Adobe Accessibility: Forms

Build Your Form in Microsoft Word First

Though it may seem best to create your form natively within the Adobe Forms Central tool that comes with Adobe Acrobat Professional, there are several limitations to Adobe Forms.

Limitations of Adobe Forms Central

  • No ability to add alternate text to images and graphs.
  • No ability to add bullets, tables, or other structural formatting.
  • Once the form is converted to an Adobe PDF, it becomes read only so that you are unable to apply an accessibility fixes.

To build an accessible structure within Microsoft Word, please see the Microsoft Documents and Adobe PDFs training.  In this lesson, I’ll show you some basics, but won’t cover all scenarios.

Convert the Word Doc to a PDF Form

  1. First, verify that you have the latest version of Adobe Professional.  It’s always best to have the latest version of Adobe to prevent compatibility issues.
  2. Open Adobe Acrobat Professional.
  3. Select File > Create > Create Form.
  4. Select Create from an Existing Document, select the File, and click Continue.  The PDF Form will be generated.

Clean up the Auto-Assigned Form Fields

  1. Remove all form fields that were added accidentally.
  2. Add form fields where they should apply.  You have the following types of form fields to choose from:
    • Text Field
    • Checkbox
    • Radio Button
    • List Box
    • Dropdown
    • Button
    • Digital Signature
    • Barcode
  3. As you are adding each field, please ensure you add both a “Name” and “Tooltip.”  We’ll go over both in more detail in the next slide. 

Add a New Form Field

  1. Enter a Name for the field.  All fields must have a different name.  For example, if you have two date fields, they should be labeled differently, such as Approval Date and Requested Date.  Enter a name that is relevant and descriptive.
  2. Select “Required” if the field is required.
  3. Double click the form field to add additional properties, including the Tool Tip, which is key to not only providing additional instruction to all users, but will be used by a screen reader to provide instructions for completing the field. For example, in the Request made by field, instead of adding additional field labels below the field for Name, Title, and Date, the recommendation would be to enter that content in the Tool Tip so that it reads “Enter the Name and Title of the Requestor along with the date of request in this field.”
  4. Don’t forget to change the Text size and font under the Appearance tab in the field properties. 

Run the Adobe Accessibility Report

  1. Once you have assigned all field names and tool tips, you can close the form editor.  You’ll see the form as the user would see it. 
  2. Verify you have saved the latest version of the form.
  3. Over on the right side, you should have a Tools menu.  If you don’t, click Tools at the top right corner to expand it.
  4. Select the Accessibility menu option.  The Accessibility sub-menu will expand.
  5. Select the Full Check menu item.  A pop up window will appear. 
  6. Select the Start Checking button.

Last Updated

Kelly Weeks
July 28, 2019