EAA Case Study: The Netherlands

European flag with an icon of a typical Dutch house in the middleThe European Accessibility Act has galvanized many European countries and The DAISY Consortium has been pleased to take part in many interesting and collaborative conversations with partners, members and interested parties.

Each country has their own story and their own unique set of experiences in approach to the EAA and we are attempting to capture some of these in our new series of case studies. The more we can share and learn from each other, the better prepared we hope everyone will be.

The Netherlands 

This case study looks at the work undertaken in The Netherlands where we spoke with Hans Beerens from Dedicon, an organization committed to producing content in accessible formats for print disabled readers in this market.  

Awareness of the importance and benefits of accessible publishing appears to be good and Dedicon has close relationships with the trade association, Mediafederatie, which includes GEU for educational publishers and GAU for trade. These 2 represent approximately 80% of the market in The Netherlands. The education market is particularly motivated to provide accessible content to all learners. 

Industry Collaboration to Increase Awareness 

In The Netherlands there have been 2 major projects: TPUB 1 (2018-2019) and TPUB 2 (2021-2022) which have concentrated on born accessible publishing, bringing together the industry for effective and focused collaboration. These projects have served to increase awareness, highlighting the business case and giving publishers a head start. There is significant emphasis placed on collaboration between all interested parties in this market and how to support the publishing community to improve awareness and knowledge. Partners working together on these projects include among others: 

  • Dedicon 
  • KB (National Library)  
  • Vereniging Onbeperkt Lezen 
  • Oogvereniging 
  • VIVIS 
  • Mediafederatie, including GEU and GAU 
  • Accessibility.nl 

Government support for all the work being done has been high and both projects have been funded by the Ministry of Culture and Science but additional funding is needed for the completion of TPUB2.  

International collaboration has also proved to be very beneficial and Dedicon participates in the project SIDPT – Supporting Inclusive Publishing through Training, alongside colleagues from France and Austria. In 2022 the publication of the learning platform Inclusive Publishing in Practice will provide learning modules in Dutch, French, German and English under an open Creative Commons license. 

Starting Small 

Hans highlighted the very real challenge of knowing where to start with accessible publishing. For many, it has proved to be a daunting prospect and one particular outcome of both projects has been to help publishers get started once their awareness had been improved.

photo of the guidance documents produced by the projectDuring the TPUB1 project the focus was on providing 2 short guides to help publishers with quick wins and to give them a place to get started on their accessibility journey. During TPUB2 a third guide was published and a fourth is due in 2022. 

Further Training 

TPUB2 has built on the training and resources provided in the 1st project, with special focus on providing training for trade publishers via online workshops and in-depth sessions on web accessibility and EPUB. Next year the focus will switch to more challenging areas, broadening knowledge and improving confidence. The workshops are provided via https://www.inclusiefpubliceren.nl/workshops and include: 

  • Awareness sessions where a very high percentage of publishing organizations participated 
  • Basic knowledge and skills module. These will be held in Q3 and Q4 2021 starting with a workshop for both educational and trade publishers to introduce publishers to the practical aspects of accessibility and low-hanging fruit. All 24 workshops will be held online and are encouraged to join with at least 2 professionals from their publishing organization.  
  • In-depth knowledge and skills module. Will be held early next year. These will be about more complex aspects of accessibility and more complex guidelines, both for web and EPUB 
  • Module on embedding and organizing. This session will be about how to organize accessibility within an organization. 

Having a Knowledge Base 

During both projects it became important to have a place that everyone can refer to and to store valuable links and resources. Dedicon currently host the site Inclusiefpubliceren.nl which is a joint effort of all the stakeholders and managed by the TPUB2 steering group. This is a knowledge base for Dutch publishers and anyone interested in inclusive publishing.  

Challenges in this Market 

  • The majority of publishers still work with EPUB 2 and an understanding of the opportunities that EPUB 3 offers needs to be improved. 
  • There are many very small publishers in The Netherlands with very specific workflows. Getting them to change these workflows will be challenging. 
  • Metadata: the industry needs to understand what needs to be done in order to meet the legislation and to collaborate in order to share and distribute accessibility metadata. 

Top Tips for Other Publishers on their Accessibility Journey 

  • Practice what you preach! Make accessibility accessible with practical hints and simple step by step guidance 
  • Focus on quick wins to build confidence and get started 
  • Share information with international colleagues to share questions about the EAA and create a knowledge base 

Our thanks to Hans for his collaboration on this case study. If you are interested in the work being done by Dedicon in this area or would be interested in taking part in a similar case study please contact us for further information.  

Resources and Links 

EAA Case Study: Finland

The EU flag with a landmark icon of Helsinki's cathedral placed in the middleThe European Accessibility Act has galvanized many European countries and The DAISY Consortium has been pleased to take part in many interesting and collaborative conversations with partners, members and interested parties.

Each country has their own story and their own unique set of experiences in approach to the EAA and we are attempting to capture some of these in our new series of case studies. The more we can share and learn from each other, the better prepared we hope everyone will be.  

