County of Sonoma, California
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Checklist for Publishing PDF Files

Ensuring the accessibility and usability of documents posted on websites is a fundamental aspect of providing equal access to all members of the community. The ease with which a document can be “read” by a screen reader program that allows the user to listen to a document is critical.

Departments are responsible for ensuring that all material posted to their website(s) meets accessibility and usability standards. The standards are the same regardless of whether the material is produced internally or by a 3rd party.

The requirements for Section 508 compliance are exactly the same for PDF documents as for any web content.

However, there are a few additional items that are unique to PDF files. The following either relates directly to accessibility or should be used to enhance usability.


  1. If the document contains scanned text, apply Optical Character Recognition (OCR)
  2. Add author, title and subject and set the language in the document properties
  3. Tag the document to provide structure for remediation and support for bookmarks
  4. All documents should be structured so that the approved accessibility statement is the first text to be read aloud.
  5. Verify accessibility
  6. Verify and correct the Reading Order
  7. Add descriptive text to images or mark them as background
  8. Optimize the file size and set compatibility
  9. Redact all personal and private information
  10. Add bookmarks
  11. Verify accessibility using CommonLook
  12. Does the linking page contain a link to download Adobe® Reader® as required by Section 508?

    See Making a PDF File Accessible - Step by Step for detailed instructions.

  13. Form fields, if used, are accessible. Descriptions must reflect the nature of the input and tab order must be set in a logical sequence.
  14. Security settings, if used, do not interfere with screen readers.
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