PDF Accessibility

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PDFs are a common file that can pose accessibility issues. Below are two common issues and recommended steps for remediation.

Scanned PDFs

Three main issues arise with Scanned PDFs. 

  1. Scanned PDFs are image files, so they are not readable by screen reader software. Therefore, students who are blind or have low vision and use screen readers cannot access the content. Some examples of screen reader software are NVDA, JAWS, Apple VoiceOver or ChromeVox. They read the content aloud to the user.
  2. With scanned PDFs, students cannot use digital tools such as highlighting, searching or copying and pasting.
  3. Poorly scanned PDFs are difficult to read because the text is often grainy or blurred or there are black margins. Most students have trouble reading the content and might get overwhelmed, frustrated or distracted.

Untagged PDFs

Tags are essentially markers that provide structure to a PDF. Without tags, students using screen readers won’t be able to accurately navigate through the document because there will be no logical reading order.