Accessible Tagged Adobe® PDF

[Portable Document Format]

Up until version 5 of Adobe Acrobat® and Acrobat Reader®, PDF or Portable

Document Format files were not usable by people using adaptive technology. The

hardest hit segment of the population were people who are blind or visually

disabled. Depending on technology to read the information on the screen, the

technology could not read PDF. This is because, metaphorically, PDF is a

“picture” or image of the document. Screen reading software looks for text and

pulls it out to be read to the end-user.

People working in government, education, corporations and students, were faced

with no access to this increasingly popular method of retaining document integrity.

With the ADA [Americans with Disabilities Act] and the implementation of Bill

508 [amendment to the Rehabilitation Act] in the United States, Adobe® realized

the need to make PDF more accessible to consumers. They have made, and

continue to make, a concerted effort toward this goal.

Why make your PDF documents as usable as possible? There are two good reasons

for improving the usability of your documents. One is that with an aging

population, people with eye conditions are increasing in number and you want

them to be able to access your information. Secondly, you want to increase the

marketability of your courses to include a global learning environment. More and

more countries are establishing basic information accessibility standards. To be

competitive, Canada needs to begin adopting some of these standards because we

don’t have legislation or incentives other than “peer pressure” to do so.

Screen readers are not the only technology that is used by your consumers. Screen

magnification is used by people with visual disabilities and Text-to-Speech” is

used by people with learning disabilities. By making your course material and

curriculum more usable, you embrace a wider audience and teach to the learning

modalities of your students and consumers.

How easy is it? Once you have Adobe Acrobat® installed, go to the Adobe® web

site and download the MakeAccessible plug-in. Install this on your computer. It

works seamlessly with Adobe Acrobat® . From the application you want to create

PDF from, use the acrobat Distiller in the Printer options dialog box instead of

© Karen McCall All rights reserved Page 1

Karlen Communications sending the file to your printer. Open it in Adobe Acrobat® and under Document,

choose MakeAccessible. This is a good start!

Online Resources From Adobe® Systems

Some of these pages are hard to find on the Adobe® site, so we have put

them here for convenience.

Section 508 Templates

Adobe Acrobat Reader® 5.05 with Search and Accessibility

Online Conversion Tools for Adobe® PDF

MakeAccessible plug-in

How to Create Accessible Adobe® PDF Booklet

How To Create Advanced Accessible PDF Booklet [this is a PDF file]


Additional Resources from

© Karen McCall All rights reserved Page 2

Karlen Communications