W3C Posts Group Note on FXL EPUB

The W3C Publishing Maintenance Group has published a group note on EPUB fixed layout publications:

“The main motivation behind creating fixed layout publications is the need to preserve the print layout of the book, either because of the layout’s importance to the text (i.e. complex diagrams) or it’s artistic purpose (i.e. illustrated text). These publications can often be partially or completely inaccessible to people with disabilities, especially disabilities affecting vision or visual processing. However, the visual nature of fixed layout publications can also offer advantages for disabled readers. Graphic and visual design is about much more than making things look pretty, and well-designed publications can create reading experiences that aid in increasing understanding, information retention, conveying complex ideas, and more.

This note serves to help EPUB creators, publishers, and reading systems address some of the common accessibility issues found in fixed layout content including navigation, reading order, and text alternatives. This document is a companion to EPUB Accessibility 1.1 [epub-a11y-11], specifically for fixed layout publications. The recommendations made in EPUB Accessibility 1.1 [epub-a11y-11], EPUB 3.3 [epub-33], and EPUB Reading Systems 3.3 [epub-rs-33] are applied and extended here.

In addition to the recommendations in this document, the Publishing Maintenance Working Group’s Fixed Layout Accessibility Task Force is producing an accompanying techniques document to cover the technical side of fixed layout accessibility.”

The working group welcome comments, thoughts and ideas surrounding the issues discussed in this new document. All feedback is welcome and will inform further iterations of this important guidance.