Ace by DAISY is for Everyone – Video

Your feedback tells us that there are a lot of people around the world who are interested in using Ace to check their EPUB files for accessibility. We would like to thank everyone for the wonderful response to Ace, and for your continued support. We have also heard that some people are keen to give Ace a try, but might be a little daunted by the installation process. Understandably not everyone is familiar with using command line tools.

We are here to reassure you that Ace is not reserved for techies, anyone can use it!

The process of installing and running Ace is very simple. You can follow our guide to Getting Started with Ace, or simply watch the video below as it walks you through the simple steps required.

For further information about Ace, our Ace Accessibility Checker introduction page is a great place to start.

Ace by DAISY: An Essential Tool for the ebook Developer’s Workbelt

This article was kindly submitted by Simon Collinson, Content Sales Manager at Kobo.

“I would also say that not paying close attention to #a11y ignores the democratic promise of digital publishing. #eprdctn”

As digital publishers, accessibility is at the core of everything we do. We are the unofficial champions of publishing’s forgotten readers and listeners, the Unicode geeks, the metadata experts. But how many of us could readily pull apart an ebook and tell you exactly where it breached accessibility guidelines?

When I first tried DAISY’s Accessibility Checker for EPUB I was overjoyed. After having spent many hours puzzling through obtuse technical specs, I felt I had no better than a patchy knowledge of how to make my books accessible. I knew it was important, but how could I understand the IDPF’s new accessibility guidelines in the context of the complex ebook spec? I had read and reread Accessible EPUB 3, but there was still a nagging sense that I was missing something: that I was letting mistakes through for lack of knowledge. I wanted to make books that would work for every reader, but I had no tools with which to audit my work.

Ace by DAISY – the official name for their new accessibility checking tool – solves this problem. It’s a command-line utility which checks EPUB files against WCAG guidelines, W3C accessibility rules, and DAISY-recommended best practices to help you make the best books possible.

Screen shot of Ace report for The Devil's Dance book proof showing violations











Clear location targeting and verbose suggestions for improvement make Ace an especially useful tool no matter your level of expertise

It’s fast, it gives a clean, Bootstrap-based HTML report with severity grades of each accessibility violation, exact locations, and links to learn more about each issue. It runs on the command line, so it can easily be built into existing workflows or used as a package in more ambitious programs.

The really important thing about Ace, though, is that it makes accessibility a concrete target with clear steps and a hierarchy of severity. Too often we see #a11y initiatives at publishers fail because although the people making the ebooks understand the virtues of following accessibility best practices, we can’t convey their value to non-technical decision makers, or even if we can, they’re overwhelmed by the sense that accessibility guidelines impose arcane, highly technical – and hence costly – requirements.

Although Ace ‘does not claim to be a yes/no validator or a certification tool’ and will not issue an accessibility score or percentage of conformance, being able to point to a concrete, objective report is a hugely important step towards demonstrating the value – both financial and moral – of formal, structured accessibility QA. It isn’t the final word on the matter, but it makes the conversation possible. For this reason, DAISY’s efforts should be applauded.

Screen shot of Ace report for The Devil's Dance book proof showing a summary of violations














The table breaking down violations into Critical, Serious, Moderate, and Minor breaches of WCAG 2.0 A, WCAG 2.0 AA, EPUB, and best practices is a great quick summary.

By the way – for those who haven’t yet taken the leap, please don’t be afraid of the command line. I know I was a few years ago – I’m not a standards geek or one of our community’s truly gifted programmers, just an average ebook dev with average skills. But I’ve come to love the precision and speed of all the open source tools like Ace. If you’re comfortable cracking open an epub and deciphering its contents then you’re more than capable of tackling the much simpler process of installing and using a few friendly command line tools. I promise. Click here for step-by-step instructions on installing Ace.


Screen shot Ace report for The Devil's Dance showing title page caption prompt











Without Ace I would have almost certainly have forgotten to update this title page caption.

So what are you waiting for? Give it a whirl.

Simon Collinson is Content Sales Manager at Kobo and Digital Producer at Tilted Axis Press. An Australian web developer, typesetter, and digital publishing specialist, he now lives in Toronto.


The DAISY Consortium Releases Ace, the Free EPUB Accessibility Checking Tool

Ace LogoThe DAISY Consortium is delighted to announce the launch of Ace by DAISY, the ground-breaking free and open source accessibility checking tool for ebooks created in the widely adopted EPUB format.

