PDFs from InDesign

Adobe InDesign, if used to create a document that is ultimately exported to PDF, is capable of producing a PDF that is reasonably accessible. However, creating an accessible document using InDesign requires authors to follow a specific workflow. This workflow is described in detail on Adobe’s Creating accessible PDFs page. The following is a high-level summary of the steps required.

Techniques using InDesign

  • Create your document using paragraph styles (Window > Styles > Paragraph Styles). These aren’t just a good idea—they’re required for accessibility. Use them consistently throughout the document to define styles for all text, including headings and sub-headings. For headings, use styles that indicate the heading level (e.g., Heading1, Heading2) within the organizational structure of the document (headings should form an outline of the document).
  • Associate each of the styles you’ve created with specific PDF tags. From the Paragraph Styles options menu, select “Edit All Export Tags…”, check the PDF radio button, then select the relevant tags for each of your styles.
  • Add alt text to images (Object > Object Export Options > Alt Text).
  • Establish content read order with the Articles panel (Window > Articles). Simply drag content from the document into the Articles panel in the order in which it should be read by screen readers. To drag multiple items, select them in the correct read order using Shift+click, then drag them all at once to the Articles panel.
  • Export to PDF, be sure to select “Adobe PDF (Interactive)” for Format, and check the “Create Tagged PDF” checkbox.