Accessibility Toolkit for SFPL eLibrary Resources

The San Francisco Public Library has a large electronic collection of searchable databases and platforms for borrowing eBooks and Audiobooks. An SFPL library card is required in order to use these resources. This Toolkit has been created to provide information about accessibility of databases and book collections for readers using screen reading technology.

The guides that follow are continually being added to, and will be updated every six months to reflect changes to websites and mobile applications. Make sure to return to this page regularly and check back for more guides and tips on how to best access and get the most out of what the library’s eResources have to offer.

These guides assume that the reader has a basic working knowledge of how to use JAWS for Windows, Voiceover for iOS and Talkback for Android. For patrons who are just beginning to learn how to use adaptive technology, the links below are suggested as a good place to start:

User Guides

Accessibility of Overdrive: July 2019

Overdrive is a popular collection of thousands of books in electronic and audio formats. It can be accessed via the web using a computer, or downloaded as a free app through Apple’s App Store or Google’s Play Store. Many important features of the Overdrive website, such as the log in form and search function, are accessible using JAWS. However, it is not possible to read an eBook in a web browser with a screen reader and Overdrive’s online media player for audio books is not fully accessible. Fortunately, there is a desktop application version of Overdrive that is easy to install and makes it possible to listen to borrowed audio books on a computer. Downloading the MP3 version of a borrowed book in multiple parts to the desktop Overdrive application is straightforward. The commands for open, play/pause, transfer, burn, and download are accessible through the file menu by pressing the Alt key. Selecting play/pause brings up the media player window. All buttons are labeled and work properly. Note however that there are two buttons which are both labeled “Left/Right Slider.” The first skips forward and backward in the book, while the second increases or decreases volume.

When first opening the mobile version of the Overdrive app, a prompt will appear urging patrons to switch to the company’s new app called Libby. Unfortunately, Libby is not accessible using Voiceover on iOS or Talkback on Android, a fact that is stated on opening the Libby application. For now, anyone who relies on a screen reader to navigate their phone is encouraged to continue using Overdrive, the company’s original product.

At the moment, the only way to ensure a user friendly experience while reading an Overdrive eBook is to select the option to read it in Kindle format. After selecting this option, patrons can read their borrowed book in the Kindle app using the Voiceover or Talkback gestures they are already familiar with. The mobile version of Overdrive also provides the most accessible and screen reader friendly option for playing borrowed audio books. Simply log into the Overdrive app, go to the loans section under “My Account”, and download the book to start listening.

NLS/TBBC patrons always have the option to ask a librarian to help them download an Overdrive audio book onto a cartridge so they can listen to the book using their talking book player.

Take Away:  At this time, Overdrive’s online media player for audio books is not very accessible. The Overdrive Windows Application for listening to audio books is the best way to listen to a book on a desktop or laptop computer. Overdrive’s mobile app provides a highly accessible user experience when listening to audio books. Overdrive eBooks are currently only accessible when downloaded in Kindle format.

Accessibility of hoopla: August 2019

Hoopla is an electronic collection of over 500,000 titles, including eBooks, audiobooks, and music, movies, and television programs. It is available both on the web and as an application that can be downloaded from the iOS App Store or Android Google Play Store.

Creating an account, selecting the San Francisco Public Library, searching for titles and borrowing books are all tasks that are relatively simple and straightforward using JAWS, or Voiceover. Hoopla’s mobile application works well with TalkBack and Voiceover when listening to music, watching TV or streaming a movie. When reading an eBook or listening to an audio book, however, it is recommended to use Hoopla’s web-based platform rather than rely on the app. This is because Hoopla’s mobile versions of its eReader and Audio Book Player are not yet compatible with TalkBack or Voiceover.

Access Hoopla’s audio books and eBooks with the Chrome web browser on a PC. At this time it is not possible to access eBook and audio book content using JAWS and the Firefox web browser. Hoopla’s web platform and mobile application work equally well for listening to music, watching TV shows and streaming movies.

Here are a few tips that will hopefully make navigation easier.

  • While the search box is easy to find, note that JAWS identifies the search button as “Unlabeled 1 Button.”
  • All buttons in the audio player are labeled correctly. It is sometimes necessary to navigate using Tab and Shift-Tab rather than the arrow keys. After activating a button, focus often moves out of the player and the cursor is placed at the top of the page.
  • Most buttons in the online eReader are unlabeled. Button functions are as follows:
  • Unlabeled 0 brings up a partially accessible font and settings page.
  • Unlabeled 1 brings up a form for searching within the book.
  • Unlabeled 2 changes the page view to chapter view but does not change back.
  • Unlabeled 3 appears inactive.
  • Unlabeled 6 navigates forward one page or chapter.
  • Unlabeled 8 navigates back one page or chapter.

Take Away: Hoopla’s mobile media player has very limited accessibility, and its mobile eReader is not yet compatible with TalkBack or VoiceOver. Use the Chrome Browser on a PC to read eBooks or listen to audio books. It is possible to stream music, movies and TV shows on either the web-based platform or the mobile application, but the mobile app will provide the best user experience.