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Inclusive Design 24 2021 #id24

September 16th, 2021

Inclusive Design 24 is a free 24-hour online community event on accessibility. It celebrates efforts worldwide to ensure people with disabilities have full and equal access to the web. This 24 hour completely free event includes 24 one-hour webinars on all things accessibility. The sessions range from beginner to advanced and are aimed at everyone from executives to web developers.

Date

September 16th, 2021

Venue

Online

Learn More

For details on how to take part in this exciting event see the Inclusive Design 24 web page

EPUB Adoption in Academic Libraries–Progress and Obstacles

cellphone with ebsco name displayed and various icons extending from the sides to represent a swiss army knife effect New Inclusive Publishing Partner, EBSCO, explores the challenges of EPUB adoption for academic libraries.

Just as accessibility in publishing has gained momentum in recent years, so has accessibility in libraries. In 2019, the Los Angeles Community College District ruling was an inflection point–libraries were found to bear responsibility for the resources they make available to users, even with limited control over the vendor platforms themselves. Vendors perked up and have made great strides in recent years, ensuring their software and platforms conform to standards whilst providing increasingly accessible experiences for users. Despite the progress with platforms, however, there are still some endemic challenges that limit the accessibility of ebooks in academic libraries. With EBSCO’s scope and reach, we feel we have a vital role to play in addressing these challenges wherever we can.

We see this un-met potential when we look at the EPUB availability and EPUB accessibility of academic content.

One challenge is that the EPUB format has simply not yet achieved broad acceptance with academic users. EPUB has many accessibility advantages compared to PDF, but until the format is pervasive and fully supported, academic users will not fully benefit from those advantages. Since demand for the format is limited, so is the pressure on publishers to create EPUBs and to invest in the accessibility potential. Academic users tend to gravitate to PDF because it’s familiar. They know exactly what they can and can’t do with it, and they’re using PDF for journal articles, which is a large portion of academic research output. EBSCO gives the user a choice to access the EPUB version for every title where the publisher makes both a PDF and an EPUB version available, and users only select the EPUB version 15-20% of the time.

The single biggest factor driving academic libraries’ resistance to EPUB (and the persistence of PDF) is the lack of pagination. Most EPUB files we receive from publishers do not contain pagination, which means there are not stable page numbers for citations, a critical aspect of academic research and scholarly communication. Citation standards have mostly kept up with the times: they instruct users to cite the database or even the chapter and paragraph if an ebook is in EPUB format or is accessed on a reader without stable pagination. This is simply unacceptable for most of the faculty that we talk to, on practical grounds as well as philosophical. Faculty members that have to grade papers and check sources recoil at the thought of finding an ebook in a database and counting paragraphs when they are already sitting under a mountain of undergraduate essays. But perhaps more important is the integrity of knowledge-transfer–it’s important for the scholarly record to easily identify the place in the work where the knowledge was produced, and to preserve the continuity of the scholarly discourse. So “arbitrary” page numbers that might be displayed by the device are not acceptable if they don’t correspond to other versions of the work, and if they aren’t consistent across platforms. Only 25% of our incoming EPUB files contain page numbers, and until we can get this number much higher, academic libraries and users will not adopt EPUB at scale. Without the use and demand, the evolution of the format and the possibilities for academic users that would benefit from it are diminished.

Only 25% of our incoming EPUB files contain page numbers, and until we can get this number much higher, academic libraries and users will not adopt EPUB at scale.

We see this un-met potential when we look at the EPUB availability and EPUB accessibility of “academic content.” Publishers whose content is available in academic libraries range from large commercial publishers to university press publishers (among which there is also much variation), to very small or specialized academic presses. A significant portion of this content set is still in PDF only–30% looking at 2019 and forward publication years. Most of the publishers that aren’t creating EPUB for all of their titles indicate that they can’t afford the EPUB conversion process. It’s an unfortunate reality that many small academic publishers are simply not able to produce EPUB files, let alone born accessible ones. That said, even some major publishers have indicated that if a title has formatting or other characteristics that don’t easily lend themselves to reflow, they only produce a PDF. We are aware of some working groups addressing formatting challenges like these, so we are hopeful that EPUB solutions will be found in the coming years.

