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Support for students with a disability or a health condition: Adobe reader, Read & Write Gold and computer accessibility

Information and advice for students needing extra support

Accessibility features for ebooks

The boxes below contain information on the accessibility features provided in Adobe Reader for reading PDFs.  

You can also use Sensus Access to convert text in many formats to audio.

Other pages cover:

You will find these books via Library Search or your module Reading Lists.  

For information about accessibility features in your Kortext personal etextbooks, please see the Kortext Accessibility web page.

The standard screen reader at Middlesex University is Read and Write Gold.  This is currently available on Windows PCs, laptops and through Apps Anywhere. It is not available for Macs.

If you have any feedback on this page please email Adam Edwards a.edwards@mdx.ac.uk.   You may also find the pdf guides below userful. 

PDF read aloud using Adobe Reader

How can I have a PDF read aloud to me using Adobe Reader?

Reading PDFs aloud

Read Out Loud works best when the Reflow setting is switched off. To switch off Reflow:

  1. Go to the Edit menu, then Preferences
  2. Untick the box next to Always use Zoom Setting.
  3. Then close and re-open your PDF document.

You must then activate Read Out Loud before you can use it.

Switch Read Out Loud on

  1. From the View menu.

  2. Choose Read Out Loud.

  3. Then Activate Read Out Loud (or press Shift+Ctrl+Y).

Change reading voice

  1. Click on the Edit menu, then Preferences (at the bottom of the menu).

  2. Choose the Reading category.

  3. Remove the tick from Use default voice

  4. Choose a voice from the Voice drop down list – the list of voices available to you will depend on what you have installed on your PC. ScanSoft Daniel is a good voice.

  5. Click OK

Read a PDF

  1. Go to the page in the PDF you want to read.

  2. From the View menu, choose Read Out Loud then: 

  • Choose Read This Page Only (or press Shift+Ctrl+V). 
  • Or choose Read To End Of Document (or press Shift+Ctrl+B).

If you hear the message "Warning - Empty page", please make sure the Reflow setting is switched off, as above.

Stop reading out loud

  1. From the View menu, choose Read Out Loud then: 

  2. Choose Pause (or press Shift+Ctrl+C). 

  3. Choose Stop (or press Shift+Ctrl+E).

Switch Read Out Loud off

  1. From the View menu.

  2. Choose Read Out Loud.

  3. Then Deactivate Read Out Loud (or press Shift+Ctrl+Y).

Font colour change using Adobe Reader

How can I change the font colour using Adobe Reader?

Following the instructions below should change the font colour immediately as well as changing the default setting, so next time you open a PDF document it should open with your chosen font colour.

  1. Click on the Edit menu, then Preferences
  2. Under Categories, click on Accessibility
  3. Put a tick next to Replace Document Colours
  4. Choose Custom Colour
  5. Choose Document Text colour
  6. Click OK

Changing the background colour in Adobe Reader

How can I change the background colour in Adobe Reader?

Following the instructions below should change the background colour immediately as well as changing the default setting, so next time you open a PDF document it should open with your chosen background colour.

  1. Click on the Edit menu, then Preferences
  2. Under Categories, click on Accessibility
  3. Put a tick next to Replace Document Colours
  4. Choose Custom Colour
  5. Choose Page Background colour
  6. Click OK

Text reflow in a PDF using Adobe Reader

How can I make text reflow (automatically shift when I change the zoom level) in a PDF document?

Sometimes when you increase the zoom level on a document the text will run off the side of the screen. In order to read each line you have to scroll left and right which can make it difficult to read the text. Reflow converts the document into one column so that you don't need to scroll left and right to read it.

