Accessing PDF Documents with Assistive Technology
Using Adobe Reader with JAWS
its author, screen readers do a better job of interpreting the document’s structure, which also makes
it easier to use your screen reader’s keystroke commands to navigate and read the document.
Adobe Acrobat is the most popular so晴ware for creating PDF documents; and it includes a feature that analyzes
the accessibility of a PDF ﬁle. It reports potential problems, including ambiguous structure and unlabeled
pictures. Acrobat can also automatically add tags when the document’s content makes it clear which tags are
appropriate. Some tagging, however, must be done manually. You can use Acrobat to produce an accessibility
report that identiﬁes potential problems, and then correct these problems by selecting a portion of the document
and selecting a tag to indicate its purpose. For example, Adobe Acrobat cannot tell what a picture contains,
so you need to enter a caption tag for the picture manually. 周e manual tagging process can take some time,
depending on the complexity of the document. For more online resources that make it easier to design accessible
PDF documents, including guidance on how to properly tag a document, visit
Electronic forms are an increasingly popular use of PDF. Although some PDF forms are simply documents
that are to be printed and ﬁlled out by hand, many can be ﬁlled out electronically using your computer and
screen reader. 周ese forms are similar to HTML forms you may encounter on the Internet, and they have
many of the same accessibility issues. A simple PDF form may ask for basic information such as your name
and address. More complex PDF forms can gather signiﬁcantly more information. You can use an IRS
form, for example, to enter income, tax withholdings, marital status, and the number of children you have.
Like any PDF document, forms must have a logical structure with proper tagging to be accessible for screen
readers. In addition to establishing a proper read order, PDF forms must have a logical tab order deﬁned. When
ﬁlling out these forms, users move from one entry ﬁeld to another by pressing the Tab key. If the ﬁelds are
tagged with improper labels, it is nearly impossible for a screen reader user to know what to enter in each ﬁeld.
Using Adobe Reader with JAWS
JAWS for Windows, made by Freedom Scientiﬁc, works with Adobe Reader to read PDF
documents. JAWS can also read other types of documents in a word processor or on the
Internet. Typically, you read PDF documents using the virtual PC cursor, just as you would when
using Internet Explorer. 周is user guide was written for JAWS version 7.0 and above.
Overview of JAWS support for Adobe Reader
周e JAWS built-in Help system provides extensive guidance for using Adobe Reader,
including a short overview, links to other resources, and the following topics:
JAWS Commands for using Reader
Reader Getting Started
You can access this information in two ways.
If you are using Adobe Reader, you can simply hold down the Insert key and press F1 twice rapidly. 周is
will open the tree view of JAWS Help Topics with your cursor positioned on the Adobe Acrobat and Reader
topic. Press Enter, and then F6, to open a page with all the JAWS Adobe Help information and links.