Checking PDFs for Accessibility in Acrobat Pro

Always try to start with an accessible source document (e.g., in Microsoft Word) and export to an accessible PDF.  This way, if the document is edited later, the document’s accessibility features will still be intact. When the document is exported again to PDF, the accessibility features will again be passed to the PDF.

Run PDF Accessibility Check

  1. Go to the "Tools" menu found in the ribbon that runs along the top of the window.
  2. Click on Accesibility Checker Icon
  3. Select Full Checkfrom the right-hand Accessibility menu that opened.
  4. Now you will see the "Accessibility Checker Options" window, you will need to make sure you have the correct Accessibility Checker Option Settings selected.

Accessibility Checker Options settings

The first step of an accessibility check will open the following "Accessibility Checker Options" window:

You will want to be sure to match the settings to this image:

  1. Report Options: be sure "Create accessibility report" is checked
  2. Page Range: be sure "All pages in document" is checked
  3. Checking Options: be sure that it then says "(32 of 32 in all categories)"
  4. If it does not show (32 of 32 in all categories), then you will need to follow these instructions
    1. Go to the Category down-arrow menu
    2. Select each option
    3. For each option make sure all categories are check-marked, or click on "Select All"
    4. Note: clicking "Select All" will only work for that category's selection, it does not select all settings from the whole down-arrow menu.
    5. Once the Checking Options says (32 of 32 in all categories) you may move on
  5. "Show this dialog when the Checker starts" should be selected

Once the settings are correct, select "Start Checking" to begin the accessibility checker.

Accessibility Checker Results

PDF accessibility errors are listed by Heading in the Accessibility Checker menu.

Each Heading has error categories which can be seen by expanding the Heading.

Error Headings showing in BOLD have errors you will need to resolve:

Expand the Error Headings in BOLD to view these errors:

For some BOLD categories with errors, the category can be expanded to show the number of errors in that category:

On the very left of the left-hand menu are icons. Each of these icons shows a different left-hand menu.

  1. Page Thumbnails: where you can view each page as a thumbnail Pages icon
  2. Bookmarks: where you can view the given structure of the document Bookmarks icon
  3. Accessibility Checker: where you can view the accessibility items and possible errors Accessibility Results icon
  4. Attachments: where you can add, view or delete document attachments Attachments icon
  5. Content: where you can view the document's content and where much error resolution is done Content icon
  6. Order: where you can view the reading order of the documentReading Order icon
  7. Tags: where you can view the document's tags and where much error resolution is done Tags icon

Note: If a left-hand menu icon is not listed, follow these instructions to turn it on:

  1. Select "View" in the top ribbon
  2. Hover over "Show/Hide"
  3. Hover over "Navigation Panes"
  4. Select the missing icon to turn it on
    1. Take this step for each icon not showing on the left menu

Updated: 01/19/2023 08:39AM