The complete process for creating accessible PDFs from InDesign

  • Understanding different types of disabilities and accessible documents
  • How to talk about accessibility
  • What to do in InDesign step by step
  • What to finish in the PDF and how to test it

Accessible PDFs From InDesign Training

As Seen/Heard On

  • CreativePro logo.
  • U.S. Dept. of the Interior
  • The Admin Bar logo.
  • WordPress Accessibility Day 2020 event.
  • Chax Chat podcast.
  • WP Elevation.
  • Permaslug logo.
  • Atarim Summit.
  • Able Tech.
  • Creatives Ignite 2020 event.
  • Main WP.
  • Agency Trailblazer podcast.
  • Design for Geeks presentation.
  • Smart Web Creators logo.
  • The SDM Show logo.
  • Logo Geek podcast.
  • Just Creative blog.
  • Freelancers Union blog.
  • This Design Life.
  • Nailing It! with Stephanie Campanella.

You need to create Section 508, ADA or WCAG-compliant files.

Your place of work or your clients are asking for accessible files. You want to be confident your files are compliant.

If you’re relying on the Acrobat Accessibility Checker, that isn’t enough!

The Acrobat Accessibility Checker can’t detect most accessibility issues. No automated checker can. In fact, your files could have a lot of accessibility issues even if they pass a checker. There’s a lot more checking—manual checking—that needs to be done.

You want your work to make a difference.

You know your work will have more impact, be inclusive and get better results if it’s accessible to everyone, whether they have a visual impairment or other type of disability.

Documents that are accessible are able to be read by more people.

You’re struggling trying to piece together info from different sources.

You’re looking for a single source for how to create accessible PDFs from InDesign from start to finish.

You get most of the way there, but you still encounter errors that you don’t know how to fix and don’t understand what caused them in the first place. You want to know what to do once and for all.

Enroll now

You want to learn accessibility best practices and be more efficient.

You want to know how to build accessibility into your design files from the start and the right way, because you’re spending too much time trying to figure out what to do or if there is a better way.

You’re so done trying to troubleshoot errors!

If only you had a checklist…

(Psst… I’ve got one for you!)

You want to stand out from other designers.

Accessibility gives you a competitive edge over other designers. You’ll put yourself in the top 1% of graphic designers with this skill.

  • You’ll win more projects.
  • You’ll increase increase your employability or job security.
  • You’ll be seen as the expert.
  • You’ll end the design wars.
  • You’ll command higher rates.

Imagine If You…

Male designer standing out from other designers.

  • Stopped wasting time trying to figure it out on your own? (How much is your time worth?)
  • Had real actionable steps and a document accessibility checklist?
  • Could ask questions and get support on real projects?
  • Were more confident that your documents are accessible?
  • Started winning more design work?
  • Could end the design wars?

Enroll now

Your Accessibility Instructor

Accessibility made me a better designer and put me in high demand.

I’m Colleen Gratzer. I got into accessibility in 2016 by accident, at a point in time when I was fed up with my consulting business of 13 years. I had been mostly busy and made good money but found it difficult to get new clients.

I felt stuck. I cried a lot out of frustration. I wasted so much time writing proposals, responding to RFPs and having meetings with clients that went nowhere.

Then I got into InDesign accessibility by accident.

My business took a huge turn—for the better.

I went from competing for work to work coming to me from all over the world. I went from being a small fish in a big pond to a big fish in a small pond.

At first, it was here and there, and then it was like a snowball effect.

I became much more confident when talking to clients—in meetings, presenting work and explaining design decisions. The work was more profitable too.

I got a ton more respect than I had in the past. Clients stopped questioning my pricing. I got almost no pushback on my designs.

This was the change my business needed. This was the change I needed.

I am passionate about accessibility and helping other designers. I want designers to be better designers, to be more confident, to be more efficient, and to be more profitable or command higher rates or salaries.

Colleen providing accessibility training at the U.S. Department of the Interior.

IAAP member seal.I’ve provided InDesign accessibility training to the U.S. Department of the Interior and for CreativePro events. I am a member of the IAAP, the International Association of Accessibility Professionals.

My client-based business, Gratzer Graphics, provides accessibility consulting to nonprofits and creative agencies.

Through Creative Boost, I host the Design Domination podcast, mentor designers, teach accessibility courses and provide many resources for designers.

“Colleen is a designer who understands how to get through all these technical challenges without sacrificing the original design. She is the perfect combination of a skilled graphic designer and an accessibility specialist who understands the challenges on all aspect of this work.

She combines her deep knowledge of the technology, the laws, the human condition and need for access, with her design talent and ability to teach. With Colleen’s support, I think we can finally see there’s a light at the end of this tunnel!”

The Accessible PDFs From InDesign training will:

  • Teach you about different types of disabilities to consider when designing and testing,
  • Show you what to do in InDesign step by step,
  • Show you how and what to do in the PDF,
  • Show you how to test your PDFs for accessibility,
  • Increase your employability and job security if you’re an employee,
  • Help you win more work and charge more as a freelancer,
  • Help you end the design wars,
  • Teach you the business side of accessibility and talking points.

