Guidance and Standards

As a rule, publishers should try to follow the top tips outlined below in order to ensure that EPUB files are as accessible as possible for everyone. Accessibility is not, however, an on/off switch and what is accessible for one person may not be for another–we all have different access requirements and you should try to incorporate as many features as possible to assist with that access. Every contribution and refinement of your files counts and even if your workflows and processes do not support the inclusion of every feature listed, it’s important that you start somewhere.

These are some of the main areas that you should concentrate on when producing your EPUB files. Include these features from the ground up and try to avoid retro-fitting your files as this will be more time consuming and costly. For greater detail on these top tips, see our developers guidance page and for information on standards see the list of resources at the end of this page.

Accessibility Top Tips

  • Text must be available in a  Logical Reading Order
  • Separate Presentation and Content
  • Provide Complete Navigation
  • Create Meaningful Structure wherever possible
  • Define the Content of each Tag
  • Use Images only for Pictures, not for Tables or Text
  • Use Image Descriptions and Alt Text
  • Include Page Numbers
  • Define the Language(s)
  • Use MathML
  • Provide Alternative Access to Media Content
  • Make Interactive Content Accessible
  • Use Accessibility Metadata

Make sure your Processes Support the above Best Practices and:

  • Initiate a sustained company-wide effort to make accessibility a core value in the production and dissemination of content, including development of a company policy statement to express the accessibility commitment.
  • Develop and implement accessibility guidelines and training for authors.
  • Develop and implement accessibility guidelines and training for editorial and production staff.
  • Discuss accessibility requirements and standards with vendors.
  • Include an accessibility review in the quality-assurance process.
  • Include accessibility information on your website and appropriate marketing materials.
  • Add accessibility awareness training for customer service staff.

This work is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 2.5 Generic License produced by The Diagram Center


The EPUB Accessibility 1.1 specification assists with meeting EPUB Accessibility requirements for EPUB Publications and are a good starting point for well structured accessible content files together with WCAG 2.0 and WAI-ARIA 1.1   where techniques and best practices are addressed. These standards are maintained and curated by the W3C and you can find out more information at the Publishing@W3C website.

There are many areas of technical work at W3C in which the publishing community is already participating. Among these are the Digital Publishing Interest Group, the CSS Working Group, and Accessible Rich Internet Applications Working Group. Participation in Interest and Working Groups is open to regular members of W3C.


We recommend the following guidelines for publishers and developers:

BISG Quick Start Guide to Accessible Publishing

Designed to give publishers a quick and up to date reference tool, The Quick Start Guide is written in clear, non-technical language and is available in English, French, German, Italian, Korean and Spanish for free in EPUB 3.

Accessible EPUB 3

Published by O’Reilly Media and available for free download this book by Matt Garrish provides a definitive guide to accessibility and EPUB 3

Accessibility Guidelines for Self-Publishing Authors

The Accessible ebook Guidelines for Self-Publishing Authors by Dave Gunn, provides practical information to help writers ensure their publications are accessible to the broadest range of readers.  Published by the WIPO Accessible Books Consortium in conjunction with the International Authors Forum (IAF) these can be downloaded for free.

Accessible Publishing, Best Practice Guidelines for Publishers

Produced by EDItEUR in association with WIPO and DAISY this more lengthy set of guidelines provides a ready reference for publishers covering non-technical and technical aspects of inclusive publishing. Available in English, French, German, Hindi, Italian, Japanese and Spanish and in a number of formats, the guidelines can be downloaded for free.

Wikipedia Accessible Publishing

A general overview of major developments in accessible publishing