by Andrew Kirkpatrick

 Comments (21)


July 20, 2011

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

I’m delighted to share the news that Adobe Digital Editions 1.8 is available on Adobe Labs and that at long last this version provides improved support for accessibility. Digital Editions 1.8 has enhanced keyboard support, provides additional text magnification, support for high-contrast mode color-switching, and interoperability with the UIAutomation accessibility API to allow screen readers to read ebooks.

Some views of Digital Editions 1.8:

Digital Editions 1.8 will allow users, including screen reader users, to check out books from public libraries that use Adobe Content Server for book Digital Rights Management (DRM). In the United States, many libraries use Overdrive but have needed to direct users to audio books instead of EPUB books. Now, taking out an EPUB book from the library can work for many more people.

Buying books at many popular online vendors is also possible. EPUB Books purchased at Barnes and Noble, Kobo Books,, Waterstones, and more can be read with Digital Editions 1.8. Naturally, the book store needs to be accessible also, which is unfortunately not universally true (e.g. at Barnes and Noble the “Buy now” button is not labeled, maddeningly), but some are.

A couple of words about screen reader support. Digital Editions 1.8 is built using WPF and utilizes Microsoft’s UIAutomation accessibility API. Currently, JAWS users will be able to read books successfully. Update: JAWS 12 and newer future versions are able to support UIAutomation, so JAWS 12 is required. Earlier versions are not expected to correctly interact with Digital Editions 1.8. Other screen readers that support UIAutomation such as Window-Eyes 7.5 and NVDA are able to successfully read the menus and other aspects of the application, with the exception of the book content. This is a complex control and we are talking with vendors to ensure that the book content is able to be read by more tools than JAWS. Mac users can use VoiceOver to read books on the Mac version of Digital Editions 1.8.

There have many people pushing and encouraging us to improve Digital Editions and I thank everyone for their feedback and advice. I’d like to recognize and thank a few people in particular for engaging with us to provide feedback on early builds and patiently waiting for the release of this tool – from the National Federation of the Blind, Dr. Marc Maurer, Anne Taylor, and Tony Olivero; from the Royal National Institute of Blind People, Richard Orme, Steve Griffiths, and several testers; from the American Foundation for the Blind, Paul Schroeder and Darren Burton; and George Kerscher from DAISY and IDPF. I am certain that each of these people will have positive and negative things to say about this version; there is additional work to do to make Digital Additions more accessible to more people, but I believe that this is a solid first step and that is due to the hard work of the development team and the advice and guidance of these people and others.

We’d like to give a few people an easy opportunity to try out reading an accessible EPUB book with Digital Editions 1.8, so we are holding a quick drawing for gift cards to online bookstores. You can enter the contest here. We’ll award 30 gift cards on Monday July 25 at noon Eastern US time.

We’re interested in your feedback, so enjoy your books and please send feedback!


  • By Kelly Ford - 11:31 AM on July 20, 2011  

    Thanks for this step in a positive direction. On initial trial this is reading books from my library.

    Why does the getting started book included with this version read so poorly. Reading on Windows, page 1 runs everything from the table of contents together as one line. Page 2 has what I’m presuming are all the links from the table of contents run together again so you read link, link, link repeatedly and then more text again all run together.

    Further there doesn’t seem to be a way to follow the links.

    • By KKaja - 11:14 AM on July 21, 2011  

      Use Ctrl+F7 to open up a dialog of hyperlinks on the current page. you can activate links from this dialog.

  • By Sammy - 4:19 PM on July 20, 2011  

    Do you have to use jaws 12 to read the contents of the book? I’m using jaws 10 and can only read the menu options.

    • By akirkpat - 9:17 AM on July 21, 2011  

      UIAutomation is the accessibility API and not all versions of JAWS support it – this is the same issue with NVDA and Window-Eyes also. I’ll verify and get back to you.

    • By akirkpat - 11:16 AM on July 21, 2011  

      Sammy, JAWS 12 and above support UIAutomation, so this version or newer is required to work with Digital Editions. I’ll update the blog post text.

  • By Kelly Ford - 12:36 AM on July 21, 2011  

    There seems to be an easy crash here on Windows with JAWS. When you are on document text, press the JAWS key to read by paragraph of ctrl+down arrow. Digital Edition exits from memory instantly.

