Inspiring Words from Industry Leaders: Interview with Dr Alicia Wise

Dr Alicia Wise, subject of this interviewInclusive Publishing has embarked on a series of interviews with industry leaders and their approach to accessibility. Dr Alicia Wise has been active in championing accessibility and inclusive publishing for nearly 20 years in roles crossing academia and publishing.  These include Jisc, Publishers Licensing Society, Publishers Association, Accessible Books Consortium, and most recently Elsevier.

There are many organisations who are available to help publishers on their accessibility journeys.  …..it is better for all if our industry works to shared standards for inclusive publishing.

Why is inclusive publishing important to you and to publishing organisations? 

I’m motivated by my incredible brother who has dyslexia, and really struggles to read printed text.  Despite this he is a successful artist and businessman, and as he loves story-telling he’s currently working on an illustrated children’s book.  For publishing organisations, inclusive publishing is important because it expands your potential market and offers the potential to delight and engage a wider audience.

Do you have a top tip for others new to accessibility?

Perfection is the enemy of the good.  Don’t feel you need to make all your books perfectly accessible in one step.  Get started on the journey, and keep this end goal in sight.

What do you wish you knew about accessibility 5 or 10 years ago?

I wish I had understood how very difficult it can be to engage supply chain partners, and particularly book retailers, in adopting accessible web practices.  If more were to do so, accessible books would be more easily discoverable by people who would like to buy them.

What do you think the biggest game changer for inclusive publishing will be in the next few years? 

More publishers using the EPUB format for their digital publishing, and more publishers including information about the accessibility features of their products in their marketing materials.

For those still on the fence, why should they consider accessibility? 

Do you sell any books to organisations – businesses, libraries, schools, universities? If so, you’ll increasingly find requirements for book accessibility in tender documents so it is smart business to get on the front foot by embracing inclusive publishing.  Do you sell books to millennials? Well, you are in luck: many of the features and functions that will make your books more accessible will make your books more usable by these customers.

How have good inclusive publishing practices influenced the majority of readers?

By making digital texts more usable for all.

Why should companies consider publishing a policy on inclusive publishing?

This is a gentle way to get started and can be a really terrific way to engage employees: discuss and plan steps you’ll take as an organisation to be more diverse and inclusive in your publishing practices.

Do you have any final thoughts on accessibility or inclusive publishing practices you would like to share?

There are many organisations who are available to help publishers on their accessibility journeys.  Inclusive Publishing is linked with all of these, and is a terrific source of insight on best practice.  Please don’t feel you need to reinvent the wheel – in fact it is better for all if our industry works to shared standards for inclusive publishing.

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