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Reading Adobe PDF Documents

Adobe Acrobat 5.0 was the first version of the software to provide access to individuals using assisitive computer technology while still providing document security. This continues and has been enhanced for Adobe Acrobat version 6.0 and Adobe Reader 6.0. Unfortunately, most PDF document authors are not aware of this functionality and select security settings that limit the access for users of assistive computer technology.

JAWS 4.5 provides better access to Adobe PDF documents compared to earlier versions of the JAWS software. The following information provides directions regarding how to access and navigate a PDF document with the JAWS screenreader software. You will need to have Adobe Acrobat Reader 5.0 (or later) or Adobe Acrobat 5.0 or later to access the samples at the end of this page.

PDF Reading Commands

Reading a PDF document utilizes many of the same commands explained in the web tutorial under "Reading Letters and Words" and "Reading Sentences and Paragraphs". If you are not familiar with these reading commands, it is recommended that you first review these sections before attempting to navigate and read a PDF document.

Result Keystroke
Moves to First Page of Document Ctrl + Shift + Page Up
Go to Specific Page Ctrl + SHIFT + N
Go to Next Page Ctrl + Page Down
Go to Previous Page Ctrl + Page Up
Moves to Last Page of Document Ctrl + Shift + Page Down
List of Hyperlinks Ins + F7
Enter Forms Mode Enter

Configuring Adobe Acrobat Application for the Web

Adobe Acrobat Reader and Adobe Acrobat allow PDF documents to be viewed from directly in a web browser. This is very difficult for screenreader users as it can increase PDF document loading time and restrict web browser navigation from the keyboard. It is generally easier to first download a PDF document and then open the file rather than viewing the PDF document through the web browser.

Prevent PDF's from opening in a web browser:

  1. Start the Adobe Acrobat application.
  2. Select "Edit" from the menu bar.
  3. Choose "Preferences" and then select "General".
  4. Choose Options (located on the left of the dialog box).
  5. Under the heading "Web Browser Options", uncheck "Display PDF in Browser".

This will prevent Adobe Acrobat from loading PDF documents into the web browser interface.

Sample PDF Documents

PDF Form Example

Creating Accessible PDF Documents Training Manual