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Creating Accessible PDFs

**Note: It's easier to create accessible PDFs with the current versions of Microsoft Office and Adobe Acrobat - request the current version from ITS.**

Before you create the PDF

Make it accessible!

Accessible content is enhanced so visitors who may be using assistive technologies such as screen readers for the visually impaired can interpret the material. This is not only an affirmation of Union’s mission and strategic goals but also a legal obligation.

Common Errors from Siteimprove Reports

Missing a language definition

Document has no title / Missing document properties (title, author, name, subject, keywords, etc.)

The table has no table headings

The document is not tagged

Document contains no headings / The heading structure is incorrect

Document has no bookmarks

After you create the PDF

It is more difficult to fix errors in Acrobat so we advise you try to start from the source files if possible.

Common Errors from Siteimprove Reports

Missing a language definition

Making form fields accessible

The image has no alternative presentation

No machine readable text

  • The document appears to contain no text. It may be a scanned image.  If the document was scanned check that the scanner included an OCR (optical character recognition) evaluation.
  • Attempt to recognize text

Possible Roadblocks

  • Secured PDF - the file has been locked and is not editable.  
  • Vendor supplied PDF - contact the vendor and request an accessible version.

Risks to Union

The Office for Civil Rights (OCR) has been contacting educational institutions about accessibility compliance.

Here’s a timetable of what’s Union could face if contacted:

  1. Union has 30 days to submit a plan to the OCR outlining the policies and procedures that identify the technical standards – WCAG 2.0 is the most universally recognized – that will make our web content accessible.  This is not limited to www.union.edu and could involve many Union websites on various servers and platforms.

  2. In that same initial 30-day window, Union must designate a ‘web accessibility coordinator’ to ensure all content (including from third parties such as vendors, Youtube and other open sources) is accessible, facilitate training for all content contributors, perform accessibility audits, and inform the entire campus community that they should report violations of any web accessibility issues.

  3. Within 60 days of the OCR approving our accessibility plan, Union must post our web accessibility policy on our website, and notify parents, students, staff, prospective students and visitors via written correspondence and email or other notifications.

  4. Within 6 months of OCR’s approval of our accessibility policy, Union must conduct the audit and develop a plan and timetable for resolving all issues (corrective action strategy). Within 30 days of OCR’s approval of the corrective action strategy, Union must begin implementing the corrective actions. Union will then have 6 months to make the corrections, and certify the changes meet the technical requirements.