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Equity and Excellence: Access in Higher Education Conference

July 16th to 20th, 2018

The Association on Higher Education and Disability’s (AHEAD) 41st annual international conference is its hallmark event, drawing approximately 1,500 participants from around the world for a week of extraordinary professional development and networking. Presenters and participants come from diverse fields, including education, technology, law, scholarship, and government, but share a common interest in fostering equitable higher education experiences for disabled individuals.

Date

July 16-20, 2018

Venue

Albuquerque, New Mexico, USA

Learn More

Registration, program information and details of how you can join this conference virtually as well as in person are available from the AHEAD website.

 

SXSW EDU, 2019

March 4th to 7th, 2019

The SXSW EDU Conference & Festival hosts a community of optimistic, forward-thinking, purpose-driven stakeholders with a shared goal of impacting the future of teaching and learning for four days of compelling sessions, in-depth workshops, engaging learning experiences, mentorship, film screenings, startup events, policy discussions, competitions, exhibition, networking, and so much more. Next year’s conference includes a new track on Accessibility and Inclusion with a variety of session formats and crossover techniques between learning levels.

Date

March 4-7, 2019

Venue

Austin, Texas, USA

Learn More

Registration opens on August 1st, 2018 and for details of this and the conference in general visit the SXSW EDU website

Workshop Report: The Production of Natively Accessible Books

logo for the french publishers associationThis post was kindly submitted by Luc Audrain, Head of Digitalization at Hachette Livre and co-chair of the W3C Publishing Business Group.

Inside the Syndicat National de l’Édition (SNE), the French publishers’ association, a technical group “Norms & Standards*” has been formed to work on standardization for the digital world, bringing together publishers, booksellers, the BnF and the Electre and Dilicom companies, to reflect on the implementation of standards which are shared by all.

The group organizes practical workshops aimed at informing SNE members about standardization and monitoring technical developments. In France, EPUB accessibility is taken very seriously by the publishing industry and for the second year running the annual workshop of the N&S group has focused on this subject.

Lead by Luc Audrain, the N&S group held it’s workshop on Thursday 5th of July to provide SNE members further in-depth knowledge of EPUB accessibility.

This year, the group showed that with existing production and validation tools, it is indeed possible to achieve a high level of mainstream accessibility in simple books like novels.

The audience had the opportunity to discover :

  • on which international standards EPUB accessibility is based and which major organizations are involved, like the DAISY Consortium
  • how to practically encode accessibility in EPUB content, following the EPUB Accessibility Techniques 1.0 document
  • How to use Ace by DAISY to avoid evident errors through a live demo
  • How Indesign EPUB3 export can be used and how much work afterwards is necessary to bring the file to pass Ace
  • what training and financial support might be available

Demo of Ace by DAISY showing a perfect score for a file exported from InDesign

This slide shows the perfect technical validity from Ace (Accessibility Checker for EPUB) for this EPUB3 file exported from InDesign. All the steps described in the presentation are also available on the SNE website (in French) at the Norms & Standards page together with group documentation from the day’s event.

 

As a reminder, the N&S workshop from last year was covered by DAISY in their newsletter:

http://www.daisy.org/planet-2017-06#a1

*Members come from publishing houses and also from the national library (BNF), the Ministry of Culture, booksellers, books in print database, and include a blind EDRLab employee Fernando Pinto da Silva.

Accessing Higher Ground

November 12th to 16th, 2018

This 5 day conference, presented and hosted by AHEAD in collaboration with ATHEN, EASI and the University of Colorado-Boulder. focuses on the implementation and benefits of:

  • Accessible media, Universal Design and Assistive Technology in the university, business and public setting;
  • Legal and policy issues, including ADA and 508 compliance;
  • The creation of accessible media and information resources, including Web pages and library resources.
  • Universal Design and curriculum accessibility.
  • best practices for web design, reaching untapped audiences through accessible design, and compliance with existing and anticipated Section 508 and ADA stipulations.

Date

November 12-16, 2018

Venue

Westin Westminster, Colorado, U.S.A.

Learn More

For further information on this excellent program and how to register visit the Accessing Higher  Ground website

W3C Workshop on Digital Publication Layout and Presentation

September 18th to 19th, 2018

The W3C have announced the latest in a series of workshops exploring the capabilities needed to ensure that the web delivers on its full potential as a universal platform for digital publishing.

