EDRLab Webinar – Accessibility and EPUB 3: November 28th, 2017

November 28th, 2017

Since November 2016 EDRLab has gradually invested in the field of accessibility: production, certification, distribution and uses, all essential topics for a natively accessible ecosystem is emerging in France and elsewhere around the EPUB 3 format. Fernando Pinto da Silva (EDRLab) will be hosting a webinar dedicated to accessibility on the 28th of November. For further information visit the EDRLab website at https://www.edrlab.org/2017/10/20/webinaire-accessibilite-et-epub-3/.

NB: this webinar will be in French

Venue: – Online or via telephone

Date: 28th November, 2017

Time – 15.00 – 16.00 CEST

Reports from the W3C Publishing Summit

W3C logoThe annual W3C TPAC meeting this year was held in San Francisco last week and included, for the first time, the W3C Publishing Summit held over 2 days with a lively and informative program aimed at learning how web technologies are shaping publishing today, tomorrow, and beyond. This was particularly significant as it is the first major event that the newly formed Publishing@W3C has held since the merger of IDPF and W3C earlier this year.

The DAISY Consortium were delighted to take part in their session entitled: Accessibility in Publishing and the W3C, which gave us the opportunity to demonstrate Ace, by DAISY, the accessibility software tool currently in phase 2 of its beta release and due for general release towards the end of this year. Romain Deltour, lead developer on the Ace project, ran the real time demonstration with George Kerscher, Avneesh Singh (DAISY) and Judy Brewer (W3C) also taking part.

The panel emphasized that EPUB 3 is a “rock solid” standard for accessibility and that conformance to EPUB Accessibility 1.0 will become increasingly important for publishers. Ace has been developed based upon this specification together with the WCAG standard and can be incorporated into other certification processes as is being done by Benetech already.

Whilst this session was devoted exclusively to accessibility it is significant that most other sessions over the two day program singled out the needs and challenges of accessibility as a major and central part of their work in digital publishing today. Abhay Parashus, CTO at Adobe, set the stage early on:

“If our mission is to tell amazing stories for the world we cannot add an asterisk for only certain people to express stories……. For us accessibility is not a checklist item. If we truly believe in the mission of the company then it’s a differentiator.”

With so much support for our work, these are exciting times for Inclusive Publishing

“Access to information is a fundamental human right. We are working to make sure that standards and technologies support that access.” – George Kerscher

Event Report Round-Up

A number of detailed event reports have been published since the event and we recommend these to everyone interested in Inclusive Publishing:

Digital Publishers Find Shared Purpose at W3C Publishing Summit – an overview in Publishers Weekly by Jason Boog

W3C Publishing Summit 2017: An Ebook Dev’s View – a guest post for epubsecrets.com written by Teresa Elsey from Houghton Mifflin Harcourt

Publishing Working Group TPAC Summary 2017 – by Tzviya Siegman, Wiley Info Standards Lead and W3C Publishing WG chair

EDRLab and the W3C Publishing Summit – by Laurent LeMeur. This piece includes slides froms Laurent’s presentation at the summit

As slides become available from the conference we will post them here:

Jen Simmons on How New CSS is Changing Everything About Graphic Design on the Web


Inclusion Promised as the Default Publishing Standard in Australia

This article was kindly submitted by Greg Alchin, Inclusive Design Specialist and Accessibility Advocate in the Australian Publishing industry.

Delegates seated in discussion at the Publishing Forum in AustraliaOn the 2nd November 2017, the Australian Publishing Association (APA) hosted the “Marrakesh Treaty Forum II”. This Forum brings together representatives of the publishing industry, authors, libraries, copyright, disability associations, government and accessible format providers for a far-reaching exchange of information and ideas to progress the Marrakesh Treaty’s implementation in Australia. Australia was an early signatory to the
treaty which encourages governments to allow books to be converted to accessible formats without having to obtain permission from copyright owners every time.

The purpose of the Forum is to identify the key challenges in ensuring that published material is accessible to the print disabled and to identify the pathways to address those challenges. The 2017 Forum saw updates on industry projects to advance not only the implementation of the Marrakesh Treaty but to move to a default model of inclusive publishing where equity of experience is available for all.

The Business Case

A clear appreciation of the need for inclusive publishing was impressed upon participants and agreed to. Understanding the demographics of disability within the market makes good business sense. For many their understanding of disability is based upon a misconception that disability is just a personal health attribute. It is embedded in the stereotypical images of people in wheelchairs, deafness and blindness. It may be caused by accident, trauma, genetics or disease. It may also be total or partial, lifelong or acquired, visible or invisible.

