Assets Conference

October 22nd to 24th, 2018

The 20th International ACM SIGACCESS Conference on Computers and Accessibility will explore the design, evaluation, and use of computing and information technologies to benefit people with disabilities and older adults. ASSETS is the premier forum for presenting innovative research on mainstream and specialized assistive technologies, accessible computing, and assistive applications of computer, network, and information technologies.


October 22-24, 2018


Galway, Ireland

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For further information visit the SIGACCESS event page.

W3C’s Judy Brewer: SIGACCESS Award for Outstanding Contribution 2018

Head shot of Judy Brewer, subject of this post

On 25 July it was announced that Judy Brewer is the recipient of the 2018 SIGACCESS Award for her Outstanding Contributions to Computing and Accessibility. Judy Brewer is the Director of the Web Accessibility Initiative (WAI) at the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C), where she works with an expert team of accessibility specialists, and a broad and vibrant web accessibility community.

As part of the award, Judy has been invited to present a keynote talk at the ASSETS Conference on October 22nd. 

This new piece is from the W3C website. Our congratulations to Judy and her team on this well deserved award.

TechAbility Conference 2018

October 16th, 2018

This one-day conference, delivered by Natspec, is for anyone wishing to improve and expand their Assistive Technology provision for their learners.  With a focus on increasing skills and knowledge across the FE sector it is designed to enable leaders, managers and practitioners to choose the right solutions for learners and provide an environment which supports AT to deliver education and training outcomes.

Accessibility guru Alistair McNaught (JISC) is delivering a keynote entitled: Inside the Onion – Peeling Back the Layers of Accessible Practice


October 16, 2018


Solihull, UK

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Program information and details on how to register are available at the Natspec website.

Ebooks for Designers – Webinar

August 15th, 2018

Kevin Callahan of BNGO Books ( is an ebook developer, writer and speaker based in New York City. He will be delivering this one hour webinar for The Graphic Arts Guild. Members and non-members are welcome to register

Almost every print book is adapted as an ebook. Some publishers have robust workflows to convert their InDesign or Quark layouts to EPUB3 files, but many don’t. They rely on vendors and freelancers to create their ebooks. This session introduces ebook basics: what they are, how to create them, and how to adapt print designs to digital use. Get some tips on using your skills to create beautiful, user-friendly, and accessible ebooks that honor the print design and serve digital purposes.


August 15, 2018


Online Webinar

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To register and learn more about this session visit the event page on the Graphic Arts Guild website

Inspiring Words from Industry Leaders: Interview with George Kerscher, The DAISY Consortium

Photograph of George KerscherInclusive Publishing has embarked on a series of interviews with industry leaders and their approach to accessibility. George Kerscher began his IT innovations in 1987 and coined the term “print disabled”.  He is dedicated to developing technologies that make information not only accessible, but also fully functional in the hands of persons who are blind or who have a print disability. He believes properly designed digitally published materials and web pages can make information accessible to all people.  George is an advocate for semantically rich content which can be used effectively by everybody.

As Chief Innovations Officer of the DAISY Consortium, Senior Advisor, Global Literacy to Benetech, and member of Publishing Groups in the W3C, Kerscher is a recognized international leader in document access.  In addition, he chairs the DAISY/NISO Standards committee and the Steering Council of the Web Accessibility Initiative (WAI), and also serves on the Advisory Board of the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS).

I ask all of my staff to use a screen reader, put a towel over their screen and send me an email! This involves them getting to their desktop, launching an app or email program, writing that email and then sending it. Suddenly it all clicks!

Accessibility in publishing has improved significantly in the last 30 years, can you give us a practical example of what it was like before?

When I first got involved in accessible publishing there was no accessibility within mainstream published printed content.  Not until initiatives that utilize chop & scan, source file conversions and recordings for libraries for the blind did progress begin concerning the accessibility of a wider range of printed content. Before this time, it was only libraries serving the blind that selected key publications to be made available. People just wanted more and a wider range of materials to be available. However, it was still sitting in the hands of specialist organizations that were completely separate from those who published the information; that had to change; it had to integrate with the mainstream flow of published materials.

Significant change for digital publishing materials really began in 2000 although this was hampered by DRM preventing technology working with assistive materials. Jim Fruchterman and I wrote the article The Soundproof Book in 2002 which really helped raise awareness of these issues. The DRM problem was eventually solved as it became accepted that content on screen could be exposed to assistive technology and the accessibility of the content could be evaluated.

With the introduction of the iPad and Steve Jobs’ commitment to EPUB we witnessed a turning point for accessibility in digital content. Features such as VoiceOver meant that much more material could be accessed on iBooks.

With the arrival of EPUB 3 in 2011, DAISY endorsed it as their file format of choice. They halted development of the DAISY standard and began the transition to EPUB. Together with reading system evaluations, which still take place today, EPUB provides the best option for accessibility in the mainstream.

What has been the most impactful change in accessibility to help bring us here?

The turning point for me was when publishing and technology accepted that assistive technology cannot be blocked. This was the game changer. You cannot stop people from accessing content.

Are there any questions you regularly encounter which you wish people knew by now?

People often say that they don’t see where EPUB is used as they don’t realise that ibooks, Google, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, Apple etc. are all using EPUB as their primary format. It’s behind the scenes. This can be frustrating and publishers still provide pdfs and readers accept pdfs without realising that the user experience from re-flowable EPUB is far superior. We need to make that transition – we need to make sure readers are requesting born accessible EPUBs and that publishers are offering them. I think we are in an in-between phase at the moment – after all, pdf has been around for 25 years. But EPUB is based on modern web technology and this is where all of the accessibility advances are being made.

