Generating Accessible PDFs

  • Approach 1: Don't make infographics and avoid this whole thing! YAY!
  • Approach 2: Create the diagram in Microsoft Excel, Microsoft Word, or in something like Adobe Illustrator or Photoshop using individual text fields for individual paragraphs of text.

If using Microsoft Excel for Approach 2:
  • Try selecting the entire graphic and then copying and pasting it into Microsoft word to generate the PDF.
  • If the the chart that appears in Word after pasting it is too large, and cannot be shrunk down to the correct dimensions, then undo the above step, return to Excel, highlight the entire graphic area, then select File > Print Area > Set Print Area. Then, export it as a PDF.
If you already have a PDF and need to make it accessible:

Phase 1: OCR the PDF:
  1. Click Enhance Scans in the right pane.
  2. Click Recognize Text in the top pane, then select In This File.
  3. Make sure all the settings in the top sub-pane are correct, then click the Recognize Text button.

Phase 2: Add Alternate Text: If you find that the image is still not fully accessible, it may be necessary to add specific alt tags to individual image elements (or "figures," in Adobe Acrobat Pro DC). In the attached example, the blue timeline with months and years in it falls into this category.

  1. Click, Edit PDF. This will run a scan on the document. Let it finish.
  2. Run Accessibility Check by clicking Tools > Accessibility > Full Check.
  3. Autotag the document by clicking the option in the right pane for Autotag Document. This will open an Accessibility pane on the left.
  4. Scroll down that left pane and click on any of the links that say, "To fix this structure problem, click on this link to activate the Touch Up Reading Order tool."
  5. Select the specific image by double-clicking it. The options in the Touch Up Reading Order tool should brighten.
  6. Optional: Convert to Figure:  If not already set to be a figure, select the "Figure" option from the Touch Up Reading Order Window.
  7. Right-click on the image and select "Edit Alternate Text."
  8. Add your alternate text to the text field and then click the OK button.
If you don't follow Phase 2 in that order, Acrobat may not render individual images correctly. Also, it can error out while attempting it and either crash, or fail to render the figures individually. If that's the case, close the window without saving and try again.

So easy! :P