A more nuanced understanding of disability has developed in recent years. Disability is no longer seen as just a personal attribute or health experience. Disability is context dependent.  It is, as the World Health Organisation states, “a complex phenomenon, reflecting the interaction between features of a person’s body and features of the society in which he or she lives.” What this means, is that disability happens at the points of interaction between a person and the context in which they find themselves.  Mismatched interactions result in a loss of ability to participate and interact and result in exclusion.  Consider the following examples:

  • Individuals with an ear infection may experience a temporary hearing disability.
  • The environment of a noisy bar or hotel may result in patrons experiencing a situational hearing disability when they try to interact and be understood over background noise.
  • Individuals with a wrist injury / broken arm have a temporary physical disability.
  • New parents attempting to complete tasks whilst holding an infant experience a situational physical disability

Being mindful of the continuum from permanent to situational disabilities helps us to reconsider the number of people who experience disability on a daily basis. The benefits of designing publications that are “Born Accessible” from the start are undeniable.

The Legal Position in Australia

Furthermore, there is a range of international mandates and national legislation that supports the case for “Born Accessible” content. Equal access to information in Australia is:

It is important to note that all of the above legislative and professional requirements either directly or indirectly reference the W3C’s technology neutral  Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG 2.0).

Inclusive Publishing as the Default Publishing Standard

There was a lot of genuine good will and positive energy in the room from all parties. The forum agreed inclusion should be the default publishing standard in Australia and that by no later than December 2021 there will be:

  • high community and business awareness of the value of accessible content
  • seamless discoverability of accessible formats
  • inclusion as the default standard
  • Full implementation of accessibility standards by APA members
  • equitable and sustainable economic model

Next Steps

The Forum agreed to progress the following projects over the next 12 months in order to achieve these exciting new objectives:

  • accessibility fields to be agreed for both Title Page (the industry look up service) and Trove (the repository run but the National Library of Australia).
  • copyright guidelines to be finalised, made widely available and training to be underway
  • publish a plain English guide to accessibility standards
  • APA to inform publishers about accessibility standards
  • APA publishers to review workflow practices and how to implement accessibility
  • develop a shared messaging on “inclusive by design” and “equity of reading experience”

Chief executive of the Australian Publishers’ Association Michael Smith-Gordon added his support commenting that making content accessible at the outset made better economic sense than ”retro fitting” books once published with digital add-ons.


Editors note: Thanks to Greg Alchin for this article. We look forward to seeing how things progress with this ground-breaking initiative.

Linda Morris of The Sydney Morning Herald has written Book of the Future is a choose-your-own-adventure on events at the forum in Australia.

Australian ABC Radio broadcast this interview on the Marrakesh Treaty on the 4th of December 2017.

If you have an Inclusive Publishing story to share, feel free to contact us.

Inspiring Words from Industry Leaders: Interview with Huw Alexander, SAGE Publishing

Inclusive Publishing has embarked on a series of interviews with industry leaders and their approach to accessibility.

Photograph of Huw Alexander, Digital Sales Manager at SAGE Publishing and subject of this interviewOur first interview was with Huw Alexander,  Digital Sales Manager at SAGE Publishing and winner of the Accessible Books Consortium International Excellence Award at the London Book Fair, 2017. Huw is passionate about accessibility and has worked tirelessly at SAGE to deliver accessible titles to all readers:

We are dedicated to meeting our customers’ needs and we believe in creating a level playing field by ensuring that our publishing is accessible to all.”

Why is inclusive publishing important to you and/or your organization?

SAGE is a “leading independent, academic publisher known for our commitment to quality and innovation and for disseminating teaching and research on a global scale.” This is the SAGE vision statement and the driving force behind our efforts in reaching accessibility conformance. Our purpose in publishing is simple: we must listen carefully to our customers and publish content that is available to everyone.

On a personal level it is inspiring to be part of a community that is truly making a positive difference.

Do you have a top tip for others new to accessibility?

Fail. Fail again. Fail better. Implementing accessible practices is a learning curve and you will learn from both the failures and the successes. Start small – gradual improvements through low-cost investments will make a huge difference – and make sure that you are able measure the impact of the changes that you implement.

Frame clear, achievable goals for your projects (if we do X then this will improve Y) and ensure that you garner managerial support.

Never shy away from asking for help. The accessibility community is brimming with useful advice and guidelines for those new to accessibility. Everyone is willing to share their experiences.

