OhioLINK offers this information to provide guidance to ETD Center Administrators and Reviewers who need to perform checks on a PDF document to determine if it meets the OhioLINK Recommended Minimum Requirements for Digitally Accessible PDF Files in the OhioLINK ETD Center.
This document is intended for OhioLINK ETD Center Administrators and Reviewers who are reviewing electronic theses and dissertations (ETDs) to ensure each ETD submission meets the OhioLINK minimum requirements for digitally accessible PDF files. re.
- Resources about PDF accessibility
- Resources for creating accessible PDF files
- Tools for checking PDF accessibility
- Checking a PDF for accessibility
4.a. PDF file includes full text
4.b. PDF accessibility permission flag is checked
4.c. Text language of the PDF is specified
4.d. Figures require alternative text
4.e. PDF includes a title and use of at least one heading level in the text of the document
There are many resources available online that provide in depth learning opportunities for PDF accessibility. The deque web site may be one of the most comprehensive sources, but there are many others you can find with a quick internet search.
There are also ETD programs that have made accessibility resources available. Some of these include:
Most (if not all) of the ETD PDF files submitted will have a source document that was created in a different software application such as Microsoft Word, Google docs, etc. Generally speaking, the more accessible the original source document is, the more accessible the PDF will be. We strongly recommend that you encourage your ETD students to create accessible source documents before converting to PDF.
There are a few extra steps to take in Word to ensure accessibility features are retained when converting to PDF. For details, please see Create accessible PDFs.
Google offers limited help for creating accessible Google documents. You may want to do an internet search for “google docs accessibility” to find more resources for making accessible Google documents.
Grackle Docs is a Google Add-On that checks and helps remediate output from Google Workspace. There is a free trial available, and it is used by several higher education institutions. You may want to check with your learning center or Desktop Support to see if your institution already subscribes to it.
Please note that this is not a comprehensive list and OhioLINK is not endorsing these tools. We encourage you to research tools and select the one that is best for your circumstances.
The most robust tool for checking PDF accessibility is the Accessibility Check in Acrobat Pro DC. Your institution may already have a license for this software; if you are not sure, reach out to your Desktop support team. If it does not, we strongly suggest that you purchase this software for your local workstation.
Acrobat Pro DC allows you to customize its Accessibility Check tool so that it checks only the parameters that you want it to check. As such, it is the most robust tool that we are aware of. But this customization does come with a more complex user experience.
This is a free online tool. You upload a PDF, and it generates a report for you. If the file generates accessibility errors, it also links to the W3C PDF Techniques for WCAG 2.0 for information about how to fix the problem. Note that this tool is limited to file sizes less than 10MB.
This is a free tool that must be downloaded and installed on a local workstation. With this tool, you simply drag and drop the file you want to check and the tool will show you an accessibility report for the file. Please see the User Guide for help using it.
The Adobe web site has user help for creating accessible documents and checking for accessibility. As such, we have noted the applicable sections of their web page in this section.
To ensure an accessible PDF, it is best to begin with an accessible source document. You can also use the Action Wizard in Acrobat Pro DC. The Action Wizard will guide you through the steps to make a PDF more accessible and fix problems quickly. For instructions, please see Make PDFs accessible section.
Virtually all modern word processing software will automatically generate full text when a PDF is created. To check if a PDF includes full text, try selecting or highlighting some text in the file. If you can select text, the PDF contacts text. If you cannot, the PDF is an image of text.
In Acrobat DC Pro, learn how to check for an Image-only PDF in the Accessibility Issues, Document, Image-Only PDF section.
A document author can specify that no part of an accessible PDF can be copied, printed, extracted, commented on, or edited. This setting can interfere with a screen reader’s ability to read the document.
In Acrobat DC Pro, learn how to set this flag here in the Accessibility Issues, Document, Prevent Security Settings from Interfering with Screen Readers section.
Setting the document language enables some screen readers to switch to the appropriate language.
In Acrobat DC Pro, learn how to check for document language in the Accessibility Issues, Document, Document Language section.
In Acrobat DC Pro, learn how to check for alternative text in the Accessibility Issues, Document, Alternate Text section.