Making PDFs Accessible When You Create Your Own

Most often, we tend to create our own PDFs from Word or PowerPoint files. Below are a few things to consider regarding accessibility when creating your own PDF.

Make the source file accessible first

Whatever format you are starting with, you need to make that source file is accessible first. If you are starting with a Word or PowerPoint file, be sure you are using the accessibility checker to identify and correct any potential issues.

NOTE: Making your source file accessible, does not guarantee that your PDF is accessible. There are a lot of document to PDF converters available and not all of them retain those elements/tags that you've included in your document (i.e header styles, alt-text etc). In some cases, they may actually make your document less accessible.

Alternatives to PDF

In many cases you may be creating a PDF in order to protect the content from being manipulated or copied without your permission. There are alternative ways of doing this with out creating a PDF. One way is to make your document read only (Links to an external site)

Converting from Word/PPT to PDF

If you must convert your file to a PDF, below is Microsoft's Create Accessible PDFs article (Links to an external site.) that we recommend you follow.

Office 2016

  1. Click File > Save As and choose where you want the file to be saved.

  2. In the Save As dialog box, choose PDF in the Save as type list.

  3. Click Options, make sure the Document structure tags for accessibility check box is selected, and then click OK.

NOTE: While this will process will create an optimal process for creating an accessible PDF, you will still need to check your PDF for accessibility.

Next Faculty Training Topic: Using Screen Readers

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