The challenge is how to correlate these small color-coded symbols the file in a way that they are accessible without having to do separate alt-text for each and everyone.

Here's an image of the key and how it's used in the design.

Key showing the color symbols and meanings

This shows the symbols in use in the text

  • 1
    ermm.... Huh?? I don't understand what's being asked. In fact, there doesn't actually seem to be a question here.
    – Scott
    Aug 27, 2021 at 0:13
  • There is a lot to make a document accessible. To start with, you may look at webaim.org for more information on accessibility.
    – agarza
    Aug 27, 2021 at 3:27
  • This question seems to collect close-votes. The presented problem is clear for those who in practice have to put together PDF/UA compliant PDFs and create designs which make it possible. PDF/UA compliance is easiest to take into the account when one builds the layout. Adding it afterwards to a PDF can be a nightmare. Where I live every PDF published by state or city offices and institutes must be PDF/UA.
    – user82991
    Aug 27, 2021 at 14:38

2 Answers 2


An assumption: You are going to export from InDesign a tagged PDF and you know how to do it, but you only try to find a shorter workflow.

Place the key symbols as inline graphic images. As well they can be separate images, but making the lines straight with separate images would be more laborious. Copy the images of the symbols from the list where everyone already have got the tagging info including Alt- or actual texts. Images can be pasted like characters into text. (see NOTE1)

You can leave the Alt text field empty if you insert an actual text. For ex. you write "Engineering" to the actual text in the Object Export Options dialog of the yellow circle image. The source of the actual text must be defined to be "Custom" in the same dialog. At least accessibility checker PAC3 accepts it. The screen reader preview of PAC3 shows the actual text.

An InD guru would probably be able to automate this if the symbols already happen to be texts text. I skip it.

Italics can be handled in the same way - the whole italic terms may be prepared as images. Another possibility is inline level tag "Span". I'm afraid there's no standard method to force aloud reading machines to articulate italics differently, except temporary language change. But changing the language temporarily to Italian may be a blinding fast way to get fired.

Check the color contrast with a screen color contrast analyzer. The key symbols look in your image too faint against the blue background, but that can be caused by my computer, by your image capturing system or by what imgur makes to your attachment. This is an example:

enter image description here

NOTE1: If you happen to use a legacy InD version which doesn't tag outlined texts, groups nor vector images right, but remove their Alt and Actual texts given in Object Export Options dialog you can as a workaround prepare your key symbols as high resolution bitmap images. InD versions CC 2018 and later have this fixed.

  • Could you take a moment and revise the paragraph starting "If you insert to the object export options[...]"? I find it hard to parse and understand.
    – Yorik
    Aug 27, 2021 at 15:19
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    @Yorik I rewrote it.
    – user82991
    Aug 27, 2021 at 16:14
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    Thank you user287001 This worked well. I added export object text to the graphic symbol, added the symbols in-line and used my accessible PDF output preset, none of the in-line graphics needed to be alt-tagged in the final. And a check of the tag has the right text attached to the figure. Sep 3, 2021 at 22:25

First off, there isn't enough contrast between the circles of color for someone with color blindness to distinguish them from each other. So using those won't work. You're still relying on the color, which is a violation of WCAG 1.4.1.

Second, you would want to use actual text, not Alt-text. Alt-text results in the voicing of "graphic" by a screen reader. These icons are being used in place of text. It's not relevant to know they are images.

You can apply actual text (or Alt-text) document wide by applying it to an object style.

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