Accessible PDF

Section 508 Compliance – Checklist for PDF

PDF is one of the most widely used formats for digitizing print material. Scanned or untagged PDFs are not accessible to people with print disabilities thus preventing them get access to information. Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 states that electronic and information technology must be accessible to users with disabilities, including:

  • Blindness, color blindness, visual impairment
  • Deafness, hearing impairment
  • Speech impairment
  • Mobility, strength, dexterity or reach impairment

There is no automated solution to create an Accessible PDF. For a PDF to be Section 508 compliant, they need to be tagged so that assistive technology can interact with the document. Accessible PDF ensures that the document or forms in PDF format are properly tagged and well structured thereby making it usable to all including people with disabilities.

This checklist can be used as a handy reference if you are responsible for creating a 508 compliant PDF:

  • Prepare and convert scanned documents to text PDF with the OCR Process.
  • Review and correct OCR suspects.
  • Provide proper page structure to elements that aid in navigation of the document.
    • Ensure tags are added to your PDF document.
    • Use proper headings to provide structure.
    • Tag decorative images as artifacts.
    • Define Header/Footer appropriately.
  • Provide alternative description or text for simple and complex images, figures, graphs, symbols in the document.
  • Provide the correct reading order.
  • Add bookmarks through the bookmark pane.
  • Apply meaningful hyperlink text.
  • Limit the use of complex tables in your document.
    • If you have tables in your PDF document, ensure that they are formatted using table elements and column headers are defined across page breaks.
    • Tag complex tables using Headers, Scope, Column span or Row span, IDs and Summary.
    • Designate table cells as data cells.
  • Forms if any should be made accessible.
    • Ensure accurate labels and markups for all form fields.
    • Ensure if checkboxes and radio buttons are grouped.
    • Form fields should be keyboard accessible.
  • Define document properties with proper language, title, author, subject, keywords etc.
  • Provide accessible colour contrast for background and foreground colours.
  • Ensure lists if any have been tagged.
  • Ensure notes/references are accessible.
  • Provide table of contents and index to your document linking them correctly.
  • Run a full check of your document with the Accessibility Checker.

At 247 Accessible Documents, we have a dedicated team that works for our customers and helps them to create Accessible PDFs . Meet accessibility standards and requirements like Section 508Web Content Accessibility Guideline (WCAG) or AODA. For an on-demand Accessible PDF remediation service, please check out

By Ramya Venkitesh

Head - Accessibility New Initiatives, Actively involved in formulating new ideas to create Innovative Accessible Solutions across all Disabilities.

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