Anticipating Accessibility Metadata Required by the European Accessibility Act

A compass open on a map to depict the idea of guidance

In 2021 the User Experience Guide for Displaying Accessibility Metadata was created to provide a guide for transforming and displaying machine readable accessibility metadata to end users. This initiative aimed to develop a guidance document for retailers and distributors that prioritizes the most important accessibility metadata for users and explains how to display it in a user-friendly way. Another important goal was to explain how to extract this metadata from different formats, and to harmonize accessibility metadata in various formats. 

Version 2.0

Version 2.0 of the User Experience Guide for Accessibility Metadata has been undergoing significant changes since 1.0 was published in September 2021. The W3C Community Group identified many shortcomings of 1.0 and the current draft addresses these issues.

First, the language expressing accessibility metadata was woefully difficult to communicate in many languages. Secondly, the machine processing of the metadata needed to be at the core of the guidelines. The first working draft of this updated version has been highly anticipated particularly as most publishers are preparing for the commencement of the European Accessibility Act in 2025.

The sections of the guidelines are:

The Principles

The Principles present heigh level information which everybody in publishing should read. It will give publishers a better understanding of the impact that accessibility metadata has in communicating the suitability of their content to everybody. From the Principles you can also reach all other sections, giving the detaill and depth required by more tehchnical departments.

This document presents high-level principles without going into technical issues related to the different metadata standards in the publishing industry.

The Techniques

The Techniques are designed to give software engineers the details they need in a format they will appreciate. In-depth notes are now available to explain how to go about extracting information from metadata standards. The draft identifies the relevant standards as:

  • EPUB Accessibility Metadata
  • ONIX Accessibility Metadata

Texhniques are available that illustrate to developers how to retrieve data to show the information outlined in this document.

Visual Adjustments

The Visual Adjustments subsection in the ONIX is well fleshed out. Publishers should highlight this to their software engineers who will also benefit from the reading the corresponding principles section which will give them the context they need.

Future Inclusions

In the future there will also be an Implementation section which will show static pages of several companies’ implementation of the guidelines as presented to end users.

The Localization section will show all the strings that need to be localized / translated. Localization is much more than a translation because the accessibility terminology differs from one country to another. The user guide will provide a mechanism for organizations to provide their language localization for their nation. It is expected that there will be more than 30 localizations / translations by the end of the year. 

Congratulations to the 4 editors of this working draft:

Charles LaPierre (Benetech), Gregorio Pellegrino (Fondazione LIA), Gautier Chomel (EDRLab ), George Kerscher (DAISY Consortium). Learn more about the work of the  W3C Community and Business Groups.