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Database Accessibility

A guide to library databases regarding accessibility

Accessibility Features And Gaps

The ProQuest Platform is home to a large number of databases. These databases can be searched separately or together using the same interface. Regardless of which database(s) you use on the ProQuest Platform, you should be able to:

  • Navigate the website using just a keyboard or speech recognition software.
  • Go directly to main content areas on the page using skip links.
  • Listen to the website using a screen reader.
  • Navigate page content using headings.
  • Access fully searchable transcripts and captions for the majority of video content.
  • Request on-demand an accessible, textual version of image-based text content.
  • View and manipulate images using keyboard-accessible controls.
  • Adjust color contrast in browser settings. ProQuest style guides specify using colors that meet minimum contrast specifications.
  • Zoom in up to 400% using browser tools without text spilling off screen.

Some of the content on this website is not fully accessible:

  • Some PDF documents provided by publishers are not optimized for accessibility.
  • A small portion of the image-based content does not have an accessible equivalent option.
  • While alternative text is present for images and icons within the user interface, there may not be alternative text for every image within an article. The ProQuest Platform supports image descriptions if provided by the publisher. 
  • There may be cases where headings are not included or heading levels are skipped.
  • Some video or audio-only content doesn't have transcripts. Most videos do not have audio descriptions.

Accessibility of Various Formats and Content Types

Textual content includes content originally published in scholarly journals, newspapers, magazines, books, and other textual sources. The example shown in the screenshot below is an article from a trade journal that was found on ABI/INFORM Collection, a database on the ProQuest Platform. The features shown here are common across most textual records. Below the title you will find the formats available for that document. The most common options are “Full text” and “Full text – PDF.”   When available, other format types will also be listed in this area.

A screenshot of the ProQuest Platform user interface. The example is an article from the ABI INFORM Collection. The ProQuest logo is positioned in the upper left-hand corner and provides a link to the ProQuest homepage. The user account settings, help pages, and Quick Search are available as icons in the upper right-hand corner. The main window displays the article with the article title and authors listed at the top of the page. The reading format options for the article are available in a panel on the left-hand side of the page. In the example, the options are Full Text, Full Text PDF and Abstract Details. The abstract is positioned at the top of the article within the reading pane. A panel is available on the right-hand side of the page. At the top of the panel are 5 icon options: Download PDF, Cite Article, Email Article, Print Article, and All Options. A Suggested sources section lists articles related to the viewed article.

For many records, ProQuest offers the full text in HTML format. For records with this format, you will be able to use standard browser functionality to enlarge and reflow the text. Color and other properties of page elements can be manipulated by assistive technologies or browser plugins. When this format is available, you will see the label “Full text” in a tab above the article text. 

For text-to-speech, you can use the inbuilt text to speech functionality in the Edge browser (Windows only) or explore browser plugins for Chrome and Firefox. 

The image viewer tool allows you to zoom, rotate and pan large resolution images included in full text documents. Images can also be manipulated using a keyboard-only option.

Some records include the original PDF from the publisher as an alternate format. Other records, including dissertations and theses offer this PDF as the only full text option.

The accessibility of the original PDFs found on the ProQuest Platform varies depending on the manufacturing process used by the original publisher. Despite having a fixed layout, most PDFs include text that can be selected, copied, and read by assistive technologies. Rather than reading the PDF on ProQuest’s on-page display, you may find that downloading the PDF and opening it in a PDF reader will give you more options to manipulate the format and appearance of the text. You can do this by using the “Download PDF” option found directly after the title of the document.

Some PDFs contain text that is not able to be searched or selected. In general, PDFs published more recently will have more accessibility features.

If your research involves referencing historical records or magazines in their original presentation format, you may encounter documents created from scanned images, where the text is not selectable or accessible by assistive technologies. Where possible, ProQuest offers an on-demand service that will use OCR (optical character recognition) technology to create a readable version of the text within the scanned image. For more guidance about how to access these records, including instructions about how to generate this plain text version, please read our support article: Generating a text version of scanned image documents.

A keyboard-only option for manipulating images is also available. This tool allows you to zoom, rotate, and pan the image without using a mouse. To learn more about how to use this tool, read this support article: Using the Keyboard Accessible Image Viewer on the ProQuest Platform.