  1. Open Adobe Acrobat DC
  2. Click on the Edit menu, then Preferences
  3. Under Categories – click on Accessibility
  4. Put a tick next to Always use Zoom Setting and change the drop down box to Reflow
  5. Click OK
  6. You now need to close Adobe Acrobat DC and open a PDF file for the changes to take effect

Some documents may not display correctly with reflow on so to temporarily turn it off:

  1. Open the View menu
  2. Go to Zoom then click on Reflow to turn it off. You can turn it back on in the same way 

Magnify the screen using operating system settings

How can I magnify the screen using operating system settings?

Please see the instructions below:

Changing accessibility settings in my web browser

How can I change the accessibility settings in my web browser?

Please see the instructions below:

How can I change the colours on my computer? may also be useful.

Changing the colours on my computer

How can I change the colours on my computer?

Please visit the AbilityNet Changing your colours page and choose your device and operating systems for instructions on how to change the colours of your screen.

How can I change the accessibility settings in my web browser? may also be useful.

You can also change the colour of your screen using Read & Write Gold available on all PCs in the Library:

Read & Write Gold

  1. Open Read & Write software and click on the Screen Masking button.
  2. The Windows system background colour changes to light blue.
  3. A Screen Masking toolbar will appear in the bottom right of your screen
  4. Click on the Settings button on the Screen Masking toolbar to change the settings
  5. From here you can change which part of the screen is tinted
  6. Scroll down to choose the Background colour and Background opacity (this is how transparent the tint will appear)
  7. Try out the different options to find what best suits your needs

Read selectable text aloud with Read and Write Gold

How can I have online text read aloud to me using Read & Write Gold software?

Read & Write Gold is available on all Library PCs, laptops and via Apps Anywhere. It is not available for Macs.

To use Read & Write to have a web page read aloud: 

  1. Open Read & Write
  2. Click on the Settings menu at the right hand end of the toolbar
  3. Click on Read the web to switch it on
  4. On the web page hover your mouse over an area of text until you see it highlighted. You will hear the text read aloud.
  5. Move your mouse to another area of text until you see it highlighted. You will again hear the text read aloud. Read & Write will read aloud any of the text that is under your mouse.
  6. To switch the 'Read the web' option off, click on the settings menu and click on 'Read the web' to switch it off

Read unselectable text aloud with Read and Write Gold

How can I have unselectable text read aloud to me using Read & Write Gold software?

Read & Write Gold is available on all Libary PCs, laptops and via Apps Anywhere.  It is not available for Macs.

To use it to have text that you cannot select with your cursor read aloud:

  1. Open Read & Write Gold
  2. Look for the Screenshot Reader icon Screenshot reader logo on the Read & Write toolbar. 
  3. Go to the text you want to have read aloud and click on the Screenshot Reader icon.
  4. Use your cursor to draw a box around the text you want to have read aloud. It should now be read aloud automatically.
  5. When you have finished listening, close the box using the cross symbol in the top right hand corner. You can then select more text to have read aloud. 

JAWS short cuts

What JAWS short cuts can I use to navigate university websites and resources?

The following shortcuts in JAWS screenreader may be useful particularly when looking for pdfs on a website:

  • Insert + F7 - Opens a list of links on a webpage.
  • Insert + F5 - Opens a list of form fields on a webpage, like buttons.

For both of these you can use the alphabet keys to jump to the link or button you want to use once the list is open eg P for PDF.

  • Pressing the letter E on a webpage will jump you to any edit box on that page, which are usually Search boxes.(e.g. Library Search or Google Scholar)
  • Pressing the letter H on a webpage will jump you through anything labelled a Heading on a webpage. Just keep pressing H and it will cycle you through. (e.g. Headings in myUniHub)
  • Using Control + Any arrow key will move you around by a chunk of text, rather than an individual line. (e.g. moving thorugh a list of search results in Library Search or Google Scholar)

If you know of any other shortcuts you find particularly useful please let us know:  librarians@mdx.ac.uk

Acknowledgement

The information  on this page has been reused with permission from Leeds Beckett University.  We are very grateful to the Library at Leeds Beckett for sharing these pages with Middlesex University.