Finland 

First up is Finland, a country with two official languages, Finnish and Swedish, and with a relatively small book market. We had the pleasure of speaking with Miia Kirsi from Celia who are integral to the Finnish approach to the EAA. Celia, the national library for accessible literature and publishing in Finland, works towards equality in reading and learning and belongs to the administrative sector of the Ministry of Education and Culture.  

Publishing houses in Finland tend to be small and, in accordance with the EAA, micro-enterprises are not necessarily required to adhere to the new legislation. The hope is that everyone will make the effort to comply, irrespective of their size.  Audio publishing, and consequently all forms of digital publishing, is experiencing something of a boom in Finland and in 2020 the ebook market represented 4500 titles.  Not bad for a population of just 5 million! 

With regards to accessibility, it is far to say that for many this is still an afterthought in Finland. Education publishers are probably furthest ahead because of accessibility requirements for students. Ironically, trade publishers, for whom the accessibility challenge is arguably the most straightforward, are not doing so well and publishers don’t tend to consider the user experience. 

Stakeholder Platforms and Industry Collaboration 

In Finland, various government ministries are responsible for the implementation of the EAA. To foster collaboration there have been intra-ministerial meetings to which all stakeholders have been invited  

Celia works hard with other stakeholders to address challenges and their close collaboration with The Finnish Publishers Association is particularly important.  On October 6th they are co-hosting a seminar “Accessible Ebooks: From Directive to Practice”. Together, both organizations are actively advocating for EPUB 3 and are looking for ways to provide training in this area.  

Celia also takes part in the Nordic Inclusive Publishing Initiative (NIPI) which meets twice a month to share information. The group has members from all five Nordic countries and organized an online accessibility conference Include! in November 2020. There are plans for another conference focusing on Inclusive Publishing for Spring 2023. 

Pilot Project to Assess Digital Files 

Of the 4500 digital titles produced in Finland annually, the majority are produced in EPUB 2 – something which Miia and her team explored during their Accessible EPUBs Pilot this year. The main goals of this project were: 

  • To assess the current accessibility status of EPUB files 
  • To gather information about typical EPUB workflows 
  • To identify risks and weaknesses in the production of accessible content  
  • To identify and develop materials that are needed 

It appears that publishers are not tending to specify EPUB 3 – many are used to working with print-based workflow models so aren’t inclined to change. That being said, many of the files that were examined for this project did include accessibility features and were more accessible than expected. All had some semantic markup and many of them included a Table of Contents. They weren’t “accessible” per se but a move towards EPUB 3 could hail great improvements.  

Other areas that need attention are: 

  • The use of accessibility metadata 
  • XHTML files need improving – correct use of language tags etc 
  • Inclusion of alt text 

What is apparent from this project is that the publishing industry in Finland still looks to the print version first with the digital version being an afterthought. Digital files are not given the same level of scrutiny as print PDFs are given. 

Challenges in this Market 

  • Post-production work for InDesign files needs attention 
  • Responsibility: everyone needs to take an element of responsibility throughout the publishing workflow 
  • Knowledge and Awareness needs improving  
  • Understanding of Tools and Solutions  

Implementation Plans and Resources 

The government has prepared an implementation plan: The National Implementation of the Accessibility Directive for Products and Services (provided here in Swedish for easier translation). This is an ongoing project looking at all areas of implementation within the Finnish market. 

The Finnish Publishers Association and Celia plan to collaborate on various fronts to help the publishing industry prepare for the requirements of the EAA, to find reliable resources and obtain information about accessible publishing in Finnish or Swedish, all to be made available on a website that will point users to the correct path. 

Top Tips for Other Publishers on their Accessibility Journey 

  • Use InDesign more effectively!  
  • Educate all departments within a publishing workflow about the role they need to play. 
  • Not all areas can necessarily be outsourced – awareness about accessibility needs to be addressed in-house also.
  • Metadata needs early attention and training for in-house staff on the importance of accessibility metadata is vital. 

Our thanks to Miia for her collaboration on this case study. If you are interested in the work being done by Celia in this area or would be interested in taking part in a similar case study please contact us for further information.  

Resources and Links 

Creating and Reading Accessible Math (W)

Creating and Reading Accessible Math title slideIn our series of free weekly webinars October 20th saw a session focused on accessible math and some of the complexities surrounding the creation and reading of math for students.

This page contains:

Full Video of the Webinar

Speakers

  • Stacy Scott, RNIB, host and chair
  • Richard Orme, The DAISY Consortium
  • Joseph Polizzotto, Wake Technical Community College
  • Neil Soiffer, Talking Cat Software
  • Homiyar Mobedji, Benetech

Session Overview

Stacy Scott introduced this week’s session explaining that the presentation would remove some of the complexities surrounding the creation of accessible math by talking us through the workflow required and showing us via demos and examples that accessible math is achievable and relatively straightforward. Support for accessible math has improved greatly over recent years and it’s exciting to be able to show our audience some of the new methods, tools and solutions in this area.

