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Portable Document Format (PDF) Accessibility Checklist

Page history last edited by Tammy 2 months, 3 weeks ago

There are two standards/guidelines that inform this checklist

  1. Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.1
  2. ISO 14289-1 2014 - PDF/UA (includes WCAG 2.1 concepts)

To check for PDF/UA, use PDF Accessibility Checker (PAC).

To edit PDF use a PDF editor program. Adobe Professional seems the most complete.

Things to check to improve PDF accessibility

  1. Is your PDF tagged and does it have a root tag?
    • Detect using PAC
    • Fix using PDF editing software
  2. Did you embed the fonts that you used in your PDF?
    • Detect using PAC
    • Fix using PDF editing software
  1. Can you zoom up to 200% without a loss of quality?
    • Detect and fix with PDF editing software or image editing software
  2. Are there bookmarks and either page numbers or running headings?
    • Detect using PAC
    • Fix with PDF editing software or word processor (if created that way)
  3. Do you use alternative text for images that aren't considered decorative?

    Does it describe the purpose of the image?

    • There are different ways to do it, but there needs to be alternative text for images, graphs, plots, etc.
  1. Can you tab to and away from all hyperlinks and does the order make sense?
    • Detect and fix with PDF editing software
  2. Is the clickable area for links large enough?
    • Detect and fix with PDF editing software
  3. Do you use heading PDF tags and are the headings unique and descriptive enough to describe the purpose of the section?
    • Detect using PAC
    • Fix with PDF editing software or word processor (if created that way)
  4. Is the reading order correct?
    • Detect using PAC
    • Fix using PDF editing software
  5. Are the tags correct for what they are?

    (e.g., are tables used for tables, not display)

    • Detect using PAC
    • Fix using PDF editing software
  1. Do your tables have heading rows and/or columns and are their scope attributes set?
    • Detect using PAC
    • Fix using PDF editing software
  2. Do you have a title and does it tell the document's purpose (not file name)?
    • Detect and fix with PDF editing software
  3. Do all background and foreground colors comply?
    • Check color contrast of text, links, graphics, and user input controls
    • Use Colour Contrast Analyzer by TPGi
    • Indicates if it passes WCAG 2.1 Guideline
  1. Can you tell visually when a hyperlink is selected by the keyboard?
    • Detect and fix with PDF editing software or image editing software
  2. If there are any excerpts in a different language than the default language, is there a PDF tag present?
    • Fix using PDF editing software
  3. Does the same hyperlink text lead to the same URL and vice versa?
    • Detect using PAC
    • Fix with PDF editing software or word processor (if created that way)

More references for PDFs

AIIM. (2019, April 26). PDF Accessibility. Retrieved from https://webaim.org/techniques/acrobat/

Harvard University. (2023). Creating Accessible PDFs. Retrieved from https://accessibility.huit.harvard.edu/pdf

PDF/UA Foundation. (2021). Why PDF/UA. Retrieved from https://webaim.org/techniques/acrobat/

Stitz, T. (2021, October 20). Accessibility YouTube Channel [videos]. https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCU2fDafusG9CljhvczwxP4A

W3C. (2016). PDF Techniques. Retrieved from https://www.w3.org/TR/WCAG20-TECHS/pdf

Images from freeSVG

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