E-books for everyone:

Are all e-books accessible?

In short, no, although they generally have varying levels of accessibility. A person who uses a screen-reader may find a certain e-book to be completely inaccessible, but a person who uses a program to enlarge the text may find it functional. It can depend on the person’s needs, the collection’s built-in functions and the technology or programs they use to access the e-book.


How can I find out if an e-book is accessible?

Many e-book collections have a statement of accessibility on their sites, but that may not result in the e-books they host being accessible for your needs. Additionally, collections and platforms are constantly evolving, and so what may not have been accessible last year may have been updated. You can always try out the specific collection using the technology you need, and contact us if there are barriers, and we will do our best to help.

  • Collections that allow you to download files:

    Browser based e-books and files protected by DRM can be problematic when used with assistive reading technology like WYNN and Kurzweil. Not all collections allow you to download files, or are DRM free however. Please see the table on the Downloading E-books: Download options by collection for some suggestions on collections that allow you to download files, and check out the list of DRM free resources on the Digital rights management page.

  • Collections with read-aloud features:

    Seneca Libraries have organized a list of many commonly used databases and e-book collections, separated into two categories; those with a read-aloud function and those without. Databases with Built-In Text Reading Functionality

  • Collections that work with screen readers:

    Suffolk University Boston has a list of instructions and tips for using a screen reader with several library databases and e-book collections, although McGill does not subscribe to every database on their list. Screen Reading and Library Resources


What can I do if the e-book I want to read is not accessible and I need it for class?

We are generally able to locate an accessible version of the e-book you need. If you are a student at McGill, you can contact Student Accessibility and Achievement by telephone at 514-398-6009, or by email at access.achieve [at] Additionally, if you are already registered with them, you can directly contact:

Isabella Scurfield
Senior Advisor, Learning Supports
isabella.scurfield [at]


What if I want an accessible e-book and I am an alumnus or have a library borrowing card?

Please contact Collection Services at collections.library [at]

Other resources on accessibility and e-books:



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