Understanding Accessibility in EPUB with Bookmachine

May 7th, 2020

This online presentation is aimed at digital publishing professionals wanting to improve their publishing practices using EPUB in 2020. Run in three parts this online course explains the methods, techniques and recommended software and services to use in adding rich accessibility to EPUBs.


May 7, 14 & 21, 2020



Learn More

Registration and further course details are available from the Bookmachine event page

Free Webinar: Accessibility at Apple

May 27th, 2020

The DAISY Consortium has announced the launch of a series of free weekly webinars on accessible publishing and reading in response to the multiple challenges being faced by conferences around the world due to Coronavirus, as well as feedback from the wider DAISY community expressing interest in online training resources.

Today your most important assistive device is likely the iPhone or other smartphone you carry around with you in your pocket, rather than the bespoke, costly, and clinical types of equipment that pervaded accessibility in the past.
Apple has been at the forefront of this accessible technology revolution. When it comes to accessible reading, the massive popularity of iPhone and iPad has resulted in materials produced by both mainstream publishers and specialist organizations being accessed primarily using popular consumer devices.
This session will highlight what drives the accessibility product innovations from Apple. It will feature practical examples of how they are utilized by people with varying needs all around the world, and Apple’s goal of breaking through the challenges and barriers of the past.


May 27, 2020


Live online via Zoom or via the DAISY YouTube channel afterwards

Learn More

Sign up for the May 27th webinar

For information on the whole DAISY webinar series on offer you can register your interest on the Webinar Information Page

Free Webinar: Leveraging InDesign for Accessible EPUB Creation

May 20th, 2020

The DAISY Consortium has announced the launch of a series of free weekly webinars on accessible publishing and reading in response to the multiple challenges being faced by conferences around the world due to Coronavirus, as well as feedback from the wider DAISY community expressing interest in online training resources.

If InDesign is part of your book production toolchain, then this webinar is for you. In it you will learn a set of tips and tricks for tricking InDesign into giving you cleaner, more accessible reflowable EPUB output. Some are simple typesetting tips to keep print and digital aligned, others are deeper ways to get more semantic HTML.


May 20, 2020


Online via Zoom or via the DAISY YouTube channel afterwards

Learn More

Sign up for the May 20th webinar

For information on the whole DAISY webinar series on offer you can register your interest on the Webinar Information Page

Making Sense of It All—Ebook Legislation and Policy Where You Are

Understanding the legal framework within your own publishing market is crucial if you are going to successfully deliver born accessible content to all of your readers. It gives you the basis around which to develop an accessible publishing policy and business plan for your entire organization and for your interactions with 3rd party suppliers, vendors and partners.

We’ve tried to put together a list of some of the main considerations for a variety of international markets and we welcome updates and information on these and other global markets. There are indeed some international considerations and resources that you need to take into account and we’ve listed these at the beginning so that you can look at these alongside legislation particular to your geographical location. These include:

  • In a global context, the best strategy to increase your international accessibility compliance is to understand and follow the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.0 and Article 9 of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CPRD).
  • Many countries have signed and ratified The Marrakesh Treaty within their markets . This treaty is the first international Copyright Treaty focusing on exceptions.
  • EPUB Accessibility 1.0 Specification
  • ISO 300-71  (2019) extends BS8878  providing a code of practice for creating accessible ICT products and service. This is an international process-oriented standard enabling organisations to embed accessibility considerations into their “business as usual” processes.
  • The W3C provides an overview of international considerations for web accessibility.
  • The Accessible Books Consortium provides lots of useful guidance on behalf of WIPO.

Visit our main Ebook Legislation resource page for information on your own country. In addition to having an understanding of what is required of you, you may also like to have further relevant guidance and information at your fingertips so we’ve also listed a number of resources that have originated in your country. It’s worth looking through all these types of resources as many useful pieces of guidance are available from other areas.

This is a developing resource and we’d be very pleased to hear from you and how we can improve the information provided and if you are aware of any updates that we should include, especially details of legislation in countries that we may not have listed. Please contact us.

Nominations for DAISY Award at DBW 2020 now open

Nominations for the Digital Book World 2020 Awards have now begun and we anticipate some exciting nominations for The DAISY Award for Accessibility in Publishing. 

