Accessible PDFs and Fillable Forms

An accessible PDF is the foundation used to create an accessible fillable form. There are multiple ways to create an accessible PDF. In all cases it is a multi-step process.

Adobe Documentation and Webinars

You use Adobe's documentation and webinars to gain a better understanding of the process. These include:

Make an Accessible PDF

As stated above there are multiple ways to create an accessible PDF. It is always best to start with simple until you are able to build up experience and expertise.

If You have the original Source Document, and you have Adobe Acrobat Pro/DC:

  1. The document must have been created in Microsoft Word, PowerPoint or Excel.
  2. Run an accessibility checker on the original. content.
    • The checker can be found at:: File > Info > Check for Issues > Check Accessibility.
  3. Resolve any Issues found in the check.
  4. Save your clean document.
  5. Turn the Word, Excel or PowerPoint document into a PDF.
    • The last tab to the left of "Help" will be "Acrobat."
    • Click on Acrobat and then select “Create PDF”.
  6. The source program will generate the PDF and it should open in Adobe Acrobat.
    • Save the PDF.
  7. If it doesn't auto-launch Adobe Acrobat, launch Adobe Acrobat Pro/DC and then use it to open the PDF. 

Run Adobe's Accessibility Checker on the PDF

  1. Once you are in Adobe Acrobat Pro/DC, open (or add) the Accessibility checker to your version by going to the "Tools" tab.
Screen capture illustrating where the Tools tab is by having a dark grey arrow pointing toward the tab (which is outlined in a lighter grey  box)
 
  1. Scroll down to the "Protect and Standardized" section to find the "Accessibility" tools.
Screen capture illustrating where the purple accessibility tool icon is located--it's the last item in its group with a dark grey arrow pointing to the icon (which is outlined in a light grey box)
 
  1. You should be able to open it by double-clicking on the icon.
    • If you can't, click on "Add" in the drop-down box under the icon.
Screen capture sowing how the purple accessibility icon has a a drop-down box under it. The choice displayed is "Add."
 
  1. This will permanently add the Accessibility tools to the right-hand rail within your version of Adobe Acrobat Pro/DC.
Screen capture illustrating where the Accessibility tool lives on the right-hand side of the screen--once it's been launched.  The purple icon is enclosed in a light grey box,while a darker grey arrow points to it.
 
  1. Select it and then select "Accessibility Check."

Screen capture illustrating where the Accessibility Check is by having a dark grey arrow pointing to a circle with a check mark inside and the words Accessibility Check--both of which are outlined in a lighter grey  box)
 
  1. Make sure to check the box labeled "Attach report to document."
    • NOTE: you'll need to have the attached report in order to have your PDF posted on any of our websites.
Screen capture illustrating where the attach Report to document is by having a dark grey arrow pointing to the words. Those words are outlined in a lighter grey  box.
 
  1. Resolve all accessibility issues identified in the check.
  2. Save your PDF file every time you fix something.
  3. Once your PDF is fully accessible, re-run the accessibility check and be sure to save the report one last time.
    • That way, the most current version of the Accessibility report will show that your PDF is accessible.
    • Submitting a report that shows accessibility errors, warnings, and/or issues will keep you from being able to post your PDF on our websites.

View the Accessibility Report

  1. Open the PDF in Adobe Acrobat Pro/DC on your device.
  2. Click on the paperclip in the left rail of the screen.
Screen capture illustrating where the paper clip is on the far left-hand side of the screen by having a dark grey arrow pointing to it.  It is also outlined in a lighter grey box.
 
  1. This will open an additional column
Screen capture illustrating how the paper clip opens another column. There's a dark grey arrow pointing toward the clip and column. Both are outlined in a single,  lighter grey  box)
 
  1. If there is an attached report, you will see it there.
    1. If there is no report it will be empty.

Make an Accessible Fillable Form

  • Now that you have an Accessible PDF, save it again with a different name.
  • Use the Adobe Tool “Prepare Form" wizard
    • This wizard will automatically convert any fields the wizard thinks it finds in the form.
    • Watch an Adobe-supplied video on how to create an accessible PDF.
      • The "How to" section starts eight minutes in.

Tips

  • Always keep the Accessibility Checker open on and rerun as necessary to guide you through the form creation process and correct accessibility issues along the way.
  • As with all other types of PDF’s; forms must attach the successful Accessibility file to have your form added to a website.

PDF/Fillable Form Must Haves

  • All PDF’s and forms must be accessible and must have an attached accessibility report testifying to that.
    • Submitting a report that shows accessibility errors, warnings, and/or issues will keep you from being able to post your PDF on our websites.
  • All Documents must have an Heading 1 tag
    • There may only be one H1 tag per document.
  • All subsequent headings/subhead tags must be in order.
    • An H3 cannot directly follow a H1.
    • It must be preceded by an H2.
  • Font size matters.
    • 12-point type is the recommended minimum for instructional text.
  • All PDF’s must have a title manually added into the "Title" field.
  • Alt-Text usually requires manual re-entry.
  • Tables can be complex, so avoid them whenever possible.
  • Reading order (or tab order) is very important in fill-able forms.
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