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Acrobat 9 and Accessibility

As you may know, Acrobat 9 has recently been released. Fortunately for all, making PDFs accessible is even easier than ever.

There’s some good information on the Acrobat 9 accessibility FAQ page, and many accessibility features are explained. Here are the highlights:

  • Acrobat has an OCR text recognition feature that allows you to apply OCR to the scanned pages.
  • The form tools in Acrobat 9 Pro and Acrobat 9 Pro Extended allow you to automatically recognize form fields in PDF files and Microsoft Word documents.
  • Several tools can create tagged PDF files automatically, including: Microsoft Office applications when Acrobat is installed; the most recent versions of Adobe FrameMaker┬«, InDesign┬«, LiveCycle Designer ES, and PageMaker┬«; the Web Capture feature in Acrobat.

Podcast on creating accessible PDFs

[update June 6] Refresh Detroit’s next meetup will feature a presentation on this topic. Acrobat: Features, accessibility, and version 9 – June 18, 2008

5 replies on “Acrobat 9 and Accessibility”

Strictly speaking, this is fine as long as the PDF is tagged properly for accessibility. But even so, remember that PDFs should not be used for main content, it should also be represented in a normal web page. Hard core folks will say that this goes for ALL PDF content, ‘supporting’ content as well as ‘main’ content.

Applications can create tagged documents, but it’s not automatic. The original document must be structured correctly and the appropriate preferences need to be set when creating the PDF. For example, in Microsoft Word for Windows, use styles, define headers when creating the document, add bookmarks and hyperlinks when converting to PDF.

Unfortunately, creating tagged PDFs from Microsoft Word for the Mac 2004 and 2008 documents is not possible, the conversion settings are not supported.

I should have included that Acrobat 9 doesn’t include PDFMaker for the Mac, since the PDFMaker features can’t be programmed for use on Mac.

The PDFMaker menu and toolbar is included only for Windows products in Acrobat 9. The PDF Printer is available for Mac users, as is Apple Save As PDF.

In the past few months, I’ve spent a lot of time on both the Mac and Windows producing PDF files at the college I work at. I learned that producing tagged PDFs on the Mac with Acrobat/Office is problematic.

We often supply content in PDF’s so that clients have an easy print option, however what concerns me is if I have the information in a Web Page and in a PDF – the search engines will penalize me.

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