Adobe Designer Accessibility Quick Reference

Adobe Designer (formerly LiveCycle Designer) is designed to create and edit forms. It is very good at creating accessible forms and automatically addresses many accessibility issues. For best results, there are just a few settings and steps that you should be sure to take:

Configure Workspace

  • Close "How To" Palette
  • Open Object Palette (Window > Object)
  • Open Layout Palette (Window > Layout)
  • Open Accessibility Palette (Window > Accessibility)
  • Open Font Palette (Window > Font)
  • Open Paragraph Palette (Window > Paragraph)
  • Change the default Save As type (Tools > Options > Default Type = XDP)

Key to Success

  • Use Designer instead of Acrobat
  • Start from scratch; don't open from PDF or import from Word
  • Save as and work in XDP format; save as PDF only to "publish"
  • Use Tool Tips for Image "alternate text"
  • Set Roles for Headings
  • Use Tables for Tables
  • Use Captions for Fields
  • Add a Tool Tip only when a Caption is not adequate
  • Add a Tool Tip as the "legend" on Radio Button Exclusion Groups
  • Do not use Custom Screen Reader Text
  • Set Tab Order at the End
  • Overall - Keep it simple

Form Objects

Object Instruction
Text/Headings Accessibility palette > Role
Images Accessibility palette > Tool Tip (cannot be blank)
Text Fields

If caption text is not sufficient, Accessibility palette > Tool Tip

Can add Patterns (Display, Edit, Validation, Data)

Drop-down Lists/List Boxes

If caption text is not sufficient, Accessibility palette > Tool Tip

(Cannot add empty option, must use a space)

Checkboxes If caption text is not sufficient, Accessibility palette > Tool Tip
Radio Button Groups To add a "legend," select the Exclusion Group, then Accessibility palette > Tool Tip
Tables Check include header row in table
Tabular Forms Fields Since no caption text, Accessibility palette > Tool Tip

PDF Form Accessibility Testing

  1. Tab Order - Tab to each field, check that the tab order is correct, and confirm that the control can be operated using the keyboard.
  2. Tool Tips - Hover the mouse pointer over each form field and check that an appropriate label appears as a tool tip.
  3. Save As Accessible Text - Save the PDF form as "accessible text" (In Adobe Reader, use File menu: Save as Text; In Adobe Acrobat, File menu: Save As, Save as Type: Text (accessible)). Confirm that all content is present and in the right order.