This technical workshop will focus on evaluating the current status and exploring future directions of visually-rich long-form digital publications based on Web Technologies (particularly CSS, the formatting language of the Web), encompassing both fixed and dynamic layouts. Such “high-design” publications, with complex or sophisticated layout, may be sequential art (Comics, Manga, Bandes-Dessinées, etc.), magazines, picture books, cookbooks, educational materials, etc.

Date

September 18-19, 2018

Venue

Tokyo, Japan

Learn More

Further details and how you can participate in this event can be found at the event listing on the W3C website here

Thanks for the Feedback!

Feedback written on a chalkboardHuge thanks to everyone that took part in our Inclusive Publishing Survey recently. We’ve been delighted with the response and we are very interested in everything you had to say.

A good cross-section of publishers, educators and developers took the time to answer our questions and it is rewarding to hear that you all find Inclusive Publishing such a relevant hub of information and that having one “convenient and authoritative source” for material on accessible publishing is proving to be of great use to our industry. We also received answers from all levels of experience with accessibility which was ideal and we are immensely grateful to everyone who took 10 minutes to submit their thoughts and ideas.

In particular, we are pleased that so many people who are new to accessible publishing made the effort to let us know what they would like to see on the site and how we can help them to further their knowledge. This is invaluable information for us and we are working to improve these areas of the site – our newly designed resource menus for each user group should make it a lot easier for nontechnical personnel to navigate accessibility requirements and our introductory pages for each relevant area should help to present topics to those new to accessibility. We want to make sure that you have all the information that you need at your fingertips!

Good to hear that our topical articles, news items and industry event calendars are proving to be such a success. As ever, we rely on our subscribers, members and interested readers to keep us informed of what’s going in their areas so keep sending us your updates and we will make sure that we promote them and inform the international community of your good work.

Workflow and best practice guidance was another area that was highlighted as being particularly important to our readers and we are embarking on a series of case studies to highlight industry best practice in this area. If you think you’d like to take part in this then we would be delighted to hear from you.

Most commented on the site’s success in promoting EPUB as an accessible mainstream format for the publishing industry and we will continue to do this via all of our content streams. To help we have included specific EPUB information relevant to each user group within the resource menus. Our close relationship with the W3C remains as important as ever and we encourage all of our readers to participate in their activities wherever possible.

We work continuously to improve the Inclusive Publishing site and newsletter to ensure they remain as relevant as possible to you. The survey is closed for now, but we always welcome your feedback – so do get in touch if you have suggestions for how we can improve anything at all.

June 2018 Reading Apps Accessibility Support Review

Introduction

With the advent of digital publishing and ebooks, the opportunity now exists for people with reading disabilities to enjoy an unprecedented number of books and other publications. Publishers are increasingly adopting standards, techniques and tools to ensure that their titles are accessible.

A digital book will be accessed using a reading app, which is used to open, read and navigate the content. For someone who requires accessibility features, the app may be used together with the assistive features provided through the device’s built in software, or with a third-party product like a screen reader or dyslexia support tool.

It is important that individuals and organizations can choose the reading systems that offer the accessibility features they need. These features will vary between individuals, but include support for a screen reader, ability to change the visual presentation of the contents, read aloud feature, feature to enlarge images and so on. More information on how the apps were evaluated using a structured protocol is given at the end of the article.

The results of testing listed below were accurate at time of publication but may not reflect all personal experiences which can be affected by the version of the reading systems, assistive technologies or the publication being read. The apps change all the time, and developers improve the features based on the feedback from our tests. You can always read the latest reviews at: http://epubtest.org/testsuite/accessibility/

Here’s our June 2018 round up of popular EPUB reading apps:

Amazon Kindle icon

Amazon Kindle

Books from the world’s largest ebook store are read using the Kindle app. The app is available on most computer and smartphone platforms, including Amazon’s own Fire Tablets. The Kindle app has been evaluated by our testers on iOS, Android, Windows and Fire tablets.

Our evaluators liked: The voices on the Fire tablets are high quality and natural sounding. Your own documents can be easily added to the app by sending them to an email address that is created for this purpose. Support for visual adjustments is good on all platforms. There are useful features in the app such as “word wise” that explains the more challenging words in the book. On some books it is possible to combine the ebook and audio book for a synchronised reading experience (purchases necessary). Titles in the Kindle ebook store indicate whether they are screen reader supported or not.

Be aware: Heading navigation using Voiceover (iOS) or Talkback (Android) is not supported. Table navigation is poor. Image descriptions are not announced using Voiceover or Talkback. There is no built-in read aloud feature in the app on Android, and the Speak Screen feature on iOS does not provide visual emphasis of the words being spoken. Your own EPUB titles cannot easily be loaded into the app.

