Answered By: Trenia Napier
Last Updated: Apr 20, 2023     Views: 144

Recommended screen reader and browser combinations for EBSCO eBooks

The recommended screen reader and browser combinations are as follows:

  • Desktop: Internet Explorer 11 + JAWS

  • Desktop: Firefox (ESR 60) + NVDA

  • Desktop: Safari (latest) + VoiceOver

  • Mobile Apple devices: Safari + VoiceOver

  • Mobile Android devices: Chrome + TalkBack

What reading options are recommended for reading EBSCO eBooks with different assistive technologies?

EBSCO eBooks can be used with a variety of different assistive technologies. Following are our general recommendations for the best reading experience with each type of assistive program:    

  • Screen readers: we recommend reading EBSCO eBooks in our online viewer, or downloaded offline if your preferred screen reader works well with Adobe Digital Editions    

  • Screen magnifiers: we recommend reading EBSCO eBooks in our online viewer, which we’ve designed to work well with screen magnifiers

  • Text to speech tools: we recommend downloading key eBook chapters and opening them with the user’s text-to-speech tool, or copying the text from the viewer into the text-to-speech tool    

  • Color and contrast changers: we recommend reading EBSCO eBooks in our online viewer, or downloading key eBook chapters and opening them with a reader that supports the user’s preferred color and contrast changing tools

Read&Write Gold users

As R&W is not explicitly supported by EBSCO and is not compatible with Adobe Digital Editions, we recommend downloading NVDA for reading eBooks within the EBSCO online eBook viewer and/or full DRM-enabled downloads within ADE.  Alternatively, we recommend R&W users download eBooks by section, and load the downloaded section PDFs into R&W’s “PDF Aloud” subprogram.

Is there a way for users to search for only eBooks with particular access features?

There is not a search limiter for accessibility features because all EBSCO eBooks are accessible, with the rare exception of a few pre-2004 NetLibrary titles (for which we can obtain accessible versions for users upon request).

eBooks in EPUB format are easily accessible, both online and offline, because EPUB delivers HTML text, which is consumable by screen readers and accessibility tools.

For users that prefer EPUB/HTML content over the accessible PDF format, they can type FM EK in the search box. This will pull up search results that are in EPUB format (whether or not there is an accompanying PDF version). 

Example: Search FM EK AND children sport to return only results in EPUB/HTML format that are related to the search terms "children sport".

Note: If running an FM EK search that includes keywords, you must use a Boolean operator (AND, OR, NOT) to combine them as displayed above.

Information for users with vision who rely on the keyboard

EBSCO eBooks contains a Skip to Main Content link at the top of the ebook viewer page, which allows keyboard users to skip redundant navigation links. To access this, use the tab key from the top of the page. The Skip to Main Content link will come into view. Activating this link sends focus to the ebook viewer region, where a keyboard user can scroll content with the down arrows or easily reach the page navigation tools with the tab key.

Skip to main content link in EBSCO eBooks viewer


Most full book downloads require Adobe Digital Editions reader

These files have the .acsm extension. DRM-free downloads can be read using any PDF or EPUB reader. DRM-free files have the extension .pdf or .epub


Offline (downloaded) eBooks utilize Adobe Digital Editions software (ADE). ADE leverages accessibility features on Windows and Mac OS to support blind and low-vision users, such as high-contrast modes and resizing of the book’s text. ADE also offers keyboard support. Screen reader users can use many different tools to read books with Digital Editions. ADE does not seem to currently be compatible with Read&Write Gold. More information about accessibility via ADE is available here:

Accessible online eBook viewing requires screen reader or text-to-speech software

Online, for PDF format eBooks, a hidden layer to enable the delivery of ASCII text for consumption by a screen reader is available. When the ASCII text is activated, title and alt tags, as well as introductory text are properly accessible. When using a keyboard to navigate, tab order within the online eBook Viewer is maintained.

How do DRM-protected and DRM-free eBooks compare in terms of accessibility?

EBSCO recently made over 60,000 titles available to purchase DRM-free for the unlimited user model. Because Adobe's DRM protection makes eBooks partially or fully incompatible with many assistive technologies like screen readers and text-to-speech tools, we highly recommend DRM-free eBooks for users with accessibility needs whenever possible.

  • DRM-free eBooks are explicitly identified as "DRM-free" in ECM and on GOBI at the title level, to support librarians who wish to acquire DRM-free eBooks.

  • DRM-free eBooks are not explicitly identified as "DRM-free" on EBSCOhost because in our user testing, EBSCO found that this term is not well-known across all end users and does not have a universal definition. As a result, on EBSCOhost DRM-free eBooks are identified as completely unlimited on the detailed record and in the viewer.

    • On the detailed record, for DRM-free eBooks, the concurrent user level will indicate unlimited concurrent user access, and publisher permissions will be displayed as unlimited print/save/email pages and unlimited copy/paste.

      • For DRM-protected eBooks, the concurrent user level will reflect the library's level of access or ownership (e.g., Limited User Access (3 copies)), and publisher permissions will reflect what the publisher allows the user to do with that specific eBook (e.g., print/save/email 100 pages).

    • Within the eBook viewer, publisher permissions will be displayed as: unlimited print/save/email pages, unlimited copy/paste, and unlimited download; and eBook availability will be displayed as unlimited user access.

      • For DRM-protected eBooks, these permissions will reflect a page number for print/save/email, and that number will count down as the user leverages these tools and downloads eBook pages.

  • When downloading a DRM-free eBook, the end user receives an EPUB or PDF file which they can open in any compatible reading application; no Adobe ID is required.

    • DRM-protected eBooks will continue to be delivered protected with industry-standard Adobe DRM.

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