    • By akirkpat - 11:23 AM on July 21, 2011  

      Kelly, I’ve tried to reproduce your issue and am not able to. Are you referring to the “skim” feature of JAWS? I tried Caps Lock + Ctrl + down arrow and also Ctrl + Insert + down arrow. Neither caused a crash for me, using Windows XP, JAWS 12.0.522.400, and DE1.8. I do see that JAWS 12.0.1167 is the current so I’ll have to update and/or have our testers investigate. What versions are you using, and can you provide exact steps to reproduce?

  • By Kelly Ford - 12:02 PM on July 21, 2011  

    For the JAWS crash I am running JAWS 12.0.1167 on Windows 7 Ultimate X64. Repro is simply to open a book, move to the text, and press ctrl+down arrow.

    For links, I do see ctrl+F7 working but would expect to be able to activate links in context i.e. much like I can on web pages by pressing enter from within the text. Links out of context in a list are not always obvious.

    • By Andrew Kirkpatrick - 3:50 PM on July 21, 2011  

      Kelly, I installed 1167 and still can’t reproduce a crash. Can you (or anyone else) try this on another machine? Crash or no crash, the JAWS implementation doesn’t do anything with the ctrl+down arrow keystroke yet, FYI.

      For link, yes, I agree. This is a current limitation.

  • By Sammy - 6:04 PM on July 21, 2011  

    so I have to use jaws 12. Thank you very much! I’ve been trying to read this book I purchased for a few days now with no luck. Thank you! 🙂

  • By Janina Sajka - 12:01 PM on July 25, 2011  

    Andrew: I’m curious about the choice of UIAutomation vs. IAccessible2? Was there a technical basis for this choice? Aside from my
    obvious interest in promoting IA2, it would seem there’s a surer path to greater
    cross-platform support with IA2, so I’m indeed wanting to know if something
    particular is missing? I’m also recalling Adobe’s previously announced
    support for IA2 across its products. Has something changed?

    • By akirkpat - 12:07 PM on July 25, 2011  

      It was based on the choice of WPF for the Windows version and UIA being built into standard components for that.

      just to clarify, we never announced IA2 support across the entire product line. We announced plans to integrate IA2 into Reader and Flash Player only. I’m not saying that is all that will ever happen, but that was the part that we announced.

  • By Janina Sajka - 1:55 PM on July 25, 2011  

    I should also ask about the Mac product. Does it rely on webkit?

  • By Fabien - 9:04 AM on July 26, 2011  


    It seems that Adobe Digital Editions doesn’t support include of Flash object anymore.

    Can you please confirm this point ?


  • By hocalj1890 - 1:22 PM on August 27, 2011  

    I just discovered Digital Editions 1.8 when borrowing a book from from Open Seems to have downloaded just fine from the Adobe website, but will not read the “welcome to digital editions” companion text. I am using JAWS 12.0.1170 with Windows 7, 32 bit version. An e-book purchased from Google Books went into the digital editions library just fine, though with same problem that it will not read table of contents or text. I have seen references to high contrast mode and screen reader mode in some of these posts, but have not found a button to change from one to the other. Without access to the “Welcome to Digital Edditions” companion text,I have no idea of appropriate keystrokes. There is probably a setting in JAWS 12.0 that that I need to change but have no idea what it is.Any suggestions? WLH:

  • By Ian - 12:44 PM on September 9, 2011  

    I see no reference to Dolphin’s Supernova screen reader. are you working with Dolphin too on access with their screen reader? Thanks, Ian.

  • By sultan alakhali - 10:36 AM on June 22, 2012  

    need to read arabic pdf for blind

  • By sultan alakhali - 11:39 AM on June 22, 2012  

    i am looking for reading arabic text using nvda

  • By Ruth - 7:17 AM on October 16, 2012  

    I have downloaded a book, and can get to the first page. Have not figured out how to get to page 2.


    • By Kiran Kaja - 5:41 AM on October 18, 2012  

      Hi Ruth, you can just use the PageDown key to go to the next page. You can also get to a specific page in the book. Press Tab from the book content and you will notice that there is a “go to page” edit field. You can type the page number you want to jump to and press enter.

  • By mike garman - 8:52 AM on March 2, 2013  

    I am only interested in Audio books.I am a regular user/subscriber on Audible but I would like to download some library books also.I don’t want to read I want to listen.
    I am unsure how to proceed and what I need to download from Adobe.
    I am not opposed to purchasing something but I don’t want to purchase something that I won’t use.
    Again,I don’t want to read on a Kindle type device.I want to listen [like I do on Audible] to books available in audio format from the library.