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Setting Up Acrobat

In order to create accessible PDF files, and fix already existing PDF files you’ll need versions 8 and above of Acrobat Professional. Earlier versions of Acrobat have features to help make PDF files accessible, but the later versions are much better. Please note the the Standard versions of Acrobat do not allow for editing tags and cannot be used to make accessible PDF files and Acrobat Reader is not for editing.

You’ll need to locate a few panels and tool bars in order to make PDF files accessible.

Acrobat 10 and 11:

Navigation Panes

Right click on the Navigation Panes panel (the dark gray area to the left of your work space) and a Menu will open as seen in the figure below.

Navigation Panes Menu

Navigation Panes Menu

Choose the following, one at a time (it doesn’t matter what order – they will be put in a specified order on the Navigation Panes panel:

  • Content
  • Order
  • Tags

Your Navigation Pane panel should now look like the figure below.

Navigation Panes with the new panes added

Navigation Panes with the new panes added

Tools Panel

The Accessibility Tools can be found in the Tools panel on the right of Acrobat’s window. If you’ve not used Acrobat before, or if you’ve not set Acrobat up for creating accessible PDF files, your tools panel might look like the image below after selecting Tools on the top right of Acrobat’s window

Tools Panel once Tools has been selected

Tools Panel once Tools has been selected

To view the accessibility tool panel, click on the Options Menu (see below) in the upper right hand corner and choose Accessibility as shown in the image below. You can also choose other tool panels you think you may need.

Tools Panel options menu with Accessibility selected

Tools Panel options menu with Accessibility selected

Select the Accessibility Tools panel it will open and, as seen in the figures below, and you have access to a number of accessibility options.

Acrobat 10

Accessibility Tools Panel Acrobat 10

Accessibility Tools Panel Acrobat 10

Acrobat 11

Accessibility Tools Panel Acrobat 11

Accessibility Tools Panel Acrobat 11

While not vital, you can also add these tools to your toolbar for quick access.

If this is your first time opening Acrobat, or if you’ve not added Accessibility Tools to your Toolbar, your Toolbar should look like the figure below.

Adobe Acrobat X toolbar with the default tools shown

Adobe Acrobat X toolbar with the default tools shown (XI is very similiar)

Now you’ll want to right-click on the Toolbar and choose Quick Tools (Acrobat 10) or Edit Current Tool Set (Acrobat 11) as shown in the images below.

Acrobat 10

Toolbar menu with Quick Tools selected -- Acrobat 10

Toolbar menu with Quick Tools selected — Acrobat 10

Acrobat 11

Toolbar menu with Edit Current Tool Set selected -- Acrobat 11

Toolbar menu with Edit Current Tool Set selected — Acrobat 11

The directions and appearance are different for this in Acrobat 10 and Acrobat 11. You can find the directions and screenshots for Acrobat 11 a bit further down.

Acrobat 10

A dialog box will appear as shown in the images below. Expand the Accessibility Tools by clicking on the + sign in front of Accessibility.

Quick Tools dialog box with the Accessibility Tools highlighted

Quick Tools dialog box with the Accessibility Tools highlighted

Select the following tools under Accessibility in the Choose Quick Tools to Add pane (hold down the CTRL key to select more than one):

  • Full Check
  • Open Accessibility Report
  • Add Tags to Document
  • Run Form Field Recognition
  • Add Form Fields to Tags
  • TouchUp Reading Order

Select the top triangle button in the middle of the two panes and the tools you selected will move to the Quick Tools to Show pane. You might also want to choose the separator (the green icon between the two triangle buttons) and move it up between the original tools and accessibility tools. (Use the triangle buttons on the far right to do that.)

Select OK when your dialogue box looks like the figure below.

Quick Tools dialog box with the accessibility tools in the Quick Tools to Show pane

Quick Tools dialog box with the accessibility tools in the Quick Tools to Show pane

Your toolbar should now look like the figure below.

Toolbar of Adobe Acrobat X with the added tools shown

Toolbar of Adobe Acrobat X with the added tools shown

Acrobat 11

A dialog box will appear as shown in the images below. Expand the Accessibility Tools by clicking on the triangle in front of Accessibility.

Edit Tool Set dialog box with the Accessibility Tools expanded

Edit Tool Set dialog box with the Accessibility Tools expanded

Select the following tools under Accessibility in the Choose Tools to Add pane (there does not seem to be an option to add more than one at a time) and press the + sign in the green circle next to the upward pointing arrow. Then choose Save:

  • Accessibility Full Check
  • Open Accessibility Report
  • Add Tags to Document
  • Set Alternate Text
  • Run Form Field Recognition
  • Add Form Fields to Tags
  • TouchUp Reading Order

Your toolbar will look similar to the toolbar shown in Acrobat 10’s screenshot above.

Acrobat 8 and 9:

Panels – Once you open the panels whose locations are described below, you may want to lock them to the sidebar for easy access. To do that, simply drag the panel by the tab to your sidebar and it will stick there.

  • Tags – Found in the menu bar under View > Navigation Panels > Tags
  • Order – Found in the menu bar under View > Navigation Panels >Order
  • Content -Found in the menu bar under View > Navigation Panels > Content
  • Pages – Found in the menu bar under View > Navigation Panels > Pages

Toolbars – Once you open the tool bars, drag them to the toolbar and they’ll stick. Another way to locate them is to right-click on the toolbar and choose “More Tools”. You can check the tools you want to show within each toolbar.

  • Advanced Editing – Found in the menu bar under View > Toolbars > Advanced Editing (make sure you also choose the Touch Up Reading Order Tool  by right-clicking on the toolbar and choosing “More Tools” and placing a check mark in the box in front of Touch Up Reading Order tool)
  • Keep the default toolbars (although you probably won’t need the “Tasks” tools)
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One Comment leave one →
  1. August 1, 2009 2:53 am

    Hi Dona,

    I’m learning so much from your blog about PDF accessibility, a topic I’m trying very hard to understand for my work at the National Cancer Institute. Thank you for it!

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