June 28, 2017: Better Together Conference

Working together towards accessible information for people with low vision.

Took place on Wednesday, June 28th, 2017.

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Better Together was part of Vision 2017, the 12th International Conference by the International Society for Low Vision Research and Rehabilitation (ISLRR) which took place from the 25th – 29th June.

Together, we can expand the horizons of everyone with low vision!

More information is available on the Better Together conference website. Register today.

Benetech Establishes Global Certified Accessible Program

Benetech, the leading software for social good nonprofit, in conjunction with Dedicon, Royal National Institute of Blind People, and Vision Australia, announced Global Certified Accessible.

This program is the first third-party ebook verification program for accessible content. Global Certified Accessible supports publisher efforts to meet or exceed accessibility requirements set by K-12 schools and post-secondary institutions. This announcement comes on the heels of a six-month beta program with participation from industry leaders spanning educational, academic, professional, and trade publications.

Global Certified Accessible ensures students unable to read standard print due to blindness, low vision, dyslexia, or a physical disability have equal access to the same content as their peers.

The program has a global footprint in order to serve students around the world. Benetech developed the certification standards and serves as the lead certification provider for North America.

More information is provided on the Benetech website.

Producing and Distributing Accessible ebooks

The 11th European e-Accessibility Forum (June 19th, 2017 in Paris) explored the role digital technologies play in ensuring an inclusive cultural landscape. How can digital access empower people with disabilities and enable them to become full participants in cultural life?

Knowledge and information are a part of culture. People with different needs gain access to knowledge and consume information in different ways. The same publication can be read on a variety of devices. For example, learners may start reading an accessible book at home on a large computer screen. Later, they may continue reading the same book in their car using text-to-speech that reads books out loud on a mobile device or tablet. As long as there are accessible books and accessible reading applications, knowledge gets transferred to everyone.

Jesper Klein, Chief Innovation Officer, Swedish Agency for Accessible Media / Chairman of the Board, DAISY Consortium presented Producing and distributing accessible e-books: The Swedish model.

Since the early 2000s, Jesper has been committed to the long-term vision of making reading accessible to people with disabilities. Jesper was head of Research and Development at the Swedish Agency for Accessible Media (MTM) and led Sweden’s efforts to digitize books and newspapers, resulting, among other things, in the launch of the Legimus online library for people with disabilities in Sweden in 2013. To date, Legimus has loaned over a million books and counts 75 thousand active users per year.

M-Enabling Summit: Accessibility Progress in Digital Publishing

June 14th, 11:15 am to 12:30 pm in Washington, DC.

Image: A finger touching a dark tablet screen. A mobile phone and a cup of coffee in the background.

The International Digital Publishing Forum (IDPF) and the World Wide Consortium (W3C) have merged. The potential for born accessible publishing is increasing.  This session highlighted the progress made by publishers in implementing accessibility standards. It also covered how the adoption of the Marrakesh Treaty is evolving internationally. The likely outcomes of the merger between the IDPF and W3C were also discussed.

Chair: Varju Luceno, Director of Communications, DAISY Consortium

Panelists:

  • Betsy Beaumon, President, Benetech
  • Rick Johnson, VP of Product Strategy, VitalSource Technologies
  • Peter Korn, Accessibility Architect, Amazon Lab 126
  • Steve Tyler, Head, Innovation and Development, Royal National Institute of Blind People (RNIB)

More information is provided on the M-Enabling Summit website.

Publishing Markup Mysteries: Bill Kasdorf’s Take

In his Apex Content Solutions blog post, Bill Kasdorf clears up confusion around publishing markup mysteries. He admits that some people may find the concept or “markup” confusing. Let’s take a look at two of his examples below.

Isn’t EPUB just a form of XML?

Well, yes and no. The content documents in an EPUB are XML—the words you’re reading on your ereader or phone. But EPUB itself is a file format. It’s a package that contains lots of components that make up a publication. Not just the content documents, but the images and media and other features that together comprise a given publication, the CSS stylesheets and fonts that govern how they look, and metadata and navigation files that make it all work. All this good stuff is gathered up in a systematic package called an EPUB.

Because its current packaging is a .zip file, an EPUB looks like—and is—a single file. Which leads people to think it’s just a file like an XML file. Nope. It’s way more than that.

HTML is not the same as XML. Except when it is.

Those XML content documents in an EPUB aren’t just any XML. They’re XML using a very specific vocabulary: HTML5. Or, to say that the other way around, they’re HTML5 using XML syntax. That’s often referred to as XHTML; but it’s not the old XHTML 1.1 of a few years back.

If you want to learn more about markup for publishers, go read the Apex Content Solutions blog.

The Future of Accessible Publishing: EPUB 3

The Accessible Books Consortium (ABC) has launched its re-branded “ABC Global Book Service” (formerly TIGAR Service) that enables libraries for the blind in different countries to exchange books in accessible formats. At the same time, ABC also encourages the production of “born accessible” books.

Accessible EPUB 3 is the “gold standard” in the publishing industry for the production of accessible digital books as publishers can:

  • use the accessibility features of the EPUB 3 standard for the production of digital publications;
  • include descriptions of the accessibility features of their products in the information they provide to retailers and others in the book supply chain.

If its accessibility features are used correctly, EPUB 3 allows for the creation of an electronic file that can be used to produce accessible digital books in various formats, for example:

  • an audio book with a synthesized voice (text-to-speech);
  • embossed braille; or
  • electronic braille (braille read on a computer or a portable device).

More information is available on the ABC website.