Making Accessible Catalog PDFs

March 15, 2021

One of the big reasons colleges and universities work with Clean Catalog is to make their catalog accessible: we convert existing catalogs into accessible, easy-to-use digital catalogs. Not only does our software create an accessible digital version, it can also create accessible PDF versions of your catalog and other publications.

Here's more on the what, why, and how of creating accessible PDFs with Clean Catalog.

PDF Accessibility — The What and Why

What PDF Accessibility Is

Making a PDF accessible essentially means that it can be navigated by a screen reader. As Web AIM says, screen readers need tags and properly structured document markup to successfully read a PDF.

The best way to see if a PDF is accessible is to use Adobe Acrobat. You can click on the "accessibility" tab to run a report and see other accessibility information. Below is a screenshot of an accessibility report from one of our catalog PDFs.

Accessibility checker Accessibility report from Adobe Acrobat for one of our catalog PDFs.

Why You Might Want Accessible PDFs

If you're trying to meet accessibility standards as an institution, our accessible catalog sites are often all you need. However, in some cases you might want to have accessible PDF archives of all your catalogs: students often use past catalogs to see degree requirements for their start year, and some accrediting agencies require accessible catalog archives as well.

How To Make Your PDFs Accessible

The short answer here: use Clean Catalog to manage your course catalog! With our course catalog software, you get accessible PDFs out of the box from our catalog PDF generation feature.

Our PDF generation software takes care of most of the work for improving accessibility, but it pulls content directly from your catalog site — so if there are accessibility issues in your original content, they will likely show up in your PDF version. Usually this isn't an issue — we make it easy to make your content accessible — but we can help fix any accessibility issues that come up.

Two Accessibility Gotchas

The most common accessibility issues we notice on catalogs are missing table headings on a tuition table, and improper heading levels on a policy page. Make sure to check those types of pages twice!

If you want to see our PDF accessibility in action, you can download this sample PDF to take a look at the accessibility features in Adobe Acrobat. You can also check out the report below to see how Clean Catalog takes care of all the technical accessibility details for you.

Accessibility report Sample accessibility report from a catalog PDF