A screenshot of an image-only PDF document on the ProQuest Platform. The article is displayed in the standard ProQuest Platform view with Download, Cite, Email, Print and All Options icons in the upper right-hand corner and a Suggested sources panel along the right-hand side of the page. The image-only PDF is displayed in the reading pane when the Full-Text option is selected. Two further reading options are available: Full Text PDF and Details.

Books on the ProQuest Platform come in several digital formats. The vast majority of these books can be searched, navigated with a persistent table of contents, and are accessible to screen readers. The specific format and accessibility features for a given book may vary. To learn more about the accessibility of books on the ProQuest Platform, read this support article: Books and Accessibility on the ProQuest Platform.

The majority of video and audio content on the ProQuest Platform have features designed for accessibility, including independent controls for volume, searchable time-stamped transcripts, and closed captions.

Some older videos may not feature closed captions, but most of these have accessible transcripts. Transcripts are often automatically featured with video content.


Transcripts can also be downloaded in text format by opening the “All Options” menu.

Select “PDF” or “TXT” under the “Other Options” heading.

Changing the Visual Display

Changing Text Size

You can change the display size of text used throughout ProQuest directly within your browser.
Note: If you use a Mac, hold down the Apple/Command key (versus the Windows CTRL key) and press the + or - key, as appropriate for the following browsers.

  • Open the View menu and choose from the options under Zoom.

  • Press CTRL + + to increase text size, and CTRL + - to decrease text size.

  • Press CTRL + 0 to reset to default text size.  

Google Chrome
  • Press the Control the current page button and choose from the options under Text Zoom.

  • Press CTRL + + to increase text size, and CTRL + - to decrease text size.

  • Press CTRL + 0 to reset to default text size.

Microsoft Edge
  • Open the Settings and More menu and Zoom in and out to your desired text size.

  • Press CTRL + + to increase text size, and CTRL + - to decrease text size.

  • Press CTRL + 0 to reset to default text size.

  • To increase or decrease text size, open the View menu and choose from the options under Text Size. Alternatively, press CTRL + + to increase text size, or CTRL + - to decrease text size.

  • To set a minimum font size, choose the appropriate font size in the Advanced pane of Safari preferences. 


Changing text, background, and link colors

If you find certain color combinations difficult to read, your browser may provide tools to change the text and background colors for viewing Web pages. You can apply these changes to over-ride the styles set by ProQuest. The following are options available in the main browsers supported by ProQuest: 

  1. Open the Tools menu.

  2. Choose Options.

  3. Click the Colors button from the Content tab.

  4. Deselect the Use system colors checkbox.

  5. Select your color preferences

  6. Deselect the Allow pages to choose their own colors… checkbox and click OK.

Google Chrome
  1. Click the 'hamburger' menu icon in the upper right corner of the Chrome window.

  2. Click Settings.

  3. Click the Show advanced settings link at the bottom of the page.

  4. Click the Add additional accessibility features link at the bottom of the page.

  5. Browse and select available Chrome Accessibility extensions. 

Microsoft Edge
  • In Windows 11, select Start  >  Settings   > Accessibility  > Contrast themes. Choose a theme from the drop-down menu and select Apply.
  • In Windows 10, select Start   > Settings   > Ease of Access  > High contrast. Under Use high contrast, set Turn on high contrast to On. Under Choose a theme, select a high contrast theme, and select Apply.

Safari does not allow you to easily change the background, text, visited link, and unvisited link colors. However, you can use your own style sheets to view web pages:

  1. Open the Edit menu.

  2. Select Preferences.

  3. Click Advanced.

  4. Select Other from the Stylesheet menu.

  5. Navigate to the style sheet you wish to use.

  6. Click Open.

Translating Content

You can choose to translate either a document’s abstract, or its full text.

Click the Translate link, and select a language. When you have selected your preferred language, click the Translate button. With a translation performed, the link toggles to Undo Translation.

Important to know: When you click Translate, a disclaimer advises that this is an "on-the-fly" machine translation, and “is in no way intended to replace human translation.”


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