What would be the single most important piece of advice you could give to a publishing colleague who is new to accessibility?

Use Ace by DAISY! That’s clearly the first thing they need to do! They should also try to understand how assistive technology is used. I ask all of my staff to use a screen reader, put a towel over their screen and send me an email! This involves them getting to their desktop, launching an app or email program, writing that email and then sending it. Suddenly it all clicks! Navigating through their computer and apps has to be fast and efficient and in their visual world it is easy to take in an entire panorama. In an audio space everything is sequential and your screen reader presents one piece of information at a time until you yourself have built a mental model.  The same thing applies to the reading experience and when everything is laid out correctly then content becomes a joy to read.

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

I think that the further adoption of EPUB by even the small publishers and the inclusion of accessibility metadata within purchasing systems will be the next game changer. A good accessibility rating and conformance to accessibility standards is going to become a pre-requisite in the education space and useful purchasing choices will be made on accessibility criteria.

What do you think is the biggest challenge for publishers, and how might they overcome it?

I think that publishers are finding the production of accessible mainstream content for text only content fairly straightforward. The challenge will come in adding more interactivity in education materials. Trying to present the essence of a visualisation is going to be difficult and experts will have to write meaningful summaries for everyone working with that visualisation but especially if the student is disabled. The supplemental information provided with visualisations is crucial to a contextual understanding of the interactive material.

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

I have a concern about university presses who are still very ingrained within the print paradigm. I’d like to see a move towards EPUB and online publishing but the “publish or perish” ethos is still adhered to within this space. Journal publishers may be able to lead the way on this as the data that is included in their articles appears online but convincing academics that a move towards digital publishing is essential is going to be difficult.

I really feel that we’ve passed the “tipping point” and that the publishing industry understands the necessity of accessibility. They understand that they have a commitment to making information available to the public. The route of both words, publishing and public is the same after all!

Our thanks to George for his time.

Equity and Excellence: Access in Higher Education Conference

July 16th to 20th, 2018

The Association on Higher Education and Disability’s (AHEAD) 41st annual international conference is its hallmark event, drawing approximately 1,500 participants from around the world for a week of extraordinary professional development and networking. Presenters and participants come from diverse fields, including education, technology, law, scholarship, and government, but share a common interest in fostering equitable higher education experiences for disabled individuals.


July 16-20, 2018


Albuquerque, New Mexico, USA

Learn More

Registration, program information and details of how you can join this conference virtually as well as in person are available from the AHEAD website.


SXSW EDU, 2019

March 4th to 7th, 2019

The SXSW EDU Conference & Festival hosts a community of optimistic, forward-thinking, purpose-driven stakeholders with a shared goal of impacting the future of teaching and learning for four days of compelling sessions, in-depth workshops, engaging learning experiences, mentorship, film screenings, startup events, policy discussions, competitions, exhibition, networking, and so much more. This year’s conference includes a new track on Accessibility and Inclusion with a variety of session formats and crossover techniques between learning levels.

Of particular note is the session entitled: Moving the Needle on K-12 Accessibility which will focus on what  teachers, administrators, procurement staff, and direct service providers need to know to comply with the law and most importantly, meet student needs. This overview session provides up to date information and a toolkit to ensure content providers are more able to meet the needs of all students.


March 4-7, 2019


Austin, Texas, USA

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For details on how to register and the conference in general visit the SXSW EDU website

Frankfurt Book Fair 2018

October 10th to 14th, 2018

October 2018 sees the 70th anniversary of the Frankfurt Book Fair, one of the most important international marketplaces for content, as well as a key trendsetter within the publishing industry. Watch this space for updates on relevant events, seminars and workshops regarding inclusive publishing at this major event.


October 10-14, 2018


Frankfurt, Germany

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Workshop Report: The Production of Natively Accessible Books

logo for the french publishers associationThis post was kindly submitted by Luc Audrain, Head of Digitalization at Hachette Livre and co-chair of the W3C Publishing Business Group.

Inside the Syndicat National de l’Édition (SNE), the French publishers’ association, a technical group “Norms & Standards*” has been formed to work on standardization for the digital world, bringing together publishers, booksellers, the BnF and the Electre and Dilicom companies, to reflect on the implementation of standards which are shared by all.

The group organizes practical workshops aimed at informing SNE members about standardization and monitoring technical developments. In France, EPUB accessibility is taken very seriously by the publishing industry and for the second year running the annual workshop of the N&S group has focused on this subject.

Lead by Luc Audrain, the N&S group held it’s workshop on Thursday 5th of July to provide SNE members further in-depth knowledge of EPUB accessibility.

This year, the group showed that with existing production and validation tools, it is indeed possible to achieve a high level of mainstream accessibility in simple books like novels.

The audience had the opportunity to discover :

  • on which international standards EPUB accessibility is based and which major organizations are involved, like the DAISY Consortium
  • how to practically encode accessibility in EPUB content, following the EPUB Accessibility Techniques 1.0 document
  • How to use Ace by DAISY to avoid evident errors through a live demo
  • How Indesign EPUB3 export can be used and how much work afterwards is necessary to bring the file to pass Ace
  • what training and financial support might be available

Demo of Ace by DAISY showing a perfect score for a file exported from InDesign

This slide shows the perfect technical validity from Ace (Accessibility Checker for EPUB) for this EPUB3 file exported from InDesign. All the steps described in the presentation are also available on the SNE website (in French) at the Norms & Standards page together with group documentation from the day’s event.


As a reminder, the N&S workshop from last year was covered by DAISY in their newsletter:

*Members come from publishing houses and also from the national library (BNF), the Ministry of Culture, booksellers, books in print database, and include a blind EDRLab employee Fernando Pinto da Silva.