Ace by DAISY equips the publishing industry with a tool which can test their ebooks against internationally recognized standards for accessibility. Designed to assist content providers at any stage in their workflow, Ace by DAISY will make it easier to produce higher quaity, more accessible EPUB content files.

“Ace by DAISY is a significant step forwards, developed in partnership with the industry. It will help publishers achieve the shared goal of publication which can be enjoyed by everyone, irrespective of disability.” Richard Orme, CEO, The DAISY Consortium

This is the perfect time to encourage your technology teams to engage with this important new tool by integrating Ace within your workflows so that you can build accessibility requirements and testing into your product development at various stages.

Read the full Ace press release from The DAISY Consortium and visit the Ace by DAISY page for further information on getting started.

Shortlist for ABC International Excellence Awards 2018

The short-list for the 2018 ABC International Excellence Awards in Accessible Publishing has been announced in advance of the awards ceremony to be held at the London Book Fair on April 10, 2018.  There are two categories of awards, publishers and initiatives, and the following nominees were selected from a record number of nominations from different continents:


  • Constantine Editores, Mexico
  • Hachette Livre, France
  • Taylor & Francis, UK


  • DAISY Forum of India
  • Dolphin Computer Access, UK
  • Fundação Dorina Nowill para Cegos, Brazil
  • Typefi, Australia

A jury made up of representatives from publishers, organizations working in the field of accessibility, and organizations representing persons who are visually impaired, is charged each year with the difficult task of choosing finalists and selecting winners. Congratulations to all those shortlisted!

Learned Publishing Journal Focuses on Accessibility

Learned Publishing journal cover

Learned Publishing, the journal of the Association of Learned & Professional Society Publishers, published in collaboration with the Society for Scholarly Publishing, has dedicated its current edition to accessibility. Guest editor Bill Kasdorf (ApexCovantage) is passionate about all aspects of accessibility and chairs the Content Structure Committee at the Book Industry Study Group (BISG). Read by publishers, librarians, academics and others working in publishing around the world Learned Publishing has a fully international authorship.

“As confirmed in this special issue, accessibility is no longer a fringe topic — instead, publishing in a manner that is accessible to all is central to our purpose. All articles in this special issue will be freely available throughout 2018, as we believe the articles here will be a go-to reference point for all publishers, those with committed accessibility roadmaps and those just beginning to integrate accessibility into publishing workflows. This issue represents what we can do when we come together to address why and how our community can better serve all readers.” – Lettie Conrad, North American Editor of Learned Publishing

Articles include:

The full table of contents is available at:

Image Descriptions – The Who, What, Where and When (No Need for Why!)

Screenshot of the alt text and image description input screen on the inclusive publishing website

It’s official. Publishers are getting on with aceessibility. – they are realising that many of the “challenges” are not as daunting as they first thought and with the arrival of EPUB 3 and now the Ace by DAISY EPUB accessibility checking tool, there is every reason to look forward to increased access to mainstream ebooks in the future.

However, the one area that still comes up in conversation is image descriptions and how to tackle them for all kinds of books, be they simple texts with a few graphics, to complicated works that can be rich in complex material

This is a good dilemma to have. We no longer find ourselves having to advocate heavily for accessible publishing and rather we are now in the preferred position of helping publishers realise that they can do this – that it’s not as difficult as they might have first thought, for the most part.

Bill Kasdorf, in his recent article for Inclusive Publishing If Accessibility Is So Easy, Why Is It Still So Hard? identified image descriptions as the “top challenge” for publishers:

“You may think the issue is just that they need to do them. But there’s way more to it than that. They need to understand how to do them properly, and when not to do them.”

It’s so important for publishers to grasp the reason for image description and alt text, to get to grips with how to tackle them and how to relate them to the context in which they appear.  Does an image need a particular style of description based on the expected reading audience? You may need to provide an environmental description of a landscape or perhaps a geographical one….

A large pylon tower overlooking woodland

A geographical description of this image might be: The estuary scenery is a mix of salt marsh and tidal creeks flanked by industrial complexes.

Conversely, an environmental description would be quite differentThe large pylon lines tower over woodland and are visible for many miles around.




Creating successful image descriptions is truly a skill. Image description can vary greatly depending on the requirement of the given context.

Depending on the workflow employed, image descriptions and alt text can be added to a document at various different stages. We naturally advise all content providers to insert any accessibility features as early on as possible – build them in from the very start a bit like you would on a construction site. But this may not be entirely possible and we do appreciate that.

