by Andrew Kirkpatrick

 Comments (14)


November 16, 2011

This post is subject to Adobe's Terms of Use.

A new version of Adobe Digital Editions is available, and with it comes additional improvements for accessibility.

Users relying on VoiceOver, JAWS, or NVDA, and keyboard-only or high-contrast users can make use of this application to read electronic books, including books from booksellers such as Barnes and Noble and Waterstones, and books loaned via public libraries which use OverDrive for electronic book delivery.

In this release we’ve addressed several issues identified internally and externally, including the major enhancement request which was to enable continuous reading. We’ve also shared information with assistive technology vendors who have done significant work on their end to increase support for this application.

The installer is available at Of particular interest is the “Getting Started” book that is installed with the application, as this book details keyboard shortcuts and other information related to accessibility support.

I’m interested in any feedback that people may have on this release, as well as requests for future enhancements.

UPDATE 1/5/2012: Window-Eyes 7.x now supports Digital Editions 1.8.1 through a downloadable app. More information is available at the blog post announcing the availability of this app.


  • By Kelly Ford - 8:21 PM on November 16, 2011  

    Has this been tested with JAWS 13 at all? Running JAWS 13.0.527 on two different machines, I’m losing all speech when I run this. The earlier version didn’t exhibit this behavior. I’m not even able to get Narrator to launch I lose speech. The machine behaves like there is a huge CPU spike as the fans all kick into high gear as soon as I try and access any book content.

    • By akirkpat - 9:48 PM on November 16, 2011  

      Kelly, I believe so but will verify with engineering. Can you provide more information about your environment?

  • By Kelly Ford - 11:50 PM on November 16, 2011  

    These were two machines running Windows 7 X64. One was a new OS install with all updates and then JAWS added. The other was a machine I’ve been using for a while with various apps added and removed. It was this second where I had used the first release of this.

    • By KKaja - 10:07 AM on November 17, 2011  

      Kelly, I have a similar setup (Win 7 64 bit) as well as Jaws 13.0.527. This is not a fresh setup but a number of applications have been installed and uninstalled. Jaws 3.0.527 reads book content and ADE application windows just fine. could you please try testing with either Jaws 12 or try reinstalling ADE 1.8.1? if you do reinstall ADE 1.8.1, please uninstall the existing version.


  • By Kelly Ford - 5:42 PM on November 17, 2011  

    I’ve tried the uninstall/reinstall. I’m now up to four different computers, three of which were new OS installs, with the same result. As soon as I open any book things all go unresponsive. I don’t know if there are more details I can provide but at least here this isn’t working.

    • By Pete De Vasto - 1:57 PM on November 29, 2011  

      Kelly, following up on this issue. I’ve tried using D E with JAWS 13 on both XP and Windows 7 but can’t reproduce your issue up to now. I’ve had situations on Windows 7 where my system freezes and it would appear to me the whole machine is dead, only to find out from a sighted person who happens to come in that there is, in fact, content on my screen. Is there a way you can tell us if the book you’re trying to read does, in fact, open?

  • By Amir Soleimani - 3:08 PM on December 7, 2011  

    I’m also running JAWS 13.0.527 on a Win 7 Ultimate 32-Bit machine, and can duplicate the “loss of speech” issue with the latest ADE release. However, it’s more or less sporadic and doesn’t happen with each and every Epub book I open. However, when it happens, ADE becomes unresponsive and closing it via the Task Manager immediately restores speech. So far I’ve seen it three times in eight or nine books I’ve opened.
    BTW, how does one go about the task of annotating an Epub or PDF book in ADE? I can’t do it via JAWS 13.0.527 with or without selecting text. At any rate, text selection itself is apparently unreliable as with each attempt to select the current word, the next word gets selected.

