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Guide

Reading Chegg eTextbooks with low vision

Helpful features for reading Chegg eTextbooks and using Chegg eReader with low vision and print disabilities, plus information on Chegg accessibility.

I started using Chegg eTextbooks and their eReader application when I had to rent a digital book for a lab class and couldn’t find it from any other websites that would also support adjustable font sizes for reading – a must-have feature for someone with low vision that can’t read standard sized font. Since then, I’ve been able to find many other eTextbooks for rent on Chegg that I couldn’t find anywhere else, and have used their eReader tool to read titles directly from my web browser. Here are my tips for reading Chegg eTextbooks with low vision and using the Chegg eReader, as well as general information about Chegg accessibility for assistive technology users.

Overview of Chegg

Chegg is an online textbook store where students can buy or rent copies of their textbooks, either as physical books or eBooks/eTextbooks. Rented eTextbooks can be read via Chegg’s mobile applications for iOS or Android, or with the web browser application (no downloads required), while purchased eTextbooks can be read within Chegg applications or downloaded for use with other applications. Chegg books are priced competitively, and students can rent/buy books directly through the Chegg website.

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What’s included in a Chegg eTextbook

While the exact contents of a textbook will vary depending on the title and subject matter, regular users of accessible media and eBooks often experience the frustration of having missing or inaccessible content in their textbooks. In my experience, Chegg eTextbooks have always included the following items:

Some of these features may sound like an obvious thing to include, but I’ve encountered “accessible” textbooks that are missing at least one (and sometimes all) of these features, which can be frustrating when trying to complete class readings and having missing information.

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Accessing the table of contents

The table of contents for Chegg eTextbooks uses the same page numbers and organizational structure as the physical book, though many of the books I’ve read have a nested list so that I can expand/collapse different sections as needed without opening everything. Sub-headings are also included for chapter-level table of contents, along with page numbers. Alternatively, users can use the “search across book” feature by selecting the magnifying glass icon and typing in the name of a chapter, page number, figure, or other keyword to find where they want to go.

It’s worth noting that the table of contents itself does not display in large print on the web application, so users may want to use a screen magnification software such as Magnifier or Zoom to enlarge the text, or use the Search feature.

The table of contents can be opened or closed at any time by selecting the icon on the left side of the screen. By default, the table of contents opens at the start of a reading session or when opening a book.

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Bookmarks, highlights and notes

Within the eTextbook, students can add bookmarks, highlight text and write out notes that can be searched later. For adding highlights and notes, users will need to select the text they want to highlight or make a note of by clicking and dragging across the area of text, and then selecting either a highlighter color or Add Note. To open a note, students can select the Note icon next to their text, and the note will open in the “margin” of the page on the right side. Notes can be edited or deleted by selecting the pencil icon- deleting all of the contents of a note will automatically remove it from the page.

For students looking for the definition or more information on a term, there are two different options. One is to highlight the text and select “Look up in Wikipedia” from the drop-down menu (under Add Note), and the other is a beta feature for definitions that can be manually enabled in the More Options menu.

A note on bookmarks

I don’t know if Chegg removed the bookmarks feature for textbooks, or if it is just not available from the publisher, but the bookmark icon that was typically in the top right corner of the eReader has disappeared from the web application. Chegg support did not have an explanation for why this is happening or how to fix it when I contacted them in April 2024, so for now I would recommend using the “add note” feature to make bookmarks, and use the search function to locate notes.

Reader preferences: Chegg and large print

Since I have low vision, I rely on several display features in order to read text such as large print and customizable fonts. Chegg offers several options for customizing visual displays in their Reader Preferences menu, which include:

I can also use Chegg with additional browser zoom to make the text and other visual elements even larger. It’s worth noting that the Print feature for saving content as a PDF does not support any of the display settings set with Reader Preferences, it is set to the publisher defaults.

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Using Chegg with read aloud/text-to-speech

Chegg has a built-in Read Aloud feature with word-level highlighting so users can follow along with text as it is read out loud. Read Aloud can be accessed through either the More Options menu in the top right corner or by highlighting text and selecting “Read aloud from here.”

Options for customizing Read Aloud include:

When enabled, Read Aloud controls are pinned to the top of the screen, to the left of the search icon.

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Using Chegg eReader with a screen reader and keyboard access

In my personal experience, I’ve found that reading Chegg eReader with a screen reader like JAWS, NVDA, Narrator or VoiceOver can be wildly inconsistent depending on the publisher of the original textbook. While all of the buttons and menus are labeled within the eReader application, it can be frustrating to read text content and images may be missing alt text or image descriptions from the publisher. In addition, features like highlighting and notes are inaccessible with keyboard access.

Based on this information, I do not recommend using the Chegg eReader for people who exclusively use screen readers or for nonvisual access. In other words, Chegg eReader and Chegg eTextbooks is inaccessible for the majority of screen reader tools. However, I have had positive experiences with the Read Aloud and text-to-speech features for reading text out loud.

How I use the Chegg eReader with low vision

Chegg offered competitive pricing and was one of the only places that offered rentals for some of my more expensive eTextbooks, so I have used them for a few courses over the years. Since many of my professors don’t have us read from textbooks during class, I often would use the web application on my desktop computer to read from books while taking notes in another application, or refer to the textbook while working on homework. Some of my favorite features of the Chegg eReader include:

Does Chegg have features that really “stand out” against other reading applications? Honestly, no. However, some titles may not be available to rent or in digital formats elsewhere, or may be more cost prohibitive, and I appreciate being able to use Chegg to get a digital copy of a textbook near-instantaneously or for a much cheaper price if I can’t get it anywhere else.

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More thoughts on reading Chegg eTextbooks with low vision

By Veronica Lewis/Veronica With Four Eyes, www.veroniiiica.com

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