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EBSCO eBook Accessibility Guide

EBSCO eBooks strives to make our content accessible to all users. EBSCO is currently targeting WGAC (Web Content Accessibility Guidelines) 2.0 level AA.

We test our interface and content with the following screen reader/browser combinations:

  • JAWS + Internet Explorer 11
  • NVDA + Firefox

Other accessibility functions such as keyboard operability, color contrast, etc. are tested in all browsers.

eBook formats

EBSCO's online reader provides books in two formats, PDF and EPUB. Many books are available in both formats, while others are available only in one format.

  • PDF format books have distinct pages, which allow for page-level citations. They have a fixed page size that may not work well on all devices or screen sizes/zoom levels.

  • EPUB books automatically resize to fit your screen, and are composed of HTML. This format works well with screen readers.

Books may also be downloaded in PDF format:

  • Full book downloads require Adobe Digital Editions reader
  • Partial book downloads (pages, chapters) may be read using any PDF reader tool
Reading the full text of an online eBook with a screen reader

Due to limitations of the PDF format, EBSCO provides an ASCII full text layer for PDF books that can be turned on using a hidden link. This link can be found at the top of the page, as well as directly above the viewer.

The skip link is read as "Skip to Main eBook Content - accessible content"

Selecting this link will render the current PDF page as ASCII text that can be easily read by a screen reader, and will jump the page focus to the main content area. From there, you may begin reading the page with the screen reader. Once the ASCII full text is enabled, subsequent pages will be loaded as ASCII as well.

To load other pages of a PDF book, use the next/previous page arrows or navigate using the Table of Contents.


EPUB books are composed of HTML content which can easily be read by a screen reader. There are a number of ways to reach the main content of an EPUB book:

  • Using the h1 heading level
  • Using the "main" landmark
  • Using access key *

Many EPUB books contain their own heading levels, which allow navigation between segments of a book section.

To load other sections of the EPUB book, use the next/previous page arrows or navigate using the Table of Contents.

EPUB books resize to fit your screen, and the text can be zoomed without loss of fidelity.

Reaching the page controls of an eBook

To skip quickly to the next page / previous page controls:

  • Use the h2 heading level "Page Navigation Tools"

Navigating the Table of Contents of an eBook

To skip to the Table of Contents for a book while in the eBook reader:

  • Use the h3 "Contents" heading
  • Use the landmark "table of contents navigation"
  • Use access key 9

The table of contents is a tree that may be navigated using the tab key.

Searching within an eBook

EBSCO allows a full text search of a book from within the online eBook reader. To reach the Search Within this eBook tool:

  • Use the h3 "Search Within" heading
  • Use access key /

After searching, a list is loaded that can be navigated using the tab key.