Creating Accessible PDFs from Word Documents

When to Use?

Follow these instructions to create an accessible PDF file from a Word file.


Step 1 – In Word, verify that the document passes the accessibility checker. Once it is accessible in Word, save the document in PDF format.

Step 2 – Open the document in Adobe Acrobat. Adobe Acrobat provides an accessibility checker, which is available from the Tools menu (either from the side tool menu or from the View menu).

Accessing the Accessibility Checker menu from the Tools menu or the View menu at the top of the page.


NOTE: Acrobat Reader DC does not provide the accessibility tool.

Step 3 – When the Accessibility menu opens, select Full Check.

Full Check option from the Accessibility Checker menu.


Step 4 – When the Accessibility Checker Options dialog box opens, click Start Checking.

Accessibility Checker Options menu with the Start Checking button.


Step 5 – An accessibility checker report is generated. Issues needing repair are bold in the report.

Accessibility report created after running the accessibility checker.

If you do not know how to repair the issue, click on the bold text in the report to highlight it. Then, click on the menu icon. Choose Explain. A browser page (tab) will open, which contains an explanation of how to fix the issue.

Menu in the Accessibility Report, which provides an option to seek more information about correcting the issue. Choose the Explain option to proceed.


Step 6 – Once all issues have been fixed, save the document.


Images, Graphics, and Alt Text

If you are proficient in Word, it is easier to make images and graphics accessible than by using Adobe Acrobat Pro. If you are a regular user of Acrobat Pro, follow the instructions below. Also refer to the Workflow for Creating Accessible PDFs.

When using images that convey information, make sure to assign descriptive and meaningful alt-text.

Again, if this step was completed in Word, it doesn’t not need to be completed again in Adobe Acrobat.

Reading Order

The Reading Order tool is intended for repairing PDFs that were tagged using Acrobat, not for repairing PDFs that were tagged during conversion from Word. Whenever possible, return to the source file and add accessibility features. Repairing the original file ensures that you don’t have to repeatedly touch up future iterations of the PDF in Acrobat.


  • Don’t solely rely on color to convey meaning. When categorizing something by color alone, those who are colorblind may not be able to tell the difference.
  • Make sure you use contrasting colors. For example, using a dark gray on black is hard to see for those with low vision. Make sure there is sufficient contrast between your background and fonts. When in doubt, use this Color Contrast Analyzer to verify.

Manually Test Your Document

Use a screen reader on your PDF. If it can convey the same or equivalent information that a sighted person would receive in the order they should receive it, then the document is accessible to those who need a screen reader. 


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Article ID: 3895
Fri 3/4/22 2:21 PM
Mon 8/15/22 9:15 AM