DAISY Consortium Announcement: User Experience Guide for Displaying Accessibility Metadata

Logo for the publishing community group at W3C

The Publishing Community Group at W3C has announced the release of the report, A User Experience Guide for Accessibility Metadata this week and we welcome this additional resource for the publishing industry. Staff at The DAISY Consortium were integral to the development of these guidelines with Avneesh Singh, DAISY COO, leading the accessibility task force.

Written and designed to be used by all areas of the publishing workflow at any technical level, this guide neatly explains the absolute need for accessibility metadata and why it is so important for readers who may have accessibility requirements. Gregorio Pellegrino (The LIA Foundation), co-editor of the guide makes the point:

On one hand more and more digital publications are published natively accessible, on the other hand more and more local legislations require to inform the user about the accessibility features of publishing products (before buying or borrowing an ebook). For this reason it becomes more and more strategic to show the accessibility metadata: the risk is that each platform displays the information in a different way. These documents are meant to be a starting point to offer the end user the information in a user-friendly and consistent way across different vendors.

Carefully differentiating between the metadata that you might find within an EPUB package and the metadata that accompanies the book, the ONIX, the guide gives clear examples and technical instructions for both, helping the metadata provider standardize their approach.

Metadata found either inside a digital publication or in the corresponding external record may have important accessibility information that will help end users find and determine if this publication can meet their specific accessibility needs.

The report has 2 parts: Principles and Techniques which will be of enormous help to distributors and libraries alike as they endeavour to make accessible content discoverable as well as readers themselves as they search for content that suits their requirements. We are excited to see how accessibility metadata within the industry improves as these guidelines are adopted.

Charles La Pierre (Benetech), co-editor of this report comments:

Over four years ago the EPUB Accessibility 1.0 Conformance and Discovery Requirements for EPUB Publications specification was created, and now we close the loop on the ability to “discover” these conformant EPUBs. The release of this guide marks an important milestone in the discovery of certified accessible books, and I am thrilled be a part of this effort to aid libraries and bookstores on how to display this very technical information in a user-friendly way.

Congratulations to everyone involved in the development of the guidelines!


The following links will take you to the report and other resources which we recommend:

Ways People with Print Disabilities Read (W)

Title slide for Ways People with Print Disabilities Read webinar

In our series of free weekly webinars September 22nd saw a session focused on user experience and how people with print disabilities read and the common challenges people encounter. 

This page contains:

Full Video of the Webinar


  • Richard Orme, The DAISY Consortium—host and chair
  • Joseph Polizzotto, Wake Technical Community College
  • Robin Spinks, RNIB
  • Amy Salmon, Accessibility Expert

Session Overview

Richard Orme introduced the session and explained that today we would be concentrating on 3 types of print disability: learning difficulties, low vision and blindness.

Reading with Learning Disabilities

Joseph Polizzotto is an accessibility technologist with many years of experience assisting learners and staff in education. This has given him a unique insight into what it is like to read with a print disability, with the following comments typical of students with learning disabilities:

  • “I spend over 6 hours to read one chapter.”​
  • “I don’t remember anything that I have read.”​
  • “I totally missed the word *not* and inferred the opposite meaning of the author.”​
  • “I have to work much harder than others.”​
  • “I know a lot more than I can demonstrate.”​

A learning disability is a neuro-developmental condition that interferes with learning basic skills such as reading, writing or math and it is key for students to be able to develop reading strategies to cope with the challenges of learning.

Reading strategies are at the core of coping

Strategies such as question asking (SQ3R method), note taking, colour coding and creating patterns within the text all serve to simplify the task.

In addition to these Joseph highlighted some other techniques which encourage learning and retention of information for students:

  • Memorization to help with long term storage of information (apps like Quizlet have flashcard tools)
  • Mind Mapping also help with retention and breaks information down into well organized chunks
  • Screen Masking helps to avoid the distraction that surrounding text can create
  • Text Adjustments help provide the optimum environment (font, text size, line spacing)
  • Read Aloud helps learners stay focused and this is particularly useful with complex content
  • Audio using human narration

Reading with Low Vision

Robin Spinks is an accessibility expert and reader with low vision. Common challenges that people with low vision encounter include:

  • Focusing on text (acuity)​
  • Reduced contrast sensitivity​
  • Glare (photo sensitivity/photophobia)​
  • Reduced field of vision​
  • Sensitivity to movement​
  • Perceptual differences​
  • Visual fatigue and changing vision​
  • Contextual factors​

He presented a very revealing set of images giving us a glimpse which emulate what is like to read with a variety of conditions (cataracts, glaucoma, retinitis pigmentosa, diabetic retinopathy and macular degeneration).