Adobe Digital Editions icon

Digital Editions

Adobe’s reading software is widely used for reading pdf files, but it reads EPUB as well. It is available on most phone and computers platforms. It is often recommended by public and academic libraries.

Our evaluators liked: it is convenient to have pdf and EPUB reading in the same app.

Be aware: Our evaluators found Digital Editions on Windows could be unstable and struggled with larger books. Navigating the table of contents with a screen reader was unsatisfactory. There is no function to change the screen colors or font. There is no read aloud feature.

Google Play Books icon

Play Books

The eBooks from Google’s book store app are read in Play Books. This app is usually already installed on Android phones and tablets. The books can also be read using a web browser on Windows, Mac and Chromebook computers. iOS, Android and Windows. Your own EPUB titles can be uploaded to your library through the app or using the Play Books website.

Our evaluators liked: ebooks and audiobooks can be read in the same app. The simple to use built-in dictionary (just highlight a word) may be especially useful for people with specific learning disabilities.

Be aware: Continuous reading with Talkback on Android is not supported, so reading is limited to screen by screen. There is no read aloud feature on iOS. On Android, the read aloud feature could do a better job of pausing between heading and paragraphs, and it is difficult to control where it starts from.

Apple iBooks icon

iBooks

Apple’s bookstore uses the iBooks app. If you have an iPhone, iPad or Mac it will already be installed.

Our evaluators liked: the visual display of the title can be adjusted to suit the reader’s needs. Some images enlarge to full screen when selected.

Be aware: iBooks is not available on Android or Windows.

Microsoft Edge icon

Edge

The web browser built into Windows 10 is an ebook reader too! Books from the Microsoft bookstore can be read in the app, and you can also read un-protected EPUB ebooks.

Our evaluators liked: that books can be opened straight from a website or Windows Explorer. The implementation of Read Aloud was praised. The visual adjustments include the ability to increase the letter spacing, appreciated by some readers with dyslexia.

Be aware: the Microsoft Book Store is undeveloped compared to other offerings and may not be available in your country. Whilst the Edge browser is available (in beta) on Android and iOS, this does not include the EPUB reader.

Vital Source Bookshelf App icon

Vital Source Bookshelf

Vital Source is a platform for textbooks and other educational titles. The reading apps are available for Windows, Mac, iOS, Android and via a browser. Your own unprotected EPUB files can also be side-loaded into the app.

Our evaluators liked: a suite of stable reading apps with good support for screen reader  and refreshable braille users. Notes and highlights are synchronised across devices for books from the Vital Source store.

Be aware: The Bookshelf Online platform does not currently offer a Read Outloud feature and there is limited ability to change the fonts and colors. However, Read Outloud and visual adjustment features are available on the Bookshelf iOS and Android apps.

Dolphin EasyReader App icon

Dolphin EasyReader

This specialist reading app for Windows, Android and iOS is designed to provide many features required for people with reading disabilities. Several file formats are supported, in addition to EPUB.

Our evaluators liked: Many useful features are provided for people with print disabilities, including screen reader support, several options for visual adjustments and read aloud. The app connects directly to many special library services (you need an account for these) or it can be used to open titles already on your device. The mispronunciation of words by the read aloud feature can be corrected.

Be aware: Continuously reading with a screen reader stops after a few pages due to the way the app displays the title. Hyperlinks are not always followed with the screen reader.

Simply Reading App icon

Simply Reading

This Android app can be used by anyone, but special attention has been paid to creating an easy interface for a new screen reader user. It can be used to directly connect to Bookshare, Sugamya Pustakalaya, Gutenberg and Dropbox, or it can be used to open EPUB files on your device.

Our evaluators liked: support for Braille displays (including the Orbit Reader) using Brailleback. Functions can be performed with easy gestures as an alternative to navigating the menus.

Be aware: internal hyperlinks are not consistently supported. There is no read aloud feature built into the app for people who do not use a screen reader.

Voice Dream App icon

Voice Dream Reader

This specialist reading app for iOS and Android is designed to provide many features required for people with reading disabilities. Several file formats are supported, in addition to EPUB.

Our evaluators liked: Many useful features are provided for people with print disabilities, including several options for visual adjustments and read aloud, and screen reader support on iOS.

Be aware: this is a paid for app. The iOS version is more mature than the Android app. Some features are missing that would be important to readers of educational content, such as tables and hyperlinks. Compatibility with Talkback on Android is poor.