Among the EPUB-format files EBSCO receives, not all have been made fully accessible. While the production processes of trade and higher education publishers have matured to the point where most are creating born-accessible EPUB files, the landscape of academic publishers is much more varied. To assess the files we do host, EBSCO created an EPUB assessment tool integrating Ace by DAISY, and to date we have assessed 1.16 million EPUB files. Only around 40% of these fully pass a check for the WCAG 2.1 A standard.

EBSCO works closely with publishers to provide them data about the accessibility of their files. Our detailed “Progress Reports” show them the extent to which they are passing or failing accessibility checks, what percentage of their titles have an EPUB version, and how to access resources, vendors, or organizations like Benetech to help them improve. We even produce a title-level report showing which files pass or fail which WCAG metrics, in the hopes that the data can be used to drive targeted improvements in their production processes. That said, only a quarter of our publishers say that the problem is the know-how. Almost half of publishers say they just don’t have the budget to make the needed improvements to their workflows.

Since EPUB has not yet been broadly adopted (or demanded), few vendors offer online EPUB reading systems which would greatly improve and universalize an accessible experience for users. The reason an online reading system is important is that most academic publishers require the use of (Adobe) DRM to support library checkouts and user access limitations. (Not all publishers require DRM, and for those that don’t, users can get a DRM-free EPUB for download fairly easily.) With the option to access the EPUB online, users can access the full range of EPUB and accessibility features available without having to download into a separate reader that might limit the accessibility of the title.

EBSCO’s choice to offer and evolve a fully-featured online EPUB reader stems from our desire to optimize the experience for all our users, to support the EPUB standard as it evolves, and to be advocates for the potential of EPUB in the academic setting. Each year, we measure our industry’s progress–on EPUB output, on accessibility metrics, and on usage, and we are happy to report that all of these metrics are headed in the direction we, as a community, would like. We have also joined the W3C EPUB working group to address EPUB pagination consistently across the publishing ecosystem. Many of the EPUB working groups are populated by trade publishers and reading system vendors, so we see our role as being advocates for the academic users as a vital partnership with these colleagues. We hope that combining their experience in trade publishing with ours in academic libraries will lead to real benefits for users performing research and accessing readings assigned in academic courses. To learn more about accessibility at EBSCO, visit https://www.ebsco.com/technology/accessibility.

This article was written for Inclusive Publishing by Kara Kroes Li, Director of Product Management, EBSCO

What does the European Accessibility Act Mean for Global Publishing?

Flags of the member states of the European Union in front of the EU-commission buildingDirective (EU) 2019/882 of the European Parliament and of the Council on the accessibility requirements for products and services

Our thanks to Laura Brady (House of Anansi) and Tzviya Siegman (John Wiley & Sons) for this article.

The European Accessibility Act

What do publishers around the world need to know about the European Accessibility Act? This legislation is some of the strongest we’ve seen around accessibility and will force change, without question. If publishers plan to sell digital products into the European Union in the near future, they must get up to speed on what this means for their workflows.

So, what is the legislation exactly? The EAA is a directive that aims to improve the functioning of the internal market for accessible products and services, by removing barriers created by divergent rules in Member States.

Businesses will benefit from:

  • common rules on accessibility in the EU leading to costs reduction
  • easier cross-border trading
  • more market opportunities for their accessible products and services

Persons with disabilities and elderly people will benefit from:

  • more accessible products and services in the market
  • accessible products and services at more competitive prices
  • fewer barriers when accessing transport, education and the open labour market
  • more jobs available where accessibility expertise is needed

The Directive entered into force in June 2019.  Member states have until 28 June 2022 to adopt and publish the laws, regulations and administrative provisions necessary to comply with this Directive. This means introducing new and/or updating existing national legislations to comply with its principles and requirements. The full force of the legislation comes into effect on June 28, 2025.

The legislation follows market-driven standards, requiring publishers to produce their digital publications in an accessible format  It also requires the entire supply chain (retailers, e-commerce sites, hardware and software reading solutions, online platforms, DRM solutions, etc.) to make content available to users through accessible services.

