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Accessibilité des documents

Qu'est-ce que le pdf accessible ? Tout ce qu'il faut savoir

Posté par : 
le 22 février 2023 de USA

You know you need to create accessible content, but what do we mean when we talk about PDF accessibles? We’re here to help you understand everything you need to know about them!

What is the difference between a PDF and an accessible PDF?

A Portable Document Format (PDF) document is one of the most used digital formats. With their versatility, as they can be created from a variety of platforms, PDFs tend to be the go-to document format for small and large organizations alike. Almost all software tools that generate digital files support the PDF format and even allow users to create PDF versions of their files from within their software apps.

However, they are not accessible when they are first generated.

A PDF document is considered accessible only if it can be used by anyone in an independent and barrier-free way. That means that people who use assistive technology, like lecteurs d'écran, should be able to navigate your document with ease once it’s genuinely accessible.

What is an accessible PDF?

An accessible PDF is a document that has been properly tagged, making it universally easy to use and meets the established accessibility standards, including Article 508WCAG 2.1 et PDF/UA.

An accessible PDF allows people who use assistive technology, like screen readers, to view, read and interact with the document in an independent and barrier-free manner.

How do we make PDFs accessible? It happens with we properly tag a PDF, A PDF and provide it with a structure.

What are tags in an Adobe PDF?

When it comes to PDFs, tags or a tags tree are what make PDFs accessible. They create a structure for the document, which, in turn, becomes the accessibility markups that, when they’re properly applied, can help optimize the reading and usability experience for people using assistive technology, like screen readers.

The common elements that are focused on in the PDF remédiation process include, but are not limited to:

  • Rubriques
  • Liens
  • Listes
  • Tableaux
  • Images

When a PDF document is tagged correctly and fully accessible and compliant, it improves the end-user experience and your document’s search engine optimization (SEO), making it easier to find when people search for information.

Workflow for creating accessible PDFs

The quick and easy answer for creating an accessible PDF within Adobe Acrobat Pro is as follows:

  1. Set the document properties.
  2. Tag the PDF (headings, links, lists, tables images, etc.)
  3. Create bookmarks within longer documents.
  4. Make any graphics or images accessible by adding alternative text.
  5. Check the colour contrast of the content within the document.
  6. Check the logical reading order within the Order pane.
  7. Create navigational links within the document.
  8. Make your tables accessible.

Now, this seems easy enough, but it can be quite tedious and time consuming, depending on the complexity of the content. The best way to minimize your remediation efforts would be by making your document as accessible as possible before converting it to a PDF.

Considering accessibility before converting documents to PDFs

Whether you’re creating a document using the Microsoft Suite, Google Workspace or through InDesign, ensuring your making those documents as accessible as possible will save you a significant amount of time when you are remediating its PDF version.

Using your paragraph styles within these platforms will help add tagging structure to your content, like an <H1> tag will be for your Heading 1 items, while a <P> tag will be associated with your body copy.

If you have images, add in the alternative text to them before you export to a PDF. Again, this will save you time once you’re remediating.

These are easy for simple types of documents, but what about more complex ones, like fillable forms?

Fillable form fields and descriptions

Creating fillable forms is another avenue where organizations use PDFs. If your PDF includes form fields, use Tools > Accessibility > Run Form Field Recognition to detect form fields and make them interactive (fillable).

In Adobe Acrobat Pro, you’d create a fillable PDF file as follows:

  1. Open Acrobat:

Click on the “Tools” tab and select “Prepare Form.”

  • Select a file or scan a document:

Acrobat will automatically analyze your document and add form fields.

  • Add new form fields:

Use the top toolbar and adjust the layout using tools in the right pane.

  • Save your fillable PDF:

You can also share it with others or click Distribute to collect responses automatically.

It seems simple enough, but how accessible are they?

When you’re creating your form fields, you’re also need to add in a tool tip, which would be an explanation of what is required to properly answer the question. This information is used by assistive technology to provide additional context or description. Once the form fields have been added, the person creating the document will then need to properly tag the fields within the tags tree to ensure accurate navigation of the form itself.

Don’t forget to set the tab order

The tab order determines how a user can navigate through the fields in a form using a keyboard. The creator of the form can customize the tab order from its default setting of geographical order (left-to-right and top-to-bottom).

To check your PDF’s tab order, you would go to View > Tools > Forms > Edit within Adobe Acrobat Pro. There, you’ll find all the form fields listed in their current tab order in a side panel. You simply need to drag fields to their correct position within the tab order.

Repairing PDF tagging issues with Adobe Acrobat Pro

When it comes to remediation, Adobe Acrobat Pro is still one of the go-to software used to fix PDFs for accessibility. To repair PDF tagging issues with Adobe Acrobat Pro, you will need to open the Tags pane on the left-hand navigation.

From there, you can edit things like:


En tant qu'outils de navigation, les titres (H1, H2, H3, etc.) permettent d'organiser les documents et d'informer les lecteurs de leur contenu.

Les titres aident à rendre le contenu plus compréhensible pour les personnes utilisant des technologies d'assistance en le divisant en sections faciles à digérer et en créant des repères de navigation dans le document. En outre, les personnes utilisant des technologies d'assistance peuvent choisir de ne lire que les titres d'un document afin de savoir ce qu'il contient.

Un PDF sans titres obligerait un utilisateur de technologie d'assistance à lire chaque ligne du document pour trouver ce qu'il cherche.


When creating a PDF, you might have added links for your users to learn more about a specific topic. These links need to be tagged as links when you’re remediating.

Si vous n'indiquez pas où mène un lien, les utilisateurs finaux risquent de ne pas se rendre compte qu'ils vont quitter votre document ni où ils vont aboutir.


Les listes doivent être balisées d'une manière spécifique afin d'éviter que chaque élément n'apparaisse comme un ensemble de mots sans rapport entre eux et sans contexte.

Lorsqu'une liste est correctement balisée, la technologie d'assistance de l'utilisateur final est informée du nombre d'éléments contenus dans la liste et de l'endroit où ils se trouvent dans la liste.


En général, les tableaux peuvent être difficiles à comprendre avec les technologies d'assistance. Chaque cellule doit être désignée par sa ligne et sa colonne, mais des informations supplémentaires peuvent être nécessaires pour comprendre correctement les données. Des éléments tels que les en-têtes de colonnes et de lignes doivent être identifiés pour faciliter la navigation dans l'ordre des données.


For assistive technology to read images, they require alternative (alt-text) text.

Le texte alternatif explique le "pourquoi" d'une image par rapport au contenu d'un document. Il s'agit essentiellement de l'image décrite en mots lus à haute voix par les dispositifs d'assistance, tels que les lecteurs d'écran, et indexés par les moteurs de recherche.

An image missing alt-text within a PDF is read as an image or graphic, but no additional context or information will be provided.

Now, if the image is simply decorative, it doesn’t require alt-text, but rather it needs to be artifacted within the document’s tags. These items can include, but are not limited to:

  • Images de fond
  • Boîtes
  • Logos répétitifs
  • Éléments de conception tels que les lignes, les cercles et les carrés

What about tags in combined PDFs?

When you combine multiple PDFs into one tagged PDF, you will want to double-check the tags tree, and potentially retag the entire combined document.

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