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Accessible PDF documents

​What is a 'tagged' PDF?

A correctly tagged PDF document allows a screen reader or other assistive technologies to navigate through a document and 'read' it to the user in the order it was intended. Tagging enables correct emphasis on different levels of heading and types of paragraphs, and allows explanation of photos, graphs and tables. The process doesn’t alter the ‘look’ of the document to a sighted person.

The purpose is to provide the same information to any person accessing the document – no matter how they choose to do so.

How do we tag a PDF?

We assign a tag (a hidden piece of information) to every item of document content. Each heading, paragraph, figure, table, list, note, reference, and even visual elements that are simply decorative, are tagged. This means that a blind reader or a reader with a vision impairment has full access to the whole document and does not miss any of the detail.


What is 'alt text'?

Complex visual items such as large tables, graphs, images and flow charts are also assigned alternative text (or alt text). This hidden piece of text is supporting information that is additional to the visual elements. The purpose of alt text is for a computer screen reader (or other assistive technology) to explain what a sighted person would gain from looking at the image. An example of alt text might be: 'The graph shows that chocolate cake was more popular than lemon cake for birthdays in Sydney, June to December 2017'.

Other document information

We also add bookmarks and descriptive information to the document to make it easier to recognise and navigate. This allows users to ‘skim’ the document by skipping from one block of content to another. Readers with vision impairments find this aspect particularly useful for long documents. The PDFs can also be protected to minimise user edits.

These enhancements improve the user experience for all users – not just people with a vision impairment.

Contact us today to find out how we can make your documents more accessible.


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