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June 27, 2017 /Adobe Acrobat DC /Mobile /

Adobe Improves Support for Accessible PDF Documents on Mobile Devices

At Adobe, we look at the accessibility of PDF documents from two aspects; creation and consumption. In order to truly have an accessible experience with PDF documents they must first be created by the document author to be accessible. Once that has been accomplished both the PDF Reader and the assistive technology must support the PDF/UA standard to correctly read out the accessible PDF.

In this blog, I am going to focus on the consumption experience, specifically on mobile devices. The most current releases for Acrobat Reader for both iOS and Android have support for correctly tagged PDF documents for reading basic content such as paragraphs, headings, links, and alternative text for images.

Although the text within lists and tables will be read, the structural information such as list item or table cell is not currently fully supported and may not be accurately conveyed via a screen reader. We are working on support for structural elements in upcoming releases.

It is important to remember, however, that the success in reading a PDF document using assistive technologies is dependent upon the document being created to be accessible in the first place. The adage “garbage in/garbage out” is very appropriate here. If you are trying to read an inaccessible PDF using an assistive technology, such as a screen reader, you may have some success but the experience will not likely be a good one.

Individuals who use TalkBack on Android devices and VoiceOver on iOS devices will be familiar with the gestures to navigate and activate functionality. The gestures below are a list of some of the gestures particularly relevant for reading accessible PDF files using the screen reader for either an iOS or Android device.


  • One-finger swipe right/left reads sequentially down/up through page content
  • Two-finger swipe down reads from the current position on the page and navigates to the next page.
  • Two-finger swipe up reads from the top of the current page and navigates to the next page
  • Three-finger swipe left/right to navigate to the next/previous page or one-finger swipe up/down on the page flipper control to go to the next/previous page.
  • Select the element type (e.g., headings or links) you want to navigate by in the VoiceOver rotor control (two-finger rotate) and then use one-finger swipe down/up to navigate to the next/previous element.


  • Swipe right to move to the next item on the screen
  • Swipe left to move to the previous item on the screen
  • Swipe right then left to move to the next page
  • Swipe left then right to move to the previous page
  • Swipe down then right to open the global context menu to make reading selections such as read from top (to read the entire page).

In Closing

The Adobe Document Cloud team is committed to providing more innovations and an improved experience for creating and reading accessible PDFs. Accessibility updates in upcoming releases will be detailed in our continuing series of Document Cloud accessibility blogs.

The “Tips and Tricks” blog series will cover steps for creating accessible PDFs and will begin with our next Document Cloud accessibility blog.

Adobe Acrobat DC, Mobile


  • By Bill Ablondi - 6:49 PM on June 28, 2017   Reply

    For iOS and Android, hoping for options to Read to End of Document, as in Acrobat for Windows.

    • By Document Cloud Team - 12:40 PM on July 19, 2017   Reply

      This is great feedback and I appreciate you taking the time to review these improvements on both iOS and Android. We are working to make reading PDFs on mobile devices a better and seamless experience including reading the entire document without page breaks. We will make the announcement, via this blog, as soon as we can get it implemented. -Rob

  • By Michelle - 8:31 AM on June 29, 2017   Reply

    Can you fill accessible fillable forms in iOS?

    • By Document Cloud Team - 12:39 PM on July 19, 2017   Reply

      Since this blog was about reading PDFs on mobile devices using screen readers, I’m going to assume you are asking about completing accessible PDF forms using VoiceOver on iOS or Talkback on Android. With Acrobat Reader it is not currently possible to complete a form using a screen reader. However, if an accessible PDF document is sent to you via the Adobe Sign web app, you will be able to complete, sign and submit that form from your mobile device. -Rob

  • By erik burggraaf - 10:30 AM on June 29, 2017   Reply

    This is great news! Thank you for getting around to us eventually. It’s a relief to know that high-priced accessibility Consultants will be able to continue to charge for seminars on obskewer accessibility settings that will continue to deliver a half-baked user experience.

    Accessibility itself is nearly mainstreamed, But Here Comes Adobe releasing in accessible software for mainstream access technologies, failing to make accessible design the default for its content, and generally conducting accessibility the way they did 20 years ago. Don’t get me wrong, I have been waiting for Adobe to catch up on mobile for years now, and it’s nice to see something finally start to happen. Until I can convince people to upgrade two modern document formats that have better feature sets, compliance, ease of design and ease-of-use, I will be grateful for any crumb Adobe throws me.

    • By Document Cloud Team - 12:38 PM on July 19, 2017   Reply

      Thank you for your feedback. I hope you find that our continued improvements will enhance your experience with PDF documents, particularly in reading them on mobile devices with the Acrobat Reader. -Rob

  • By Ayoola Stephen Efunkoya - 11:30 PM on June 29, 2017   Reply


    I have seen significant improvements in the way Adobe Acrobat Reader for Android helps me consume PDF as a blind person.

    I am confident things will only get better.

    But as a suggestion, I want to see an option that will allow me issue a command to Talkback to read the entire document, something like what is observable on Adobe Acrobat for Windows PC.

    Thank you.

    • By Document Cloud Team - 12:37 PM on July 19, 2017   Reply

      Thank you for taking the time to review our enhancements to the Acrobat Reader for Android and I am happy to see that we are on the right track. As we continue to improve the reading experiences your feedback helps us prioritize our engineering work. We do have reading the entire document on our roadmap and will look to implement it at our soonest opportunity. -Rob