The EAA hinges on the discoverability of products and services by end users. Using international standards for accessibility , such as EPUB 3, and describing the accessibility features within the content with schema.org and ONIX metadata enables publishers to expose metadata on retailer and publisher websites, which is crucial.

General Summary

The legislation applies to products and services placed on the market after June 2025

These include:

  • Hardware
  • Software
  • Websites
  • Mobile Apps
  • ecommerce
  • ereaders
  • ebooks and dedicated software
  • all products and services, including information about how to use above, user sign in, and identity management

There are several factors which allow specific organisations to be exempt from compliance. In addition, the directive does not apply to the following types of content on websites and apps:

  • Pre-recorded time-based media published before 28 June 2025.
  • Office file format documents published before 25 June 2025.
  • Online maps; though if the map is used for navigational purposes then the essential information must be provided in accessible format.
  • Third party content that is entirely out of the control of the website or app owner.
  • Reproductions of items in heritage collections which are too fragile or expensive to digitise.
  • The content of web sites and apps which are considered archival, meaning they are not needed for active administrative purposes and are no longer updated or edited.
  • The web sites of schools, kindergartens, and nurseries, except for content pertaining to administrative functions.

Service Providers must prepare necessary information and explain how services meet this act.

All accessibility information must remain private.

In general, this follows the same principles as WCAG’s Perceivable, Operable, Understandable, Robust model, but it points to specific outcomes. The requirements of this legislation incorporate many types of disabilities, including cognitive disabilities, which have only begun to be incorporated into WCAG.

It’s time for publishers to come to terms with what’s required to meet accessibility standards. If the EU is part of your market, it should be a business imperative to investigate how to fix workflows, and implement robust metadata practices.


Information from the EAA Legislation that Pertains to the Publishing Industry

Details from Appendix I in Directive 2019/882

Information and Instructions

Information, instructions for use must be:

  1. be made available via more than one sensory channel;
  2. be presented in an understandable way;
  3. be presented to users in ways they can perceive;
  4. be presented in fonts of adequate size and suitable shape, taking into account foreseeable conditions of use and using sufficient contrast, as well as adjustable spacing between letters, lines and paragraphs;
  5. with regard to content, be made available in text formats that can be used for generating alternative assistive formats to be presented in different ways and via more than one sensory channel;
  6. be accompanied by an alternative presentation of any non-textual content;
  7.  include a description of the user interface of the product (handling, control and feedback, input and output) which is provided in accordance with point 2; the description shall indicate for each of the points in point 2 whether the product provides those features;
  8. include a description of the functionality of the product which is provided by functions aiming to address the needs of persons with disabilities in accordance with point 2; the description shall indicate for each of the points in point 2 whether the product provides those features;
  9. include a description of the software and hardware interfacing of the product with assistive devices; the description shall include a list of those assistive devices which have been tested together with the product.

User Interface (UI) and functionality design.

Products and their UI must contain features that enable disabled people to perceive, understand and control them, by doing the following things:

  1. Communications must be over more than one sensory channel
  2. Speech alternatives must be provided
  3. When product uses visuals, must provide flexible magnification, brightness, contrast
  4. When product uses color, must convey information in an alternate way
  5. Audible information must be conveyed in an alternative way
  6. Visual elements must offer flexible ways of improving vision clarity
  7. Audio –  must provide user control of volume and speed and improve clarity
  8. Manual controls shall provide sequential controls (not simultaneous)
  9. Avoid operations requiring extensive strength
  10. Avoid triggering photosensitive seizures
  11. Protect user’s privacy when using accessibility features
  12. Alternatives to biometric id and controls
  13. Consistency of functionality and enough and flexible time for interaction
  14. Interaction with assistive tech
  15. the product shall comply with the following sector-specific requirements:

Publishing

  • e-readers shall provide for text-to-speech technology

Support Services

Where available, support services (help desks, call centers, technical support, relay services and training services) must provide information on the accessibility of the product and its compatibility with assistive technologies, in accessible modes of communication.