Your author is an obvious place to start as they are familiar with their own text in a way that no one else is. They should be able to provide the nuances and contextual information that some rich graphics require. However, they may not be aware of the accessibility requirements behind image description or indeed the technical requirements of this additional content. Some publishers are providing training for their authors so that they can write descriptions that are meaningful and relevant and in some cases the requirement for this is built into their contract in the first place.

This may not be practical for everyone and so it may fall to editorial or production staff in-house or even 3rd party vendors with an expertise in this area. The important thing is to formally build this stage in your production process into your workflow so that it just becomes a natural part of your ebook development cycle.

Great – so you understand you need to do this and you’ve worked out who is best placed within your organization to take responsibility for it but what exactly do they need to do?

Most importantly you need to identify what the images within your content require in terms of accessibility. Not all images require description or alt text – they may be purely decorative and if this is the case then you should make sure they are labelled as such. Screen readers and other  forms of assistive technology need to be able to let their readers know what an image’s purpose is and if something is purely decorative then there is nothing more to be done.

If your image carries meaning or relevant information then it is vital that you describe this to your reader. Alternative text provides screen reader software users with access to all of the non-text information.

“This is why context matters the most, as you want to think about what information is the most important, the more pertinent, that you are trying to get across with an image.” (Oregon State University)

“Don’t just repeat the image caption in the alt text—how annoying is that, to have it read to you twice by your screen reader? The image description shouldn’t just say what the image is, it should say what it is there for, what it is trying to convey within a given context. This can require two distinct types of expertise: subject matter expertise, and an understanding of what a user of assistive technology needs.” (Bill Kasdorf)

Some complex images require longer description. You may be publishing a table full of complex data and in this case a short description in the alt text is a good place to start and then a longer more in-depth analysis / description can be achieved in the long desc box.

You may be wondering if Artificial Intelligence could be the answer? On the surface, deploying next generation technologies like artificial intelligence to generate image descriptions makes a lot of sense. Facebook, Google and Microsoft all have solutions in place to analyse an image and recommend an alternative text description of the image. It really is an interesting concept, and as the technology continues to evolve we should get more accurate descriptions of images. We will be covering this topic in more detail in a separate article but suffice to say it is still a way off from being a feasible solution.

Photo shows from Microsoft which has been shown a photo of a pair of glasses resting on an open book, which it believes is a “stack of flyers on a table”.













Photo shows from Microsoft which has been shown a photo of a pair of glasses resting on an open book, which it believes is a “stack of flyers on a table”.

The RNIB has recently published some top tips for image description in social media but we think they are just as relevant for ebooks:

  • Don’t overthink it! Make your description as short as possible while describing what the photo is trying to convey.
  • You generally don’t have to say “image of”. Screen readers already know that there’s an image and they announce this before reading the image description.
  • It’s ok to mention colour if it’s relevant to the image. Many screen reader users are partially sighted and use descriptions to clarify indistinct images (also people with sight loss do understand the concept of colour).
  • Helpful v unhelpful: It’s important that your description helps to convey the intended message of the image. For example, a tweet shared an upcoming weather forecast with the text: “It’s going to get better soon!” A helpful image description would be: “Forecast showing temperatures of -18 degrees Celsius today improving to -1 degrees by Tuesday”. An unhelpful description would be: “Picture of weather forecast”.
  • Trying to convey humour? Make sure this is also reflected in your image description so that all users can enjoy the joke. For example: “Dog looks suspiciously at the photo taker with the words: Where did the goat go?”

Most importantly – give it a go! Success comes with practice and publishers should bite the bullet and get on with it. It’s not that difficult!

A Few Resources to Help Get You Started:

The Accessible Books Consortium hosts a free 20 minute online training session on Accessible Images – describing what these are exactly and how best to tackle various types of images.  Very useful for beginners and handy for in-house awareness training.

The DIAGRAM Centre provides a host of resources designed to help content providers with image description. The POET tool “is an open-source web based image description training tool that helps people learn how to describe the various types of images found in digital books including complex images such as flow charts and Venn diagrams.”

Alongside this the DIAGRAM Centre also provides a set of comprehensive guidelines, samples and training. Work on these projects is on-going as a11y features and products advance.

Event Report: Digital Content & Disabilities Seminar, January 10th

This report was kindly submitted by Nicola Swann from the Publishers Association, U.K.

Photograph of the UCL quad

Co-production of resources with those with disabilities and the involvement of the whole supply chain in providing accessible content were two of the main imperatives to come across at a Digital Content and Disabilities Seminar held at University College London on January 10th, 2018.

