Last updated: 5th January 2021

ScienceDirect Accessibility Features

Enabling people with disabilities to access content quickly and easily

We demonstrate our commitment to web accessibility by enabling access and optimizing the experience for individuals with disabilities and impairments, including auditory, cognitive, physical, speech and visual disabilities.

ScienceDirect aspires to meet all guidelines established by the World Wide Web Consortium's Web Content Accessibility Guidelines 2.1  and the U.S. Section 508 Standards  of the Federal Rehabilitation Act, as well as similar standards enacted by countries around the globe.

For a detailed review of how ScienceDirect supports of each of the WCAG 2.1 and Section 508 criteria, please refer to our Voluntary Product Accessibility Template (VPAT) (PDF, 1.2 MB) document.

Download the latest VPAT (PDF, 1.2 MB)

Accessibility Support & Feedback

  • Please email to report any accessibility issues with ScienceDirect, or if you have any questions or feedback related to the accessibility of our platform. Our dedicated accessibility team will get back to you within 2 working days.
  • If you require electronic files for a student or staff member with a disability, you may use the AccessText Network or the Elsevier Disability Request Form to request a file. Most requests are fulfilled same day.
  • For general Customer Service support for ScienceDirect, please complete the HTML Contact Us form.

Report an accessibility issue

Accessibility and usability features

Summary of ScienceDirect Accessibility Features


Screen   Reader

Low Vision

Hearing Impaired

Keyboard-   Only

(Dyslexia,   Non-native English)


Blindness illustration | Elsevier

Low Vision illustration | Elsevier

Hearing Impaired illustration | Elsevier

Mobility illustration | Elsevier

Cognitive illustration | Elsevier

Controls and features are operable using keyboard only



Pages include a visible Skip Navigation link to skip repetitive   elements



Pages are responsive, and content reflows well up to 400% zoom


Users can jump directly to a main section in a journal   article or book using the outline panel to the left of the article and book   chapter pages


Content is available in HTML and PDF which can be read using   assistive technology such as JAWS screen reader


Math equations are available in MathML


Pages employ ARIA (Accessibility for Rich Internet Applications)   to enhance navigation, orientation and labelling for users of screen readers   and other assistive technology


All graphical elements and color-coded items have meaningful   text equivalents


Forms are marked using labels that are read correctly by screen   readers and allow for easier manual selection


Error messages are clearly identified using headings and   iconography


Pages are uniquely and descriptively titled


Global navigation links are consistent across pages and enable   users to quickly and easily understand the layout of the site


Tutorials are available in HTML text in addition to captioned videos.


Journal articles include Highlights which summarize main points

Accessibility Customer Support is available by an accessible web form or through direct email:

Reading options

Most content on ScienceDirect is available in both HTML and PDF format. We recommend our HTML format as the most accessible version.

Available formats

How to access on ScienceDirect

How to open

Accessibility considerations



Displayed on the article / chapter page where available.
From a search result, select an article title or book chapter title to be taken to the HTML version of the content.
Full text HTML may not be available in some cases, e.g. for older content, retracted articles or some articles in pre-publication stage. The abstract and references will often still be available in HTML.

Can be accessed using your web browser.

The HTML format for journal articles and book chapters is the most compatible with screen readers such as JAWS and VoiceOver.
Example HTML article view.

DRM Free


Access by clicking on “Download PDF”, which opens the Enhanced Reader view, then click “Save” to download the PDF.

To open PDF files, you will need a PDF viewer such as ​Adobe Reader.

PDFs are not currently tagged. To maximize screen reader compatibility, use the Add Tags to Document feature in Adobe Acrobat Pro. Contact for support.
We suggest disabling the Acrobat Reader option for opening PDFs within the browser window. This will ensure assistive technology works well with PDFs in the native Acrobat Reader.
Text to speech: can be done using Adobe Acrobat Reader’s “Read out loud” option.

DRM Free

Enhanced Reader

Access by clicking on “Download PDF” from the article or chapter page.


Assistive technology users are advised to refer to the HMTL version instead, or the PDF if no HTML is available.

Online-only reading view.

Other accessible formats available from Elsevier:

Available formats

How to access

How to open

Accessibility considerations



EPUB versions are available for some books via the Elsevier Bookstore. Buy once and download (PDF, EPUB3 and Mobi).