Readers with low vision may wish to take advantage of the following features to improve the reading experience:

  • Adjust font size​
  • Choice of fonts​
  • Color modifications​
  • Line spacing adjustments​
  • Read aloud or Speak Screen ​
  • Combining strategies for low vision reading

combining these with some of the more specific usability features available with particular platforms

Reading without Vision

Amy Salmon is an accessibility expert and legally blind. She began her presentation by explaining that many readers who are legally blind are not necessarily completely without all vision.

Many readers without functional vision choose to read with a screen reader. These are software applications that convert information typically conveyed on screen into audio using text to speech, and many screen readers also support braille displays.

In a recorded video George Kerscher gave us a demo of the NVDA screen reader on the Thorium ebook reader, showing some of the basic controls which allow access to content and navigation within the document.

Refreshable braille displays can be used in conjunction with a screen reader to show braille characters typically using an electro-mechanical device to raise pins creating braille cells creating letters and words.

In order to make sure that content can be properly navigated by a screen reader and refreshable braille display its essential that digital content is correctly structured and includes:

  • Table of Contents​
  • Headings​
  • Descriptive images and links​
  • Tables which are correctly formatted​
  • Lists​
  • Video with audio descriptive/transcript​
  • Metadata including document language​

Inclusion of these elements vastly improves the reading experience for people without vision.

Related Resources

Discover the other webinars we’re running!

Ways People with Print Disabilities Read: Webinar

This free DAISY webinar will bring alive the practical experiences of people with print disabilities, exploring how accessible reading works in the real world for people including those with dyslexia, low vision and blindness. What are the essential features enjoyed by students with learning disabilities? How does someone with low vision read an eBook on a smartphone? What strategies are useful to someone who relies on a screen reader as they start out with a textbook? Expect illuminating demonstrations, engaging personal experiences and a fascinating question and answer session.”

This webinar is especially relevant for:
– Anyone interested in how accessibility works in practice
– Practitioners and policy makers in publishing
– Educators and people supporting learners with accessibility needs


September 22nd 2021



Learn More

The webinar registration page provides further information and free registration details

Publishing @W3C September Seminar

The Publishing Community at W3C will present a public educational open meeting which will consist of open discussion with W3C experts, moderated by Tzviya Siegman. Representatives from the W3C’s EPUB 3 Working Group, Publishing Business and Publishing Community Groups, as well as Web Accessibility Content Guidelines 3.0 Working Group have pre-recorded video presentations for viewing in advance of the webinar. Most of the agenda has a focus on accessibility and this promises to be an exciting and engaging look at all areas of our ecosystem. DAISY’s Avneesh Singh will play an intrinsic role at this event.


September 14th, 2021


Online, free for all to register

Learn More

Details on how to register and how to watch the advance videos are available at the W3C event website.

Finalists Announced for ABC International Excellence Awards 2021

The finalists for the 2021 ABC International Excellence Awards have been announced and we’d like to pass on our congratulations to all candidates who have been shortlisted.

The finalists for the Publisher Category are:

  • House of Anansi (Canada)
  • Taylor and Francis (U.K.)
  • University of Michigan Press (U.S.A.)

The finalists for the Initiative Category are:

  • Dorwina Nowill Foundation for the Blind (Brazil)
  • National Network for Equitable Library Services (Canada)
  • Sao Mai Centre for the Blind (Vietnam)
  • The Interdepartmental Steering Committee for the Promotion of Born Accessible eBooks to People with Disabilities (France)

The winners will be announced at the awards ceremony which will be held at the Frankfurt Book Fair on Wednesday, October 20, 2021. Best of luck to all of these prestigious and worthy candidates!