EAA Case Study: Italy

The EU flag with a Milanese icon in the centreThe 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.

Italy 

This case study looks at the work undertaken in Italy where we spoke with Elisa Molinari from Fondazione LIA, who have been advocating for mainstream accessible content for many years and have worked tirelessly in this space. 

The publishing landscape in Italy is similar to many other European countries where there are some large publishing groups with a long tail of smaller organizations making up the majority of publishing entities. 

LIA tries to reach all of these organizations in their efforts to raise awareness about born accessible publishing. As a result, awareness is good and the LIA catalog of accessible ebooks,  has over 76 imprints and over 28k ebooks within its shelves.  

Fiction and trade publishing has been an easy sell in Italy but it is exciting to see that the education and scholarly market are embracing accessibility also. LIA has seen a huge increase in this type of awareness over the last 2 years with this sector of the market actively seeking consultancy and training for their accessibility journeys. 

Supply Chain Focus 

Central to this work is the focus on the responsibility of all participants in the book supply chain (publishers, distributors, retailers)  who need to react and play their part so that the accessibility workflow is seamless. The distribution of accessibility metadata throughout the process is crucial, allowing users to make autonomous and informed purchases. 

Changes Since the LIA Project Began 

Much has changed since LIA began its work as a project-based initiative over 10 years ago. With so much emphasis on awareness raising within the trade sector it was fantastic that the project began with such a large list being published in EPUB. At this stage though these books were produced in EPUB 2 and, whilst accessibility was good, the recent move to EPUB 3 in this market sector has vastly improved the accessibility of digital content. Mondadori made the move to EPUB 3 a couple of years ago (followed by many others) and this has lead the way for the rest of the industry in Italy with medium and smaller publishers also adopting the highly accessible format. LIA was able to  reassure publishers that this wouldn’t affect device compatibility. The paradigm that still guides LIA’s activities today is to incorporate accessibility into digital mainstream production and distribution channels, thus providing the same titles to everyone, in the same places and in the same times. 

Conformance 

Since the beginning of the project, LIA has offered conformance checking for publishers and all titles in the LIA catalog have undergone this process thanks to VCC (Verification, Conversion and Certification), a platform which checks ebook accessibility in a simple, fast and effective way and manages the workflows of accessible files and metadata with publishers, the Italian ebooks in print catalogue and distributors. VCC includes epubcheck, Ace by DAISY and a manual checking process which digs into the code.  

If an EPUB doesn’t pass the control, a LIA operator sends precise indications about the accessibility problems of the files and highlights how to fix them. Publishers can then re-upload the file so that it can be checked again. 

A Wealth of Training and Resources 

Fondazione LIA has put together many resources and training programs over the years both for the Italian market and for European colleagues who are also getting to grips with the ramifications of the EAA. The LIA website (available in Italian and English) is a hub for the Italian publishing industry and provides links, guidance and resource suggestions for many accessibility areas. 

There are also a variety of training opportunities available, both awareness-based and more technical modules all based on the principles of born accessible publishing. Many organizations have successfully implemented a defined accessibility strategy as a result of these training opportunities.   

These include: 

  • Design for all: usability and accessibility of digital contents 
  • Accessibility legislation: European regulations and international standards 
  • How to produce accessible documents in Word, PDF e EPUB  
  • How to make the most out of InDesign for accessibility 
  • Accessibility of websites, apps and platforms 
  • Programming accessible content in HTML5 
  • How create alternative descriptions for the images 
  • Metadata to describe accessibility features. 

To promote the culture of accessibility, LIA has developed the event format, Reading in the Dark®, which even after 100 iterations, continues to arouse huge interest and wonderful reactions.  

Industry Collaboration 

LIA convenes industry stakeholders in Italy and this steering group includes: The Italian Publishers Association, the Italian Blind Union, over 17 publishers and the Italian Dyslexic Association. A large annual meeting of this group is interspersed with smaller technical updates and gatherings. 

Many events are organised throughout the year in Italy and in conjunction with European book fairs and events, via the framework of the European project ALDUS UP.  

Challenges in this Market 

  • Backlist concerns many publishers wondering exactly what is expected of them 
  • How to quantify what is a “disproportionate burden” is also linked closely to the backlist 
  • Image description and the specialist knowledge that it required in this area remains a challenge 
  • Metadata: making sure that every part of the supply chain displays accessibility metadata – retailers websites, reading solutions; 

Top Tips for Other Publishers on their Accessibility Journey 

  • Just get started! Accessibility is a journey but you will find your own way and it’s not as daunting as you may think. The biggest step is the first one! 
  • Keep momentum going in your market by holding awareness.  
  • Explain to colleagues that an accessible ebook is a better ebook for all readers 

Our thanks to Elisa for her collaboration on this case-study. If you are interested in the work being done by Fondazione LIA 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 Editing Accessible EPUB (W)

Title slide: Creating and Editing Accessible EPUBIn our series of free weekly webinars November 17th saw a session focused on “Creating and Editing Accessible EPUB”. This webinar follows our previous session on Validating and Conformance Checking EPUBs.

