Meeting the needs of learners of all abilities

Page Updated 24/10/2018

A Long-Standing Commitment

For nearly two decades, VitalSource has worked to ensure our products are designed from the beginning with accessibility in mind. We go beyond simply adhering to industry standards, as we are also actively involved in helping create those standards through participation in and leadership with key accessibility partners.

Active in the Community

Active in the Community

VitalSource works with organisations such as the W3C, DIAGRAM Center, Book Industry Study Group, the Center for Accessible Materials Innovation, and the EDUPUB Alliance (EPUB for Education). We also collaborate with consultants and advocacy groups, such as the National Federation of the Blind, JISC, Tech for All, and others to grow the community and the capabilities of each part of the system.

Sustained Transparency

Sustained Transparency

Solving the needs of learners requires a great deal of collaboration and accountability. VitalSource demonstrates its Section 508 compliance by publishing the VPATs for its products. But our commitment goes beyond mere compliance. We are transparent about our capabilities because learners and partners need to know how we meet their needs.

Supporting All Users

At VitalSource, we believe that every user should be fully supported for every title they use. This is why we ensure we conform to level AA of the Web Content Accessibility Guideline.

Colours and Contrasts

  • Bookshelf® Online has an inbuilt function to alter the colour of the display
  • Readers can adjust the background colour to sepia using the “night mode” option
  • Readers in the platform have the ability to vote on features and functionality
  • Readers using a Mac can change the colour on their computer—this functionality is called “Night Shift”
  • Development is in progress for the ability to select different font colours and contrast changes


Copying and Printing

  • There are some limits on the amount of content that can be copied or printed from Bookshelf, as designated by the publisher
  • A print dialogue box advises readers on the print limit for their title
  • Limits on printing and copying vary, but are usually around 10%


Digital Rights Management (DRM)

  • Content delivered through the Bookshelf online reader and mobile applications employs DRM protection
  • Files can only be opened in Bookshelf


Image Descriptions

  • If alt text image descriptions have been added to a file and the reader is utilising a screen reader software, the alt text will be displayed in line with the text
  • We encourage all of our publishers to supply alt tags and long descriptions on content when possible to ensure our images (excluding book covers) adhere to WCAG AA
  • Transcripts and alt text for video and audio content can be made available, where provided by the publisher


Keyboard Shortcuts

  • VitalSource Bookshelf Online is browser-based and will work with supported keyboard shortcuts. Learn about various quick keys here: Mac and Windows



  • Magnify content in the platform up to 300%
  • Plans are in action to implement line spacing, margin width, and text justification



  • Bookshelf supports navigational tagging (heading levels, hyperlinks) and reading order, where supplied by the publisher
  • VitalSource will begin badging books on their accessibility features in our online store, allowing users to make informed decisions before purchasing
  • Where page numbers are available, we will expose them in both the margins and contents page


Reading Options

  • PDF and EPUB files can be read in Bookshelf
  • Both file types can be read with a screen reader such as, but not limited to, JAWS and NVDA
  • Readers can resize text using our content controls located at the bottom of the screen or change the zoom percentage of the entire page


Screen Readers

Bookshelf is compatible with:

  • JAWS
  • NVDA
  • SuperNova
  • Plus more


Text to Speech

  • Bookshelf Online has an inbuilt text-to-speech function
  • Rewind, play, pause, and fast-forward
  • The text being read is highlighted on the page
  • Both PDF and EPUB file formats can be read
  • Readers in the platform have the ability to vote on features and functionality
  • We support VoiceOver and TalkBack screen readers for iOS and Android, respectively
24/7 Support

24/7 Support

We have a team of accessibility specialists to assist customers with questions or other needs. Customers outside North America can visit our 24/7 Technical Support site anytime at We respond to most issues within 24 hours. You can also email your accessibility issue to or visit

Special Requests

Special Requests

When an alternate format file is needed, we will work with the publisher to understand what options are available and how to best provide the necessary accommodation in coordination with the appropriate departments at the institution. A request for a particular title to be enhanced for improved accessibility can be sent directly to the publisher contacts, or we can assist in the process by submitting this form.

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