How to make a form accessible

Video Overview:

The intent of this post is to provide additional practice for form accessibility in adobe acrobat pro.

For more in-depth directions on how to make PDF forms Accessible and additional videos, check out this post:

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Modern digital documentation calls for accessibility. From providing equal opportunities to users with disabilities to improving user experience, creating accessible PDF forms has become a necessary skill in today’s digitized world. This guide dives deep into using Adobe Acrobat Pro to make your PDF forms accessible and user-friendly.

Understanding the Importance of Accessible PDF Forms

Every digital content creator must prioritize accessibility. Making a PDF form accessible ensures that it is compliant with Section 508, a federal law requiring all electronic and information technology developed, procured, maintained, or used by the federal government be accessible to people with disabilities.

Creating an Accessible PDF Form: The Adobe Acrobat Pro Way

A step-by-step guide can simplify the process of making an accessible PDF form using Adobe Acrobat Pro. This comprehensive guide offers a seamless roadmap to creating an accessible PDF form, starting from a basic structure created in Microsoft Word to a finalized, accessible form. The process can be broadly divided into four phases.

  1. Applying Accessibility: The first step involves applying accessibility to the document. This includes working with tags, removing unnecessary elements, assigning appropriate heading levels, and setting up the basic structure of the document.
  2. Checking Accessibility: This step involves running an accessibility checker, which checks if the document is accessible, identifying any issues that need to be addressed.
  3. Adding Form Fields: This step involves adding form fields in the document. Adobe Acrobat Pro comes with a handy feature – ‘Prepare Form’ – that helps auto-detect form fields, making the process smoother.
  4. Setting Up Accessibility and Final Checks: This final phase involves detailed work with tags and form fields. It also includes running the accessibility checker once more to ensure that all elements of the form are indeed accessible.

Creating an accessible PDF form involves in-depth understanding and meticulous execution. However, with tools like Adobe Acrobat Pro, the process can become significantly easier.

A Word for the Wise

Creating accessible PDF forms is not just about compliance with laws. It’s about providing an inclusive digital environment.

Creating Accessible PDF Forms: A Comprehensive Guide

In today’s digital age, ensuring that your documents are accessible to all users is a necessity. One particular area where accessibility can significantly improve user experience is in PDF forms. This blog post will walk you through the process of creating accessible PDF forms, which not only helps make your forms user-friendly but also aligns your documents with universal design principles.

Video overview:

Why Creating Accessible PDF Forms Matters

Accessibility in the world of technology ensures that everyone, regardless of their abilities or disabilities, can access, interact with, and benefit from the digital world. When you create accessible PDF forms, you are ensuring that your documents can be used by a wider range of people, including those with visual, auditory, motor, or cognitive impairments.

Steps for Creating Accessible PDF Forms

The process of creating accessible PDF forms involves several steps, each of which contributes to making your document more accessible and user-friendly. Here are some key steps:

Make the PDF accessible before adding the form fields

Before adding form fields, you should ensure that the base document is accessible. This includes adding headings and other important tags to the document.

Rather have someone else do this for you?

Step 1 – Get the form fields in the document

There are two ways to do this. You can use the Prepare Form option in the tools section. Acrobat will automatically detect form fields.

Or, you can manually add the form fields

In the “Prepare Form” tool, select on the type of field you want to add (e.g., “Add a Text Field”).

Prepare form options

Click and drag on the document where you want to place the field

Sample form field on a page

Step 2 – Tag all annotation (form fields)

Additional practice

Missing form annotations

I like to add a placeholder tag to add all of the annotations in one location.

  1. In the “Tags” panel, right-click where you want to add the placeholder.
  2. Click “New Tag” and create something that will stand out. In this example, I use the word PLACE

Now we need to find the actual annotation. Make sure to select that new tag you made

Options: Find Unmarked Annotations

In the tags menu > select the options button > select Find

Options > Find Unmarked Annotations.” Acrobat will identify and highlight any unmarked annotations.

unmarked annotations

Then, select tag element.

