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Screen Reader Instructions for Databases

Screen Readers and Assistive Technologies

A screen reader is an assistive technology that reads what is on the computer screen and helps people who are blind, low vision, or have learning disabilities navigate a web page. The most common screen reader softwares, like JAWS, NVDA, and VoiceOver, are downloadable or built onto your device, depending on what kind of device you have. Certain library databases, available at Smith, have access to have built-in screen reader software. This guide will go over the details of accessing this embedded technology.


This guide will:

  • Share how to access embedded screen reader technology in certain Libraries' databases*
  • Show how to use outside screen reader technology in specific Libraries' databases, where there is no embedded technology. 
  • Focus on the most popular databases Smith College has access to—EBSCO, ProQuest, Gale, and a couple of other, smaller platforms.

This is not a comprehensive guide to accessibility in all databases. If you are unsure if a database has embedded screen reader software and would like to know, email or visit the Ask Us page.


*What even is a database?
A database is collection of digital information structured so you can search it. You use databases every day.  Netflix is a database, for example.  In a library context, a database offers various types of sources, such as journal articles, videos, or images. Library databases will often have a specific focus, meaning you can almost always find a database tailored to your specific research needs.