Page Image

Neil Soiffer gave us a quick run through of the various math formats that are in existence and Joseph Polizzotto then explained where to start if the math in question isn’t available in one of these specific math formats and is appearing as an inaccessible image. OCR can help in this situation and there are various options here depending on your role and the scale of work involved eg. EquatIO, MathPix and Infty Reader. OCR can either be used on the fly for individual math expressions or it can be used to convert an entire document and Joseph talked us through the pros and cons of each tool in these scenarios, ending with an example of EquatIO in action.

Editing Math Equations in Word

Richard Orme discussed the next stage in a math workflow now that the math expression is in a word document but may require some editing. Currently there are 2 options here: the Microsoft Equation Editor, a built in method with various options available for editing math expressions, and MathType, a powerful equation editor with lots of different integrations (and relatively affordable).

From Word to the Web

There are three routes to publishing your word document on the web:

  • Word-Save as web page
  • MathType-Publish as math page
  • WordToEPUB-creates an HTML version

Reading Math on the Web and with a Screen Reader

Joseph explained that in an educational environment, the Learning Management System provides a way to share contents with students. All institutions are different but it has become recommended best practice to use MathJax to render math in all types of browsers and LMS. MathJax provides consistent display and ensures that the math remains accessible. Joseph’s top tips are worth noting alongside the demo of math being rendered in the LMS, Blackboard. Neil talked the audience through the finer details of how to read math using a screen reader showing us examples and demos that highlighted some of the options and choices that the reader has available to them.

Related Resources

Tools mentioned in the webinar:

Discover the other webinars we’re running!

Congratulations to ABC Excellence Awards Winners 2021

Many congratulations to the winners of the Accessible Books Consortium International Excellence Awards for Accessible Publishing, announced today at The Frankfurt Book Fair event Accessibility Now.

The awards are divided into 2 categories with an impressive set of finalists for each.

Publisher Award Winner: Taylor and Francis, UK

Brianna Walker accepted this award informing us that this award “represents 2 years of dedicated work” at Taylor and Francis who impressed the selection panel with their innovative approach to alt text, a key element to accessibility of their published content.

Congratulations also go to the other finalists in this category:

  • House of Anansi (Canada)
  • University of Michigan Press (USA)

Initiative Award Winner: National Network for Equitable Library Services, Canada

Daniella Levy-Pinto spoke to us about how this award motivates the work being done by NNELS in Canada who organize the annual accessibility summit in Canada, pushing for meaningful change at the publisher and reader level. NNELS is an Inclusive Publisher Partner of The DAISY Consortium and we are proud to collaborate with them.

Congratulations to the other finalists in this category:

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

Nominees were judged on the criteria of outstanding leadership or achievements in improving the accessibility of ebooks or other digital publications for persons who are print disabled.

EPUB Accessibility 101 (W)

EPUB Accessibility 101 Title SlideIn our series of free weekly webinars October 6th saw a session focused on EPUB Accessibility. Our speakers showed everyone what happens under the hood of an EPUB file to support accessibility and managed to demystify some of the technicalities surrounding EPUB.

This page contains:

Full Video of the Webinar

 

Speakers

  • Richard Orme, The DAISY Consortium—host and chair
  • Rachel Comerford, Macmillan Learning
  • Tzviya Siegman, J. Wiley and Sons

Session Overview

What is EPUB? The Basics

Rachel Comerford took us through some of the “acronym soup” that makes up an EPUB file, namely:

  • Mimetype – which tells the reading system being used that this is an EPUB file
  • META-INF – which points to the file and allows the reading system to find it
  • OEPS-OPS – containing the content and everything needed to display that content (including the CSS which describes how the book should look)

What is EPUB? Focus on HTML

The text of an EPUB publication is written in HyperText Mark-Up Language (HTML) and Tzviya Siegman explained to us the importance for accessibility of the native semantic elements that can be conveyed within the HTML. Every element in the HTML mark-up contains a meaning and greatly assists with content navigation and order of reading layout.

What is EPUB? Focus on DPUB-ARIA and epub:type

Sometimes content is more complex than the available HTML elements can cope with and Accessible Rich Internet Applications (ARIA) provide another way of applying semantic meaning to content i.e. it describes a content component to the reader. DPUB-ARIA specifically maps to the epub:type vocabulary for EPUB content.

Navigating EPUBS

Rachel explained that all EPUB packages contain a navigation document (within the OPF file) from which the Table of Contents (TOC) is generated. The TOC is crucial for accessibility and together with headings, it generally echoes the familiar structure of printed content.

Links are also valuable for accessibility and it’s important to choose a reading system that exposes internal and external links to the reader.

The Value of EPUB Metadata

Also found in the OPF file, EPUB metadata provides information about the accessibility features and potential limitations of the content. Rachel urged us all to make as much use of metadata features as possible, not least via The Accessibility Summary section where the publisher can provide specific information for readers in a non-technical way. See the slide deck attached to this overview for a terrific example of this type of summary provided by Macmillan Learning.

Related Resources

Discover the other webinars we’re running!