Accessible Information & Communication

Creating Accessible Documents

It is the shared responsibility of all members of the GBC community to ensure that all materials (course outlines, reading lists, assignments, articles, test, examinations, notes, marketing materials and any handouts) are available in accessible formats. In addition, all documents sent to the Web Publishing Team for inclusion on any George Brown web page, must be accessible. Please review the resources and tutorials below to ensure you are familiar with how to meet these standards.

Recommended Resources:

How to Create Accessible Documents Tutorials

The ‘Accessibility Checker’ and ‘Make Accessible’ wizard

Adobe Acrobat Pro comes bundled with two useful accessibility features; the Accessibility Checker and the Make Accessible Wizard. Play the video below to see how these two features work, using a sample PDF, by running an accessibility check first, followed by the Make Accessible wizard.

Document properties

For a PDF to be fully accessible, you need to fill in the following document Properties fields: Title, Description, Author, and Keywords. Making manual changes to the document properties in a PDF is a simple process, demonstrated in the video below.


PDF ‘Tags’ determine the content that will be read back to users of assistive technologies, such as screen readers. The video below demonstrates how to manually tag a PDF using the ‘Touch Up Reading Order’ tool.

Logical reading order for screen readers

As shown in the previous video, ‘Tags’ provide the document structure on which accessibility is based. Without tags, screen readers are unable to narrate content, so a certain amount of manual checking, and fixing, may need to occur in order to ensure that content will be read back in a logical manner, as demonstrated in the video below.

Alternate text

Alternate (or Alt) text should be added to images in PDFs, especially if the Alt text was omitted from the image in the original source file before it was converted to PDF. Screen readers use Alt text to describe an image, or photo, to persons with visual impairments, so that they understand what type of mood, or information, the image is trying to convey. The following video displays how to add Alt text to images.

Backgrounding elements, such as images and graphics

Decorative images that contain no relevant information, including lines or other graphics separating sections of a page, can be backgrounded using the ‘Artifact’ tag. Backgrounding elements means that they’ll be ignored by screen readers. View the video below to see how to ‘background’ graphics.

Tagging header rows in tables

When using tables to present data, we need to make sure that the header cells in the top row are tagged so that the logical relationships among rows and columns are preserved and recognized by assistive technologies, such as screen readers. The following video demonstrates how to properly tag header rows in tables.