Canva PDFs are not accessible

This post aims to explore how Canva PDFs are not accessible to people with disabilities. It seems like such a basic need at this point for any modern website to allow for exporting with a structure in place. This simply is not the case for Canva PDFs.

Would you rather just have me make your Canva doc exports accessible for you?

Video Overview of the Problem

The basic premise is that PDFs that are exported from Canva do NOT retain much of the style that is applied on the back end. The good news is that it seems with each passing month, the quality is getting better. As of now, there are multiple steps required to get the PDF ready before it can be made accessible.

The Errors / Problems with exporting

  • The PDFs come through with No tags in many situations.
  • The reading order tool can cause issues.
  • There is extra content that comes through that can be difficult to tag.

One Solution

This video will show how to get the PDF remediation ready. The secret tip is to use the Print to PDF functionality within Adobe Acrobat. Check it out:

This video provides guidance on how to get a tag structure into the document, how to move tags, how to artifact content, use the reading order tool, and adding a link.

Be sure to check out our PDF remediation section while your at it!

When a PDF is not accessible, it creates a variety of problems and barriers, particularly for individuals with disabilities. Here’s an overview of what happens and why it’s a concern:

  • Screen Reader Incompatibility: Individuals who are visually impaired often rely on screen readers to interpret the text within documents. If a PDF is not tagged correctly or lacks the proper structure, screen readers may be unable to read the content, or they may read it in the wrong order, rendering the information unintelligible.
  • Navigation Challenges: An inaccessible PDF might not support easy navigation, making it difficult for people to jump to specific sections, headings, or links within the document. This can be particularly problematic for individuals using assistive technologies.
  • Lack of Alternative Text for Images: If images within the PDF don’t have alternative text descriptions, individuals who are blind or visually impaired won’t have access to the information conveyed through those images.
  • Incompatibility with Assistive Technologies: Individuals with motor disabilities may use various assistive technologies to interact with digital content. An inaccessible PDF might not be compatible with these tools, making it difficult or impossible for these individuals to access the content.
  • Legal Compliance Issues: Many jurisdictions have legal requirements related to accessibility (such as the Americans with Disabilities Act in the U.S.), and failing to make content accessible can lead to legal consequences.
  • Loss of Audience: By not making PDFs accessible, content creators risk alienating a significant portion of their audience. This can lead to reduced readership, customer dissatisfaction, and potential harm to an organization’s reputation.
  • Educational Barriers: In educational settings, inaccessible PDFs can create barriers to learning for students with disabilities, hindering their academic progress and creating an unequal learning environment.
  • Workplace Inequity: In the workplace, inaccessible documents can prevent employees with disabilities from performing their tasks efficiently, leading to inequality and discrimination.
  • Difficulty in Editing and Repurposing Content: Inaccessible PDFs can also be more challenging to edit and repurpose, as the lack of structure and tagging may complicate the process of extracting and reusing content.
  • Negative SEO Impact: Search engines may have difficulty indexing the content within an inaccessible PDF, which can lead to lower search rankings and reduced visibility online.

In summary, an inaccessible PDF doesn’t just create challenges for individuals with disabilities; it can also have broader legal, social, and financial implications. Making PDFs accessible is not merely a matter of compliance or technical correctness; it’s about inclusivity, equality, and ensuring that everyone, regardless of ability, can access the information they need.

Making a PDF Accessible: Episode 4 |Glendale College

Welcome to episode four on making college PDFs accessible. Today, we focus on Glendale Community College’s Disabled Students Programs and Services (DSPS) newsletter for summer 2023. Video Guide In case you missed them, here are Episode 1, Episode…

Making Accessible Presentations with Canva

This video and post will provide an overview of how to use Canva AI to create a presentation, export it to PDF, and then make it accessible. Utilizing Canva for Accessible Presentations Canva, a popular design…

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

Making Tables Accessible in Adobe Acrobat Pro – A Comprehensive Guide


Hello, and welcome to the Accessibility Guy channel. Today we’re going to be looking all about table accessibility in Adobe Acrobat Pro. We will cover topics like using the reading order tool to tag individual cells, setting the scope of individual cells, fixing row and column-span problems, and adding associated header IDs for a header and data cell connection.

Other PDF Accessibility Posts

Table tag breakdown

  1. Table Parent Tag <Table>
  2. Table Row Child tag <TR>
  3. Table Header Cell <TH>
  4. Table Data Cell <TD>
  5. Table on Page
Table Parent Tag <Table>
Table Row Child tag <TR>
Table Header Cell <TH>
Table Data Cell <TD>
Table on Page

Utilizing the Reading Order Tool for Tagging Cells

To begin, launch the reading order tool by selecting the accessibility button and then choosing “Reading Order.” You may want to deselect “Show table cells” and “Show tables and figures” to make it easier to see the text. Select the text that should be together and click on “Text Paragraph” to group them. The checkboxes greatly change the view of the table:

Reading order tool view

Cleaning Up the Tags Panel

Make sure all cells are in the correct row by going through the tags, cutting and pasting them to the right location when needed. Set all cells in the first row as table data cells, and change any incorrectly labeled paragraph tags to table data cell tags. Properly format all table rows, ensuring that table header (TH) and table data (TD) cells contain the contents of the corresponding cell.

Cleaning up the tags panel

Running the Accessibility Checker

Run the accessibility checker to identify any issues with rows and columns in your table. If the table fails regularity, check for any merged cells that may need column and row span adjustments. After fixing any issues, run the accessibility checker again to ensure regularity is passing.

Setting the Scope of Table Headers

With the reading order tool open, right-click on the table and select “Table Editor.” Select all table header cells at the top of the table, right-click and select “Table Cell Properties,” and change the scope from none to “Column.” If you have table headers on the row side, you can set the scope to “Row” as needed.

  1. Launch Reading order tool
  2. Right-click inside of the table and select Table editor
table editor
  1. Select the cells you want to set the scope for
  2. Right-click and select table cell properties
  3. Adjust the scope to either row, column, or both
setting the scope

Making a Data Connection Between Table Headers and Contents

Right-click in the table and select “Table Editor,” followed by “Auto Generate Header Cell IDs.” This will provide a name for each heading tag. For each group of table data cells, right-click and select “Table Cell Properties.” Add the corresponding header ID to the “Associated Header Cell IDs” section. This step is not required for all standards.


This comprehensive guide has demonstrated how to make tables accessible in Adobe Acrobat Pro using various tools, including the reading order tool, setting scope, and more. By following these best practices, you can ensure your tables are accessible to all users. Don’t forget to like and subscribe for more personalized tips and instructions on accessibility best practices.