Overdrive Library e-books and audio books: general problems for Voice Over users!

iOS and iPadOS

Dear All,
The Royal National Institute of Blind People in the UK recently set-up a new library service where it placed over 20,000 unabridged audio books onto an internet web site called rniboverdrive. This new service allows users to either use the Overdrive web site to listen to books on a computer or via the Overdrive Library e-books and audio books app on an iDevice.
Although the Overdrive Library e-books and audio books app is a little clunky, it does work and I can now listen to real author unabridged audio books to my heart's content.
However, in a conversation with the staff at the RNIB, I am told that there are two problems for iDevice users who are blind and using Voice Over on the Overdrive Library e-books and audio books app. The first involves changing the borrowing time. The borrowing time on the Overdrive Library e-books and audio books app is fixed to 14-days for Voice Over users. The second problem is with early return of books. Voice Over users cannot return books before the 14-day borrowing time.
The RNIB have told me that the problems originate with Apple who's DRM rules do not allow Voice Over users to change the borrowing time or return books early. However, after contacting Apple Accessibility I was told that it is not their problem but to contact the app developer who might be able to help with changes to their app to take accessibility into account. As a UK resident, I cannot contact Overdrive INC. as there is no e-mail address, only a USA based telephone number.
My question is has anyone else come across these problems? Are they well-known? Is it Apple who hold the key to make changes but wont? Does Overdrive INC. have a problem with their app but make it so difficult to contact them that people do not bother? or... Has anyone got a solution to my problem?




Submitted by Angel on Saturday, May 2, 2015

Hi Steve,
I have the overdrive app version 3.2.0 released b4 march 31, 2015 on an iphone. In order to change the lending period, in the app, go to Settings and make sure that Get books in Safari is ON. Then when you are in your library's overdrive account go to the Settingsin there through Safari and you will see lending periods and you can change it from 14 days to 21 days and Save changes.

in order to return items you'll have to double tap and hold your finger once you select either the title of the item or the author until the 3 buttons appear and Voice Over will read: Delete, Return and Share. You'll have to double tap to select then 2 buttons will appear and VoiceOver will say: Cancel and Confirm and double tap on Confirm and the item will be returned. You have to be on Wifi or Internet in order to return items. You can return them at anytime.

Overdrive version 3.3.0 released March 31, 2015, Voice Over no longer reads the buttons to return items. I did call them to let them know, but all they said was that Overdrive does not work with Voice Over or Talk Back and that they try to make the app accessible to everyone. I have the current version on an Ipad.

I hope this helps!

Hello Angel,
Yes, I can see the buttons to change the lending times from 14 to 21 days but you cannot change to 7 days - I might want shorter lending times as I read more than the 6 books allowed in 14 days sometimes! However, the main problem is returning books before the lending period is up. However, there was an e-mail the other week from the RNIB Overdrive team who said that Overdrive INC. have said that they have found a way for voice over users to return books early but it will take a couple of months for them to do the required programming. So, it does appear it is not Apple that is the source of the problem after all. We will have to wait and see if we can at last do what non-voice over users can do.


Submitted by Angel on Saturday, September 19, 2015

Hi Steve,

Just wanted to let you know that the functionality of early return for Voice Over users is back on Overdrive version 3.3.1 on IOS 9. When you select the title of the book, the author of the book or expires in x amount of days, you have to double tap and hold with 1 finger and the options for Delete, V3 pop over Return and Share will appear and you can swipe with 1 finger to select the option you want. As soon as you hear Return which is the 2nd option double tap and the options for Cancel and Return and / or Confirm appear. Select Return or Confirm and the book will be returned to the library. You have to be on the internet to return items.

Hello Folks,
Is anyone here using Overdrive to read ebooks? Prior to ios 9 I was able to download and read ebooks from my local library with no problem. Certainly the user interface is very clumsy for vo users but with a little practice it was doable. However, since updating to ios 9 I find that trying to read ebooks to be a very frustrating experience. It seems that I am no longer able to navigate through the various chapters of a book. Prior to ios 9 I was able to jump to a chapter simply by tapping on the chapter heading in the table of contents.the only way I now move through a book is by repeatedly swiping which is not practicable as the app does not remember the last position you were at. There is also a percentage slider which sometimes shows up when you are viewing the book in landscape orientation. However, using this slider is very hit and miss in a large book.
I have tried the usual debugging stuff including rebooting the device, uninstaalling and reinstalling the app and creating a new Overdrive account. I have also submitted a report to my library with no reaction so far.
So I'm curious to learn if this is something unique to my situation or if others are experiencing similar problems.

Submitted by Aine on Saturday, October 15, 2016

Hi all, I'm attempting to read an Ebook in Overdrive v3.5.7 (Auckland Libraries, in NZ) with iOS 9.3.5. It has a habit of stopping, by itself part way through a chapter, and even refusing to let me swipe past that point (swiping just takes me to "brightness", "font", "settings"...). I can't find any "go to page" or "search" type boxes, so the only way to move forward is to use the percentage slider. Even there, I keep having to miss parts of the book.. Does anyone else have this issue/know how to resolve it?

Submitted by Frankd on Sunday, October 16, 2016

Here's how I use Overdrive to read ebooks:
1. Select a book to read from your bookshelf.
2. Select a chapter to read by double tapping the title menu at the top right of the screen.
3. In the title menu locate and double tap the table of contents then double tap the chapter you wish to read.4. Once the desired chapter is open I simply do a two finger swipe down and let vo read the entire chapter. When the end of the chapter is encountered you will hear vo read out the controls at the bottom of the screen such as brightness no. of pages etc.
I tend to read chapter by chapter because, unlike audio books , Overdrive does not remember its position within a chapter of the ebook. I guess I should try and figure out how to use bookmarks as some books have long chapters.

Submitted by Aine on Friday, January 5, 2018

Hi Frank and all,

Frank- apologies that I missed your comment before. Are you actually able to get the title menu/table of contents to jump correctly to chapters now? I still experience the problems you mentioned in your earlier comment, namely that the only way to change chapters for me appears to be the percentage slider, which of course is a real nuisance. Apparently it's an Adobe issue, this part of the interface. I'm going to start a new thread as well to see if anyone has any connections with Adobe re accessibility. It's ridiculous that something so fundamental as keeping your place within a chapter and changing chapters has yet to be resolved, at least from my experience. Cheers

Submitted by Frankd on Friday, January 5, 2018

Hello Aine,
The current version of Overdrive (v3.7.3) has introduced some new accessibility bugs related to navigating ebooks. Specifically, the bookmark/title menu button is now simply annouced by voiceover as button.
As this button is context dependant it makes bookmark operation and chapter selection a voyage into the unknown. If you are familiar with the way this button operates it is still workable but if you are not it is totally confusing.
I have reported this to Overdrive who acknowledged the problem but have yet to release a fix.
Sorry that I can't offer any further help.