What do you wish you knew about accessibility 5 or 10 years ago?

How fascinating the whole subject is. Accessibility is often considered to be a niche subject or an afterthought but it really is central to publishing quality content. The technological advances over the last decade are incredible and it is exciting being part of an industry that is changing and developing so rapidly. I am looking forward to seeing what we will be achieving in 10 years’ time.

What do you think will be the biggest game changer for inclusive publishing in the next few years?

As the inclusive publishing landscape is shaped by more robust international legal requirements for accessibility we will see publishers and sales vendors embracing accessibility more and more. As the industry standards for content, such as EPUB3.1, become more embedded and new innovative players enter the market with cost-effective solutions to production issues such as alt-text, accessibility will become a standard practice and as essential to navigating a book as a well-structured index.

For those still on the fence, why should they consider accessibility?

They should understand that, for once, the grass is actually greener on the other side. Those publishers that do not embrace accessible practices will find themselves at a commercial disadvantage in the future as new legal requirements stipulate that content must be accessible. Accessibility is a wonderful opportunity to enhance your content, to increase its discoverability and to improve your sales.

How have good inclusive publishing practices influenced the majority of your readers?

Enhancing our products with accessible functionality has greatly improved the user experience for all our customers. Our production processes are continually evolving as technologies develop and we make sure to incorporate user-focused design that improves usability and ensures a consistent level of quality across platforms and devices.

Why should companies consider publishing a policy on Inclusive Publishing?

Drafting a policy on inclusive publishing helps companies to clarify their current position and to identify goals which complement their long-term strategic growth. It provides a yardstick against which to measure your achievements.

It is essential that you are honest and transparent about what you offer. Understand that no company is perfect. Engage with your customers and share the story of how you are striving to improve your content and products.

Can you sum up your attitude towards inclusive publishing in one sentence.

Inclusive publishing encourages innovation and community. More simply, accessibility makes reading better.

Do you have any final thoughts on accessibility or inclusive publishing practices you would like to share?

All publishers will benefit from embedding accessible practices within their workflow. Every small improvement makes a difference to our customers and ensures that publishers, as curators and producers of content, will maintain their relevance for years to come.

Inclusive Publishing would like to thank Huw for taking the time to answer our questions and give us an insight into SAGE’s progress and achievments in Inclusive Publishing. We wish them continued success with their excellent work and inspiring endeavours.

ABC International Excellence Award – Seeking Nominations

The Accessible Books Consortium (ABC) International Excellence Award, to be given at London Book Fair 2018, is now open for nominations. ABC aims to increase the number of books worldwide in accessible formats, and make them available to people who are print disabled; the ABC International Excellence Award, given at LBF, recognizes outstanding leadership and achievement in advancing the accessibility of commercial e-books or other digital publications.

Two awards will be presented, one to a publisher and one for an initiative.  You can nominate your own organisation or a third party anywhere in the world, and nominations are encouraged from those based in developing or least developed countries.  The submissions deadline is Friday 26th January 2018, and the awards will be given on Tuesday 10th April 2018.  Click through for full detail and a submission form.

December 2017: Access to Books and Reading-Finding Solutions Together

BrailleNet, Arald and Enssib organized a professional day on December 7th, 2017 entitled: Access to Books and Reading for People with Disabilities. This day was intended for all book professionals: publishers, producers of adapted books, librarians, developers of web solutions for online libraries and bookstores, developers of digital reading applications, t

eachers and students of the book trades. With workshops and demonstrations on the programme, attendees enjoyed a lively and interactive forum for discussion.


Photograph of panel at the Braillenet conference on December 7th

When: December 7th, 2017

Venue: Villeurbanne, France

When: 09:00 – 17:00




December 2017: Futurebook Conference

FutureBook brings together leading thinkers in publishing, retail, editorial, writing, marketing and tech, along with speakers from other industries. Europe’s largest digital publishing conference expanded in 2016 to include dedicated strands on the growing EdTech and AudioBook markets. A number of sessions are of interest to inclusive publishing: Reaching More Readers in a Distracted World and How is Technology changing the way we Listen.


Date: December 1st, 2017

Venue: London, U.K.

When: 08.30am – 18.30pm

Emerging Digital Solutions at the 11th French National Dyslexia Day

Logo of the Federation francaise desDys, The French Federation of Dyslexia Associations.This article was written for Inclusive Publishing by Luc Maumet, a consultant in accessible reading for print impaired persons. He was in charge for 15 years of the main library for the blind in France. He focuses today on digital solutions and born accessible content for all print impaired persons. For EDRLab Luc explores the impact the EPUB ecosystem may have on dyslexic person’s access to reading.

