Web accessibility

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 2.0 and the U.S. Section 508 Standards of the Federal Rehabilitation Act, as well as similar standards enacted by countries around the globe.

Web Accessibility and Usability Features

Elsevier's User Centered Design team conducts over 100 usability tests a year to make sure that the ScienceDirect interface is usable for everyone. Features that benefit all of our users include full-text searching, bookmark-friendly links to journal articles and book chapters, and a flexible and consistent user interface design. We provide content in a number of different formats, including HTML and PDF.

Screen Reader Friendly

  • HTML journal articles and book chapters are compatible with screen readers such as JAWS, NVDA and Apple's VoiceOver.
  • Pages are well structured using headings, landmarks and lists which allow users of assistive technology to easily jump around pages.
  • Math content is available in MathML, which can be spoken by text-to-speech engines or converted to Braille and pasted into math equation editors or Microsoft Office documents.
  • Pages employ ARIA (Accessibility for Rich Internet Applications) to enhance navigation, orientation and labeling for users of screen readers and other assistive technology.
  • Images have alternative text descriptions to convey the meaning of an image to screen readers.
  • PDFs with searchable text are available.

Keyboard Friendly

  • Pages include a visible skip navigation link to skip repetitive elements.
  • 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.
  • Pages provide logical tab order.
  • When opening dialog windows and panes, the system places the cursor in logical places.

Flexible Display

  • 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.
  • Users can enlarge pages and text with either browser controls or screen magnification software such as GW Micro's Windows-Eyes or AI Squared's ZoomText.
  • Content can be viewed in either HTML or PDF.

Clear Navigation

  • Links are named appropriately and include necessary information about the link.
  • Global navigation links are consistent across pages and enable users to quickly and easily understand the layout of the site.
  • Pages have unique and descriptive page titles which help with orientation, tabbed browsing and bookmarking.

Summary of ScienceDirect Accessibility Features


Screen Reader

Low Vision

Hearing Impaired

Keyboard- Only

(Dyslexia, Non-native English)

 Blindness and Screen Reader icon | ScienceDirectLow Vision icon | ScienceDirectHearing Impaired Icon | ScienceDirectMobility and Keyboard only icon | ScienceDirectCognitive icon | ScienceDirect

Controls and features are operable using keyboard only



Pages include a visible Skip Navigation link to skip repetitive elements



Users can jump directly to a main section in a journal article or book using the table of contents on the left


Content is available in HTML that can be resized or 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 labeling for users of screen readers and other assistive technology


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


Forms are marked up 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 tip sheets in addition to the narrated video format



Accessibility Customer Support is available by accessible web form or through accessibility@elsevier.com

Tips for Users of Assistive Technology

We suggest disabling the Acrobat Reader option of opening PDFs within the browser window. This will help users of JAWS maintain the ability to use the browser back and forward button commands.

The Adobe Accessibility Site is a resource for working with PDFs and accessibility issues. The Adobe site offers a service for converting PDF files into ASCII and HTML. Also, you may download the latest version of Acrobat Reader, which includes features that enhance the accessibility of PDF files.

The HTML format for journal articles and book chapters is the most compatible with screen readers such as JAWS and VoiceOver. From a search result, select an article title or book chapter to be taken to the HTML version of the content. Once in an HTML article or chapter, users with screen readers can easily bring up a list of functional regions or landmarks on the page as follows:

  • In NVDA, use NVDA + F7
  • In VoiceOver, choose 'landmarks' in the 'web rotor', then finger flicking up or down will move to the next or previous landmark

In addition to millions of journal articles, an average of 91% of books, book series and handbooks available on ScienceDirect since 2009 are accessible in HTML format. Many additional titles have at least the abstract and references available in HTML.

MathPlayer is a browser plug-in for Internet Explorer that allows users of assistive technology to make better use of the MathML (math equation content) within HTML article pages.

ScienceDirect tutorials are available in text format. If you are using an assistance device, such as a screen reader, your device automatically reads a text version of the tutorials.

ScienceDirect Accessibility/Usability Collaboration

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 and improve the overall usability and accessibility for all users, regardless of ability. Seven universities currently participate: University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign; University of California, Berkeley; University of Texas; San Francisco State University; Indiana University; Michigan State University; and Penn State. 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 accessibility@elsevier.com to join our accessibility collaboration.

Elsevier Accessibility


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