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Creating Accessible PDFs with Adobe Acrobat Professional

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Ensuring Proper Page Structure

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Modifying an Element Type

If a tag is not properly identified, it needs to be changed so that the contents below it will be properly identified by ATs. This will ensure that all the correct options are available for modifying the content within the document.

For example, bigger, bolded text is sometimes identified as a paragraph in the tag structure, but to provide proper hierarchical information to the user, the tag needs to be structured as a heading.

To change a tag’s type through the properties dialog:

  1. Ensure the tag in question is selected in the Tags pane.
  2. Activate the Context menu of the tag and select Properties from the options.
    In the TouchUp Properties dialog box, select the proper element from the Type combo box.
    TouchUp Properties dialog showing the Type combo box highlighted
  3. Select the Close button and verify the tag type has changed in the Tags pane.

To change a tag’s type even if the Touchup Properties dialog is grayed out:

  1. Ensure the tag in question is selected in the Tags pane.
  2. Press F2 on the keyboard.
  3. Confirm the tag has become editable.
    A Heading 2 tag in the tag's pane is now editable
  4. Type the desired name of the tag.
    Note: The Tag name must be exactly the same as the name Acrobat uses so that it maps to the proper element in the Role Map (so that the Role Map does not need to be modified).

Controlling Reflow

For low vision and mobility impaired users, it is important to check that the document flows properly, in the way originally intended, after any editing or formatting changes. “Reflowing” will eliminate horizontal scrolling in a document. If low vision users need to zoom-in to read a document, once it is reflowed they do not have to worry about horizontal scrolling to see all the content.

Properly structuring elements in the Tag tree affects the reflow of documents. It is important to check that content is in the proper reading order and contained within appropriate tags. For example, if a table is under a figure tag in the Tags pane, the table will not reflow properly. Some tags, such as figures, will not allow the content to be zoomed-in.

A document can be reflowed by navigating to View > Zoom > Reflow in the menu structure or by using the CTRL + 4 keyboard shortcut.

In the image below, a sample section of a document is shown in a side-by-side comparison of how the table and text in the document would look when it is not reflowed and when the reflow option is applied. The top part of the image shows the document not using reflow. When reflow is not used, text flows off the page to the right and a horizontal scroll bar that appears in the viewing application is necessary to read the rest of the content on that page. However, when reflow is applied (the bottom half of the image below) text is wrapped around to a new line to prevent a horizontal scroll bar from appearing. While the reflowed text may seem more difficult to read, not having to horizontally scroll a page is a major consideration for mobility impaired and low vision users.

Side by side comparison of how a document looks when it is not reflowed and when it is properly reflowed

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