An accessible PDF begins with accessible source document (e.g., Microsoft Word).

Note: The process of creating an accessible PDF requires the use of Adobe Acrobat Pro DC. Faculty and staff may install Adobe Acrobat DC on any University-owned computer by contacting the Brandeis Help Desk.

Purple icon of person with arms outstretched, outlined by a circleGetting Started

  1. Open your PDF in Adobe Acrobat DC and select the Accessibility Tool.
  2. Select the full check option. Leave all default selections checked and click Start Checking.
  3. Refer to the left column of the document where the Accessibility Checker results appear. Right click on an issue to learn more or fix the issue.

Order for Fixing PDF Errors

1. Color Contrast

Check the color contrast in your document (manual check). If colors need to be updated, go back to the source document and select colors that are higher contrast.

2. Remaining Errors

Starting at the top, work your way through the rest of the errors on the checker results.

  • Refresh the checker results often to be sure you are not introducing new errors.
  • Be sure to check that your document has the appropriate headings tagged.
3. Reading Order
  • Check the reading order (the order in which a screen reader would read the document) as your last step. This is a manual check.
  • The reading order tool can also help you identify and tag headings, if they are missing.
4. Refresh and Save
  • After making changes to your document, refresh the checker results.
  • Save your document often to avoid losing your work.

Common Issues

Image-based PDFs

If you cannot select or copy text, you have an image-based PDF. An image-based PDF typically results from using a scanner. The text is not searchable, editable or compatible with a screen reader, making it 100 percent inaccessible.

Ways to Fix


PDF forms must be made fillable, allowing a user to type in responses. Making accessible, fillable PDF forms is a complex process.

Ways to Fix