This seminar was organised as a tie-in with Dr Peter Williams’ British Academy-funded post-doctoral research fellowship at UCL, which is examining the impact of mobile technology on the lives of people with learning disabilities.  As one of the seminars and workshops that Dr Williams is running to gather data and disseminate findings, the event brought publishers, university library and learning specialists, community groups, textbook platforms and other suppliers together to explore creating original content to serve disabilities, and adapting content for maximum accessibility.

The first session, looking at original content to serve disabilities, looked at methods, tools and practice, with Professor Barrie Gunter of the University of Leicester in the chair.  First speaker was Dr Williams, who gave an outline of his work on  the digital lives of people with learning disabilities as they use mobiles, laptops, apps and social media.  His project includes a look at prevalence of use, agency (self or supporter), purpose, consequence (benefit/barrier) and ease of use of mobile devices.  Each participant is helping to produce an accessible, annotated hyperlinked electronic archive of their experiences; they have their own web page to record what they enjoy and what they find difficult.  Supporters can comment, with the consent of the person whose page it is.  Issues unearthed include difficulties in finding photos as phones offer no sort mechanism, in using the access code in a supported house, and understanding how music can get onto a phone.  The web material’s password-protected, but would be available to academics and other professionals on request ( – and additional participants are welcome.

Philip Gibson, Project Manager for Camphill Village Trust, outlined findings from creating a communication platform for people with learning disabilities.  The key message was ‘if you are going to do something, do it co-productively’.    This referred both to the specialist knowledge that may be required to develop electronic resources and the importance of involving all stakeholders, including those for whom the resource is being developed.

Camphill found around three years ago that those with learning disabilities were trying out quite a few digital services – – Skype, email, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, apps, information sites and bill paying. Most use was via touchscreen device rather than laptop, and was mostly to keep in touch; men particularly also used their devices for games.  Camphill wondered therefore if it was missing options to help users as they mostly did this in traditional ways, though the use of digital was perhaps not as effective as it could be.  It was not clear how users were weeding out misinformation and fake news, and there was evidence that once burned, people quickly shut down if they had problems with issues like signing on, fear of what might happen to personal information and operating hand-me-downs.  Many of those supported dabbled, enjoyed using tech for a while, but then stopped as benefit plateaued.

Camphill is therefore making its own app, CVT Connect, in co-production with users so those within their communities can use them to keep in touch.  More and more are signing up for accounts to use in innovative ways, sharing photos and expressing likes and dislikes.  The challenge now is to make it so interesting that people will wish to use it daily.  Camphill is working on single-click use, tagging, and a less ambitious personal profile; and is keen to share with other charities and community groups.

Dr Yvonne Vezzoli, a learning and communication specialist with the Ca’Foscari University of Venice  @ Go Touch VR, is looking at the visual literacy practices of young people with dyslexia in multimodal digital environments (MDEs).  Her work is based on a strength-focused perspective on dyslexia, viewing it as a thinking and learning difference while not denying the existence of neuro disorders.  She has found that dyslexic teens strongly prefer visuals, knowing they have good skills in retrieving, accessing & interpreting them even though they may have lower skills relating to their production.  Further information on her research is available at

and at

The second session of the afternoon focused on adapting content for maximum accessibility:  tools, methods and practice, chaired by John Akeroyd, Honorary Research Fellow UCL and CIBER Research.  Tanja Stevens and Lars Christensen outlined the work of their company SensusAccess,, a subscription service which enables students, faculty, staff and alumni to automatically convert documents into a range of alternate media including audio books (MP3 and DAISY), e-books (EPUB, EPUB3 and Mobi) and digital Braille.  Christensen said that providing accessible content is not restricted to publishers but must involve the whole supply chain; he credited Jisc ( with a huge amount of work on technical sticking points, including complex platforms, but felt that inadequate provision of appropriate reading software was often a barrier to what could be a very positive experience for students.

