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.
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”).
Click and drag on the document where you want to place the field
Step 2 – Tag all annotation (form fields)
Missing form annotations
I like to add a placeholder tag to add all of the annotations in one location.
- In the “Tags” panel, right-click where you want to add the placeholder.
- 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.
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.
Creating a Form Parent Tag
- In the “Tags” panel, right-click on the tag where you want to add the parent tag.
- Select “New Tag.” This creates a new tag under the selected tag.
- Select Form
- Click “OK.” The new parent tag has been created.
This is what the tags panel should look like
Step 4 – Add Form Descriptions / Tool Tips
- Right-click on the form field in the document.
- Select “Properties.”
- 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.
Step 5 – Final step Test Reading Order with Keyboard
Ensure that the tab order is logical and matches the visual order:
- Click somewhere on the first page of your document.
- Press the “Tab” key repeatedly to navigate through the form fields and ensure the order makes sense.