Accessibility: How to Create an Accessible Digital Form


How do I create an accessible digital form?


A digital form, also called a fillable form, is a collection of fields for gathering information from the user. A print form is inaccessible to people who can't see or lack manual dexterity to fill in the form with a pen. Therefore, the best form for accessibility is one that is interactive and can be completed using the computer with the help of assistive technologies such as a screen reader or speech recognition software. Like all other documents, digital forms are not automatically accessible. Below are key characteristics of an accessible digital form.

An accessible form has:

  1.  Searchable text

    • Scanned images of text are not searchable. Convert the scanned images of text to searchable text using optical character recognition software.

  2. Interactive form fields 

    • Interactive form fields are filled out by a person using a computer. To be accessible, form fields must be interactive to let the user enter values.

    • Use the Forms tools to create fillable form fields, such as buttons, check boxes, pop-up menus, and text boxes. When you create a field, type a description in the Tooltip box in the Properties dialog box for that field. Screen readers read this text aloud to the user. For more information, see this page on creating form fields in Adobe Acrobat.

  3. Navigational aids

    • Navigational aids are the document structure tags that define logical tab order for form fields and identify headings, sections, table of contents, and other page elements. If done properly, they will ensure logical tabbing and meaningful reading order.

  4. Descriptive tooltips to form fields

    • A tooltip is a description of a form field that can be viewed when hovering over the field. Apply tooltips to each interactive form field. Tooltips describe outload form fields to an assistive technology user.

  5. Required-field indicator

    • If a form field is required, a required-field indicator must be included in the form. Make sure the "required" indicator is visible to sighted users and assistive technology users.

  6. Mutually exclusive checkboxes

    • Ensure checkboxes and radio buttons are grouped. Mutually exclusive checkboxes and radio buttons allow only one choice from a group of choices.

  7. Tagged form fields

    • Accessible PDFs require fields tags, and all fields require a unique name so that a screen reader can read the document. We recommend using manual tagging instead of auto-tagging.

  8. Security settings that do not interfere with assistive technology

    • Do not restrict users from printing, copying, extracting, adding comments, or editing text. The text of an accessible PDF must be available to a screen reader.

Creating a digital accessible form

While there are many softwares for form creation, we will focus on Adobe Acrobat Pro DC. Unlike Microsoft Word or other word processors form, PDF forms maintain their original layout and are easy to view, share, and print on all the major computer platforms. There are two ways you can create digital accessible forms in Acrobat.

  1. Create a form from scratch.
  2. Create a form from an existing document.

    • You can create a form from most existing document types, including scanned paper documents, noninteractive PDF forms, spreadsheets, and Word documents. When you convert an existing document into PDF form, Acrobat automatically adds interactive form fields to the form. You can then edit the form to add specialized form fields, such as a drop-down list, list box, or buttons. 

    • Note: You can also create form templates in any word processor. However, when creating a form template using word processors, do not use symbols for the form fields and do not add form fields available in the application. Always use PDF symbols and add form fields available in the PDF.

    • For more information, see:

Conducting a final accessibility check on content

To run the Acrobat Pro Accessibility Checker:

  1. Select Accessibility Tools.

  2. Select the Full Check command from the Accessibility Tools panel.

  3. Select the default All Pages to check all pages

  4. Select the Start Checking button to begin the full check.

After the check is complete, the results are displayed via the Accessibility Checker panel.
For more information or assistance with digital accessibility questions, please contact IT Training Services at

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Article ID: 106648
Sat 5/2/20 3:09 AM
Wed 5/22/24 9:59 AM