Introduction to Remediating PDFs in Adobe Acrobat Pro

PDF documents are a common fixture in both academic and professional settings, but they are often inaccessible scans of physical documents. These documents often contain artifacts from the original scan that can impede the readability of the document for all especially those using screen readers. The resources on this page consist of a video tutorial and text instructions outlining the process of using Adobe Acrobat DC to remediate PDFs.

MSU Denver faculty, staff, and students have access to Adobe products with your MSU Denver account.

back to top


Basic Instructions for Remediating PDFs in Adobe Acrobat Pro

  1. Open a PDF document in Adobe Pro.
  2. Select ‘Edit PDF’ in the sidebar.
  3. Scroll through the document page-by-page to initiate Optical Character Recognition (OCR) on each page.
    • NoteAs you scroll the document review the OCR results on the page. Ensure they are correct and coherent. Acrobat will fix orientation issues automatically.
  4. Delete needless or distracting items like highlights and other artifacts.
  5. Edit any incorrect material like incomplete recognition or limited visibility.
  6. Create labels and titles to go with chapters and sections using the Reading Order in the Accessibility Tool.
    1. Ensure the Reading Order is accurate.
  7. Add a title to the PDF and set it to display in Acrobat.
    1. Select File then select Properties.
    2. In the Description tab, type in a title for the PDF.
    3. In the Initial View tab in the Window Options section, the Show drop-down menu can be set to Document Title so that when the PDF is open in Acrobat, it displays the title instead of the file name.
  8. Add Alt-text to URL links.
    1. If not already visible, open the Accessibility Tags pane by selecting View, then Show/Hide, then Navigation Panes, and then Accessibility Tags. This adds the tags pane to the left side of the screen with other navigation panes.
    2. Locate the Link tag in the tag tree and then right-click/alt-click on the Link tag, then select Properties; this will open a new window.
    3. In the Tag tab, enter replacement text in the Alternate Text box. Screen readers will read this text instead of the URL.
  9. Click on the File tab and hover over Save As
  10. Select Archivable PDF/A
  11. Select your destination.
  12. Click Save.

Now, a screen reader such as the Adobe Reader Read function, Read and Write, and JAWS can access your file. Don’t forget to set or adjust the reading order.

back to top

Additional External Resources on PDF Accessibility

There is actually a lot more to PDF Remediation to ensure everything is read and interpreted correctly such as making sure headings, paragraphs, and lists are properly identified using PDF Accessibility Tags.

Generally, remediating PDFs consists of at least the following areas:

  • Setting the document properties (step 7 above)
  • Tag the PDF (headings, lists, tables, images, artifacts, etc)
  • Ensure all images or graphics have alt-text (or possibly Long Descriptions appended)
  • Ensure the reading order is correct throughout the entire document
  • For long documents, create bookmarks
  • For documents with links, ensure link tags have all tag elements (including Link-OBJR) and navigate to the correct place
  • Ensure tables with structure and tags are correct

For more information on identifying, or “tagging,” the text in a PDF correctly, some external resources are listed below:

back to top

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