Make sure you’ve submitted your entries by May 29—we want to see as many of you on the list as possible. For information on last year’s finalists and winner see our DBW 2019 Awards article.

This year’s finalists will be announced on August 3rd and the awards ceremony takes place on September 14 at Digital Book World 2020.

Create EPUB Publications from Word with a Simple Tool Anyone Can Use (W)

WordToEPUB webinar opening slideIn our series of free weekly webinars April 15th saw a session focused on the WordToEPUB tool recently developed by The DAISY Consortium. WordToEPUB is free, simple and straightforward method of converting structured Word documents to valid and accessible EPUB files.

This page contains:

Full Video of the Webinar


  • Dawn Evans, Access Text Network—host and chair
  • Richard Orme, DAISY Consortium
  • Joseph Polizzotto, UC Berkeley
  • Erin Williams, Microsoft
  • Prashant Verma, DAISY Consortium

Session Overview

WordToEPUB has been developed to provide a simple, easy to use tool that can convert accessible word documents into fully accessible EPUB files. Richard Orme began by explaining this process, thanking everyone who contributed to this project for their support. There are many situations in which this new tool is already proving invaluable, going beyond the standard publishing workflow—word documents are produced in many environments, commercial, public, government etc etc. The list of use cases for which WordToEPUB is relevant is long!

There are many use cases that require simple, practical workflows for creating accessible and flexible materials

Erin Williams, from Microsoft, spoke about the support that MS has for this new tool and how it is in harmony with the accessibility checker that MS Word already has built-in. This checker assesses the accessibility of word documents—success at this stage is vital. WordToEPUB can’t invent accessibility features so the the accessibility of the original word document is very important.

The design goals of the WordToEPUB tool include: straightforward and accessible installation, simple usage, different language support, extensible as users need. Richard Orme then demonstrated how these goals have been met with a live demo which you can see on the webinar recording.

Joseph and Prashant both discussed use cases in academic environments and environments with low resources and basic skill levels. WordToEPUB has been quickly adopted by many organizations already, proving that:

With a structured and accessible document, making a great EPUB from Word is now simple and accessible

Related Resources



Making Content Accessible: How Can Publishers and Libraries Better Satisfy the Obligation?

May 13th, 2020

Institutions of higher education (IHEs) have a legal and moral obligation to support the information needs of those in their community. They are required to provide access to information resources that are as close as possible to those resources provided to individuals who do not experience those impairments. But what goes into making an ebook, a textbook, or other course materials fully accessible? This virtual NISO event will bring together stakeholders to discuss current efforts made to ensure that all content is accessible and the challenges still to be overcome.

Speakers include:

  • Violaine Iglesias, CEO & Co-founder, Cadmore Media
  • Jamie Axelrod, Director, Disability Resources, Northern Arizona University
  • Kara Kroes Li, Director of Product Management, EBSCO
  • Rachel Comerford, Senior Director of Content Standards and Accessibility, Macmillan Learning
  • George Kerscher, Chief Innovations Officer, DAISY Consortium
  • Michael Johnson, Director, Content Partnerships, Benetech


May 13, 2020



Learn More

The NISO Events page for this conference includes registration and ticket details

Free Webinar: Easy Access to Books and Articles Through a Smart Speaker

May 13th, 2020

The DAISY Consortium has announced the launch of a series of free weekly webinars on accessible publishing and reading in response to the multiple challenges being faced by conferences around the world due to Coronavirus, as well as feedback from the wider DAISY community expressing interest in online training resources.

Nearly a quarter of Americans own at least one voice activated smart speaker, and they are increasingly popular in other countries. How can these easy to use devices with their intelligent assistants help with access to reading books and articles? This webinar will explain the accessibility features of Amazon Echo and Google Assistant, and present case studies of their application for people with print impairments. As well as exploring the technical aspects of configuring such services, we will review user feedback and acceptability of the experiences.