This page contains:

Full Video of the Webinar

Speakers

  • Dawn Evans, AccessText Network—host and chair
  • Richard Orme, DAISY Consortium
  • Amit Verma, InDesign Trainer
  • Marianne Gulstad, Publizon

Session Overview

Dawn Evans introduced today’s session by explaining how the panel of experts would guide us through a journey from content creation in mainstream tools and conversion processes, to how the resulting EPUB can be edited and amended to deliver accessible content for use by anyone.

Workflow Options for Accessible EPUB

InDesign

Amit discussed how to produce accessible content using InDesign:

  • Why and When to Use InDesign. InDesign is used by content creators to produce both print and digital publications. Once you have converted your InDesign file to EPUB there are a number of modifications that can be made to improve the overall accessibility of the content.
  • How to Use Accessible EPUBs with InDesign. Very often we hear that InDesign does not produce good EPUB files but if certain steps are followed, much of this can be avoided: use well-defined styles, anchor the images at the correct places, add ALT text to images and define the layout order using the story or articles panel, generate a well-defined TOC, insert chapter breaks and last but not least, making sure that the content structure is well defined with the correct HTML mapping headings. Watch the webinar recording to see examples of these.
  • InDesign + Circular Software. At this point in the webinar, Richard Orme conducted a brief interview with Ken Jones, Founder and Director of Circular Software to hear what he has been working on to make this process easier. The “no code accessibility” tools that Circular software has developed assist with the export of InDesign to accessible EPUB, making this a much easier process for users.

PressBooks, Hederis: Web-Based Services

Richard talked us through both of these platforms, with consideration given to the accessibility support offered and how he found the experience. Both platforms fared well in his assessments and it’s worth checking out both in the recording or transcript for details.

Google Docs, Apple Pages, Word: Word Processing Options

Richard discussed these options and the accessibility support they offer, emphasizing that in all cases it is vital to start with a well-structured document. Google Docs offers a “nearly valid” EPUB with some limitations which were outlined. Sadly an EPUB generated from Google Docs is not really fit for purpose in terms of accessibility.

Using Apple Pages resulted in “valid” EPUB. There are some missing elements but overall it is fairly clean.

And finally, Microsoft Word using WordToEPUB which also produces “valid” EPUB with the option to include many other accessibility features on top of the basic set including being able to integrate quality assurance tools to check accessibility (such as Ace by DAISY).

Editing EPUB to Improve Accessibility

Marianne Gulstad described the two ways to edit EPUBs:

  1. you can unzip the EPUB container and use any editing tool to change the text before using a specialist tool to rezip the EPUB archive.
  2. or you make life easier and use an EPUB editor. There are a number of EPUB editors that can open, edit and save edits such as Sigil, Calibre, Oxygen, Scrivener, Jutoh and Blue Griffon. Marianne took a close look at Sigil giving lots of examples and demos and showing how this editor can be used to check the EPUB using EPUBCheck.

Related Resources

EPUB testing

InDesign Resources

Web-based EPUB Production Services

Note: many other web-based EPUB conversion and production tools exist, this is not a comprehensive list or an endorsement of these services over others.

GrackleDocs – Google Docs accessibility plugin

Desktop EPUB Production Tools

Useful Sigil Tutorials

Discover the other webinars we’re running!

EAA Case Study: Germany

The European flag with an icon of The Brandenburg Gate in the centerThe 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.

Germany

This case study looks at some of the work underway in Germany where The EAA has already been transposed into national law. We spoke with Dana Minnemann from dzb lesen, the German centre for Accessible Reading, and Kristina Kramer from Börsenverein des Deutschen Buchhandels, the German Publishers and Booksellers Association, 2 organizations who are very connected with their accessible publishing focus. Germany is one of the first countries to produce a text for implementation from the Federal Ministry for Labour and Social Affairs (Bundesministerium für Arbeit und Soziales) 

The publishing landscape in Germany is large and varied with digital publishing seeing something of a boom recently which has helped to turn publisher’s attention towards the accessibility of their digital content. Awareness surrounding accessible publishing has been influenced by the mandatory legislation although many publishers remain unaware about how to implement accessibility within their current workflows and are looking for guidance in this area.  The STM sector is probably the furthest ahead in their accessibility journey but is fair to say that the industry, as a whole feels, a new sense of responsibility. 

In Germany EPUB 3 is used extensively in the trade fiction market and a born accessible content checker is used in conjunction with these files which is an adaptation of the Ace by DAISY EPUB checker. Plans are to switch over to the mainstream Ace checker. The German publishing industry supports and closely follows the work done by FEP and The Lia Foundation in advocating for the use of EPUB 3 and this has helped to build awareness. 

