The fundamentals of an accessible PDF file


Presented at 11:30am in Denver 4-6 on Thursday, November 9, 2023.



  • Chad Chelius, Trainer/Consultant/Accessibility Wizard, Chax Training and Consulting

Session Details

  • Length of Session: 1-hr
  • Format: Lecture
  • Expertise Level: Beginner
  • Type of session: General Conference


Although the PDF format is frowned upon by some, it provides a robust file format for presenting content in a very accessible way. Unlike web pages, PDF files can be created by anyone. The key is creating them correctly to ensure that the PDF file is accessible to all users. This session breaks down what makes a PDF file accessible and what the requirements are in order for a PDF file to be accessible.


The PDF format is the most widely distributed file format in use today. So it's not surprising that people want to leverage that format to distribute accessible content to all users.

In this session, we break down the requirements needed in order for a PDF file to be accessible and we talk about the key elements of the file format that give us the control and capabilities to create an accessible PDF file.

We'll walk you through the accessible features found in Adobe Acrobat and what those features provide to users who use assistive technology. We'll show you why elements matter and what impact that have to the end user.

We'll also show you how to address some common barriers in PDF files that can prevent them from being accessible and show you alternative approaches to make those files as accessible as possible.

This session will focus on the use of Adobe Acrobat, the tools available within that program, and how you can manipulate files to provide a better experience to users of assistive technology.


  1. Adobe Acrobat can help you to make your PDF files accessible to all users.
  2. Understanding the requirements that make a PDF file accessible is key to producing an accessible PDF file.
  3. Learn about the requirements of an accessible PDF file and how it impacts users of assistive technology.

Disability Areas

All Areas

Topic Areas

Accessible Course Design, Accessible Educational Materials, Assistive Technology, Uncategorized, Universal Design for Learning

Speaker Bio(s)

Chad Chelius

Chad Chelius is a trainer, author, consultant, and speaker as well as Director of Training Solutioins and Principal for Chax Training and Consulting. He resides in the Philadelphia area and has been using Adobe products for over 25 years. He began his career in the design and publishing industry. As an Adobe Certified Instructor and consultant he teaches and advises on all Adobe print and web products, specializing in InDesign and InCopy workflows, Illustrator, automation, and PDF accessibility using InDesign, Word, and Adobe Acrobat. He works with clients both large and small in and outside of the United States, helping them to solve design, workflow, and accessibility challenges using Adobe products. Chad is a LinkedIn Learning author and you can connect with him on LinkedIn or Twitter.