A direct link to the relevant Elsevier bookstore catalogue page is also available at the bottom of the book page.

Can be opened in Microsoft Edge browser, Adobe Digital Editions, or VitalSource Bookshelf.

EPUB3 books provide a portable reading experience with flexible text display, reflowable layout, and screen reader compatibility.

DRM Free


Can be purchased from the Elsevier bookstore.

A direct link to the relevant Elsevier bookstore catalogue page is also available at the bottom of the book page.

Open in VitalSource Bookshelf. See also VitalSource accessibility information.

VST Bookshelf app has numerous accessibility features built in, including text to speech.

Employs DRM


Word files may be requested via the Elsevier Disability Request Form.

Requires Microsoft Word

Text to speech: can be done using Microsoft’s “Speak” or “ReadAloud” options.

DRM Free

Image descriptions

  • User interface images have alternative text descriptions to convey the meaning of an image to screen readers.
  • Inline content figures are accompanied by a text caption and in some cases meaningful descriptive text in the adjacent body text.

Clear Navigation

  • Pages are well structured using headings, landmarks and lists which allow users of assistive technology to easily jump around pages.
  • Global navigation links are consistent across pages and enable users to quickly and easily understand the layout of the site.
  • Links are named appropriately and include meaningful information about the purpose of the link.
  • Pages have unique and descriptive page titles which help with orientation, tabbed browsing and bookmarking.
  • Readers can skip between sections on all views, using the outline on the HTML page or the Enhanced Reader view or using the table of contents on the PDF.

Keyboard friendly

  • Pages provide logical tab order.
  • Pages include a visible skip navigation link to skip repetitive elements.
  • Interactive elements provide an obvious visible focus state.
  • Keyboard-only users can jump directly to a main section in a journal article or book by using the left-side table of contents.
  • Controls and features are operable using keyboard only.
  • When opening dialog windows and panes, the system places the focus in logical places.

Flexible display

  • Magnification: The Enhanced Reader view also offers options to adjust text size (+ and – buttons). Users can also enlarge pages and text with either browser controls or screen magnification software such as GW Micro’s Windows-Eyes, or ZoomText.
  • Reflow: Content can be viewed in either HTML or PDF. The PDF does not reflow but the HTML version does. Content can be zoomed up to 400% with reflow and without causing horizontal scrolling.
  • Pages use separate cascading style sheets (CSS), allowing users to more easily customize the display and contrast.
  • Pages are usable when style sheets are disabled.

Colors and Contrast

  • Text and link color contrast ratio with background is at least 4.5:1 (e.g. dark grey text on white background, and blue links on white background).
  • Link text has at least 3:1 contrast with surrounding text (e.g. blue links against surrounding dark grey text).
  • Links are identified using color but also use an obvious visual hover and focus state – a color change and either a border or underline.
  • Error messages utilize an icon in addition to red color and an alert role to denote the error state.
  • Disabled links are shown in gray but also coded with aria-disabled or disabled.
  • The best way to adjust color contrast on ScienceDirect is to utilize the accessibility settings in your operating system (e.g. Windows high contrast mode, macOS Dark mode, iOS Dark Mode, Android dark theme) with the benefit that it will therefore apply to all websites you access.

Screen Reader Friendly

  • HTML journal articles and book chapters are compatible with screen readers such as JAWS, NVDA and Apple’s VoiceOver.
  • Math content is displayed in MathML, which can be spoken by text-to-speech engines, magnified, converted to Braille, and pasted into math equation editors or Microsoft Office documents.
  • Article and chapter experimental data are presented in HTML tables with appropriate header markup.
  • Pages employ ARIA (Accessibility for Rich Internet Applications) to enhance navigation, orientation and labeling for users of screen readers and other assistive technology.
  • PDFs with searchable text are available.

Copying & Printing

Accessibility at Elsevier


Since 2011, Elsevier has led an accessibility and usability collaboration with several university leaders in assistive technology and web accessibility. Our collaboration group meets twice a month to apply accessibility best practices to ScienceDirect features to improve the overall usability and accessibility for all users, regardless of disability. Seven universities currently participate: University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign; University of California, Berkeley; University of Texas; San Francisco State University; Indiana University; and Michigan State University. The results of the working group and the lessons learned have been featured at CSUN, the International Conference on Assistive Technology and Persons with Disabilities. Please contact to join the accessibility collaboration.

Other accessibility initiatives