Acrobat Pro Accessibility Part 1 – Enabling Accessibility Tools and Performing an Accessibility Scan

Adobe Acrobat Pro, also known as Adobe Acrobat Pro DC or Acrobat XI Pro, is a powerful tool with the power to create and repair accessible PDFs. While Acrobat DC or Acrobat Reader are free tools used to read PDFs, Acrobat Pro is a licensed tool used to remediate PDFs or create fillable forms. Users without Acrobat Pro can create accessible PDFs by exporting to PDF from different content authoring platforms.

This post, the first in a series, will cover setting up your accessibility workspace within Acrobat Pro and running a basic accessibility check.

Enabling Accessibility Tools

Acrobat Pro Accessibility Tools Pane

While Acrobat Pro contains a powerful accessibility suite, it is disabled by default. To enable the Accessibility Tools Pane, go to View > Tools > Accessibility. This will enable the Accessibility Tools Pane on the right side of the application.

The Accessibility Tools Pane contains a wealth of tools, most prominently:

  • Full Check – A thorough and versatile accessibility checker.
    • Add Tags to Document – Useful for remediating a PDF that was imperfectly created. This may be helpful when working with scanned documents, or documents that have been ‘printed’ to PDF.
    • Set Alternate Text – Useful for moving through all the images in a document and adding alternative text to them.
    • Touch Up Reading Order (TURO) – This is the primary tool in PDF remediation. It can be used to add or edit tags, as well as alter the reading order of the document.

Running an Accessibility Check

The Full Check tool performs a thorough accessibility check, and highlights errors within the document. To perform a Full Check:

Accessibility Checker issues found
  1. Expand the Accessibility Tools Pane and select Full Check.
  2. The Accessibility Checker Options window will open. It is generally advised to use the default settings, so select Start Checking.
  3. The left pane will shift to the Accessibility Checker review. The number of potential issues is displayed alongside each issue category. Expand them using the arrows alongside each category type to see the individual issues.
  4. Right-clicking an issue will provide an additional menu with options to Fix, Skip Rule, Explain, or Check Again.

The next post in this series will cover some of the more common issues found using the accessibility scanner, as well as how to repair them. In the meantime, if you have any questions regarding using Acrobat Pro or other accessibility concerns, please reach out to Robert Hardy in the Communications and Community Relations Department.