ebrary Accessibility Mode

The usual display of ebrary books (when reading them online in the ebrary reader) is not screen-readable.

ebrary offers a special screen-readable “accessibility” mode for use with text-to-speech screen readers, such as JAWS, NVDA, or VoiceOver.

ebrary “accessibility” mode is supported on computers (both desktop and laptop), but not on tablets or mobile devices.

There are two ways to activate this special screen-readable “accessibility” mode:

  1. If you are running a text-to-speech screen reader, simply have it ‘read’ the banner at the top of the ebrary page.  It will ‘read’ the option of displaying the book’s content in screen-readable-text mode.
  2. Or, you can contact support@ebrary.com to request to have screen-readable-text mode enabled for your ebrary username.  Then once you sign in to your personal ebrary account with that username, the content of ebrary books will display in screen-readable-text mode.  This can be useful for admins who want to understand what this mode will look like for patrons using text-to-speech screen readers.

In accessibility mode, some ebrary pages show more or less detail, and check boxes have been adjusted for ease of use.

  • Advanced Search Page – Instead of “+” buttons for adding search fields, it offers the following preset fields:
    • Three text fields which default to a “Text and Key Words” field, a “Subject” field, and a “Title” field
      • Each field is user selectable. For example, you could change the first field to “Title” and the second field to “Author” or “Publisher”
    • A number field that defaults to “Dewey Decimal Number” but can be changed to “ISBN”, “LC Call Number”, or “Publication Year”
    • A set of check boxes for “Document Type”, “Document Language”, and “Collection”
  • In the New Reader
    • A limited set of icon-based tools are available:
      Full Download, Add to Bookshelf, Share Link, and Get Citation
  • Bookshelf
    • Contains a list of numbered folders.  You can reorder folders using the numbers and assign documents to folders by specifying the document numbers.
    • To add a document to a folder in your bookshelf:
      • Add the document to your bookshelf
      • Click the “Bookshelf” tab
      • Click the “File this book” button to the right of the title
      • Select the check box that files the book and all its annotations, or select one or more check boxes for filing individual annotations, then select the check box for the folder or folders to which you want to move the selection and click “Move”
    • To remove a book from a folder
      • Tab to the red check box next to the book and select it
    • To reorder folders:
      • In the “Bookshelf” tab, change one or more numbers in the boxes to the left of the folder name
      • Click “Reorder folders”


Current options to have ebrary books read aloud – overview

Currently we have several options to have ebrary books read aloud:

  • Use a screen reader such as JAWS, NVDA, or VoiceOver to have an ebrary book’s text read aloud.
    • Most users who require text to speech are already familiar with a particular screen reader.
    • When reading an ebrary book online, the default mode is not screen-readable text.  You need to use a screen reader such as JAWS, NVDA, or VoiceOver to detect and select the option for screen-readable text.
    • To turn on screen-readable-text mode, have the screen reader start reading the ebrary page.  It will “read” an option to view in screen-readable-text format.  Once that is turned on, the text of the ebrary book can be read by the screen reader.
    • For additional details, see: more info
  • Or, Full Download the book, then view the downloaded book in Adobe Digital Editions version 3 or later.  The displayed text will be readable by programs such as JAWS, NVDA, or VoiceOver.
  • Or, Print to PDF a particular page range of the book, then use an Optical Character Recognition (OCR) program to convert the image of text to actual text.
    • ebrary PDFs are image PDFs, not text-based PDFs, so an OCR program is needed to convert the picture of letters into decipherable letters.
    • Kurzweil 3000 standalone is a popular third-party OCR and “read aloud” program.
      • We do not yet certify nor guarantee that a particular ebrary PDF will work with Kurzweil 3000, but we know it works on many of our PDFs – it depends on how the PDF file was delivered to us from the publisher.  Free trials of Kurzweil 3000 standalone are available for download off the web.

ebrary plans to offer epub format in the future, which will provide flowable text and will allow for additional read-aloud options.


Using a 3rd-party text-to-speech screen reader in the online ebrary interface

 Officially supported/certified by ebrary:
  • JAWS 15 on IE 11
  • VoiceOver on Safari (latest versions)

Not yet certified

  • NVDA, but works fairly smoothly
  • Firefox (accessibility issues in latest version)
  • Chrome (it provides low support for screen readers)
  • Non-keyboard input (e.g. gesture or voice)

ebrary “accessibility” mode is supported on computers (both desktop and laptop), but not on tablets or mobile devices.

Accessibility mode can be turned on and off in the following ways:

  • Using a screen reader in the patron interface
  • By contacting support@ebrary.com
The following areas of the ebrary interface are screen-reader accessible:
  • Global navigation
  • Remote authentication
  • ebrary Detail Page
  • Reader features and functions
  • Help (for Detail Page and Reader only)
  • Session timeout
  • Special characters and equations don’t always render the same as in standard ebook (due to plain-text translation of ebook content)
  • Session timeout is 20 hours in accessibility mode (rather than 1 hour)
  • Instructions to turn accessibility on/off are read only when navigating to Detail Page or Reader using keyboard, or going to URL directly (but not when using mouse)
  • Selected radio button and checkbox is not being read on IE (reads in Safari)
  • Certain instructions are read twice on IE (reads once on Safari)
  • Toolbar is re-read after patron activates Share Link or Cite on IE (not re-read on Safari)
  • Certain elements are read as clickable in VoiceOver when they are not (known issue with Safari)

For JAWS-specific tips, see: http://support.ebrary.com/kb/jaws-tips/


With Adobe Digital Editions (ADE) 3.0 or more recent, full-document downloads can be read by screen readers

For more info, see Adobe Digital Editions FAQs at:


Click “How do I use it with screen reading technology?

Adobe Digital Editions mobile apps do not appear to support screen readers

  • Testing on an iPad, the Adobe Digital Editions iOS app did not work with VoiceOver.

To upgrade to the newest version of Adobe Digital Editions, proceed as if to install Adobe Digital Editions, and it will detect that you’re upgrading:

  1. From your computer, go to
  2. Scroll down and click: “Download Adobe Digital Editions ›
  3. Follow the steps as prompted

Tips for using JAWS software with ebrary Accessibility Mode

The following are “best practices” from advanced users of JAWS with ebrary’s accessibilty mode:

Begin searches as follows:

  • Select CTRL HOME
  • Arrow down
  • Go to “Skip Navigation”
  • Then use either arrows or CTRL F to reach the desired link.

To get to the Links list view:

  • Select INS F7

Note, once you successfully select a page number, and the page loads, you need to press ESC (escape key) to get to the text on that page.