How to Make PDFs Accessible | Episode 6: Fullerton College

Welcome to episode six on community college PDF accessibility. Today, we focus on Fullerton Community College’s document “Points of Interest and Clarification Architecture.”

Video Guide

In case you missed them, here are Episode 1Episode 2,  Episode 3Episode 4 and Episode 5 in our PDF Accessibility Community College Series.

Start with a quick review of the tags panel. The PDF had several blank tags and an unclear tag structure. Poor tagging provides inaccurate information to screen readers which disrupts accessibility.

In this case, the issues found suggested the document was converted from a Microsoft Word document, without proper accessibility checks.

Key Issues from This Episode

Run the auto tag feature to improve the PDFs accessibility:
  • The auto-tagger did a great job of organizing the content into proper tags like paragraphs (p tags) and headings (h1, h2, h3 tags). Lists were also formatted correctly.
  • Auto-tagger isn’t a perfect process, so we manually adjusted a few tags after running it. For example, h2 tags were changed to paragraph tags and the inconsistent headings for the Fall and Spring sections were changed to h3 for uniformity.
  • Finally, for better identification and searchability, update the PDF’s metadata, like the title and author.
A well organized PDF tags panel after running the auto-tagger.
After completing these initial fixes, the accessibility checker identified more PDF accessibility challenges:
  • Identify and manually correct misused tags. We found a figure tag that was meant to be a paragraph tag and corrected it.
  • Page numbers were not tagged so we manually selected each page number and tagged them as paragraphs.
Manually tagging page numbers in a PDF.
Multiple runs of the PAC checker also revealed several errors:
  • The structure tree showed several inappropriate uses of span tags which is a common error plaguing our PDF College Series!
  • Identify and correct role mapping problems by removing non-standard types, which show errors in the PAC checker. For example, our PDF contained ‘style spans’ which were not standard so we manually searched the tags panel and changed each to a regular span tag to eliminate the errors.
Changing Style Span tags to Span tags to eliminate errors

Troubleshooting these issues is a trial-and-error process. Remember to keep saving your PDF. Repeating tasks requiring absolute accuracy takes serious mental effort and is not fool proof.

PRO-TIP: To change multiple tags at once, hold down the control key and select your tags for editing. Next, open up the document properties, and change the ‘type’. Be careful! A single mis-click can deselect all your chosen tags, which then requires the process to be repeated.

Changing multiple PDF tag types at once.

This PDF had several accessibility issues. We used both automated and manual interventions including ensuring proper tagging, updating metadata, embedding fonts, and correcting ‘span’ styles in order to make it accessible

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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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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Making a PDF Accessible: Episode 03| Moorpark Community College

Welcome to episode three on making college PDFs accessible. Today, we focus on Moorpark Community College’s website. We look at their course wellness document to improve its digital inclusivity.

Video Guide

In case you missed them, here are Episode 1 and Episode 2 in our Making Accessible PDFs: Community College Series.

Key Takeaways from this Episode

This form was buggy right from the top and required a number of fixes. Here’s a summary what we did to make this PDF accessible.

Extracting pages to get to the “Prepare Form” options

The PDF seemed to be an old version of the form that wasn’t cooperating with the new version of Acrobat. We extracted the pages from each other and recombined them to create a new PDF. Editing went smoothly from there.

Proper tag structure

We used the auto-tagger. While it added some tags it wasn’t perfect. Every Form tag should be nested inside of a P tag.

An accessible PDF shows all form tags nested inside of a P tag

Tagging references (adding a link to reference)

Under ‘Prepare for Accessibility’, select the Reading Order Tool to create a reference. Next, select the content needing the reference, right click, create link, use page view and invisible rectangle, and hit next. Scroll down to where you want the link to go, select it, hit create link. This particular reference tag will link to the note.

Creating a link in an accessible PDF

Fixing tagged annotations

From the Accessibility Tags panel on the right, click options, select find, choose unmarked annotations, find. When the link is found, tag it and close.

Fixing titles

From the start we noted primary language, title, and character encoding fails. After reformatting and getting our p tags properly nested, we were able to fix the primary language and title fails. Just right click Title – Failed and select fix. Easy pass.

Fixing the title fail after reformatting p tags in a PDF

Creating tag from selection

This breaks apart the text from the form field, creating an accessible PDF. Select the text you want to tag, navigate to the Accessibility Tags panel, choose options, then select create tag from selection. To finalize the section, artifact the blank lines and delete their p tags.

How to separate text field from form field by creating tag from selection.

Embedding Fonts

Navigate to All Tools, use print production, add printer marks, preflight menu, fix font encoding, embed missing fonts.

Embedding fonts from the preflight menu in Adobe Acrobat

Fixing character encoding

This is a little tricky so save your PDF in case it breaks. Select edit from the top right, and delete the items out. In this case the check boxes are still in the form. We don’t need the placeholders. We deleted the square text in the background to fix this fail.

