Create an Accessible PDF Document

Once you have created an accessible Word document, you are now able to convert it to a PDF. To allow assistive technology to read the PDF properly, it must have another layer of information which allows the devices to determine how to read the file and how to identify images and graphics properly.

When working in Microsoft Word 2007, 2010 or newer, tagging is done automatically when you save a file as PDF format. You can verify that this function is enabled by going to “Options” and make sure that the “Document structure tags for accessibility” box is checked.

For the Mac operating system or earlier versions of Word, you will need the plug-in that is available within Word if you have Adobe Acrobat installed.

To verify this, in the top toolbar, click the “Acrobat” tab.  Select “Create PDF”. In the “Save” box, choose the “Options” button.  Select the “Enable Accessibility” and “Reflow with Tagged Adobe PDF” options.  Once you name your file and choose the folder in which to save it, click “Save”.

For versions of Word newer than 2010, an accessibility checker is part of the program and works much like how spellchecker works. You can find this feature under:

“File”, “Info”, “Check for Issues”, and then “Check Accessibility”. You can check your file and will find any issues that may make the document difficult for a user with a disability to access.

Adapted from materials developed by the Council of Ontario Universities and York University.