Solutions to the pdf issues of mac

As we all know the pdf situation on mac is an embarrassment. Specifically preview does not give us access to the accessibility benefits of tagged pdf files. As I see it there are two essential accessibility features that have been thought to be missing on the mac, namely headings and fillable form fields. However, I believe I have found a solution to both of these issues.
First of all headings.
There is a free app called skim which allows one access to headings on properly tagged pdf files.
This is done through a table which one can use to navigate through the available headings. When you move v o focus to the heading you want simply move your focus to the text of the pdf and you will be on the appropriate page. I will admit that this is not as ideal as it could be, since it only moves you to the right page and not to the exact location of the heading, but in my book that is close enough.
Secondly fillable forms.
Now we get to the king of all pdf short comings of the mac. Headings are nice but the ability to fill out pdf forms is essential. This is totally impossible
with preview, but have no fear pdf pin is hear.
This app might be a little pricy but it works. As far as I can tell this app gives us full access to accessible pdf forms. its not the best reading experience, but for forms it will do the job. From applying for jobs to filling out taxes and federal student aid info you have to be able to get access to pdf forms. But from everything I have found this is currently impossible on the mac unless you have pdf pin. You can try a free demo of the app so you really have nothing to lose.
In conclusion these apps might not be as ideal as adobe reader on windows, but in my opinion they give us far more then has been previously available on the mac. As a long time mac user I never even realized how accessible pdf's could be until about a week ago. I just always assumed that they were these half baked files that had no headings and could not be edited. It was a very rude awaking when I realized that Apples pdf solution is what is half baked, not pdf's themselves. I was reading a web aim discussion about the topic in which people were making fun of apples abysmal pdf accessibility. One person said, mac users are always going on about how they can do anything a windows screen reader can do, I wonder how they fill out their taxes. This comment really stung and it started me on a tireless search to see if there was better solutions out there.
I hope these can help bring the voice over experience one step closer to its full potential. Remember the added features of these apps really only work with accessible tagged pdf files. This is true of adobe reader and every app.



for me this is not the solution.
and criticize severely those who create this kind of topics with incomplete solutions to tackle problems in the voice over which apple is which must assume responsibility for solving ...

the solution is the apple make a very serious job to support voice over in the interaction with all types
of elements in PDF.
is a shame the voice over not having a competent support for pdf to mac users.
the most basic screen readers on windows, support almost all kinds of elements in pdf documents.
NVDA is a product of such a small company, now offers us a very good support pdf.
apple as always, it takes years to update tasks on mac.
and also tell you more:
do not create high expectations of accessibility in the OSX.10.10. update.
because it will be a huge disappointment.
the problems will be many and apple will never solve...
will be worse than it was in mavericks.
apple has to work harder and better ...

Agree with you but..

I agree that it is truly despicable that apple has not improved its support for accessible pdf's, but this is a solution in part. If you read my post I explained that it was not a perfect solution. I said that adobe reader on windows is still much better then what I have proposed, but if you try the apps I have suggested they do exactly what I say they do. You criticize my post, but I must be a little bit critical. Have you looked at the apps I have suggested? If you have and you have issues with them I am perfectly happy to hear those issues, but I think it does little good wining about apple when your not willing to consider solutions. I am by no means excusing Apple's terribly neglectful pdf support. In fact I am probably more critical then you are. Not only does preview not give us access to accessible pdf tags, it actually strips out pdf accessibility when a pdf is ran through it. This in my opinion is a much bigger issue then not being able to properly use preview. We can get around not being able to use preview, but the fact that any ignorant sighted person can open a pdf in preview and strip the files accessibility features away without even realizing it, that is a huge issue. I work at a university with a small team of people who are trying to make things on the university more accessible. it is very sad to me that I have to suggest to profs that they do not use preview. I repeat I am by no means trying to let apple off easy, nor am I saying that I have a solution to Apple's hard headed approach to pdf's. That is a separate issue then what my post is about. If you read my post the two issues I am offering solutions to are lack of access to headings and form filling on the mac. And there is no way of arguing that these apps are solutions to those problems. So I agree there is a much larger problem with pdf's on the mac. But I take offense at you suggesting that I am offering no solutions to some of the problems we face. Yes Apple needs to fix pdf's on the mac. I think we should perhaps make it a campaign of the month. but until that happens I want to be able to fill out my taxes.

tables in pdf documents

Just wanted to let everyone know that I have also figured out a solution to dealing with pdf files with tables in them. I'll admit this is not as slick as my previous solutions, but it works. If you just run the document through fine reader or another OCR app and create a spread sheet doc this seems to create a pretty good file that you can open in numbers. I think this is probably already a pretty widely known work around, but I thought I would just throw it out there. By the way this will work weather or not the pdf has been tagged for accessibility, which is pretty great.

Hello @three,

Hello @three,

Thanks for your posts. While people don't do their job, we have to survive and finding out good ways of surviving is really much better than choose to not survive anyways.
I am from the days where JAWS was not well known and when Windows was starting to be the standard OS for many folks ... and instead of blaming Microsoft for not implementing accessibility by default on their products I was perfectly happy figuring out ways of doing stuff on that system, and you be sure I was not alone.

We have now one of the best screen readers ever made called voiceover and, while it fails on stuff such as pdf, it does help a lot in so many other things. So I aplaud your efort to help us to find ways around untill Apple fixes it and, if it doesn't happen at all, definitive work arounds.
As it happens specially with people who don't work with IT or projects, folks usually do not realise that things need to be priorized and ordered and solved in order to provide folks with things they will need more than other things. Things just work this way and will continue to work this way.
In fact, when JAWS came with the scripting concept we started to help Freedom Scientific to make a bunch of products more accessible and usable. If they were to make everything alone it's clear they would fail miserably with no doubts, not because they are lazzy or bad, but because there's too much work to be done and resources are limited.
May be one day Apple will realize that and open up the voiceover APIs to allow the comunity to help them to implement accessibility for voiceover in other products. While I see this already happening, we still lack resources and knowledge and the cocoa lacks authomation apis that would make everyone happier.
In the meantime, while Apple doesnt allow us to implement and do not implement by theirselves accessibility on some stuff, finding and sharing workarounds is the best thing all of us can do, so please do keep sharing stuff.

Criticism must be taken seriously only when coming from someone who is able to give constructive alternatives.

Thank you very much splyt

That really means a lot to me split, thank you. I have to admit I was a little discouraged at the reaction to my post. I spent a lot of time and effort looking at dozens of different pdf apps. Realizing that my mac had a pretty major accessibility shortcoming was one blow, receiving almost no feedback on a post I thought was pretty important was another blow and getting one negative comment that didn't even touch on the apps I found was the third blow. We have to fight for better accessibility while finding ways to deal with the current accessibility issues we face. I hope for a more accessible tomorrow, but the only way of accessing that tomorrow is through today.

This is maturity. If you have

This is maturity. If you have to blame and protest go ahead but figure out a way of doing whatever is needed at the very same time and you will be totally covered.
I live in a country where acessibility is, compared to accessibility in north America and Europe, poor at the very best classification. I have never had braille IT books, special teachers, help by no means at all relating to accessibility. I am thankfull to God and to family and friends and still keep asking the government for more support and better conditions for the next blind generations, but if I only did blame the government and not tried to bypass my obstacles I would not be even typing on this comunity. Anyways we are getting rapidly off-topic ... but keep your good work and do contact me if you want to continue this topic.