Can fillable forms be made accessible?

Eric_TurnerEric_Turner Member
edited March 2018 in CCC Accessibility Center
I created a document in Microsoft Word, converted it to a PDF, and have no issues when I run a full accessibility check using Adobe Acrobat Pro. When I try adding fillable fields using the "Prepare Document" tool, they typically create an accessibility error because they're not tagged. But when I try using accessibility tools to autotag the document, new errors pop up in my tables, alternate text, and headings. Does anyone know how to fix these errors or have advice on how to create fillable forms that are accessible?


  • SherylSheryl Member
    edited March 2018
    Hi Eric

    Yes, it is possible to make fillable PDF forms accessible. We provide a service to make PDFs, including fillable PDF forms, accessible. You can complete the request through the portal

    Alternatively, Gian, who is our resident expert on PDF accessibility, is currently traveling to the States for a conference but should be able to get back to you later in the week with more information.

    Kind Regards
  • NicolasNicolas Member
    edited March 2018

    Yes.  It is possible to create accessible PDF documents.  However, there are a number of reasons that can make it more difficult.

    1. Was the Word document created with an accessible fillable pdf form as the final product?  It is common that a Word document may include underscores or lines. These are best left out, to be added with the Adobe forms tools. Tables that are used for layout can also create navigation challenges in the final form. 
    2. What form features will be part of the final document?  Fillable forms can be accessible and include drop-down boxes, check boxes, radio buttons, etc.  Text can be formatted, such as date fields.  When designing the Word version, it is helpful to take these considerations into account to make the best use of space on the form.
    3. Are headings used correctly in the Word version?
    4. Has alt text been created for all images in the Word version?

    Then, if using Adobe DC, you will have the option to add the form elements.  There you will control the tab order and accessibility labels.  The reading order for the rest of the form is set as with any other PDF.

    With some training and best practices as guidance, fillable pdf forms can be very accessible.

  • SherylSheryl Member
    edited March 2018
    Hi Eric

    I have double checked with our PDF expert and have the following feedback for you:

    "Unfortunately this is something that Microsoft and Acrobat together don’t do very well.

    Adding fields to the PDF is something that must be manual, and our recommendation would be to tag the form AFTER the form fields are added as retroactively adding fields and tags is VERY cumbersome."

    As mentioned previously, please get in touch via the portal if you would like us to help with the remediation.

    Kind regards


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