Adobe Digital Editions 1.8 Preview with Improved Accessibility Now Available on Adobe Labs

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Digital Editions 1.8 Preview, now available for download from the Adobe Labs website, 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 popular online vendors is also possible. EPUB Books purchased at Barnes and Noble, Kobo Books,, Waterstones, etc. can be read with Digital Editions 1.8.

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. Other screen readers that support UIAutomation such as Window-Eyes 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 Adobe is talking with vendors to ensure that the book content can be read by more tools than JAWS. Mac users can use VoiceOver to read books on the Mac version of Digital Editions 1.8.

Many people have been encouraging experts at Adobe to improve Digital Editions. Adobe recognizes a few people in particular for engaging with them 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.

Adobe would like to give a few people an easy opportunity to try out reading an accessible EPUB book with Digital Editions 1.8, so they are holding a quick drawing for gift cards to online bookstores. You can enter the contest online. Thirty gift cards will be awarded on Monday. July 25 at noon Eastern US time.

More information as well as a form for providing feedback are available on the Adobe website.