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Mar 15 2021 - 04:14 PM
Ebook Accessibility Series: ProQuest EBook Central

Disclaimer: These instructions are specific to ProQuest EBook Central. For general issues regarding accessibility or exemptions in the service described below, please contact TC’s Office for Access and Services for Individuals with Disabilities (OASID)

Accessing eBooks through ProQuest EBook Central:

Most of the eBooks in TC Library’s collections are hosted on ProQuest Ebook Central (EBC), a browser-based service that allows users to discover, navigate, and annotate eBooks. ProQuest attests to being “committed to providing all our users with a fully accessible experience for research, teaching and learning,” and that EBC is “continually designed and developed to meet Level AA of the W3C Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG 2.1) and Section 508 of the US Rehabilitation Act for features and functions” (for more information about how they meet these standards, you can view their Accessibility Statement or Full Accessibility Conformance Report (VPAT 2.3 & WCAG)). 

Accordingly, there are several ways to adjust accessibility for items hosted on the service; some within EBC, and some within your web browser. For the sake of consistency, the tips and instructions outlined here discuss options for only Mozilla’s Firefox and Google’s Chrome browsers. For EBC-based settings, you will need to create an account and sign in to the service. Please note, however, that this EBC account is separate from your TC Library account! Tips for navigating the service and its accessibility options are below.

Adjusting settings within Ebook Central:

When you arrive at an item in EBC, click the ‘Sign In’ link in the top right corner of the page:

Caption: A screenshot of the first page of “The Struggle for the American Curriculum, 1893- 1958” in Ebook Central. The top toolbar has the ProQuest Ebook Central hyperlinked logo on the left, and links for ‘Home,’ ‘Search,’ ‘Bookshelf,’ ‘Settings,’ a question mark, and ‘Sign In’ highlighted on the right.

Sign in or create your account:


Caption: A screenshot of a popup headlined “Important Notice” in Ebook Central. The text reads “By continuing to use your account, you agree to Proquest’s Privacy Policy and terms of service for the information that you provide us. An account is required to download books, annotate, and use the bookshelf. An account is not required to search, read and download chapters. You may view, manage, and delete your account information on the Profile page. If you decline, you will be signed out of your account.” Two buttons follow at bottom for ‘Decline’ or ‘Accept.’

Once signed in, click on ‘Profile,’ under the ‘Settings’ tab in the top right corner.

Caption: A screenshot of the Profile page in EBook Central. At top is the service’s search toolbar, and the ‘Profile’ heading is followed by text entry fields marked ‘First Name,’ ‘Last Name,’ ‘Email/ Username,’ ‘Password,’ and ‘Confirm Password.’ Beneath that are radio buttons for ‘Default Citation Style’ and ‘Accessibility Mode.’ Beneath the ‘Accessibility Mode’ radio buttons is a checkbox for ‘Use OpenDyslexic typeface.’ A final checkbox marked “I agree to ProQuest’s Privacy Policy [hyperlinked] and Terms of Service [hyperlinked].” is above two buttons at the bottom of the page marked ‘Cancel’ and ‘Save Changes.’

Select the options for “Enable Accessibility Mode,” and/or “Use OpenDyslexic typeface.” You will have to agree to ProQuest's Privacy Policy and Terms of Service in order for the settings to be changed. You may also enable Accessibility Mode with a screen reader. Below, you can see how the same page appears before and after Accessibility Mode is enabled:

  • Before:

Caption: A screenshot of EBook Central’s copy of “Selected Writings of A.R. Lauria.” A navigation panel on the left side of the screen features an image of the book cover, its bibliographic information, a search bar to search within the book, and a table of contents with some sections collapsed. The main panel shows the third page of the book, with a greyed-out bookmark in the top right corner.

  • After:

Caption: A screenshot of the same page in EBook Central, with Accessibility Mode enabled. The content of the page has been converted to plain text, and the book’s title, page number of total pages, bookmark status (“This page is not bookmarked. Create Bookmark” [hyperlinked]), and annotation status (“This page has no note. Create note” [hyperlinked]) are at the top of the page. At the bottom of the page are “Go To Next Page” [hyperlinked]) and “Go To Previous Page” [hyperlinked]).

As you may notice, the shapes and icons that indicate bookmarks and notes are replaced by text at the top of the page indicating whether or not the page is bookmarked or has notes, and options to create either. 


  • After OpenDyslexic Typeface is enabled:

Caption: A screenshot of the same Accessibility Mode-enabled page in EBook Central. All of the text on the page, including the top toolbar, left navigation panel, and the book contents, is now in OpenDyslexic font.

OpenDyslexic is an “open sourced font created to increase readability for readers with dyslexia.” Its letters’ unique shapes and ‘weighted bottoms’ indicate direction, reinforce the line of the text, and prevent confusion. To learn more about OpenDyslexic or download the font, see their website.

Additional features

There are additional features to improve or adjust accessibility beyond EBC’s Accessibility Mode, but their availability depends on several factors including your device, browser, the eBook format, and download restrictions on the particular item.

A note on exceptions

EBC offers eBooks in two formats; EPUB and PDF. PDFs can be read and navigated by screen readers, but do not support other accessibility options like reflowable text, the option to change fonts, and in some cases, alt text or descriptions for images. If you need to download, copy, or print a book, you may also encounter titles that have such access restricted. When looking at an item record in EBC, information regarding download restrictions (or DRM, for digital rights management), can be found under “Availability” (screenshots below). If the item you need is only available as a PDF, or has download restrictions that prevent you from accessing it, please contact OASID for an accessible copy.

Caption: A screenshot of the detail page for “Afrofuturism: The World of Black Sci-Fi and Fantasy Culture” in EBook Central. Beneath the title and author is a heading labeled “Availability,” under which is the line “Your institution has unlimited access to this book.”

Caption: A screenshot of the detail page for “The New Meaning of Educational Change, Fifth Edition” in EBook Central. Beneath the title and author is a heading labeled “Availability,” under which is the line “Your institution has access to 1 copy of this book.”

These exceptions notwithstanding, most of the items hosted on EBC can be made additionally accessible using the settings below.

Colors and contrasts

In order to comply with the aforementioned accessibility standards, colors on EBC meet minimum contrast specifications. These can be further adjusted within your browser (Preferences > General > Language and Appearances in Firefox; Settings > Appearance, and/ or Settings > Advanced > Accessibility in Chrome) with the recommended extensions below. 

Beyond the browser’s built-in controls, extensions like Color Changer for Firefox and Change Colors for Chrome allow for more color and contrast options.


Text on EBC can be magnified up to 300% using standard browser controls (CTRL +/- for PCs and Command +/- for Macs).

Browser extensions like NoSquint for Firefox and Zoomy for Chrome also allow for further magnification.

Screen readers, text to speech, and Keyboard navigation

EBC does not have a built-in text-to speech function, but it is designed to be compatible with screen readers, which can recognize and name elements and otherwise obscured information within its pages. The service’s menus and books can also be navigated using the tab, enter, and arrow keys, without a screen reader.

ProQuest tests EBC with NVDA on Firefox and JAWS on Chrome, but note that both of these screenreaders are available for Windows only. On Macs, you can use the system’s VoiceOver Utility, or the Read Aloud browser extension (Firefox, Chrome) for text to speech. There is also a wide variety of applications, including Balabolka, Orato, and Adobe Reader, that can convert text in downloaded files to speech.

More info and resources: 

Have Ebook Central’s accessibility features worked well for you? Do you have a preferred browser extension for accessibility that’s not included here? Let us know in the comments!