May 13th, 2020 at 3pm UTC


Live online via Zoom or via the DAISY YouTube channel afterwards

Learn More

Sign up for the May 13th webinar

For information on the whole DAISY webinar series on offer you can register your interest on the Webinar Information Page

Publishers Faceoff to Prove the Accessibility of their Titles (W)

Publisher Faceoff opening slide

In our series of free weekly webinars April 8th saw a session comparing the accessibility of EPUB titles produced by a range of education publishers.
Publishers are now being required to demonstrate their accessibility claims. It is no longer acceptable to simply say that your products are accessible without proving it. Eighty percent of Higher Education publications come from five big publishers. With the rise of EPUB 3 as the dominant format in publishing, we can now demand Born Accessible materials from all publishers. Now publishers are making accessibility claims, but what is really inside the cover?

This page contains:

Full Video of the Webinar


  • Richard Orme, DAISY Consortium—host and chair
  • George Kerscher, DAISY Consortium—panellist
  • Charles La-Pierre, Benetech—panellist
  • Joseph Polizzotto, UC Berkeley—panellist
  • Rachel Comerford, Macmillan Learning—publisher (Rachel.Comerford@macmillan.com webaccessibility@macmillan.com)
  • Martin Klopstock, Kogan-Page—publisher (accessibility@koganpage.com)
  • Evan Yamanishi, W.W. Norton—publisher (accessibility@wwnorton.com)
  • Ben Schroeter, Pearson—publisher (disability.support@pearson.com)
  • Christina Volpe, John Wiley—publisher (permissions@wiley.com)

Session Overview

This webinar was based on a session scheduled for the CSUN Assistive Technology Conference this year and it was great to have such wide, international interest in the work of these fine publishers. The premise behind the activities discussed here allowed for much collaboration between our “competing” publishers and this sharing of knowledge has led to some great improvements already being actioned.

The 3 members of the panel discussed content from each publisher taking part in the session: Charles gave a brief review from a GCA standpoint with George commenting on what works particularly well for him as a reader. Joseph then highlighted specific features within each title which make for an improved reading experience for students.

Based upon comments and suggestions each publisher was invited to respond to the critique of their EPUB. There were many questions at the end of the session which we didn’t have time to cover and you can find these listed at the end of this article with answers from our panellists and publishers.


Further Questions and Answers

Some questions were asked in the webinar which we didn’t have time to respond to in the session. Questions and answers are listed below.

Q1: How many titles were reviewed per publisher and how was the sample chosen? Was it a random sample or did the publishers submit specific titles for review?

A1: One title each was reviewed for each publisher. Publishers selected a title that best represented their overall publishing standards to give reviewers a sense of their accessibility philosophy.

Q2: There are a lot of good ideas regarding UX here and the improvements identified. Would the DAISY Consortium/Benetech be willing to share a full compilation of best practice ideas, with examples, for UX design in EPUBs, based on the audit of publisher files? Effectively, a guide to best designed EPUBs.

A2: There are a number of wonderful (free!) resources available for EPUB best practices that publishers and others can use to get started. Among them are:

More work on best practices is taking place at the W3C in the EPUB 3 Community Group, and these will be published.

Q3: Cengage is not one of the publishers included here. Have you tested Cengage textbooks? If not, will you in the future? They’re making a big push at my institution, and I have heard that their textbooks (and platforms) are not very accessible.

A3: We wouldn’t exclude testing a Cengage EPUB file, if they want to participate if/when we do this again in the future.  But there are thousands of publishers and due to time constraints and just doing five publishers is a huge investment in time and money to go into a very detailed analysis of these books.  Actually GCA has been in contact with Cengage in the past to become a GCA member and we will see how this unfolds as they consider merging with McGraw-Hill, who are currently going through the GCA process to be certified. More accessibility information is available on the Cengage website.

Q4:  Is this Global Certified Accessibility methodology a publicly available VPAT mapped to specific WCAG elements?

A4: The GCA (Global Certified Accessible) program ensures that the EPUB Accessibility 1.0 Conformance and Discovery Specification is met and goes beyond the required WCAG-A conformance required by this specification by requiring WCAG-AA is met along with all EPUB specific conformance and discovery requirements made in that specification.  In addition our GCA program looks at over a dozen areas such as (Images, Lists, Tables, Math, DPUB-ARIA, etc and dives into over 60 specific nuances rating each one some of which may be WCAG aligned, others may be Best practices aligned to improve the overall accessibility beyond WCAG.  That Born Accessible score must be above 80% along with WCAG-AA compliance in order for a publisher’s EPUB workflow to be GCA certified.   We do not have a specific VPAT mapping out our process as I don’t believe this is relevant.  We certify a publisher has met the EPUB Accessibility 1.0 requirements at a WCAG-AA level, anything else above this is a bonus.