October was Dyslexia awareness month and many events were organized to spread information on the subject and to promote solutions and good practices. The French Federation of Dyslexia Associations, FFDYS, chose October the 14th to welcome professionals, parents, publishers and dyslexic persons for it’s annual “Dyslexia Day”. Taking place in the renowned University of Paris 8 Vincennes-Saint-Denis, the event attracted a large crowd of visitors.

The program was a mix of conference and technical presentation opening with a welcome video from the French Minister in charge of disabled persons, Sophie Cluzel, – a mark of the French government’s interest in and commitment to this issue .

I attended the event of behalf of EDRLab in order to gather more information on the impact of the EPUB ecosystem on reading accessibility for dyslexic people. EDRLab has begun to map the digital solutions already available in the market place including both reading apps and adapted ebooks.

EDRLab goals, by mapping the diversity of these existing solutions, are :

  • to lead to a better understanding of the actors, and their work in this specific field, in relation with EPUB.
  • to address their needs by a standardisation of EPUB enhancements for dyslexic people.
  • to develop reading solutions supporting these enhancements.
  • potentially, to help with the development of back-office tools for producing such enhanced content .

The FFDYS event was one of those days when you wish you could clone yourself in order to speak to more people and attend more workshops at the same time! Among the diversity of solutions presented, some were of particular interest from an inclusive publishing perspective :

L’arbradys, the recently created publishing house for dys children, is publishing a weekly newspaper. The text is specifically produced in-house with two different versions : one for children and one for teenagers. Two different accessibility settings  are available : one for dyslexia, one for dyspraxia. These newspapers are available on paper and in EPUB. The most recent editions  dealt with subjects such as “Wild life”, “Street art” or “The Olympic games in Paris 2024”.

Castlemore, a French children’s publisher, is producing some of its titles with specific settings for dyslexic kids which include features such as:

  • Specific quality of paper
  • Dyslexia font
  • Larger font
  • Shorter phrases
  • Work on line breaks etc…

All Castlemore books are also available in EPUB without DRM, allowing many other possibilities for dyslexic kids.  Bragelonne, Castlemore’s mother house, is an EDRLab member.

Readspeaker textaid “helps teachers and institutions face accessibility challenges with it’s read-aloud reading, writing, and studying tool, helping those with learning disabilities become confident, autonomous learners.” The reader has  specific functions to ease access to text for dyslexic people including :

  • Text to speech
  • Line spacing
  • Page masking tool to help focus  the attention
  • Reading ruler for reading line by line

Readspeaker Textaid can handle EPUB.

Livres-Accès is a website that gathers  information on accessible books for dyslexic or otherwise print disabled children. It’s catalog contains printed books as well as ebooks, and several of them are distributed in EPUB. Livres-Accès was a bookstore but it is now evolving toward consulting and training activities.

ADELE Team is a university software project with the ambition of creating new solutions in the digital reading field for dyslexic people. The University Paris 8 Vincennes-Saint-Denis researchers work in coordination with the French dyslexia expert Laëtitia Branciard. Dyslexic children have been assisting with the project by supplying their own writings in order to test the system.

Disney Company : in the collection “Les mots sont à toi”, Disney presents ebooks in EPUB with specific functions for dyslexic readers. These include:

  • Choice of fonts and their size
  • Space between letters
  • Colorization of syllables 
  • Alternating lines

What makes this collection so special is the availability of famous licences such as Star Wars or Cars in EPUB.

These are just a few examples of the vitality of the digital publishing ecosystem for dyslexic persons, as seen at the 11th French National Dyslexia Day organized by FFDYS. We are seeing very specialized solutions converging with mainstream tools and contents. EPUB as an ecosystem with EPUB documents (born accessible or with specific enhancements) and EPUB readers can play a historic role in easing access to reading for dyslexic persons.

EDRLab’s mapping of EPUB solutions for dyslexia is at an early stage : the French solutions are on the map (or at least a large majority of them). and wee now need  feedback from other European countries. If you happen to know a publisher with specific involvement in this field or if you yourself are promoting a reader for it’s qualities for dyslexic users, please contact us and we will add them to the EPUB and dyslexia map. In this era of such active innovations we strongly believe information exchange is key to our goal : “ to make publications accessible to all, including people with print disabilities.”

For more information on this topic please see Luc’s article entitled Accessibility in reading systems: what about dyslexia? published on the EDRLab website in June 2017.