Introduction to Creating Alternative Text in Adobe Acrobat DC Pro

PDFs are a common file format found in academia and industry. Downloaded articles are very frequently given in PDF form; however, many of these downloaded PDFs are inaccessible to screen reader users due to lack of proper accessibility supports. Almost 7.3 million people in the United States rely on screen readers to fully access documents such as PDFs through Adobe Acrobat, meaning that faculty need to be aware of PDF accessibility shortcomings and how to remediate them.

Luckily, all MSU Denver faculty have access to Adobe Acrobat through the university; ITS has information on installing Acrobat through the software center for both Windows and Apple computers.

One way to work on remediating inaccessible PDFs is by adding Alt-Text to any meaningful images and graphics in the PDF, and marking images that do not provide meaningful content as decorative.

The Basics for Adding Alternative Text in Adobe Acrobat

  1. Open the document in Adobe Acrobat.
  2. Click Edit PDF on the right-hand side of the screen.
    • This will prompt a review of the file by Optical Character Recognition Software, which will identify text, tables, and images in the document.
    • Once this operation is complete, review and correct the document to ensure full accessibility of the text.
  3. Click Tools in the upper-left corner.
  4. Click the Accessibility option at the bottom of the menu; this will bring up an additional menu on the right side of your document.
  5. Click Auto-tag Document in the Accessibility Menu to identify all images.
  6. Click Set Alternative Text; this will open an additional window with the title ‘Set Alternative Text’.
  7. Type the Alternative Descriptive Text in the small window that appears on the screen (see Tips for Writing Alt-Text at the bottom).
    • Note: If the picture is decorative, or fulfills no purpose check, the box labeled ‘Decorative Image. This will prevent the image from being read by screen readers.
  8. Click on the right arrow to move to the next image in the document.
  9. Click the Save & Close button once all images have been given alternative text.

Connect with the Instructional Accessibility Group

Improve your instructional accessibility through the IAG live trainings, access checks for individual materials, or course reviews.

Have more questions or need additional assistance? Email the Instructional Accessibility Group