How the accessibility features were evaluated

Using the protocol published at epubtest.org, apps are evaluated using a structured framework. This accessibility testing protocol has been developed in collaboration with people with reading disabilities, accessibility experts, and reading system developers. It is an open effort, with the test process described on the website, and more than 50 volunteer testers with different reading disabilities collaborate in the testing effort.

The basic assumption of the approach is that apps should support reading by eyes, ears or fingers. It should be possible for users to read the content by:

  • adjusting the display such as adjusting font size and colour combination,
  • reading the text with a screen reader or integrated read aloud feature, and
  • reading the text on a refreshable Braille display.

The apps are evaluated using different combinations, with and without assistive technology. All reading apps are tested using the same standardized test titles, to ensure consistency. The test files are available from http://www.epubtest.org/testsuite/

The evaluation protocol is free to use, and anyone can evaluate a reading system. If you are an app developer you can ask us to look at your app, and we will report the results back to you.

The latest detailed results for the apps in this round up, and many more, are available at http://www.epubtest.org/testsuite/accessibility/

Notes from Berlin: DPUB Summit Highlights

Ken Jones, author of this article, displays his conference pass, program and conference information
 This is a guest post by Ken Jones – Ken specialises in writing workflow applications and offering training and consultancy for publishers on print and digital workflows. Ken’s company Circular Software’ provides software tools and services for a range of illustrated book publishers. Contact Ken on twitter @CircularKen on LinkedIn at linkedin.com/kenjones  or through the website circularsoftware.com.

This article has been kindly edited by Laura Brady and has been cross-posted on epubsecrets.com


The Digital Publishing Summit was held in Berlin on Weds 16th and Thurs 17th May. It was a wide-ranging and stimulating event full of interesting news about the digital publishing landscape.

The area of central Berlin we were in had a pleasant bohemian vibe. After my vegan panini and smoothie, I strolled to the event hotel as hordes of cyclists whizzed by along the sunny streets. Oh, wait, this is not a holiday review, allow me to continue… #not-eprdctn

This previous name for this yearly gathering used to be the ‘EPUB summit’ but this year it has been renamed the Digital Publishing Summit or ‘DPUB summit’ as it relates to digital publishing beyond EPUB. Before the main conference started around 40 of us started off the Wednesday morning with an extra Readium workshop led by Laurent Le Meur, CTO, EDRLab (@lmrlaurent). Laurent started but outlining some of the challenges with Readium 1 — notably performance, accessibility gaps and lack of Windows and Linux SDKs. They decided to  to start R2 with fresh codebase and to create new mobile & desktop SDK named Readium-2 (aka R2).

The overall aim of the project is to deploy a set of open and interoperable digital publishing technologies in Europe, around an open, flexible & accessible standard applicable to all kinds of digital publications

Laurent Le Meur presenting at DPUB Summit

R2 is being optimised for performance, ease of maintenance, and is well documented with consistency between target environments (so different OS, mobile, desktop). It is a live ongoing project with releases approx. every two weeks. Everything they are doing is on Github. Readium 2 apps are emerging already and an Alpha desktop version in publicly available.

They have an ambitious roadmap for 2018. Expect progress to be made in roughly in the following order: import, library, reflowable EPUB, LCP (Readium Licensed Content Protection), user settings, RTL, fixed-layout, CBZ (comic books and manga), OPDS (Open Publication Distribution System), bookmarks, vertical text, themes, footnotes, accessibility navigation, search, support for WP, audiobooks, TTS, media overlays, more dyslexia support.

Laurent Le Meur presenting the EDRLab Roadmap for 2018

 

EDRLab are seeking a wider community for development, feedback, and financial support.

Phew! Got all that? I’ll explain in more detail about some of this below. The roadmap is available on GithubEDRLab are seeking a wider community for development, feedback and financial support. They need constructive testing (so don’t just moan about how it may look wonky or has missing features, they already know this!…) and, again, everything is open and logged on Github.

Hadrien Gardeur of Feedbooks then spoke about the Readium Web Publication Manifest. Think of it as an unpackaged and deconstructed ebook that exists in RAM. By abstracting the contents it means R2 reading apps can be much more responsive. By loading the publication into memory and preparing for transmission over the web. And it doesn’t have to be EPUB, any structured publication could be deconstructed. They already support CBZ (a format for comic books as images) and are in a good place to handle any new W3C formats that come in the future.