Q5: Which of the featured publishers provide accessibility metadata via their ONIX feed (or other method) that reading platforms can display to users?

A5: All of the publishers who participated provide some accessibility metadata within the EPUB files and all are currently or working towards exposing that accessibility metadata.

Q6: Is there a best practice for index linking? If you have a subject index entry link back to one page, it’s relatively easy, but if you mention the same subject entry across 10 pages, is best practice to link only to the first page of all 10 (as a kind of starting point for the subject idea) or to link to the start of each section (say pages 3-5) or to link to each page mention itself (page 3, 4, and 5)?

A6: In the suite of EPUB 3 specifications, there is a section covering the index. Recommended practice is to link to the first page in the range but link both numbers so that the link label is clear that it’s a range. Here’s an example from the indexes spec: <li><a href=”…”>76-79</a></li>

Q7: It appears that testing was done exclusively via Thorium on the front end. Are the strengths and areas of improvement fairly consistent across the backend (JAWS, NVDA, Narrator, etc)?

A7: Interoperability between reading systems and assistive technology will vary. There is also variation in functionality within reading systems. Those variations will impact how effective the accessibility work on the EPUB is. At epubtest.org there is extensive testing of reading systems and with a wide range of Assistive Technologies. When we encounter bugs in reading systems or in the Assistive Technology, we file an issue with the developer.

Q8: Have any other publishers besides Macmillan been certified recently?

A8:  Currently only Macmillan Learning is the only GCA certified Publisher.  We do have 3 Conversion Vendors that are GCA Benetech Recommended including: AMNET, Apex, and Newgen.  There are a couple other publishers who are very close to becoming GCA certified with another half dozen or so going through the process.

Q9:  when you say GCA certified — it’s going beyond ACE with a human review. have the humans received a certification? Or just experience? What makes it GCA certified?

A9: Benetech’s Global Certified Accessible (GCA) program certified goes beyond Ace checking. Ace can only automatically check approximately 25% by machine, which uses the underlying AxE by deque HTML checking engine.  The remainder of the WCAG conformance checking is done manually with human review.  Benetech has been building out our GCA program for the past 3 years where we did a pilot with a dozen publishers and conversion vendors and working with top accessibility experts to ensure that the reports we provide are accurate and map directly with WCAG 2.0 AA and EPUB Accessibility 1.0 Conformance and Discovery requirements which Charles LaPierre was one of the editors of that specification at the IDPF and has since moved to the W3C.  Benetech and DAISY have worked together along with our other Global partners RNIB in the UK, Dedicon in the Netherlands, and Vision Australia to ensure this is truly a Global certification program.  We are also looking to expand our certification into Canada as well. In order for a publisher to become GCA certified they meet the EPUB 1.0 Accessibility Specification at WCAG-AA conformance (not just WCAG-A which is the minimum requirement).  In addition the publisher must score above 80% on our GCA Born Accessible Score where we have over 60 individual areas we report on as part of our process.  We provide the Publisher detailed reports from DAISY’s Ace & SMART along with our Born Accessible scores for each of the areas we identify and score.  In addition we provide a detailed document for each of the issues found either automatically or manually with what was observed, actual code from the EPUB that is in question, along with our recommendation including the code to remediate the issue found.  We also call out what is required to pass certification (ie. any WCAG conformance failure), some strongly suggested issues they fix and finally minor improvements or best practices that can help improve the overall accessibility of the EPUB.  There is no formal certification for those performing the GCA certification; our experience and our partners who were a part of writing the Accessibility 1.0 specification makes us more than qualified.

Note: In addition to Ace by DAISY and the Simple Manual Accessibility Reporting Tool (SMART), the GCA program uses a customized version of SMART to guide them in the process.

Q10: A big issue with Silver / WCAG 3 is the conformance metric.  How easy do you think it might be to adapt your EPUB testing methodology to more generic web content?

A10: Because EPUB3 is composed primarily of web elements – CSS, HTML, etc – the testing methodology for an EPUB is not entirely different from a web page in its current state and the testing we currently do is designed to align to WCAG requirements. The WCAG normally applies to single pages, while our testing covers the entire publication, which is made up of many XHTML documents.