Enroll now

“This was the course that I have been looking for for the past few years—a course that shows how to set things up in InDesign properly, tag correctly in Acrobat, and then use specific testing tools.

Colleen gave an easy-to-understand, step-by-step rundown of all the essential aspects of making PDFs accessible for everyone. Thanks, Colleen, and to all who help you in getting this course happening.”


What’s Included in the Accessible PDFs From InDesign Course

This course covers accessible design and InDesign accessibility practices and PDF testing in plain English and step by step. It includes:

  • easy-to-follow on-demand videos that you can watch any time and at your own pace,
  • handouts and checklists to help you with what you just learned,
  • quizzes to reinforce what you learned,
  • a complete InDesign and PDF accessibility checklist,
  • a test project to put your skills into practice right away,
  • group support.

Module 1: Understanding Accessibility

  • Overview of accessibility,
  • Accessibility laws,
  • Benefits of accessibility,
  • Different types of disabilities,
  • What to ask clients and how to overcome objections,
  • How I protect myself in my contracts.

Module 2: Structure & Workflow

  • Foundation of an accessible PDF,
  • Understanding reading order,
  • Workflow and productivity tips,
  • How to prepare your document and what to think about beforehand,
  • How to choose typefaces.

Module 3: Color & Contrast

  • Color and contrast guidelines,
  • Color blindness,
  • Choosing colors,
  • How to check for and fix issues (you have more options than you think!),
  • How to use color to enhance comprehension and usability,
  • Tools to check for contrast issues for various types of disabilities.

Module 4: Text Elements

  • How to review copy for accessibility issues,
  • How to clean up copy for accessibility,
  • Good typography practices for all users,
  • How to properly format tag text-based content,
  • How to control the order of content,
  • How to format tables,
  • Hearing how a screen reader voices some of these elements.

Module 5: Images

  • When to use Alt-text and when to not use it,
  • Best practices for Alt-text,
  • How to write good Alt-text,
  • Different methods for placing images,
  • How to handle decorative and essential images,
  • Alternatives to Alt-text and when to use them,
  • Hearing how a screen reader voices some of these elements.

Module 6: Interactive Elements

  • How to create an accessible table of contents,
  • How to create bookmarks,
  • Do’s and don’ts with hyperlinks,
  • Footnotes and endnotes,
  • How to make forms accessible and user friendly,
  • How to test interactive elements,
  • Hearing how a screen reader voices some of these elements,
  • Understanding how to use a keyboard and screen reader with some of these elements.

Module 7: Testing & Final PDF Work

  • What to check in InDesign before exporting to PDF;
  • What to check in Acrobat;
  • What accessibility work to do in the PDF that you can’t do in InDesign;
  • How to do final PDF testing, including manual checks and screen reader testing;
  • Document accessibility tools and resources.

Sample Project & Feedback

Put your InDesign and PDF accessibility skills into practice right away by completing the provided sample project and getting constructive feedback on your work.

Certificate of Completion

After finishing the course, you’ll get a certificate of completion.

Get an easy-to-follow, step-by-step, plain-English process. Complete the course in as quickly as 2 days!

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7-page InDesign and PDF Accessibility Checklist

Save hours upon hours of time figuring out what to do with your next accessible InDesign document! If you have an existing checklist, simply incorporate this one into that one. It’s provided as a Google Doc.

Value: $500 if your rate is $50 per hour and you spend 10 hours trying to DIY.

6 Months of Support

Get feedback on your work, ask questions, learn from others, and share your work or wins. This is a private course Facebook group only for students of the Accessible PDFs From InDesign course.

Value: $600

Total Value: $1,100

Enroll in the course

“Colleen is tops in document and web accessibility, as both a teacher and a designer. Her commitment to accessibility is evident by the excitement in her voice when she talks about it.

The class is chock full of useful information. Whether you are just starting out, or looking for supplemental instruction in accessibility design, this is the course for you.”

Adriana Cordero

“I had a pretty good grasp on the basics but not the details. I know so much more now that I can answer a client’s questions with confidence.

More clients are asking for 508-compliant documents. Without this knowledge, I would likely get passed up on some projects.”


The Accessible PDFs From InDesign Course Is for Graphic Designers Who Want:

  • A straightforward, step-by-step accessible InDesign and PDF testing process.
  • To gain a competitive edge over the gazillion other designers out there.
  • To be seen as a respected expert.
  • To become a better designer who gets better results from their work.

This InDesign Accessibility Training Is Not for You If:

  • You are happy spending hours, days or weeks trying to figure things out on your own.
  • You don’t want to enhance your expertise.
  • You don’t care if your design work gets results.
  • You don’t want to get into technical practices.

Enroll in the course

“Although I have taken lots of other classes that touch on important elements, this course pulled everything together in one, easy-to-digest, manageable series of videos.

I especially appreciate that Colleen doesn’t begin every section citing some WCAG code number. She incorporates the laws and guidance without making it a tripping hazard. So many other courses begin by citing rules which makes my brain glaze over.

