How to perform the Accessibility Audit in a PDF document?

Accessibility Audit means making a PDF document compatible with assistive technologies like screen readers(NVDA, JAWS, VoiceOver).

Process to make a PDF document accessible.

Things to Remember

There are certain guidelines and steps which make it easier to audit these documents. Making documents accessible contains two parts:

  1. Remediation: Its like enhancement in the document at the structure level to make it compatible with different screen readers.
  2. Audit: It is the QA part where we test the entire documents on various screen readers. The audit is done at the content level. This blog will discuss only about the Audit part.


  • Acrobat Pro DC
    • The paid version of the Acrobat reader used to perform Remediation and Audit on the PDF documents.
    • To analyze the tagging structure we need this version of Acrobat.
    • This also helps to run the Accessibility Tool checker on the document at the initial level.
    • To Export the HTML version of the report generated by the Accessibility Tool Checker.
    • Setting the PDF metadata like Title, Author, Subject, Language, etc.
  • Acrobat Reader 9
    • Perform an audit using this application as the end-user may not have the Acrobat Pro DC version.
    • The free tool can be used on multiple machines for compatibility testing.
  • Any Assistive Technology(NVDA, JAWS, Voiceover)
    • Screen reader which helps to read the entire document.
  • Color contrast Analyzer tool
    • Used to test the content if it is passing color contrast guidelines.

Step 1: Tagging of document

As in HTML, we have to put each data in pre-defined tags. This makes these documents compatible with assistive technologies.

  • There are two versions of the document present:
    • Untagged Document: This is a raw document, where content is present without any tags. When we run an accessibility tool checker it will give errors and warning with suggestion to tag the document.
    • Tagged Document: To make a document accessible we have to make it tagged. For this, we could use the Autotag Document option in the Acrobat Pro DC version.

Step 2: Run Accessibility Tool

Once the document is remediated and ready for QA, we have to, first of all, run the Accessibility Tool Checker to get a high-level status of the document. To run the accessibility tool we have to follow the below steps:

  • Open the PDF document in Acrobat Pro DC.
  • Click on the Accessibility button in the right panel.
Accessibility option in the right panel.
  • Click on Full Check
Full Check button in right panel.
  • Make sure all the options selected in the Accessibility Checker Options pop box.
Accessibility Checker Options pop-up box.
  • Click on the Start Checking button in above pop-up box.
  • Once processing gets finish report will appear in the left panel with a count of issues in different sections.
Accessibility Issues in the left Panel.
  • To view the entire tagging expand the each section.
  • To view the recommendation for each issue click on the Accessibility Report button in the left panel.
    • If option not available in the left panel – click on the drop-down below the Accessibility Checker and click Show Report in the context menu.
Show Report button in the Accessibility Checker drop-down.
  • In the same panel, the Accessibility report would open and we could analyze all the issues.
Accessibility Report Sample

Step 4: Document Properties

Now we have to verify that all the metadata information is correct and present in the PDF document properties. Below is the main information which needs to be validated as per requirement:

  1. Title
  2. Author
  3. Subject
  4. Keywords
  5. Language

To view, the document properties click on File > Properties. Navigate to the Description and Advanced tab to validate all the above information.

Document Properties pop-up box.

Step 5: Content QA using Screen Readers

In this, we have to check that the user is able to access each content of the document in a correct manner. While performing QA using Screen Readers we have to take care below points:

  1. Reading Order: As per standards content should be readable from left to right and top to bottom.
  2. Header and Footer: Content in the header and footer should be read-only once at the starting of the document or only for the first instance.
  3. Content-Type and Correctness: Content read by the screen reader and present in the document should be the same. This means the same information should be conveyed to normal as well as people with accessibility.
  4. Color Contrast: Checking that the information is not conveyed to the user using color only. And, the color combination of foreground and background is visible for the user having low-vision.
  5. Keyboard shortcuts for navigation methods using Headings, Tables, List, Links, Images.

Content-Type and Correctness

  1. Special Characters, numeric values, year, date, abbreviations
  2. Image Alt Text and Decorative Image
  3. Normal Content
  4. Heading
  5. List
  6. Table
  7. Links
  8. Form Fields

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            Ashok Kumar is working in an IT Company as a QA Consultant. He has started his career as a Test Trainee in manual testing in August 2010. Then he moves towards the automation testing after 4 years. He started learning JAVA and Selenium by self to get the knowledge of automation.

       While learning these tools and working on multiple projects, he found that sometimes people get stuck in live scenarios in their project and they have to do lots of RnD to get out of it. So he decided to start blogging only for such scenarios, where anyone facing any problem in their project, can ask any question or give a solution or you can say an alternate solution to achieve the goal successfully.

Later on, he observed that some people want to learn Java but they have few questions in their mind like how to start Java, whether we should go for the online or offline course. So he started writing tutorials on Java, Jira, Selenium, Excel etc.