Q11: Are the publishers working on making their online learning platforms accessible to screen readers?  It is very expensive to convert the homework and test files into Braille format. I asked this question due to the several of required textbooks will have an online component.

A11: Depending on the publisher, there is work on either legacy or new platforms taking place to improve the accessibility of online learning platforms. Each publisher can be contacted directly for specific information including their VPAT, the status of their accessibility work, and any accessibility services they may be able to provide. The accessibility of these websites are subject to accessibility laws and regulations and we should be vigilant in monitoring these LMS platforms.

Q12: How are the audited publishers creating Alt Text and Long Descriptions? Is this being outsourced, written by authors or written in-house? I think most publishers struggle with the cost involved in creating image description, so it would be useful to know how publishers have handled this, for successful Alt Text creation?

A12a: Alternative text authoring processing varies between publishers and even between titles at each publisher. When it’s possible, we include the author in the alt text authoring process as they are closest to the content and understand its purpose and content better than anyone else involved in the process. Alternatively, we have also used vendors and/or subject matter experts for this work. Bringing in a third party allows for a valuable outside perspective on the content.

A12b: We use exclusively third-party vendors. The main reason for this is that in our view the writing of alt text and long descriptions is a specialist skill that authors do not necessarily possess. In fact, authors can be ‘too close’ to their images whereas professional alt text writers on the whole seem able to put themselves into the position of the print impaired reader and know what to look out for when they create descriptions. We formed our own view of what might be considered a useful approach to alt text and long descriptions for end users by engaging with a) Benetech’s DIAGRAM Center; b) with the specialist TextBox website, inspecting their carefully calibrated description methodology; c) with a number of vendors offering alt text services and d) a print impaired EPUB expert to whom we showed a number of different alt texts/long descriptions for a selection of images. His feedback was very valuable. We then selected a representative sample of images from our content and generated what we thought would be well structured and clear alt text and long descriptions. We then sent this sample to a number of vendors to see how their alt text / long descriptions compared with ours. Where we preferred theirs, we amended our concept of a useful description. We then selected three vendors whose approach to descriptions was close to ours. The documentation we created to initially brief these vendors can now be used to source additional vendors, if required.

Q13: If these publishers also publish other titles outside of the textbook genre, do they build them in the same manner?

A13a: The process for producing titles may change based on the structure of the content that the publisher is producing.

A13b: We publish Trade/Professional/Textbook content, but there is only a single workflow for all publications. Very specialist publications (e.g. dictionaries, major reference works) might well require separate workflows.

Q14: What kinds of standards are being used for meaningful alt text? Are there standards for publishers to follow?

A14: The DIAGRAM center has been working on how to create meaningful image descriptions and with GCA continue to improve these best practices.  I would recommend you go to http://diagramcenter.org/making-images-accessible.html which links to Poet Image Description Training Tool, DIAGRAM Image Description Guidelines, and Accessible Image Sample Book, along with a few training webinars on Image description best practices.

Q15: What epub authoring tools do you use? Does each publisher have their own proprietary software, or are there any generally available tools they would recommend?

A15: One of our publisher guests writes: We developed our own XHTML schema, online validation tool and CSS and produce all our titles in the same workflow using InDesign. The schema allows us to maintain accessibility features and link them to the structural semantics and CSS. This drives consistency into the end product and ensures that different vendors create highly consistent output. Our vendors all have their own technology stacks and are highly skilled at importing/maintaining/exporting XHTML in their respective InDesign workflows. The key is that our schema and validation tool is used both at the import and export stage of the process. By providing the validation tool, we QA the input and output which allows the vendor a degree of freedom in how they remain schema compliant within their own toolset.”

Note a DAISY webinar on InDesign will be announced soon.

Benetech’s GCA uses a number of tools: “We use Sigil or Calibre to look at the underlying code which also can do editing of the EPUB directly.  For those who do not create EPUBs regularly we would recommend looking at DAISY’s new plugin for Microsoft Word called WordToEPUB which does an excellent job and makes a very accessible EPUB.”

Q16: Is DRM considered an accessibility issue?

