Software to Update PDF to be ADA Compliant?

Other than Acrobat Pro, does anyone have any recommendations for software that will allow someone to add the ADA required alternate text and tags to a PDF document?

Background: I need to create PDF documents that are ADA Compliant. I am not using Word (the documents are generated by LaTeX and perhaps eventually also by Curio).

I found this link to a resource called PAVE that is now rather dated. It will check compliance but does not seem to allow one to edit documents in order to add the required information.

I am open to using command-line utilities.


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I’m not 100% sure but I think that PDFpen or PDFpenPro used to have this feature. However, I haven’t really kept up with it because it’s not something that I’ve needed to work with.

The one reservation is that, while apps propose to be able to add meta-data to PDFs, I think that only Acrobat Pro to my knowledge also allows one to edit the alternate text and tags to internal links.

PDFExpert lacks any ability to edit links. It also gets some of the meta-data wrong compared to Acrobat Reader (and I’ll be filing a bug report to Readdle when I have the time).

I would be pleased to hear that I am wrong.


I’m not familiar with how things work for LaTeX, but I had similar issues with generating PDFs from Markdown using Pandoc.

As far as I can tell, there’s just no way to go from Markdown directly to an ADA-compliant PDF. Pandoc just can’t handle it.

But Pandoc can convert the Markdown file to Word, and that Word file can be opened in LibreOffice Writer, which can then export it to a tagged PDF.

If the LaTeX issues are similar, LibreOffice Writer may be a simple solution. It’s not exactly elegant, and it adds a couple of steps. But it works.

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ABBYY Fine reader might do the job. Also perhaps the best OCR engine out there.

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Pretty sure that Fine Reader can do PDF/A, but not the extra stuff that DrJJWMac mentioned.

I’m starting to think that’s an Adobe-only feature.

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Honestly, before I would invest the time to go through any route that uses multiple apps, I’d just purchase Acrobat Pro and be done with it.

As far as LaTeX specifically, some folks are working on pdf tagging packages that will work within the LaTeX engine itself. But, as I have learned, this is a huge undertaking for LaTeX that would almost be better served with a re-write of the LaTeX kernel itself. As somewhere someone said, LaTeX is far behind in the PDF world view.


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Had a look. I think you are correct. Thanks @tjluoma .

Any updates on this?

I’m creating a poster PDF for an online NIH conference, and need to add alt text for figures.

I use R to create figure PDFs that I drop into OmniGraffle.

The organizers suggest PowerPoint, but I really don’t want to use it.

(Guess I should ask on the Omni forums too.)

I believe the absolute best option is to use Acrobat Pro. I know of no other options that are reliable to the standards that Adobe requires.

When you would use LaTeX, it supposedly has a package or two that will allow you to munge-about to manage the XMP tagging that you need. I didn’t have the appropriate level or super-powers to decode them readily.


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I might have to do that. I’ll try the trial version, but hope I don’t have to spend $25 for one months use. (Better than full price, of course.)

This doesn’t actually help answer this specific question/thread, but figured I would post here since this post is what I found when looking up how to covert to PDF/A (needed to do it for uploads to NSF). Hopefully sometime in the future someone gets some help (and that person might be me this time next year).

I used PDF to PDF/A Converter: ISO-compliant & VeraPDF-Valid | PDF Online to convert the file I downloaded from a publisher and it worked at least to the level of passing NSF’s validation.

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Good to know. I’ll pass this information forward to our technology teams at our university. The topmost link also has a wealth of links to convert to/from various formats. This is a good resource for students in COVID/REMOTE courses.

FWIW< I did a quick test with a document that had an underlying PDF issue (a bug in an old LaTeXiT equation). The file converted to a PDF/A format. But the formatting issue did not go away.

In short then … First make sure that Adobe Reader DC reports no errors with your PDF. Then convert it to PDF/A.


I feel like Stephen with searching how to do something and coming across my old post as the solution. I’ll probably be back here again next year for the same search for the same annual report. Also, I realize that I didn’t procrastinate quite as much last year for a report due in April.

I have since discovered how to create PDF/A in LaTeX. Use either hyperxmp or (perhaps better) pdfx (shout out to @JohnAtl in case you are listening for PDF/A compliance for your ARCHIVAL LaTeX documents). Also as far as I can determine, PDF/A is a metric to certify the document is fully self-contained (e.g archival). It is not a metric on whether the document has any ADA compliant tags. I have also since decided that tackling an ADA issue should best remain recognized as being well beyond my pay grade, time, and return on investment.