R2 ingests packaged EPUBs in this way ready to them streamed, parsed, and fetched as HTML resources. They refer to the flow of rendered content to the reader app as the ‘streamer’. Think of the R2 reading system in 2 parts: frontend and backend. The frontend reader is fed by the backend, which could be either within an offline app or streamed from a server. By pre-fetching and pre-rendering content in backend memory everything is presented super fast.

Readium CSS is the open resource that Readium apps are using to present content and to handle user settings. Glue JS is a new project being built for R2 which makes sense of pagination, scrolling, touch and key events and CSS, locations, and custom properties.

Aferdita Muriqi of EDRLab (@AferditaMuriqi) talked about where they are with Readium mobile apps and their future plans.

Aferdita Muriqi of EDRLab (@AferditaMuriqi) talked about where they are with Readium mobile apps and their future plans. The R2 iOS app is out now and it is still being developed with later builds regularly and betas here. The R2 Android app is also available now (in beta) from Googleand Github. R2 iOS and Android are being developed in tandem and share the same functionality and core code. But the different OS mean they have to handle things differently.

It’s important to understand that the EDRLab stance on mobile apps is that they will only ever be ‘test apps.’ They have no plans to produce a fully featured mobile reader instead will provide an open source example to others of what is possible and exactly how to do it.

The ultimate goal is a robust attractive reading system and to become an open replacement.

Daniel Weck of EDRLab (@DanielWeck) talked about Readium desktop apps and their future plans. Unlike the mobile apps the plan for desktop IS NOT to be just a test app. The ultimate goal is a robust attractive reading system and to become an open replacement. R2 desktop apps are already very impressive but are still in early stages. Latest builds available here.

Video demo of Readium desktop app

R2 apps (desktop and mobile) already come with support for OPDS (Open Publication Distribution System) basically a way for a metadata feed from a vast library of books to stream and also can point to book content. Sideloading is also possible. R2 Desktop has a load button for local files and mobile apps can load from weblinks or Dropbox etc. via the OS. If you interested in the future of EPUB readers, or the current lack of them, consider join me and others in testing and giving feedback to shape these valuable and open source mobile and desktop apps.

If you interested in the future of EPUB readers, or the current lack of them, consider join me and others in testing and giving feedback to shape these valuable and open source mobile and desktop apps

We then moved on to an interesting chat about EPUB Canonical Fragment Identifiers. In short, EPUB CFI is an accurate way to point to any content within EPUBs. Lars Wallin of @ColibrioReader demonstrated how to use EPUB CFI to achieve interoperable, sharable, annotations, bookmarks etc. EPUB CFI also support identification of interactive elements, images and even parts of images within EPUB. Yuri Khramov of @EvidentPoint then spoke how they are contributing to ‘Readium NG’ to support existing R1 users in their migration to R2 with as little pain as possible

Later, in the main DPUB conference, we heard more on how Readium Licensed Content Protection aka Readium LCP can store a user’s passphrase inside an EPUB reader to effortlessly unlock content. Hermann Eckel of German ebook company Tolino explained how Readium LCP is already installed in their hardware and how it is now their preferred copy protected solution.

Later we saw a live demo of a reader entering accessing an ebook using the standard library log-in.
Slide displaying details of the readium 2 LCP project

Eden Livres talked about how they invested last year to integrate LCP server side and now have over 80,000 titles now live with Readium LCP.

De Marque talked about how National Libraries Quebec achieve 6M+ ebook loans – quite a lot for a small city. Previous DRM systems had cost them over $800K CAD over the years and with countless hours of support and left them feeling powerless and not in control. LCP was a community project to take that control back. They are currently focus testing LCP with user in Quebec City, to be released this summer for all public libraries in Quebec province and other partners.

“DRM should be boring. It should be invisible and nothing to the user.”

A refreshingly neat quote that summed it up was “DRM should be boring. It should be invisible and nothing to the user.” #eprdctn

Garth Conboy of Google spoke about EPUB3.2 and future plans for EPUB at W3C and invited participation in the community group.

Slide displaying details of how the edge browser supports EPUB

Ben Walters of Microsoft (@_BenWalters_) gave a great presentation on how their Edge browser natively supports EPUB. Double click any DRM free reflowable or Fixed Layout EPUB on Windows 10 and it auto opens in this well featured reader. He said that reading books on a desktop or laptop may not be common but actually for reference or education the ability to have multiple pages of the same book, of different books, or other web content side by side can be very useful. One challenge for browser based reading is that people don’t expect a browser to work offline, even though they can for cached and local content. The challenge here is in education.

