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Penn State University Libraries

Marion MacKinnon Adaptive Technology and Services


  • Adaptive Technology and Services
  • 113 Pattee Library, west
    University Park, PA 16802
  • Phone: 814-865-0284

Navigating the Gale Virtual Reference Library with a JAWS Screen Reader

The links above will allow you to jump to different content areas on this page.


Opening the Gale Virtual Reference Library

The Gale Virtual Reference Library is an online collection of over 400 electronic reference books.

Please note: Most reference resources within the Gale Virtual Reference Library provide a Listen Feature. For more information, please navigate to the Selecting a Section Title or E-Reference Book portion of this page.

You can access the Gale Reference Library from here or from the Libraries' homepage by performing the following steps:

  • Press the keys INSERT + F7 to hear the list of links available on the page.
  • Type the keys 'D' and 'A' and press ENTER when you hear 'Databases.' This will take you to a new page called 'Databases by Title (A-Z).'
  • Next, press keys INSERT + F6 to hear the list of headings on the page. Use the DOWN ARROW to hear the available headings and press ENTER upon hearing 'Search for a Database.'
  • Press the TAB key once to move the cursor to the edit field. Type in 'Gale Virtual' and press ENTER.
  • Again, you will be taken to a new page that lists the results of your search. The only result available will be for the Gale Virtual Reference Library database.
  • Select INSERT + F7 to get a list of the links on the page, type 'G' 'A' and press ENTER. This will open a new window, opening with a redirect page and then taking you to the Gale Virtual Reference Library homepage.

Access Keys

Below are access key combinations to assist you with navigating the Virtual Reference Library without the use of a mouse.


Internet Explorer

ALT + access key + ENTER

Mozilla Firefox

ALT + SHIFT + access key


CTRL + access key

Access Keys

S - Skip Navigation

1 - Basic Search

4 - Advanced Search

6 - Help

8 - Terms of Use

9 - Contact Gale

0 - Accessibility Details


Creating a Search Query

Basic Search

The Basic Search page, which also serves as the database homepage only has one heading - Basic Search. You can bypass all of the navigation links and get to the edit field by pressing 'E' followed by the ENTER key or by using the Access Key 1. The Basic Search function allows you to search for words in the publication title, keywords or the entire publication.

Advanced Search

To perform an Advanced Search, use the Access Key 4 followed by the ENTER key to navigate to the Advanced Search page.

The layout of the Advanced Search page is as follows:

Row 1: Combo box with search limiters, edit box for search terms

Row 2: Combo box with AND, OR or NOT to refine search, combo box with search limiters, edit box for search terms

Row 3: Combo box with AND, OR or NOT to refine search, combo box with search limiters, edit box for search terms

There is a button to add rows to your search query, followed by the Search button and a Clear button. Below these buttons you can limit results by time period of publication (using radio buttons and combo boxes), publication title (using an edit field), subject area, target audience, publication language and to include only documents with images (using combo boxes).

Selecting a Publication from List

On the homepage, below the Basic Search edit field, there is a list of 17 general subjects with expandable tree menus. You can TAB through the subjects, press ENTER on one that fits your needs and a list of links to all available reference resources related to the subject you have selected will be provided. These are also formatted as links, so you can simply TAB through them as well, pressing ENTER on a title that you would like to further explore.


Reviewing Search Results

After entering your search terms and selecting the 'Seach' Button, opening up a list of results, you can TAB through the entire page or you can press INSERT + F7 to get a list of the titles and reference sources, since they're also links. Please note, that you are going to have to use the DOWN ARROW quite a bit to get past all of the language selections and links on the Narrow Results menu.

Each record includes the following feature:

  • A check box - select the box to save the record
  • Title of the section of the reference e-book - link to page
  • Name and link to the reference e-book - link to record of the e-book, can open link the table of ntents or index to further explore the resources
  • Name of editor
  • Year of the edition
  • Varied publication information
  • Word count of the section
  • Graphic and link to article in full-text in html or in pdf format
  • Label of what kind of section or document

There are two headings on the results page.

  • The first heading is called Search, a level two heading, that will take you to a menu bar with an edit box that will allow you to search within the results.
  • The second heading is called Narrow Results, a level four heading, and is located directly under the Search heading's edit box. Here you can limit your results by publication or document types, language or subject, with links listed below that if selected, will open a window with the refined results. By default, twenty results are shown on a page.



Selecting a Section Title or E-Reference Book

Once you've selected a title from the results page, you can utilize the Listen feature, metioned in the first section of this guide, by pressing ALT + L followed by the ENTER key.

There are varying numbers of headings on a record page, depending on the layout of the article. Headings that appear on every record page include:

  • Search - edit field that allows you to search for keywords within the publication
  • Tools - navigates the cursor to the top of a Tools Menu (details about this menu are listed below)
  • View other articles linked to these index terms - Provides links with page locators to articles sharing the same index terms

The Tools Menu

From the Tools menu you can:

  • Access the article in PDF format - opens a new window
  • Print preview - opens a new window. You will need to press CTRL + P to print
  • Email - opens a new window. Format email as HTML or Plain Text, send full-text, citation or PDF
  • Download the article - opens new window. Download as PDF or HTML
  • Download associated MP3 files - opens dialog box ensuring the downloaded material will only be used for your own educational purposes. If this is correct, TAB to the OK button and press ENTER. Opens another dialog box where you can Open, Save or Cancel the download
  • Format the citation information - opens new window. Format in MLA 7th Edition or APA 6th edition and export it to third party software or copy the citation to paste into another document
  • Translate the text into another language - choose language from combo box, TAB to Translate button, press ENTER. Opens new window.