Program 5: Creating Accessible PDFs with Interactive Forms


So far, we’ve discussed creating accessible PDFs with that the end user only needs to read. Interactive PDFs can also be created that allow the end user to enter text directly into form fields on the PDF. In the ever expanding digital world, surveys, short assignments, and even quizzes are often created this way.

If the interactive PDF is created properly, users, including those with disabilities, should be able to enter text directly into the PDF and turn it in.

If it’s not created properly and accessibly, users will have to print out the PDF, fill it in and then turn it in, which can be a real problem for students with disabilities. To create an accessible interactive PDF, we need to follow the steps for creating an accessible PDF that were laid out in the previous video and then follow a few additional steps which will talk about in this video. To do this, you’re also going to need that Professional Version of Adobe Acrobat that we discussed before.

Alright, let’s take a look at those additional steps we need to follow to create an accessible interactive PDF.

This is an example of a PDF that was used last winter at the University of Iowa and to make this interactive, what you need to do first, is you need to start the form Wizard.

To start the form wizard, you’re going to go up to click forms and then start form wizard.

When we do that, what this is going to do is it’s going to ask for what type of document we’re going to use. If we’re going to use the document that we already have in place, we’ll just leave it on an existing electronic document and click next. And then if we want to use the current document, we’re going to leave that as selecting use the current document and we’re going to hit next again. What this’ll do then, is it’s going to run through and it’s going to show you that it added forms to our document.

It only adds forms where it finds, basically, blank lines.

So, it’s going to add text box forms and we’re going to see that sometimes it might add forms that you don’t want, interactive forms you don’t want. I tried to add this underlined portion here to see if it would throw a form on there, but it did not.

So, just to show you what you would do if you found an unnecessary form on here, cause that’s the next step. Once this adds the forms, anything that we find that’s unnecessary, we want to get rid of.

So, to get rid of it, we left click on it then we right click and we would choose delete. And by doing that, we’d get rid of the unnecessary form fields that do show up.

What we’ve got now, is we’ve got form fields in some of the areas where we’d like to have people be able to interact with this document.

What we don’t have is form fields in other areas.

What we’d like here, is we’d like these to be radio buttons where you can choose one or the other.

We’d like this to be checkboxes where you can choose as many as you want, but as you can see, the form wizard did not add those pieces directly into this.

We can add our own interactive components to this and to do that, we go over here to add new field.

When we click on add new field, it gives us a dropdown menu and it gives us a list of things we can choose from and I want to add a text field back into work telephone there.

So, I’m going to click text field, and I will take my box, you can see the cursor becomes what you want to add, and we can take it and we can place it right there.

Then this is asking for a name, we’ll call it work telephone again.

Now, let’s look at, we want to add radio buttons here. So, we want to go back up to add new field. We can choose radio button. And we can drop that right here next to yes. I’m not going to name this one just yet, but if I want to copy it and add another one, I can right click on it, I can copy it, and I can hit paste, right click and hit paste. That will give me another radio button that I can then drag and put here next to no. So, we’ve got our two radio buttons there.

Now, to add checkboxes, we’re going to go back up to add new field and we’ll select a checkbox.

Then I’m going to come down here and I’ll drop it right next to our checkbox. Now, I’m not going to add anymore now. You’ll see in the finished product what adding more of them look like, but we’ve added the buttons that we need.

Now what we need to do, is we need to make them accessible. Just by adding them doesn’t make them accessible, we need to give them a little more information for the screen reader as it goes through and reads it.

And that extra information that we give it is actually telling the user what to enter into the document. So, we’re going to go up here first to name. We’re going to right click on name and we’re going to hit properties. Properties is going to show us in the general tab, it’s going to give us the name, so we’re going to name that box name, and then it’s going to give us a tooltip. What we do with that tooltip is we write in what we want the user to do.

So, what we’re going to write is enter your name.

So, what this will do then, when we have a screen reader is it will go through and read this and when it gets to that field, it’ll say “enter your name” and it’ll tell the user to do that.

So, we’ll hit close. That’s how you make a text box accessible.

Now, to make a radio button accessible, you’re going to go and right click on the button, you’re going to hit properties. Then we’ll leave the name as radio button and then for the tooltip here, because this is a yes or no question, we’re going to actually ask the question. In this case, did you have the H1N1 virus? So, now what this will do, when it gets to that part, it will ask, “Did you have the H1N1 virus?” and then it’ll say “Yes”. If we did say yes, we’ll enter it there, if not, we’ll say no when it gets to the next one.

To finalize making this accessible, we need to click on options, and we need to give the button a value. In this case, we’ll give that button value “Yes”.

We’ll leave it as “Yes” because we want that to be “Yes”, so it’ll read “Yes” as the button value and then we’ll close.

Then we go to “No”, we right click on “No”, we hit properties. If we go back to here general, we’ll see it asks the same question. It filled that in for us, “Did you have the H1N1 virus?”.

What we want to change is back under the options menu.

We want to change this button value to “No”, and now we have an accessible set of radio buttons there. It’ll ask you the question and then tell you the options so you can choose the button you want.

So, then to make a checkbox accessible, what we want to do is something similar, but not quite the same. We want to go and right click the checkbox, hot properties, and in our tooltip here, what we want to say is “I had a stomach ache” and then hit close.

What this will do, is this will prompt the user to check that if they had a stomach ache.

For our buttons for fever, cough, and sore throat, we’d also write right here “I had a fever” as the tooltip, “I had a cough” as that tooltip, or “I had a sore throat” as that tooltip. That will prompt the user to enter into the checkbox.

So at this point, we’ve filled in what we want to fill in here. We’ve made this an interactive form. We can go and finish this off by hitting close form editing up at the top. When we check close form editing, it sets up a nice interactive form that we can then go through and we can work with. Now, there’s one last thing we need to do to make this accessible. To make this accessible, we need to come over here and we need to click the pages button.

We need to select our page, we need to click options, and we need to go hit page properties.

We need to set the tab order. By setting the tab order, it gives us the structure the screen reader user can follow. Right now, it’s unspecified so nothing will happen there. What we need to do, is we need to click use document structure and we need to click ok. At this point, we should then have a document that if we run an accessibility full check, should pass with flying colors by telling us that there are no problems. And we found that, yes, there are no problems here. At this point, we can also go and interact with the document.

We can put our name in, we can type things into our text boxes. We can choose options on our radio buttons and we can click different options on our checkboxes. So, at that point, we should have an accessible interactive PDF.

Those are the six easy steps to make your interactive PDFs accessible to all.

Creating Accessible Documents