GIS Map & App Accessibility

ADA Compliant Map PDFs

In ArcMap or ArcPro: Export map to PDF without layers (flattened) when possible. Tagging can make items disappear from layered files.

Export Map > Options > Advanced Tab (in ArcMap) > Layers & Attributes = None

In Adobe Acrobat Pro DC

Create Tags

  1. Open Tools > Accessibility > Reading Order (or Touch Up Reading Order - TURO).
  2. Treat the entire map and legend as one figure. Select it by dragging the cursor and draw a box around all of the map and legend but not the title, then choose "Figure" from the Reading Order panel. If parts of the map disappear, close out – don’t save. Go back in and make sure to draw the box around everything including the map frame and legend frame, then hit Figure.
  3. Select the title by drawing a box around it, then choose Text (or a Heading).

Note: Design your pages so this text is outside the map area and easy to select.


  • If you mess up a page or a document comes to you with messy tagging, select “Clear Page Structure” and then follow the above steps.
  • If you need to select things that overlap, select and tag the larger item first, then the smaller.
  • If want to deselect something within another item, hold down the Control key while selecting.


Reading Order panel in Acrobat Pro

Add Alternative Text to Figures

  • Must be done after map is Tagged
  • Entire document: Tools > Accessibility > Set alternate text > OK.
  • Acrobat will find each figure and provide text boxes with arrows to scroll through.
  • Alt text should convey the message of the map. Keep important detail outside of the alt text. Keep the alt text brief. A short alt text should indicate the type of figure and then reference more detailed descriptions in the caption or body text.
  • Save & Close
  • Close Accessibility ( X at top right)
  • Save PDF

Run Accessibility Checker and Fix Errors

Tools > Accessibility > Full Check > Start Checking. Fix any remaining issues as follows. 

Expand each section by clicking on them:

  • Logical Reading Order: Check/fix in the tag tree, then Right-click > Pass
  • Primary Language: Right-click > Fix > English.
  • Title: Right-click > Fix > Document Title
  • Color contrast: This should have been checked during map creation. Check with color checkers and fix*, then Right-click > Pass.
  • Tab Order: Right-click > Fix.
  • Alternative Text: Right-click Figure > Fix - A dialog box will appear allowing you click through the images and enter the text.
  • Save, close, and run the checker again.

Accessibility Checker Panel in Acrobat Pro

County WebPage

Add contact info to the web pages that have map PDF’s or add it to the map itself.

Example: "If you need assistance accessing the information within this document, contact [Name/Phone/Email]"