Deleting the background text to fix character codes in a PDF


Run the PAC tool to ensure PDF UA and WCAG compliance.

Running the PAC tool on a PDF to ensure PDF/UA accessibility


This review involved some interesting fixes that transformed Moorpark’s existing document into an accessible PDF. The solutions provided ensure better user experience and make it compliant with standards like PDF UA and Section 508. Remember, accessibility takes time but is vital for inclusivity.

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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How to Make Complex Tables Accessible in Adobe Acrobat Pro DC

This post will go over how to tag complex tables in Adobe Acrobat Pro DC. There is a dedicated section on this site on how to tag tables, but this is a bit of a deeper dive and provides some extra practice!

Would you like The Accessibility Guy to do the heavy lifting for you?

Video Overview

Making Complex Tables Accessible: Setting the Base Structure

To begin, you must create a baseline structure. If the document doesn’t have tags, use the auto tagger. This feature helps identify parts of the table and labels them. In this video, we are using the new API Cloud-based tagging.

Tweaking Table Headers for Better Accessibility

A key challenge with complex tables is unclear headers. To fix this, you can use the edit PDF function to add hidden text as headers. Make the font white so it blends with the background. Then, you can tag this new text to act as the table header. Remember to change the tag from TD to TH to make it a proper header. This step is covered in the video above.

Techniques to Improve Table Structure

  1. Remove Unrelated Content: If the table has unrelated headers, move them out. Change their tags to act as higher-level headings.
  2. Adjust Scope: Set the scope for rows and columns. This helps assistive technologies understand the table.
  3. Use Table Editor: The table editor feature helps check and adjust header settings.
  4. Add Table Summary: Always include a table summary. It helps with understanding the table’s purpose.

Final Checks and Testing

After making changes, run the built-in accessibility checker in Adobe Acrobat Pro DC. This checks for any missing features like table summaries. Tools like PAC 2021 checker can also be used to validate if the table is fully accessible.


Making tables in PDFs accessible may seem daunting. But with Adobe Acrobat Pro DC, it becomes manageable. Follow these best practices to ensure your content is accessible to everyone.

Faculty Guide: Preparing for an Accessible Semester

Preparing for an Accessible Semester: Where to Start

Are you a faculty member wondering how to make your course accessible? Knowing where to start can be overwhelming. First, look at what’s in your course. Check course pages, documents, videos, and third-party links. Identify what needs to be accessible.

Video Overview

Steps to Follow for Preparing an Accessible Semester

After checking your course, follow these steps:

  1. Follow Rules: Use WCAG, Section 508, and PDF/UA guidelines. Make sure all content, not just course pages, is accessible.
  2. Learn Tools: Understand your tools like MS Word, PowerPoint, and PDF. They have different accessibility needs.
  3. Use Closed Captioning: Videos need captions. Otter AI can help generate SRT files for this.
  4. Test Content: Use screen readers like NVDA to test your content. Make sure it reads well.
  5. Get Feedback: Contact accessibility pros to check your work. Adjust your course based on their feedback.
  6. Keep Updating: Don’t stop after initial fixes. Keep your course updated to stay accessible.

Step 1: Understand the Rules

Familiarize yourself with important guidelines and standards. These include the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG), Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act, and PDF/UA standards. These rules apply to every part of your course, not just the web pages.

Step 2: Master Your Tools

Before diving into making changes, understand the specific accessibility features and requirements of the tools you’re using. Software like Microsoft Word, PowerPoint, and Adobe PDF have unique accessibility settings. Learning these will help you effectively use each tool to its full accessibility potential.

MS word guides, videos, and instruction links

Step 3: Closed Captioning

All videos in your course should have closed captions. There are various tools that can help you create these captions. For instance, Otter AI can generate SRT files, which can be used for adding captions to your videos.

Step 4: Testing

Testing is crucial. Use assistive technologies like screen readers to test your content. NVDA is a free screen reader for Windows that can be used for this purpose. This will give you insights into how accessible your content is.

Step 5: Seek Expert Feedback

After you’ve made the necessary adjustments, consult with accessibility experts. This can help you validate the changes you’ve made and ensure you didn’t overlook anything.

Step 6: Continual Updates

Accessibility is not a one-time task. After your course is up and running, it requires ongoing checks and updates to ensure it remains accessible.

If you have a large number of videos, focus on captioning new ones first. Gradually work your way back to older content as time allows.

Bonus Tip: Monitor Your Progress

Keep an eye on the accessibility of your course. New tools and best practices emerge regularly. Staying updated will help you continue to provide an accessible learning environment.

Creating an accessible course is an ongoing responsibility. But the effort you put in ensures that everyone, regardless of their abilities, has an equal opportunity to learn.

More videos on how to get accessible

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How to test Color Contrast Ratios

Video Overview of how to test Color Contrast

Understanding the Importance of Color Contrast in Web Accessibility

Welcome to the fascinating world of color contrast and its critical role in web accessibility. In this post, we’re delving into the ways you can test for color contrast in different authoring environments. Color contrast is pivotal in ensuring digital content is accessible to everyone, including those with visual impairments.