A16: DRM can be a barrier to accessibility if done improperly.  Most of the Reading System developers we test at epubtest.org make sure that Assistive Technology works with their reading systems. There is a new proposed ISO approved DRM format called LCP (Licenced Content Protection) which allows assistive technology access to the content.  EDRLab and the Readium 2 project currently supports LCP and more information can be found on the EDRLab website.

Q17: Many of our students have had issues attempting to navigate and use a different  method of accessing audio per publisher.  When each publisher has a different method of offering accessible texts it can be difficult for students to remember the steps for each book, especially student who may have cognitive issues.  We often ask for PDF’s over ePub because we can standardize the use which helps students avoid being overwhelmed.  Thoughts?

A17: I suggest that students should learn an EPUB Reading System really well. The method for going to the Table of contents and following links to the chapters and sections will be the same. There will be variation in the content and how it is structured, but that is the nature of digital publications.

Helping Higher Ed Students with Access to Accessible Course Material During the COVID-19 Crisis (W)

Presentation opening slideThe DAISY Consortium has launched a series of free weekly webinars in response to the many challenges presented by the Covid-19 crisis and to feedback received from our recent Inclusive Publishing survey where our readers asked for more online resources. April 1st saw the launch of this series with the first webinar focusing on solutions for higher education students during this time when their learning is being greatly impacted.

This page contains:

Full Video of the Webinar


  • Richard Orme, CEO DAISY Consortium—host and chair
  • Erin Lucas, Senior Director for Digital Accessibility at RedShelf
  • Rick Johnson, Founder and VP, Product Strategy at VitalSource
  • Stacy Ray, Product Manager at VitalSource

This webinar looked in some detail at the programmes being offered by both organizations to assist students during this period namely RedShelf Responds and VitalSource Helps

RedShelf Responds


  • To ensure that all students have access to their course materials amidst the COVID-19 outbreak, RedShelf have partnered with the publishing community to provide up to 7 free ebooks from participating publishers in the US and Canada.
  • More than 300k titles from 100+ publishers
  • This opportunity is currently set to run through May 25 2020, but if students in Canada have different semester dates and require longer access this will be arranged
  • Available to any student with a .edu student email address and in the case of organizations who use different email suffixes, alternative arrangements will be made
  • Books added to My Shelf feature can be launched within the RedShelf ereader, a browser based reading system with many accessibility features including, Text-to-Speech controls, keyboard shortcuts, screen reader compatability etc.
  • RedShelf have a dedicated accessibility team ready to respond to requests for accommodations and samples


VitalSource Helps


  • VitalSource have made their Bookshelf program available to students, instructors and colleges during the COVID-19 outbreak who may need access in difficult circumstances—at home or elsewhere, both online and offline. Up to 7 titles may be accessed during this time.
  • This opportunity is currently set to run through May 25 2020 in the US, April 30 in Canada and June 30 in the UK and Ireland. If colleges have different semester dates and require longer access this will be arranged
  • Available to any student with a .edu student email address and in the case of organizations who use different email suffixes, alternative arrangements will be made
  • The app can be downloaded for ease of use offline. Native apps are 100% capable of being accessed offline.
  • The VitalSource Bookshelf is a digital learning platform and not simply an ereader (the webinar includes an excellent demo of the levels of navigation possible and the excellent compatability with Assistive Technology)
  • Accessibility features include: screen reader support, visual adjustment modes for various different requirements, read aloud tools  and rich learning tools


Other Takeaways from this Webinar For Inclusive Publishing Readers

  • Both RedShelf and VitalSource work closely with their publishing partners to ensure the highest level of accessibility within the content that they are providing. However if a publisher doesn’t provide alt text or correct links etc then this makes life very difficult. It is incumbent on the publisher to make sure that their ebooks have as many accessibility features as needed within the EPUB 3 set up—Born Accessible in fact.
  • Both organizations run checks on the content they receive and, in some instances, can reject content if particular features have not been incorportated eg – VitalSource will reject at import titles that do not include a Text-to-Speech capability
  • DRM free EPUB files can also be side-loaded into the VitalSource Bookshelf, enabling students to take advantage of a consistent, accessible reading environment.
  • Download the PowerPoint Slide Deck (3.5 MB)
  • Further Webinars in this series