic documents and non-discrimination on the grounds of disabilities in the activities of public accommodation are rights protected by both Federal and State law. It is only fair and equitable that any content created is equipped with accessibility to ensure access to persons with disabilities.

Barrier-free facilities are good for business because they protect the company from legal repercussions, while at the same time ensuring collective participation and allowing everyone to use the company’s products and services.

DTP Labs is a Desktop Publishing company based in New Delhi, India. We offer book publishing Services, PDF to Word conversions, post-translation DTP, and e-Learning localization services to translation agencies worldwide. To avail of our services, check out our website, or contact us at

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