Unpacking the WCAG Standards for Color Contrast

According to the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG), there are varying levels of conformance to consider when it comes to color contrast. Level AA requires a minimum contrast ratio of 4.5:1, while for large text (18 Point and above), there’s a color contrast ratio requirement of 3:1.

Remembering these standards may seem daunting. However, free color contrast checking tools can simplify this task. Two of these tools are the Color Contrast Analyzer tool from TPGI and the WebAIM Color Contrast Checker.

Harnessing the Power of the Color Contrast Analyzer Tool

Download the TPGI Tool

The Color Contrast Analyzer tool is particularly user-friendly, incorporating WCAG 2.1 standards at the bottom of the tester. It allows you to test various colors for contrast ratio, which can range up to a maximum of 21:1 for black fonts on a white background.

Testing color contrast isn’t limited to text; it applies to non-text content too. Whether it’s the bullets in your presentation or the color of your titles, this tool will indicate if your color choices meet the necessary contrast requirements.

Additionally, it offers a unique feature: the Synchronized Color Values option. This function lets you adjust color shades on a slider to find a similar color that achieves double A and triple A compliance. It’s a straightforward way to ensure your color selections are both aesthetically pleasing and compliant with accessibility guidelines.

CCA Tool

Expanding Your Toolkit with the WebAIM Color Contrast Checker

The WebAim Tool

The WebAIM Color Contrast Checker is another handy web-based tool. Much like the Color Contrast Analyzer, it allows you to test colors and automatically updates contrast ratios.

Notably, this tool also applies to graphical objects and user interface components, making it exceptionally versatile. Similar to the Color Contrast Analyzer tool, it lets you adjust shades to find a compliant color.

Conclusion: Ensuring Your Content is Universally Accessible

Color contrast is more than just an aesthetic consideration; it’s an essential aspect of web accessibility. Tools such as the Color Contrast Analyzer and WebAIM Color Contrast Checker can empower you to meet and maintain WCAG standards, ensuring your digital content is accessible to everyone.

Dont forget about your charts and graphs!

Making Your Bilingual Microsoft Word Table Accessible in PDF


Welcome to the Accessibility Guy channel! In today’s post, we will be discussing how to convert a bilingual table created in Microsoft Word, which uses both English and Spanish, into a PDF while ensuring that it remains accessible. If you find this helpful, don’t forget to like and subscribe for more content on accessibility.

Video Overview

Step 1: Saving the Word File and Creating a PDF

To begin, save your Word file, which should have an accessible table with English, Spanish, and some PNG checkboxes. Next, under the Acrobat tab, select “Create PDF” and save the file. Since the table was already accessible in Microsoft Word, it should mostly transfer over to the PDF as accessible.

Step 2: Checking the Tags Panel

After converting the table to a PDF, open the tags panel on the far left side of the page to check if the table has been tagged properly. If you see a section tag and a blank p tag, you will need to make some adjustments to ensure the document is accessible.

Step 3: Making the Document Accessible

First, change the section tag to a document tag by right-clicking the section tag, selecting “Properties,” typing in the word “document,” and clicking “Close.” This will help the PDF pass PDF UA and WCAG accessibility standards. Next, change the blank p tag to an artifact by right-clicking the empty container and selecting “Change Tag to Artifact.” For the artifact type, choose “Page” and click “OK.” You can then delete the p tag.

Step 4: Cleaning Up the Table Structure

Go through the table cells to ensure proper formatting, and use the table editor to adjust table headers if necessary. Remove any blank p tags by right-clicking and changing the tag to an artifact. This process will help clean up the table structure, making it more accessible.

Step 5: Running the Accessibility Checker

Once the table structure is in place, run the accessibility checker to identify any issues that may still need to be addressed. In the case of the example provided, the nested alternate text failed. To resolve this, remove the alt text from the path tag, which should resolve the issue.

Step 6: Fixing Missing Alt Text

You can fix missing alt text by using the accessibility checker panel. Right-click on the issue and select “Fix” to add the alt text. Ensure that your alt text is descriptive and helpful for users.

Step 7: Verifying the Spanish Text

Make sure that the Spanish text has been properly recognized. To do this, select the Spanish text and use the “Find Tag from Selection” option. Right-click the p tag and ensure the language setting is correct.

Step 8: Final Checks

Save your file and run the accessibility checker one last time to ensure that everything is in order. If any issues remain, address them accordingly. In the example provided, the title was missing and was fixed by right-clicking and selecting “Fix.”


In this tutorial, we went through the process of converting a bilingual table in Microsoft Word into a PDF while ensuring its accessibility. Although there may be some challenges and bugs along the way, the final result should be a fully accessible PDF document that meets PDF UA and WCAG standards. Thank you for joining us on this journey, and don’t forget to like and subscribe for more accessibility content!

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