How to make PDFs Accessible | Episode 5: Irvine Valley College

Welcome to episode five on community college PDF accessibility. Today, we focus on Irvine Valley College’s DSPS Student Parent Night 2023 document.

Video Guide

In case you missed them, here are Episode 1Episode 2,  Episode 3 and Episode 4 in our PDF Accessibility Community College Series.

Key Issues from this Episode

The document originated from PowerPoint. We knew to expect multiple issues on our road toward PDF accessibility.

Here’s a run-down of issues after running the auto-tagger:
  • Header Issues: The document incorrectly uses ‘p’ tags for headers. These should be formatted as ‘h1’ or other appropriate header tags. Inconsistent tagging leads to a confusing heading hierarchy.
  • Acronym Clarity: The text “HS Student Parent Night” uses unclear acronyms. Expand acronyms for clarity. Change the text in the document properties.
  • Figure Tags: Adding alternative text to figure tags is crucial for visually impaired users to understand image content. Figures with text should be transcribed in the alt text area. Artifact any figures that don’t add value.
Adding alternative text to Figure tags is essential for accessibility
  • List Continuity: A disjointed list that spans multiple pages should be streamlined into a single list tag so as not to confuse screen readers.
  • Link Management: Multiple hyperlinks to the same source on the same page is excessive and non-informative.
  • Color Contrast Issues: Poor color contrast requires changes for legibility. Change font color in the editor. Use black and other dark colors to enhance accessibility.
Example of terrible colour contrast in a PDF making the page unreadable
  • Reading Order Complications: Use the reading order tool to select content and mark it as a text paragraph for proper flow.
  • Misplaced Content: Some content did not highlight when selected due to possible OCR errors. Artifact the content as a temporary fix.
Here’s a run-down of issues after running the PAC tool:
  • Embed Missing Fonts: This can cause issues with text display. Embed the missing fonts using the preflight tool.
  • Missing Link Annotations: Create content entries for link annotations to make links accessible.
  • Metadata and Structure Tree Issues: There were problems with the structure tree and metadata, which required fixes to comply with PDF/UA standards.
  • Non-Tagged Path Objects: This can lead to accessibility issues. Head to the Content panel and artifact these objects.
Artifact path objects in content panel of Adobe Acrobat

PRO-TIP: Save your document before entering the Content panel as it’s very easy to mess up your PDF in there!

  • Multiple span tags: These came through due to the initial PowerPoint formatting and led to errors showing in the PAC tool. Carefully inspect and manually correct.


PDFs converted from PowerPoint are not accessible. On our journey to PDF accessibility, Adobe Acrobat didn’t always function as expected, leading to additional complications in the remediation process. For example, despite corrections, errors persisted, necessitating a page extraction, which led to further issues. We had to adjust the structure, manually make tagging corrections, re-embed fonts, re-add the the PDF/UA identifier. Whew!

Remember, I can be your accessibility expert. For more detailed insights, tutorials, and in-depth discussions on accessibility and related topics, don’t forget to check out my YouTube channel: The Accessibility Guy on YouTube. Subscribe for regular updates!

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