PDF Accessibility – When is Good, Good Enough?

Handouts Media

Scheduled at 9:15am in Penrose 1 on Wednesday, November 16.



  • Christa Miller, Associate Director of Services for Students with Disabilities, Virginia Tech

Session Details

  • Length of Session: 1-hr
  • Format: Interactive/Discussion
  • Expertise Level: All Levels
  • Type of session: General Conference


PDF as an accessible format continues to be on the chopping block. Some argue that the availability of more accessible formats makes PDF obsolete. And yet, there are still valid use-cases for PDF. Add to that greater awareness and campus policies requiring document accessibility. The pressure is on with content volume increasing and no additional resources. What can we do to find balance? How can we decide when a PDF is accessible "enough"?


Creating fully accessible PDF documents is daunting. It requires increasingly high levels of expertise based on the document's complexity. Even more challenging is vying for the attention of instructors, graduate teaching assistants and others to share the responsibility. This is particularly frustrating when a student needs coursework in a timely manner. How do you prioritize which documents deserve the most effort? Similarly, when time and resources are in competition what are reasonable trade-offs to make between accessible and usable?

In this interactive, discussion-based session, participants will explore a variety of PDF document ranging in complexity. Together we will consider strategies for prioritizing your work. We'll also consider impact, risk, and longevity. Ultimately, participants will decide when good enough is good enough.


  1. Determine strategies for prioritizing PDF usability and accessibility.
  2. Identify key factors for determining how accessible a PDF should be.
  3. Compare and contrast how strategies are affected by campus culture.

Disability Areas

Topic Areas

Accessible Educational Materials, Alternate Format, Uncategorized

Speaker Bio(s)

Christa Miller

Christa Miller started at Virginia Tech in 2006. After many years of accessible educational material development and alternative format production, she transitioned to a training-focused role. Her experience includes reading/writing Braille, developing captioning workflows, and working individually with instructors to create accessible content. Today she conducts one-time and semester-long training on accessibility and supervises the creation of accessible media. She also runs accessibility software pilots, collaborates on accessibility initiatives in other departments, and leads bi-annual cohorts of individuals preparing to become certified in accessibility core competencies. She is currently the Associate Director of Services for Students with Disabilities