There are many different file formats being used in the publishing industry and these vary in the degree to which they can be seen as being accessible. The EPUB format is widely acknowledged as the universal ebook format for commercial publishers and it offers the greatest opportunity for mainstream accessibility requirements – i.e. it delivers the possibility of offering ebooks to print impaired readers at the same time, in the same format and at the same price as everyone else.
EPUB files can be read on most ereader devices with a host of accessibility features. They are constructed using ordinary HTML5 and CSS (cascading style sheets) and on top of this, EPUB 3 defines a range of features that improve navigation and accessibility, such as detailed structural markup and the ability to include prerecorded speech synchronised with the text (called ‘media overlays). EPUB 3 also allows accessible video, mathematical and technical content (via MathML), and interactivity. The EPUB standard has an accessibility specification for developers and this, together with more technical information about the format can be read about on our Developers EPUB page.
Consumers should request access to EPUB 3 files wherever possible if you are enquiring about accessible formats. Other formats which you may be more used to asking for do not deliver the same level of accessibility features as an EPUB file and you will be pleasantly surprised by the experience that a fully accessible EPUB file can offer.
This recently published review helps individuals and organizations choose reading systems that best support the accessible features they require from an EPUB 3 file.
Vital Source has some useful advice for consumers reading EPUB files via their Bookshelf.
This useful article highlights issues for consumers moving towards reading accessible mainstream books via EPUB
A useful DAISY article on the various publishing formats and their associated merits