Industry Task Force 

In December 2020 a Task Force was convened to bring together approximately 30 experts who meet every 6-8 weeks to discuss next steps, concepts for seminars, training courses and webinars. The task force concentrates on articulating the needs of each sector and includes participants from each area of publishing together with colleagues from Austria and Switzerland (both German-speaking markets). The task force works on a collaborative approach for all areas of the industry. 

The task force has produced industry documentation in German and these are housed in an accessibility area on the Publishers Association website alongside links to material that has been developed by other international partners. Guidelines such as a checklist for EPUB 3, together with best practice reports will be available on this site. 

The Publishers Association has close connections with international partners such as Federation of European Publishers, the International Publishers Association and the Accessible Books Consortium.  

Challenges Ahead 

For the German market there are a number of challenges that Dana and Kristina foresee in the future: 

  • Funding: dzb lesen and Börsenverein have applied for financial support from the Federal Ministry in order to be able to develop further training and seminars. 
  • The Backlist – questions over how to handle accessibility for legacy content remain and it is currently unclear as to whether publishers will be required to attend to this content and how this might be achieved. Costs surrounding this are also a concern. 
  • The text itself in the EAA directive is, at times, unclear and there are quite a few open questions that exist which may affect the recommendations that the task force are making. In particular, questions over how detailed alt text needs to be for specialist content has caused uncertainty amongst members. Where questions like this arise, the task force tends to refer back to guidance from the DAISY Consortium. 
  • Awareness around accessibility in the workflow and how to cater to the many different types of workflow that are utilized will be a challenge moving forward, but the task force are tackling this. 
  • Metadata and what exactly needs to be filled in by the publisher  

Final Thoughts for Other Publishers 

The time is golden right now 

Kristina urged all publishers to seize the moment and to treat the EAA has a huge opportunity for change 

Both organizations involved in this case study have commented that their collaboration and connection in this project has been fundamental for the successful implementation of the EAA in this market.  

Our thanks to Dana and Kristina for their collaboration on this case-study. If you are interested in the work being done in the German market or would be interested in taking part in a similar case-study please contact us for further information.   

Resources and Links 

Circular Software Launches New Accessibility Tools

UK company, Circular Software, has announced the launch of new tools as part of their range of software to help with the creation of accessible InDesign files. Use of this software is free of charge and offers a “no code” approach for users.

Read the recently published article by Ken Jones, Director of Circular Software

Ask The Accessibility Experts: Send Us Your Questions!

The DAISY webinar series has been a huge success and our final webinar of 2021 on December 15 will be a special “Ask The Accessibility Experts” session to give you the opportunity to ask our assembled team of experts any outstanding questions you may have.

You are welcome to bring your questions to the webinar itself but to help us organize questions into themes, and to ensure we have the appropriate experts on hand, we encourage you to send them in advance to: webinars@daisy.org. Questions on all aspects of accessible reading and publishing are welcome. You can expect this session to cover a broad range of topics and we look forward to hearing from you.

To register for this event:
https://us02web.zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_Lvcn7hLtTd6674d9LQlw8w

Validating and Conformance of EPUB (W)

Title slide: Validating and Conformance Checking EPUB
In our series of free weekly webinars November 3rd saw a session focused on the validation and conformance of EPUB content. When using the EPUB format a few simple steps can help highlight any issues and guide you on the path to creating more usable and accessible content.

This page contains:

Full Video of the Webinar

Speakers

  • Richard Orme, DAISY Consortium—host and chair
  • George Kerscher, DAISY Consortium
  • James Yanchak, Taylor and Francis
  • Charles La Pierre, Benetech

Session Overview

Richard Orme introduced this session explaining that it’s not enough to create content in any format and simply hope it works on reading systems and that it can deliver accessibility. The three experts presenting this webinar looked at validating EPUB from their perspective angles.

What Is An Accessible EPUB?

Many publishers have switched to EPUB as their format of choice for their digital content workflow but, despite it being the format which offers the greatest opportunity for accessibility, some have missed the mark. By failing to include a table of contents, for example, or by not having a clear reading order, EPUB content was often disappointingly lacking in accessibility support. For an EPUB file to be accessible, the publisher must make the most of the features that the format offers.

An understanding of this together with knowledge of the legal requirements in your market are a good place to start an accessibility journey. Add to this an alignment with publishing and web standards and some technical research to provide a base of knowledge and publishers should be in a position to make the most of their EPUB workflow.

3rd Party Certification

Having a 3rd party certify your accessible content helps the publisher to navigate the standards and specifications and Charles La Pierre talked us through the Benetech Scheme, Global Certified Accessible (GCA), outlining the process required for a publisher to be certified. A score is attached and for content to be certified as Born Accessible, 80% is needed.