Section IV, article f  Ebooks

  1. ensuring that, when an e-book contains audio in addition to text, it then provides synchronised text and audio
  2. ensuring that e-book digital files do not prevent assistive technology from operating properly
  3. ensuring access to the content, the navigation of the file content and layout including dynamic layout, the provision of the structure, flexibility and choice in the presentation of the content
  4. allowing alternative renditions of the content and its interoperability with a variety of assistive technologies, in such a way that it is perceivable, understandable, operable and robust
  5. making them discoverable by providing information through metadata about their accessibility features;
  6. ensuring that digital rights management measures do not block accessibility features

(Note: all of these, except as relates to DRM are part of the EPUB specification)

 E-Commerce Services

  1. providing the information concerning accessibility of the products and services being sold when this information is provided by the responsible economic operator;
  2. ensuring the accessibility of the functionality for identification, security and payment when delivered as part of a service instead of a product by making it perceivable, operable, understandable and robust;
  3. providing identification methods, electronic signatures, and payment services which are perceivable, operable, understandable and robust.

Section VII – Functional Performance Criteria

  1. Usage without vision. Where the product or service provides visual modes of operation, it shall provide at least one mode of operation that does not require vision.
  2. Usage with limited vision. Where the product or service provides visual modes of operation, it shall provide at least one mode of operation that enables users to operate the product with limited vision.
  3. Usage without perception of colour. Where the product or service provides visual modes of operation, it shall provide at least one mode of operation that does not require user perception of colour.
  4. Usage without hearing. Where the product or service provides auditory modes of operation, it shall provide at least one mode of operation that does not require hearing.
  5. Usage with limited hearing. Where the product or service provides auditory modes of operation, it shall provide at least one mode of operation with enhanced audio features that enables users with limited hearing to operate the product.
  6. Usage without vocal capability. Where the product or service requires vocal input from users, it shall provide at least one mode of operation that does not require vocal input. Vocal input includes any orally-generated sounds like speech, whistles or clicks.
  7. Usage with limited manipulation or strength. Where the product or service requires manual actions, it shall provide at least one mode of operation that enables users to make use of the product through alternative actions not requiring fine motor control and manipulation, hand strength or operation of more than one control at the same time.
  8. Usage with limited reach. The operational elements of products shall be within reach of all users. Where the product or service provides a manual mode of operation, it shall provide at least one mode of operation that is operable with limited reach and limited strength.
  9. Minimising the risk of triggering photosensitive seizures. Where the product provides visual modes of operation, it shall avoid modes of operation that trigger photosensitive seizures.
  10. Usage with limited cognition. The product or service shall provide at least one mode of operation incorporating features that make it simpler and easier to use.
  11. Privacy. Where the product or service incorporates features that are provided for accessibility, it shall provide at least one mode of operation that maintains privacy when using those features that are provided for accessibility.

Resources

Word Document Accessibility 101 (W)

Word Document Accessibility 101 opening slideIn our series of free weekly webinars March 10th, 2021, saw a practical workshop-style session focused on the accessibility of word documents. In our webinar series we’ve looked closely at how to convert accessible word documents to the EPUB file format but not in-depth at the word documents themselves. This session does just this.

This page contains:

Full Video of the Webinar

Speakers

  • Richard Orme, The DAISY Consortium—host and chair
  • Erin Williams, Microsoft
  • Kirsi Ylanne, CELIA
  • Prashant Verma, The DAISY Consortium

Session Overview

Why Accessibility?

Erin Williams, Program Manager at Microsoft, explained why it is so important for our “connected” society to be as inclusive as possible so that technology can ensure that everyone is able to connect. We must design for accessibility for everyone.

Once you start thinking inclusively, it becomes second nature

Microsoft Accessibility and Word

Microsoft’s mission is to “empower every person and every organization on the planet to achieve more”. This integrated approach is applied throughout the organization – the culture, the systems, products and plans for the future – as they seek how to better serve their customers, MS Word has built-in accessibility features to support and encourage accessibility. The techniques described in this webinar apply to Windows, MacOS and Online versions of Word.

Demo of Accessibility Barriers and Solutions

Kirsi Ylanne and Prashant Verma described 3 significant barriers to accessibility that are encountered and gave detailed examples of just how challenging these can be to document access:

  1. Text content as an Image: If text is displayed as an image it cannot be read aloud or via a braille display
  2. No Heading Structure: Without any built-in structure a document becomes un-navigable
  3. Missing Image Descriptions: Without alt text or image descriptions a screen reader cannot describe images, tables and other graphic content.

