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Library Services for Additional Needs

Disability and neurodiversity support

Accessing PDFs

Many library resources such as journal articles and sections or chapters of E-books can be downloaded in PDF (Portable Document File) format. 

You should find that these files can be used with your assistive technology.

This guide provides some tips for reading PDFs and how to activate accessibility features which can be found in Adobe Acrobat. More detailed guidance can be found on the Adobe accessibility pages and Accessing PDF Documents with Assistive Technology A Screen Reader User’s Guide (PDF, 613 KB)


Change background and text colour

For files which already have an image layer over the text - try zooming and reflow first.

Go to the main menu, select Edit > Preferences

The Preferences dialogue box will open.

Choose Accessibility. In the Document colors options section, check the box Replace document colours. 

You can choose from a number of options including high contrast combinations or custom colours. Select the background and text swatches to choose a new colour.

Select OK and your adjustments will be applied.

The preferences accessibility options in Adobe Acrobat


Hear text with Read Out Loud

To hear the document read within Adobe using synthesized speech. 

  • Go to the main menu, select View > Read Out Loud > Activate Read Out Loud
  • Or use the keyboard short cut Shift + Ctrl + Y

Activating Read Out Loud in Adobe Acrobat


Zoom and reflow text

Magnify text and fit it to the width of the page to eliminate horizontal scrolling.

  • To increase the size of the text use the button in the tool bar, or select a value from the drop down box or enter a value of your choice. 
  • The keyboard shortcut is Ctrl + +
  • To fit the width of the text to the window go to the main menu, select View > Zoom > Reflow
  • Or use the keyboard short cut Ctrl + 4

A PDF with 400% zoom and reflowed to fit the window


Automatic Scrolling

You can move through a document without manually scrolling with a mouse or keyboard by activating automatic scrolling.

  • Go to the main menu, select View > Page Display > Automatically Scroll
  • Or use the keyboard short cut Shift + Ctrl + H.
  • Use the up and down arrows on your keyboard to increase or decrease the scrolling speed.

Activating Automatic Scrolling in Adobe Acrobat