Developing Internal Standards

Internal standards help the publisher to narrow the technical landscape and make it relevant to their specific workflow. James Yanchak described how this is achieved at Taylor and Francis and explained how this has helped them to reach their accessibility goals. Any internal standard must adhere to the industry standard and it’s vital that training is offered to both in-house colleagues and external vendors.

Validating the EPUB

There are a number of tools which our panel recommended:

  • EPUBCheck – should be one of the first checks and if this is integrated into the workflow using the command line version then it becomes very straightforward.
  • Ace by DAISY – checks conformance of the EPUB to WCAG and offers a command-line version and a desktop version for one-off title checks
  • Ace SMART – to be used in conjunction with Ace and helps the user perform the manual checks that Ace identifies.
  • The DAISY Knowledge Base has been developed to help resolve accessibility issues and is constantly maintained.

All of these stages and checks are important to establish accessibility and “trust” in the end product. A reader needs to be able to trust the accessibility summary and metadata so that they can make the correct purchasing decisions.

Related Resources

Standards

Accessibility Criteria

Tools and Resources

Discover the other webinars we’re running!

Delivering a Beneficial and Accessible User Experience

Image of man using an ereader to access content.Consideration of the User Experience (UX) should be a crucial part of any design team’s road to launch, especially if the goal is to deliver a reading experience that is beneficial to all users. Digital accessibility and usability are vital factors in ensuring that a user can interact with content, delivering the same level of experience to everyone, regardless of their ability.

Being able to deliver a complete, satisfying and inclusive user experience should be integral to your organization’s content strategy where a focus on planning, creation, delivery, and governance of that content is paramount. The overarching benefits of an accessible user experience have significant advantages both for the reader and for your business and you should take action now to ensure that you are doing the right thing for your organization and your customers.

Banks, education institutions, and many other organizations are increasingly prioritizing accessibility initiatives in response to the growing demand for them in the digital space (in addition to legal requirements in many markets). Providing an accessible UX for customers and satisfying all of their access requirements is of the utmost importance.

For many this includes being able to access content with assistive technology (such as a screen reader). Having an understanding of how these technologies affect the UX is a great way to start the transformation of your content into something meaningful, useful for all and accessible.

Business Benefits

There are many business benefits to providing an accessible user experience, not least that it’s the right thing to do. These include:

  • Connecting with a larger audience. Approximately one billion people in the world, or 15% of the world’s population, experience some form of disability. Organizations are able to expand their audience by making sure that their content is accessible to all markets – a sure way for companies to increase profitability, and be able to grow their share of the market too.
  • Minimizing legal risks and ensuring compliance with accessibility standards. There are quite a few laws and regulations in place to address accessibility. Creating an accessible user experience will help an organization meet Section 508, ADA, AODA, WCAG 2.0 and other compliance standards.
  • Strengthening the organization’s brand and creating a strong sense of purpose. Many companies set out to create meaningful connections with their audience via an accessible user experience. This strengthens the company brand and contributes to ESG initiatives, in turn increasing the likelihood of attracting new ethically-driven users.

Companies looking to create accessible digital communications or documents can utilize solutions that convert content into an accessible format for those with disabilities, enabling access to content with feature parity.

Transforming the UX

There are a number of areas to consider in order to improve the UX you are delivering, not least making sure that your content is well structured and discoverable. Content that has a meaningful structure allows for full navigation and this, like many accessibility features, benefits all readers and gives everyone a richer experience. Users who rely on assistive technology to access content need a clear navigable structure that screen readers and other technologies can make sense of.

Treatment of images within the content is also crucial to the UX and supplying relevant alt text to accompany graphics will mean that print-disabled readers can learn and experience the image in the same way as everyone else. Your treatment of images and richer content will define how accessible your content is and whether the UX delivers.

These are just two areas that need consideration when thinking about delivering an accessible UX. InclusiveDocs has developed an innovative approach to delivering a complete user experience, offering a streamlined, cost-efficient alternative to manual remediation processes. The AI technology within the platform helps to build models adapted from the content, resulting in automated workflows, significant cost savings, and a consistent user experience. Accessibility feature options allow readers to display or access information specific to their user requirements.​

Transforming the UX allows organizations to reach their entire audience.

This article was prepared in collaboration with InclusiveDocs. InclusiveDocs offers conversion solutions for multiple forms of accessible documents, including EPUB and HTML, with added features such as text-to-speech. End-users can access content from any device connected to the internet, or read offline via fully accessible EPUBs. This solution is suitable for all organizations that publish digital content and want to make it accessible to all members of their audience.

As an Inclusive Publishing Partner of the DAISY Consortium, InclusiveDocs is helping to support our work to progress accessibility in all aspects of digital publishing and reading.