Accessibility statement

Accessibility: Reading text

There are a number of ways that text can be made more accessible:

  • Screen readers read the text out loud
  • Screen magnifiers allow you to increase whole areas of the screen - not just the text
  • Text size and colour can be altered to help those with a visual impairment or dyslexia
  • It is possible to alter both electronic text and printed materials
  • It is possible to convert a variety of file types into an accessible format (eg e-book, text file, audio or braille)

Screen readers/magnifiers

Adobe Reader

Adobe Reader includes a Read-Out-Loud function that can read the text of a PDF file out loud.

This feature is available under the View menu when Adobe Reader is opened as a separate application, ie not in the browser.

Adobe Reader is available on all classroom PCs and supported office PCs. You can also download it for free:


SuperNova is provided on two PCs in all IT classrooms and study areas to aid visually impaired users. It is both a magnifier and a screen reader.

If you wish to use the screen reader, you will need to bring your own headphones, with a standard 3.5mm jack.

If you're in an IT room and don't need to use this software, please use unlabelled PCs first to leave the more accessible computers available to those who have a visual impairment.

Texthelp ReadWrite Gold

Read&Write is a discreet toolbar which can help you to consume course content easier and write coursework more effectively. It integrates seamlessly with the computer applications you already use to study, like web browsers and Microsoft or Google applications. You can also benefit from the toolbar’s features as you carry out research across the web, organising content as you go. It includes a PDF reader.


The University has moved to Google Apps for email and calendar. Google Apps also offer a number of other services, including Docs, Talk and mobile access.

Google provide a full listing of how their services can help users with disabilities, separated into information for blind & low-vision users, and deaf & hard of hearing users.

For example, Docs offers OCR functionality, which means you can convert PDFs or images that contain text into text documents:

The information also includes sections on using Google Apps with screen readers.

Web accessibility

IT Services, in common with other University departments, aim to meet the AA standard set by the World Wide Web Consortium's Web Accessibility Initiative (WAI).

You can increase the text size on our web pages, or use your own stylesheet to completely change the text, background colour etc to suit your needs.

Marketing provide guidance for University web authors:

PDLT provide guidance on using the university's main virtual learning environment (VLE), including how to use Blackboard Ally for alternative formats:

Printing and scanning facilities

Use the York Print Plus service to print documents if you have difficulty reading them on the screen.

Scan to email facilities are also available as part of York Print Plus, so you can scan text and then use your computer to manipulate it for easier reading.

A multi-page input document will be automatically split into a number of email attachments, on page boundaries, to avoid maximum attachment size limitations of mail software. The original order of these attachments should be obvious from their filenames.

The Library offers a staffed copying service for people who are unable to use the York Print Plus service, or have additional needs, eg coloured paper.

File conversion

The Library provides access to a service called SensusAccess which enables you to convert files of various types (including PDF, JPG, HTML, TXT and DOC) into an accessible format (eg e-book, text file, audio or braille):

Blackboard Ally generates alternative formats on the Blackboard VLE for files uploaded to the sites.

Outside of the VLE, you can convert files using the Blackboard Ally file transformer.