Microsoft Edge for iOS and Android edge on phone coming ‘very soon’. First releases were last year but last month’s update brings improvements including notes, better navigation, page sharing and media overlays! This is great stuff from Microsoft!… You hear that @Adobe…

Ben confirmed to me afterwards that, at launch, sideloading will not be possible for Edge on Android and iOS. It will only feature content from the Microsoft store.

Ben also won the prize for the most amusing slide when introducing his agenda.

Amusing agenda slide from Ben Dugas

Stephan Knecht from Bones AG demoed how their audio reader accepts EPUB by parsing a book into txt files. Able to handle cues like SSML, to indicate preferred speech speed, male, female voices for example. More here.

Stephan made an interesting point that his customers (often visually impaired, elderly, veterans) like the static simplicity of dedicated hardware. Rather than making a phone app, his credit card sized audio player has a run time 40 hrs with standby of months.

Word files are a ‘post paper digital artifact’

I really enjoyed the talk from Adam Hyde of Coko Foundation. He explained in a friendly rant how 90% of scholarly content is supplied as Word files and not truly digital. His phrase was Word files are a ‘post paper digital artifact.’ But not just there to complain, Adam had three solutions that all looked worth finding out more about:

  1. Getting content from word into HTML – XSweet.coko.foundation was released two weeks ago.
  2. How to edit content in HTML including citations, notes, tracked changes etc. (that is, the pro tools that are missing from Google Docs) — An open source HTML word processor.
  3. How to get digital content it out into legacy formats like PDF —Automation and using the browser as a typesetting engine: pagedmedia.org

Other highlights included @gleephapp a phone app that features a real-time barcode scanner of ISBNs and even book spines to make the link from physical to digital and then allows recommendations. This app has just launched in France with 33,500 users and 20,0000 titles.

Volker Oppmann of mojoreads (@onkelvolker) showed their neat book sharing platform which actually pays its users 10% commission for any sale that comes from their recommendation. #eprdctn

We also heard that Readium has further goals including an update to the Readium CloudReader with support for audiobooks.

I’m very glad I made the trip and I hope to attend again next year but I must conclude by saying this: it amazes me that Adobe is not attending, supporting, contributing development effort and funding to EDRLab. Privately they would have so much to gain themselves from this modern open source reading system And publicly, surely Adobe putting a couple of full time developers in EDRLab Paris for a year or two would both demonstrate and garner respect and support of their paying customers and the wider publishing community.

I’ll be talking more about Readium and demoing R2 during my PePcon session in a couple of weeks time if you’re attending CreativeProWeek and into EPUB and ebook development.

Also feel free to contact me directly if you’d like more info and I’ll help where I can.


Postscript. Typescript (@typescriptlang) seems to be a the current programming language of choice. Microsoft, EDRLab, and many of the smaller developers presenting at DPUB were all using it and speaking highly of it. http://www.typescriptlang.org

Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Celebrates GAAD with Demonstrations for In-House Teams

This news post was kindly submitted by Katy Mastrocola from Houghton Mifflin Harcourt

To celebrate Global Accessibility Awareness Day (#GAAD), the Trade Digital Managing Editorial team at Houghton Mifflin Harcourt’s Boston office held an open accessibility hour to demonstrate how iPads read ebooks using the VoiceOver feature. HMH’s Trade employees enjoyed hearing popular HMH titles such as Kwame Alexander’s Rebound read in various accents (Moira’s Irish accent and Daniel’s British accent were quite lovely) and asking questions about how the technology is used. Many were surprised to find that VoiceOver is available for free on all iOS devices!

The demonstration was not only a valuable learning experience for members of Trade curious about assistive technology and its role in publishing, but also for the ebook developers hearing their work on screen readers for the first time. Production Editor Kristin Brodeur got the full experience when her screen went completely dark and she had to figure out how to use the screen reader to change her settings. It was frustrating, but “gave [her] a better sense of what it’s like” to rely solely on a screen reader for navigation. It was also nice to share stories with co-workers about using assistive technology. Production Associate Allie Rottman pointed out that screen readers not only help those who are blind, but people with various other disabilities, temporary conditions, and recurring issues such as migraines. “Some readers will want [the content] read to [them] and then go back to reading traditionally” depending on the situation, she explained. Overall, the hour sparked conversations about providing alt-text for images, how various forms of emphasis and pauses are read (or not), and other forms of accessibility available in ebooks, such as the OpenDyslexic font. It will definitely not be Digital Managing Editorial’s last initiative to make HMH more #a11y friendly!