Colleen gets the message across with only an occasional reference fitted into the content effectively. That is to say, she teaches the rules without reading the rules.”

Get a complete process for creating accessible PDFs from InDesign today.

Course value: $1,000

Value of bonuses: $1,100

Total value: $2,100

1 payment

Single user


Save $1,350.

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Split payment

Single user

$412 times 2

For a total of $824.

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Discounts are available for teams. Find out more about discounts for teams.

Note: If you are tax exempt, simply email Teachable support with a copy of the receipt and a copy of your state sales tax exemption certificate. They will refund the tax upon proof of tax-exempt status.

“Colleen is an exceptional teacher with great communication skills. She is not only an expert in her field but is a fabulous teacher. Not everyone can do both, but she certainly can.”

Photo of Tammie.Tammie O’Neal

Frequently Asked Questions

My documents pass the Acrobat accessibility checker. Isn’t that enough?

Nope! That’s just the start. The Acrobat accessibility checker is part of the troubleshooting process. Automated checkers have limitations and cannot check for most accessibility issues. There’s a lot more checking—manual checking—that needs to be done.

Your documents could technically pass a checker and still not be fully accessible or provide a good user experience. I show you how to test and manually inspect the documents so you’re confident your documents are accessible.

Won’t I have to sacrifice the design for accessibility?

Definitely not! In fact, I share several methods for making an existing design accessible, so you can pick whatever method works best with the design.

Won’t I have to design with only dark colors?

Definitely not! In fact, if you did that, it would present accessibility issues.

But isn’t accessibility ugly?

Nope! Lots of designs are ugly, but they are not ugly because they are accessible. They were just poorly designed.

The price seems high. Why is the course priced as it is?

This is a small investment to help yourself and your clients with document accessibility. Accessibility transformed my business.

You’ll learn how to talk to clients about accessibility. You’ll be able to charge more for your design work. You’ll stand out from 99% of other graphic designers out there who aren’t offering accessibility or who are not doing it correctly.

You’ll save you hours researching and trying to figure out what to do. You’ll be able to get up and running quickly with my process.

How well do I need to know InDesign?

The more you use InDesign properly, the easier it will be. If you have knowledge of HTML tags, even better!

Many designers have used InDesign for years but don’t use proper practices, which results in a lot of rework for accessibility. If that’s your situation, you will learn more efficient methods for layout, which will save you time with all documents—not just ones that have to be accessible.

If you’re new to InDesign, you will benefit from learning the practices I teach in the course from the beginning.

How technical is this course?

Accessibility is very technical. This course delves into design practices, technical layout practices, tags, using a screen reader to test your documents and more. I break down what you need to know in plain English and provide handouts and checklists to make understanding the technical parts easier.

Will I need special software?

Yes. In addition to Adobe InDesign, you need Adobe Acrobat. However, you could apply many of the practices in InDesign to other page layout software that allows for exporting to a tagged PDF.

If you use a Mac, you will need to run a Windows simulator for parts of the testing process. There are free ways to do that or you can use software ($85 USD per year) to do this.

A PC keyboard is recommended to easily be able to use the screen reader commands in Windows, but it is not required. You may use a key remapping app instead.

A short list of these recommended tools is provided in the introductory module inside the course.

Does this course cover all applicable WCAG guidelines?

Other than in some areas, I do not mention specific WCAG guidelines. Instead, I provide plain-English practices and a process to help you meet them. The focus of the course is on best practices for accessibility and usability to help you meet those guidelines but without getting into each one specifically.

How is this course different from the Accessible Branding & Design course?

This InDesign accessibility course covers accessible design practices and technical InDesign and PDF practices.

The Accessible Branding & Design course is not a technical course. It is also geared toward designers in general, who may or may not be designing documents, but who might also be designing websites, logos, documents, etc. It also includes content on building an accessible color palette and style guide.

How long will it take to complete the course?

There are about 8 hours of video content. You get full immediate access to the course content, so you can go through it as quickly as you like.

How long do I have access to the course?

After enrolling, you get lifetime access and future updates to the course.

What constitutes a user?

A user is one login, one student. Sharing your login with another person will result in access to the course being revoked, and no refund will be issued. Multiple team members require individual licenses.

What payment methods are available?

Checkout is by credit card on the Teachable platform. However, if you prefer to pay via PayPal, please email me and I can arrange for you to pay via PayPal instead.

What discounts are offered for teams?

Save 15% on enrollments for teams of 3 to 5 and 20% on teams of 6 or more.

What if my organization is tax exempt?

No problem! You will be charged tax upon purchase. Simply email Teachable support with a copy of the receipt and a copy of your state sales tax exemption certificate. They will refund the tax upon proof of tax-exempt status.

What is the refund policy?

Because the course content and materials are immediately available to you and you have access to future updates of the course, there are no refunds. Please email Colleen with any questions prior to purchase.

Got a question or having technical issues?

Just email Colleen. You will get a prompt response.

Don’t wait! Get an edge over other designers with accessibility today.

Enroll now