Word Document Structure

Kirsi talked us through 3 areas that are crucial for word document accessibility:

  1. Applying Heading Styles: via the navigation pane. Do not rely on the visual layout of your document to denote headings as a screen reader will be looking under the hood of the document in order to inform the reader.
  2. Lists: Make sure you use the proper bullet point or numbered list features
  3. Avoid using the textbox feature and place a border around a paragraph if you need to

Graphics, Tables and Content Considerations

Graphics

To further improve the accessibility of a word document Kirsi showed us how to:

  • Make sure that images are placed inline so that screen readers can access the alt text
  • Add alternative descriptions, thinking about the purpose of the image. Don’t repeat text, rather focus on the information that the image is conveying in a given context. Watch the demo here for how to insert your alt text within the word document.
  • Decorative Images. You can mark an image as decorative if it doesn’t contain any relevant information.

Tables

Prashant showed us how to make sure tables are accessible, reminding us to:

  • Keep tables as simple as possible so that screen readers can decipher them
  • Use tables for tabular data, not lists
  • Mark row headings correctly so that they can be identified by screen readers  – Prashant shows us how to do this

Other Content Considerations

Prashant referred to the following issues also which must be considered in terms of document accessibility:

  • Headers and footers. Assistive technology sometimes has difficulty detecting content here so it’s good practice not to include important information or make sure it is repeated in the main body of the content. This material can also be lost when the file is converted into another file type.
  • The document language should be identified so that screen readers can voice words appropriately.
  • Footnotes and endnotes should be included using the MSWord features provided. Manual insertion of these results in an inaccessible document.
  • Display text for links should clearly state what it is that is being linked to so that assistive technology can read out a meaningful link to the reader, rather than a URL or a generic term that isn’t clearly describing the link.

Testing for Accessibility

Kirsi gave a demo of how to run the accessibility checker that is available within MSWord (under the Review tab). The results of the checker highlight errors and warnings that should be worked through.  One very common error is missing alt text and by highlighting these errors the focus of the document will guide the user to its location.

Conclusions

  • Making your document accessible also benefits other documents you generate from it
  • Accessibility techniques help you to be more efficient
  • Usability is better for all your readers (and is very often a legal requirement)

It is well worth spending the time watching the video recording of this webinar which includes practical how-to demos of everything mentioned here.

Related Resources

Discover the other webinars we’re running!

George Kerscher Named NISO Fellow for Lifetime Achievement in Information Access

Photograph of George KerscherCongratulations to Dr. George Kerscher,  Chief Innovations Officer at The DAISY Consortium and Senior Advisor, Global Education and Literacy at Benetech, who was recently recognized as a Fellow by the National Information Standards Organization (NISO) for his lifetime of achievement. An internationally recognized leader in document access, he has been devoted to making published information fully accessible to persons with print disabilities since 1987. We had a chance to hear from George about what this honor means to him and how people with reading barriers can be better served across industries and disciplines going forward.

Q: What does being named a NISO Fellow mean to you?

GEORGE: I have worked with NISO for more than 20 years, and most of that work has been in the library sector. NISO is also a pathway for the US to contribute to international standards, and I have participated in those activities as well. Most recently, ISO (an independent, non-governmental international organization) has approved the EPUB Accessibility Conformance and Discovery specification, and I participated through NISO in that work.

Being named a NISO Fellow is a great honour, and, being blind, I feel this reflects the change in society toward inclusion. People with print disabilities must be considered as we design information systems and standards.

Q: After achieving this distinguished honour through your work and accomplishments, what is the next critical problem that needs to be addressed regarding accessibility?

