PDF headings with Skim

macOS & Mac Apps

Dear fellow tech geeks. I am actually questioning weather or not I am a tech geek.
For my new internship I am working on the accessibility of the web sights and other such services for my university. My boss just sent me a few PDF files to see if they were accessible. As I went through them in preview I was thinking, these read fine, they are not images, what els could accessible mean. Well accessible can mean a lot more. I just did some quick reading about accessible, (or tagged) PDF files and there is all kinds of added things you can have with PDF files such as headings and even tables.
Perhaps everyone els is going to say duh we have known this forever and honestly I do feel very dumb for not knowing this. My only defense is preview. It is the only app I have any real experience with as far as PDF's, since I have been a mac user the entire time I have been blind. As far as I Know there is no way to navigate through different headings in preview, is this right? I would be happy to be wrong, but I don't think I am. I read about an app called skim on hear, just do some searching and you will find it. I'm thinking that Skim does allow you to navigate through headings. This gets us to the reason I am posting this. So with skim I am seeing a table to the far right of the app directly to the left of that other table which always seems to be empty. Am I right in thinking that the things I see in this table are headings? I am pretty sure that they are. My issue is that I can not seem to consistently use this table to navigate through the different headings. Some times when I move to different headings and then interact with the PDF the focus has moved to the right section, but other times it seems to have had no effect. Can anyone who has more experience with Skim give me some pointers. Also I am curious, is there anyone els out there who is a victim of pages and never knew about truly accessible PDF's?



Submitted by Tree on Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Oh now I'm thinking that what I see in the table are the pages of the doc. Come on guys, any words of wisdom?

Submitted by Zack on Wednesday, June 18, 2014

I hate to say this, but you are right. PDF support on Mac is one of its weak points, at least as far as accessibility to tagged info is concerned. Simply put, there isn't any. This is true as of OS X 10.9, so hopefully 10.10 will fix this long-standing issue. I can't comment either way, however.

Skim and Preview both render PDF more or less the same as far as VoiceOver is concerned. I don't think you will be satisfied with the PDF reading experience on Mac for anything complicated. This is, honestly, the one area I want Apple to improve pronto.

Submitted by Tree on Wednesday, June 18, 2014

I swear. So I am an apple fan boy. I have been an apple user for over four years now. pretty much as long as I have been blind. I have had several i devices, an apple tv and I love my mac.
But sometimes Apple really sucks.
I thought the stupidity of preview was simply that it does not handle the accessibility features of tagged pdf files, such as headings. Well Preview's terribleness is much worse then that. Preview actually strips out the accessibility features of a pdf document. This means that if someone takes a perfectly accessible tagged pdf image and even saves it through preview, that file looses all of its accessibility features. I know that Apples accessibility is a working progress. I have championed that progress for four years now. But come on apple. This is an issue that effects every screen reader user, even those on windows. If a prof in my college even uses preview to open and save a pdf that file is going to loos accessibility for every blind person because of apple. I am hoping for an i watch from apple this fall. But as far as preview, its not even a matter of hope for me. The best apple could possibly do in my book is to lesson my disappointment in them.

Submitted by Tree on Thursday, June 26, 2014

Just for everyones information skim does give you access to headings if the pdf is properly tagged.