PDF and Digital Materials Remediation Checklist

This checklist provides guidelines for creating digital materials such as ILL scans, controlled digital lending, and theses. The levels (bronze, silver, and gold) are not meant to indicate importance, but amount of labor and resources required. Silver and above items are still necessary to ensure accessibility of your document. This checklist is meant to help train and educate workers on tools that can help make a document accessible and issues to look for when reviewing a document. It is intended to be adaptable, so depending on different situations (i.e., there are never images in what you are creating), items can be removed or added. Achieving bronze is a good place to start, and should allow you to begin assessing the resources (time, labor, technology), needed so that you can work to achieve silver and then gold. 

We have divided each section into the main aspects of every document, their properties, images, headings, and links. In the Bronze section, there are links to guidance for each aspect, explaining key issues and how to fix them. For each bullet point we have linked the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines criterion associated with it and any additional support to help with training. It may be helpful to become familiar with WCAG’s Accessibility Principles to understand the overall aim of the individual checklist items, and with JAWS to see how tagging is read by screen readers. There are JAWS demos for Properly tagged with links PDFs and tagged but with no links PDFs. This document is largely agnostic but it is difficult to create documentation without references to Adobe, JAWS, and other products. The work on this checklist also relied heavily on remediation documentation from the University of Washington Library.

The full checklist with links and descriptions is below. A simplified, printable version is available here.


Document Properties


Skip this section if the document is free from images.

W3C Image Tutorial


  • Is text intended to act as a visual heading tagged with the heading tags (H1 through H6)?
  • Do heading tags follow a logical hierarchical progression? (Do not skip heading levels)
  • Are heading tags used only on text that defines a section of content?
  • Does the heading text accurately describe the sectional content?


  • Are links distinguished by a method other than color?
    • WCAG 2.0 criterion 1.4.1 
    • Cascading style sheets (CSS) or Properties hyperlink code applies additional methods such as underlining or bold style to the link text.
  • Can all link text be understood out of context? If not, does generic link have sufficient context?
    • WCAG 2.0 criterion 2.4.4
    • The link text should give adequate information that enables the user to assess whether the link resource should be used immediately or can be found easily at a later time. 
  • Are links tagged correctly in the tag structure? (Contain visual link text and link OBJR within the Link tag)
  • Search for unmarked links and apply the OBJR tag (e.g., <Link OBJR />).
    • WCAG. 2.0 PDF Techniques, PDF11: Providing links and link text using the Link annotation and the /Link structure element in PDF documents, Example 4: Marking up link text using a /Link structure element


Document Properties


  • Do complex images have an alternate accessible means of understanding? (Example: picture of an informational table, screenshot of text from another source, etc.) 


Document Properties


  • Are groups of related images tagged in a way that assistive technology users would understand?
  • For images with detailed or advanced content, consider seeking out a subject expert who can help provide meaningful alt-text.

Other Issues