GEORGE: There is a lot more to do in access to information. Yes, the publishing industry has really stepped up to the accessibility plate, but there are still many publishers who need to embrace the principles of born accessible publications, meaning ebooks that have accessibility features built in from the start. Furthermore, society in general needs to be producing born accessible publications as a part of the normal process of document creation. I understand that Ph.D. students are now starting to produce their theses as accessible publications. This trend needs to be pushed down to all college students, and then down to high schools and into elementary schools. As soon as students start to produce materials for other students, they should make sure all students can read and consume what they produce. I can envision seventh graders creating documents which they share, and some of the students read them with the read aloud function and text highlighting as it is spoken. Once the features of accessibility are generally understood, they will become commonplace.

Q: How do people know if a title will be accessible?

GEORGE: In a born accessible EPUB, accessibility metadata is embedded using the schema.org vocabulary. Publishers are also including accessibility metadata using ONIX. The Publishing Community Group at the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) is finishing up a user experience guide for translating the technical metadata to a user-friendly set of information. VitalSource has already implemented this in their catalogue, which means people can decide if the title will work for them, or if it would be a good option for a course. We need to promote this approach of exposing accessibility everywhere, including library systems and search engines.

Q: What’s next for areas such as accessible math standards?

GEORGE: All browsers and reading systems need to support MathML natively. Screen readers used by blind users have supported MathML for years, but until browsers and reading tools provide correct visual presentation of equations written in MathML, it will not be accepted. I expect that read aloud functions will present spoken math correctly and highlight the expression as it is spoken. If we can figure out how to have a car drive itself, we should be able to have math made fully accessible. While reading math correctly is the first step, doing math must also be fully accessible. Interestingly, it was the National Science Foundation (NSF) that first provided me with a tiny grant to work on accessible math back in 1989, and this problem is still not solved.

Q: How can professionals in publishing, education, technology, and other disciplines work together to better serve people with reading barriers?

GEORGE: Born accessible documents and publications are at the core of a change in the information society to be fully inclusive. Authors and publishers must embrace the born accessible movement. Authoring tools must include accessibility checkers, like Word does today, MathML, and features to add alt text to images and provisions for extended descriptions. The reading systems and apps must be fully accessible and tested, and the work at epubtest.org is a good example of the testing. Schools and institutions of higher education must buy born accessible ebooks that are third-party certified, as Voluntary Product Accessibility Templates (VPAT) may say all the right things but do not prove that the book is accessible.

About George Kerscher

George Kerscher, PhD, is the Chief Innovations Officer for the DAISY Consortium and served as the President of the International Digital Publishing Forum (IDPF).  An internationally recognized leader in document access, he has been devoted to making published information fully accessible to persons with print disabilities since 1987. He coined the term “print disabled” to describe people who cannot effectively read print because of a visual, physical, perceptual, developmental, cognitive, or learning disability. A tireless advocate, George believes that access to information is a fundamental human right and properly designed information systems can make all information accessible to all people.  He is the Director Emeritus at Guide Dogs for the Blind and in 2012 was honoured at the White House as a Champion of Change for leading innovation in the fields of science, technology, engineering, and math for people with disabilities. George and his guide dog Kroner graduated from Guide Dogs for the Blind in July, 2015.

About NISO

The National Information Standards Organization is a not-for-profit membership organization that identifies, develops, maintains, and publishes technical standards to manage information.

This article has been cross-posted with kind permission of Benetech, where George is a Senior Advisor. Our thanks to Carrie Motamedi, the author of this interview. George is also the Chief Innovations Officer at The DAISY Consortium and you can read more about the NISO Award at our DAISY news piece.

The Art and Science of Describing Images Part Three (W)

Art of Science of Describing Images part 3 title slide
In our series of free webinars February 10th saw the 3rd session focusing on image description: in the series entitled, The Art and Science of Describing Images. This webinar focused on 3 specific types of complex images with speakers Huw Alexander and Valerie Morrison showing us all how they approach these seemingly daunting areas.

This page contains:

Full Video of the Webinar

Speakers

  • Richard Orme, The DAISY Consortium—host and chair
  • Valerie Morrison—Center for Inclusive Design and Innovation at Georgia Institute of Technology
  • Huw Alexander—textBOX Digital

Session Overview

Huw Alexander opened this session by giving us a brief resume of what the webinar will cover. Continuing on from Part Two of this series this session will focus on 3 specific types of complex image: Artwork, Anatomy and Assessment.