Step 3 – Moving the Form Objects to fix reading order

In the “Tags” panel, you can select and drag tags to rearrange them to the correct location. Move each Form-OBJR into the correct location. If you did it correctly, all the “annotations” will be in the placeholder tag you created.

Moving tags

Creating a Form Parent Tag

  1. In the “Tags” panel, right-click on the tag where you want to add the parent tag.
  2. Select “New Tag.” This creates a new tag under the selected tag.
  3. Select Form
  4. Click “OK.” The new parent tag has been created.

This is what the tags panel should look like

P tag with form container

Step 4 – Add Form Descriptions / Tool Tips

  1. Right-click on the form field in the document.
  2. Select “Properties.”
  3. In the “General” tab of the dialog box that opens, fill in the “Tooltip” field. This text will be read by screen readers to describe the form field.
The tool tip

Step 5 – Final step Test Reading Order with Keyboard

Ensure that the tab order is logical and matches the visual order:

  1. Click somewhere on the first page of your document.
  2. Press the “Tab” key repeatedly to navigate through the form fields and ensure the order makes sense.

Thats it!

More Form Posts

Creating Accessible Forms in Microsoft Word: A Step-by-Step Guide


Welcome to the Accessibility Guy channel. In this blog post, we’ll delve into the process of creating accessible forms in Microsoft Word and converting them into PDFs for enhanced accessibility. Although Microsoft Word has limitations when it comes to creating fully accessible forms, this guide will help you lay the foundation for your form before converting it into a more accessible PDF format.

Laying the Foundation for Accessible Forms in Microsoft Word

  1. Begin by opening a new Microsoft Word document. Add your logo at the top of the page, followed by a heading level one to introduce the purpose of your form. For this example, we’ll use the title “Application for the Accessibility Guy Champion Program.”
  2. Structure your form with field names such as “First Name” and “Last Name,” followed by a colon and an underline. Use the tab key to add space for users to enter their information. Be sure to adjust the tabs as needed to align the lines.
  3. Copy and paste the field names to create additional fields, such as “Phone Number” and “Email Address.” Remember to adjust the tabs for proper alignment.
  4. Add a brief description of the form’s purpose at the top of the document, such as “This application will be used for consideration in joining the Accessibility Guy Champion Program.”
  5. Include a space for a signature by typing your name and changing the field to “Signature.” This is often requested on forms that require a user’s consent or agreement.
  6. To incorporate checkboxes or radio buttons for multiple-choice questions, create a bulleted list. This will help maintain the desired structure when you start developing checklist items in Adobe Acrobat. However, keep in mind that Microsoft Word’s accessibility options for form controls are limited, and further adjustments may be necessary when converting to a PDF.
  7. To access additional form controls, open the developer tab by going to File > Options > Customize Ribbon, and under main tabs, select the “Developer” checkbox. This will add the Developer tab to your toolbar, where you can find various form controls. While these controls are not fully accessible to all screen readers, they can be useful for building the structure of your document before converting it to a more accessible format.

Converting Your Microsoft Word Form to a PDF

  1. Save your Microsoft Word document once you have completed creating the form.
  2. To create a PDF file, select the Acrobat tab in Word and then click on “Create PDF.” This will generate a PDF version of your form.
  3. Review the tags in the newly created PDF to identify any accessibility issues. For example, checkboxes may not come through correctly, which will require further adjustments in Adobe Acrobat. Additionally, ensure that the reading order is logical and that all form fields have appropriate labels.


Creating accessible forms in Microsoft Word can be challenging due to its limitations, but with this comprehensive guide, you can lay the foundation for your form before converting it to a more accessible PDF format. In our next blog post, we will explore how to make your PDF form accessible using Adobe Acrobat, including fixing any issues with checkboxes and ensuring that all form fields have proper labels and reading order. Check out the link in the description below and join us next time to improve your form’s accessibility even further.

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