Accessible PDF and Office Documents

Attributes of accessible PDF and Office documents include:

  • Text within the file is selectable and search-able (text is not rendered as an image)
  • Document language is specified (e.g. "English")
  • Document structure is tagged to define a logical reading order and to identify headers, paragraphs, data tables, form and other page elements
  • Images have alternative text descriptions
  • Color contrast is sufficient and information is not conveyed using color alone

PDF documents 

We recommend Adobe Acrobat Professional software for creating the most accessible PDF documents.   Note: MIT Faculty and Staff can download Adobe Acrobat Pro at http://ist.mit.edu/acrobatopens in new window (MIT Certificates required).

Overview of Adobe Acrobat PDF Accessibilityopens in new window 

Authoring Techniques for Acrobat Pro 11opens in new window

Lynda.com tutorial on creating accessible PDFsopens in new window

Microsoft Office and Open Office Documents

PDF documents are typically exported from source documents authored in Microsoft Office or Open Office.   We recommend incorporating accessible elements into your source documents.    Styles, Headers, Alternative Text, Tables, and Links, make both your Office and your exported PDF documents more accessible.