There are several document properties that must be set to ensure the document is accessible. In addition, interactive features such as links and bookmarks can be added at this step. Properties to set include:

  • Document title
  • Document subject
  • Document author
  • Document keywords
  • Security settings that are compatible with assistive technology

Document Title, Subject, Author, and Keywords

Specifying the document title ensures there is a programmatic method to identify the document and may help provide metadata to searches performed by users of assistive technology. A document subject and author provide additional description about the document. The document keywords field allows metadata to be provided about the document, which makes it easier to find.
To set the document properties:

  • Select the Action Wizard from the Tools pane
  • Select  Make Accessible in the right hand tool panel
  • Select Add Document Description command to open the Description Dialog (See “Figure 1. Add Document Description Dialog”).

Set the following properties:

  1. Enter a title in Document Title area of the Description tab.
  2. Enter a subject
  3. Enter an author
  4. Enter keywords that may be used to improve the document’s searchability
  5. Select the OK button

Document Title, Subject, Author, and Keywords

Figure 1. Add Document Description Dialog

Set Security That Permits Accessibility

It is important to ensure the Acrobat DC security settings permit access to the document by assistive technology. Verify that the Acrobat DC or Acrobat Reader DC security settings do not prohibit access by assistive technology by checking the Security tab of the Document Properties dialog.

  1. Open the Document Properties dialog: Select File > Properties
  2. Select the Security tab of the Document Properties dialog (See Figure 2).
  3. Determine the security level needed. If security is not required, security need not be set—by default this will allow assistive technologies to access the document content.
  4. Set security. When security is required, select “Password Security” as the security method from the drop-down list. In the Permissions section of the Password Security Settings dialog, verify that the box labeled “Enable text access for screen reader devices for the visually impaired” is checked.
  5. This is the default setting for Adobe Acrobat DC and Adobe Acrobat Reader DC (See “Figure 3. Password Security Settings”).
Set Security That Permits Accessibility

Figure 2. Security Tab Location in Document Properties Dialog

Note: The checkbox labeled “Restrict editing and printing of the document. A password will be required in order to change these permission settings” must be selected in order to select the “Enable text access for screen reader devices for the visually impaired” checkbox.

Enable text access for screen reader devices

Figure 3. Password Security Settings

Create Accessible Links

Links allow users to quickly move to another part of a document, to related information in a different document, or to a desired website.

For URLs to be accessible to users of screen readers, they must be converted to active links and be correctly tagged in the PDF file.

Note: If the document was tagged during conversion from an authoring application to Adobe PDF, the links and URLs in the document are most likely already active and included in the tag tree and thus accessible to users of assistive technology. The links should be verified and any additional links added to the document must follow this process to ensure access.

Acrobat provides several ways to create active links for text, objects, and URLs in a PDF document:

  • Link tool in the Edit PDF Wizard
  • Create from URLs in Preferences > General > Basic Tools
  • Create from the Find > Unmarked Annotations in the Tag Tree

These methods differ in how they affect the tag tree. The best way to create accessible links is in the Link tool in the Edit PDF wizard. This will add the proper tags, including a special LINK OBJR tag which can not directly be entered into the tag tree when the Autotag Document is selected in the Accessibility Tools pane or from the Action Wizard Make Accessible Wizard. Without this link object tag, keyboard-only users and users of screen readers will not have access to the link. Although it is necessary to create active links one by one, using the Link tool provides the fastest results and the least amount of follow-up work to make the links accessible to screen readers and keyboard-only users. Intra-document links in Acrobat only move and scroll to a particular area of a page and thus cannot be used to move to a specific line, word, or paragraph on a page.

Bookmarks, however, can set focus on a specific tag, allowing assistive technology to move to a particular word, line, or paragraph within a page. You may also edit the tag tree to add additional alt or actual text to the new links to ensure they are unique and descriptive.

Note: Automatically detected URLs in PDF documents are not accessible.

Note: The General Preference option, “Basic tools: Create Links from URLs” also does not allow users of the keyboard-only or screen readers to access a link. This option must not be relied upon for ensuring access to links.

Note: Creating links with Acrobat Standard DC does not generate any tags for the links.

Perform the following steps to make links active and add them to the tag tree:

  1. Activate the Edit tool for text and images
  2. Select the text or object you want to link.
  3. Select Link > Create .
  4. In the Create Link dialog box, select the appropriate options, and then follow the on-screen instructions to specify a URL, page view, or file as the link target.

By default, the selected text for each link becomes the link text. If the document is tagged, the proper link tags will be added in the appropriate place in the structure tree. If the document is not yet tagged, the appropriate link tags will be generated when the document is tagged.

After all the links are added, the tag tree can be edited. to add additional text descriptions to the links via the “actual text” property. (Refer to “Step 6: Add Tags to the Document”). Adding actual text can help clarify the link’s purpose and make the link text unique.

Add Bookmarks

A bookmark is a type of link with representative text in the Bookmarks panel in the navigation pane. Each bookmark goes to a different view, page, or structural element in the document. Bookmarks can be generated automatically during PDF creation from the table-of-contents entries of documents created by most desktop publishing programs. These bookmarks are often tagged and can be used to navigate within the PDF. Bookmarks can also provide a visual outline of the logical structure of the document.

Initially, a bookmark displays the page that was in view when the bookmark was created. In Acrobat, bookmark destinations can be set as each bookmark is created. However, it is sometimes easier to create a group of bookmarks, and then set the destinations later.

In Acrobat, bookmarks can be used to mark your place in the PDF, or to jump to a destination or structural element in the PDF, another document, or a web page. Bookmarks can also perform actions, such as executing a menu item or submitting a form. For bookmarks to move focus by keyboard or assistive technology to select a certain word, line, link, or paragraph, then select the “New Bookmarks from Structure” option in the Options menu of the Bookmarks panel.

Add Bookmarks

Figure 4. The New Bookmark from Structure option in the Bookmark options context menu

Note: An Acrobat user can add bookmarks to a document only if the security settings allow it. If this security setting must be disabled, ensure bookmarks are added to the document before publishing.

Set Initial View/Open Options

There are several options that can be set to assist users with disabilities when the document loads. When the Make Accessible Wizard Set Open Options command is run, the document metadata is set to the document title. In addition to the wizard, options can be set this way:

  1. Open the Document Properties Dialog
  2. Activate the Initial View page tab
  3. Set the Navigation Tab dropdown to “Bookmarks Panel and Page”
  4. Set Page Layout to “single” or “single page continuous”
  5. Set Window Options: Show to “Document Title”
  6. Activate the OK button