Teresa Pedroso, Disability Librarian for the Bodleian Libraries, outlined the opportunities and challenges digital presents to those with accessibility needs; it is a mere 40 years old compared with print so presents a great opportunity to explore, despite the drawbacks.  The Bodleian subscribes to 1,300 databases with a variety of accessibility features; users have to learn how to use them as well as staff.  Issues include referencing in non-paginated monographs (though a lack of pagination leads to better visibility and flow).  Readers with disabilities prefer flexible provision of both print and digital; some value the lack of a wait time, where others find the flicker of digital off-putting.  How does a librarian decide between a need and a preference?  Questions apart, accessibility is making an appreciable difference – Questions apart, accessibility is making an appreciable difference – 20 years ago staff and volunteers had to produce everything the Bodleian needed to enable work with a blind academic; now 80% is sourced from the university’s collections, liaison with publishing houses or using materials the library already has.  The DAISY Consortium CEO Richard Orme pointed out that the tech and frameworks exist to enable accessibility; parties should work together to enable accessible metadata and the balance should shift towards mainstream provision (born accessible), though special repositories will likely be needed for a while.

Emma House, Deputy CEO of The Publishers Association, gave an update on the publisher perspective on adapting content.  The challenge is to make all published outputs available to anyone who has a print impairment, for commercial, ethical and legal reasons.  She outlined the relevant legislation both existing (on the PA website at and to come, flagging the European Accessibility Act and the Marrakesh Treaty as the legislation to monitor as it is implemented.  Marrakesh is regarded as a real triumph. One exceptional concept in this Treaty is the enablement of cross-border access to works; an IPO consultation is awaited on the changes needed within UK legislation to implement it.  Remaining to-dos include promotion in the user community on what’s available; publishers’ inclusion of accessibility in ONIX feeds; and publishers’ building accessibility into the mainstream.  Emma’s presentation is on the PA website at

A video from Ben Watson, Accessible Information Project Adviser for the University of Kent, described building ramps and lifts for digital information with the OPERA project  This project promotes inclusive design and assistive technology, aiming to mainstream accessibility – shifting the culture from adjustment for individuals via inclusive learning plans towards anticipatory reasonable adjustments and inclusive practice by design.

A lightning talk from Heather Smith of the National Trust highlighted the importance of working direct with disabled people, and one from Barbara Denton of the University of the Arts London flagged the digital accessibility centre as a helpful external testing company; UAL has had a culture change as the benefits of accessibility for cohorts with a higher proportion of students with disabilities than most have become apparent.



CSUN Assistive Technology Conference Program is Live!

The program for the 33rd CSUN Assistive Technology Conference has been announced and, as ever, there is much on the agenda that is of interest to the publishing industry. George Kerscher, Chief Innovations Officer within the DAISY Consortium will be presenting 3 sessions at the conference:

Publishing at the W3C: The Future of all Accessible Digital Publishing– March 21st, 9am

Your Ace in the Hole to Win the Digital Publishing Accessibility Jackpot– March 21st, 10am

Why EPUB is the Standard for Accessible ebooks– March 22nd, 1.20pm


In addition to these presentations Inclusive Publishing has identified the following sessions which will also be of interest:

DIAGRAM Report 2017: Deep Look at Emerging Technologies for Learning.– March 21st, 10am

Guerilla Alt Text: Making Accessibility Happen– March 21st, 4.20pm

EPUB Creation Tool Comparison– March 22nd, 9am

Global Certified Accessible: EPUB Accessible Certification Goes Global– March 22nd, 10am

RNIB’s Operational Impact 2 Years Post-Move to Bookshare’s Private Library– March 22nd, 4.20pm


Registration for the conference opens on January 13th. For more details

Accessibility to Feature at Digital Book World, 2018

Digital Book World Conference Logo

The popular mainstream publishing and technology conference, Digital Book World, is scheduled to return this year with a new focus and an exciting program. Accessible publishing will feature in Nashville as well as other publishing hot topics and DAISY are delighted to be be playing a significant role at the conference.  The session entitled “Building Accessibility Into Publishing Workflows: From The Ground Up” will be delivered by DAISY speakers and the Consortium will also play an advisory role in the creation of an Achievement in Accessibility in Publishing Award to be presented at the awards ceremony.

For details of the full announcement visit

Typefi User Conference, Brighton

March 22nd to 23rd, 2018

The Typefi User Conference offers Typefi users, partners and staff an opportunity to network, share best practices, and learn from each other. If you’re considering adopting Typefi as your automated publishing solution, this is an excellent chance to see the platform in action and talk to other users.

Of particular interest is the morning workshop on the 22nd of March on Accessible Publishing which will include an introduction to accessibility, as well as in-depth presentations and conversations with experts in accessible publishing. If you want to understand why accessibility is important, and how to build standards-compliant accessibility features right into your publishing workflows without increasing composition costs then this session is for you!


22nd-23rd March, 2018


Brighton, U.K.

Learn More