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Accessibility: Database Access

This guide highlights Simpson Library's accessibility resources.


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ADA Accessibility Features in Major Databases

The majority of the library databases come from three companies, EBSCO, Gale and ProQuest. These database vendors are compliant with Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act and/or W3C WAI WCAG 2.0. They also provide information about their accessible features.

Please contact us if you are experiencing difficulties with any of the databases.

NOTE: This is not a comprehensive list of all the databases available through Simpson Library.


All EBSCOhost databases provide a text to speech option for HTML Full Text articles. However, many articles are not available in HTML. When you have located an article, click on HTML Full Text and there will be an option to listen. You can also download these audio files in MP3 format.

Newer PDFs in EBSCO are ADA compliant. EBSCO Publishing began providing its scanned PDFs with an Optical Character Reader (OCR) text layer in September 2004.

For more information:


ProQuest databases contain many PDFs which are ADA compliant. However, older content was created from scanned images of original text that is not accessible to screen readers. This content is identified throughout ProQuest with the label 'Scanned image PDF.'


Most films on Kanopy provide both closed captioning and interactive transcripts. Closed captioning can be toggled on and off using the "CC" button in the video player controls. Interactive transcripts can be opened by clicking the "Transcript" button immediately beneath the video player. The interactive transcripts highlight or underline the words as they are being spoken in the video.

Kanopy offers a Caption Request Tool for any videos that do not currently have captioning, providing any user with the ability to request that a film be captioned, directly from the film page in question. Kanopy promises a rapid turnaround time for all caption requests. Patrons may also use the search filters on the results screen to limit their searches only to videos that already provide captioning.

Alma/Primo (formerly Quest)

Alma is developed in accordance with the requirements of the DDA including Part III, as well as those of the American Disabilities Act 1990 (ADA).
Alma was developed in line with the WAI guidelines. The application is compliant by applying a high-contrast level of the display, by adjusting the luminosity level of the display, and by applying alternatives to non-accessible methods, such as JavaScript or AJAX components. The application is also compatible with screen readers for the visually impaired.
The accessibility of the Alma interface for users (inc. HTML and CSS) follows leading international accessibility and industry standards: The W3C Web Content Accessibility Guidelines 2.0, level "Double-A" Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act (29 U.S.C. 794d). We adhere to the following accessibility guidelines:
  1. HTML Standards and Accessibility
  2. XHTML 1.0 Transitional
  3. WCAG 2.0 Guidelines Priority 2 (with exceptions)
  4. Section 508 (with exceptions)
  5. CSS 3


JSTOR's image-based PDFs have been automatically tagged so that they can be read with screen readers like JAWS. Where tagging is not sufficient, manual tagging can be requested for a limited number of articles. See the JSTOR accessibility policy for details.


In any Gale database, users can select any portion of text, or an entire article to be streamed as audio. With a click of a button, any Gale database text can be read aloud via the user’s computer, thus making Gale content accessible in a new way. These audio segments can also be saved as MP3 files for use on MP3 players for listening at a later time.

ScienceDirect / Elsevier

Screen Reader Friendly

  • HTML journal articles and book chapters are compatible with screen readers such as JAWS, NVDA and Apple's VoiceOver.
  • Math content is available in MathML, which can be spoken by text-to-speech engines or converted to Braille and pasted into math equation editors or Microsoft Office documents.
  • Pages employ ARIA (Accessibility for Rich Internet Applications) to enhance navigation, orientation and labeling for users of screen readers and other assistive technology.

Keyboard Friendly

  • Keyboard-only users can jump directly to a main section in a journal article or book by using the left-side table of contents.
  • Controls and features are operable using keyboard only.

Flexible Display

  • Users can enlarge pages and text with either browser controls or screen magnification software such as ZoomText.
  • Content can be viewed in either HTML or PDF.

Clear Navigation

  • Links are named appropriately and include necessary information about the link.
  • Global navigation links are consistent across pages and enable users to quickly and easily understand the layout of the site.
  • Pages have unique and descriptive page titles which help with orientation, tabbed browsing and bookmarking.