  • By Doug Fisher - 5:44 PM on December 7, 2011  

    Are these (VoiceOver, JAWS, NVDA) the only TTS programs that will work with epub books through Adobe DE? What about other TTS programs? WordQ, Kurzweil, etc. In the past we have not been able to find any program that will allow us to TTS a DRM epub book in any reader. It would be amazing if we can get this to work.

  • By Paul P. Schafer - 8:26 PM on December 8, 2011  

    Hi, Andrew et al.,

    As I’ve mention to you and Greg P. from work, I’ve been using ADE v1.8 Preview on my Macbook Pro via OS Lion and Voiceover for a few months; enjoyed listening to about a dozen books thus far. I just noticed your blog 11/16 entry notification of the ADVE v1.8.1 update and have started using it … Alas, I don’t notice any difference from this OS Lion platform; I can read/listen to page content one at a time by pressing the right arrow key after each page is read… I still am unsuccessful having Voiceover interact with the page-content container as I should via VO+Shift+DownArrow, though I was successful enabling some Voiceover interaction in said container using finger gestures after toggling on the Trackpad Commander; depending on the Rotary value, I could finger flick and navigate via word or character… Also, either VO+a or two-finger flick down (with Trackpad Commander toggled on) should allow continuous reading across pages, but neither one does. Is there a continuous-read keystroke I’m unaware of under OS Lion for ADE v1.8.1? Lastly, as experienced with the previous ADE preview,I hear a button lacking an explicit label; I hear the button between the “text size” menu button to the left and “find” edit field to the right.

    Thanks, Happy Holidays, and Live Well! —Paul

  • By Bryan J. - 1:48 PM on December 10, 2011  

    Dear Adobe,

    Running DE Preview under OSX Lion 10.7.2
    Reading the latest DE Getting Started GUide as well as an ADE epub book purchased from Kobo Books.
    1. VO reads the book text but restarts whenever I attempt to interact with the book text.
    2. How does one navigate by anything smaller than page? (How does one navigate by paragraph, line, word, character?)
    3. How does one select text for the annotation feature?
    4. What is the unlabeled button located immediately to the right of the “Back to Library” button when in reading mode?
    5. What is the unlabeled button located immediately to the right of the “Text Size” button when in reading mode?

    Thank you.

  • By LN - 11:14 AM on December 11, 2011  

    Adobe Reader versions had Read Aloud and Autoscroll functions that worked simply with a voice setup available in the operating system. For me it was a huge breakthrough as it made available materials I could not learn before.
    The loss of those functions when the library switched to Digital Reader was a major setback. The current revision of Digital Editions does not seem to restore equivalent functionality as it seems to require very expensive software to make the material accessible.

    Not only was it a very very long time coming, but it forces one to also acquire very expensive software that may not be essential to print disabled readers in many cases, such as those of us with dyslexia, tracking problems or learning disabilities, for whom the earlier Adobe Reader functionality was a very welcome breakthrough.

    When I use DRM protected materials from the library, I now am forced to use Digital Editions. The current revision also removes functionality that is available in a prior version of Digital Reader. So “upgrading” is a mixed bag at best.

    How I wish you’d return the functionality I had under Adobe Reader in years past.
    This is in no way equivalent.

  • By Bryan J. - 9:27 AM on February 22, 2012  

    Adobe released Preview 3 v1.8.2 on February 16, 2012. There appear to be no improvements to the Mac version with this release.

    1. There is still no way to perform standard document reading functions such as navigating by paragraph, line, word or character.
    2. VO still restarts when I attempt to interact with the body of the document.
    3. There are still a number of unlabeled buttons on the toolbar.

  • By Bryan J. - 9:28 AM on February 22, 2012  

    Adobe — If you are still monitoring this thread, can you tell us if this product is going to follow in the footsteps of your “accessible Flash Player.” That is to say, you made a big announcement 2 years ago about making Flash Player accessible on the Mac and yet that promise is *still* unfulfilled.

  • By Rajwin - 2:51 PM on April 20, 2012  

    Is there a read aloud function? thats very imoprtant