Artwork

As with all images, Valerie advocates beginning with an overview of the artwork piece, the title together with a brief resume of the main components. For a more complex description it is imperative to consider the context for which you need the description. This may include:

  • The painting style
  • The color and composition
  • The style of the figures
  • Allegorical messaging
  • Influences
  • Historical notes

To include all of these notes within your alt text image description would be far too much and if there is a need for lengthy content here then it is better to write an extended description.

Huw explained “Sector Description” – by breaking down a painting into sections you can take the reader on a journey. This can be done in a number of ways: linear, clock face style, compass etc. Using this approach helps to create an immersive experience for the reader.

Valerie and Huw used some excellent examples to demonstrate how effective these techniques can be when describing complex images.

Anatomy

Making sure that you convey the relevant and precise elements of an anatomical image is likely to be an exacting process. Valerie made the point that you have to think very carefully about what to include in your description, because simply labelling all the parts often isn’t good enough. It doesn’t take into consideration the context in which the image is being used and it is far more useful to consider the following:

  • The name of the structure itself
  • The shape
  • The location
  • Proximity

Huw’s sectoring approach works very well with anatomical images, deciding what needs to be retained and considering the visual impact of the image itself.

Assessment

Images that are used in assessments, quizzes and tests can be extremely hard to recreate in description form and Valerie suggested that assessors consider an egalitarian approach here. By thinking of alternative ways to test knowledge you may be far more successful in creating a useful testing scenario. The example used was a geography question on the silhouettes of countries and the following might work equally well:

  • Questions about the size and shapes of countries
  • An essay question
  • Tactile graphics

All of these would test knowledge in various ways and offer an alternative to the silhouette question!

 

Related Resources

Discover the other webinars we’re running!

A Great Start for 2021: New Leadership for the UK Accessibility Action Group

A large "welcome" written by handRichard Orme, Chief Executive Officer at The DAISY Consortium delivered the following welcome piece for the UKAAF

The Publisher’s Association works to ensure the value of publishing, and the contribution it makes culturally and to the UK’s economy, is understood.

Part of its important outreach is a set of special publisher communities, made up of members from a particular function who provide specialist and technical advice to councils and staff. A key one that the UKAAF community will be familiar with is the special Accessibility Action Group; active for 10 years, it was set up to discuss developments in legislation, policy and technology and how this impacts accessible publishing, and UKAAF is a member of the AAG.

The group organises an annual event and develops guidance and best practice briefings for publishers on relevant matters. What’s important for us is that part of its remit is also bringing publishers together with advocacy organisations committed to supporting the production and distribution of accessible publications.

Despite COVID and all the hassles it’s caused us, there’s reason for optimism in 2021. That’s because in November the group secured a new chair. Stacy Scott manages the RNIB Bookshare UK Education Collection service, which provides accessible curriculum content to learners with a print-disability, and is also Publisher Relationship Manager at the charity. A blind mathematics graduate, Stacy has been professionally involved in the Special Educational Needs and Disabilities (SEND) education sector for almost fifteen years (check out Stacy’s profile over at LinkedIn).

Stacy is already busy planning the agenda for her first event, a virtual meeting of the group in January. If you are work in the UK publishing industry and are interested in learning about, and participating in accessibility developments (after all, this is an action group!) then you can write to mail@publishers.org.uk

The UKAAF board would like to very much welcome Stacy to this important accessibility leadership position in our sector. I’m sure UKAAF members and allies would also want to take this opportunity to wish her all the best at an exciting and fast moving time in the development of digital publishing.

NISO Plus 2021

February 22nd to 25th, 2021

The NISO Plus Conference has been devised as a place where publishers, vendors, librarians, archivists, product managers, metadata specialists, electronic resource managers, and much more come together to both solve existing problems and more importantly have conversations that prevent future problems from ever occurring. DAISY developer Marisa De Meglio will be speaking alongside EDRLab’s Laurent Le Meur on “Accessibility and Ebooks: Strategies for Ensuring it’s Done Well” and we encourage all of our readers to take the opportunity to hear for themselves from one of the Ace by DAISY developers.

Date

February 22-25, 2021

Venue

Online

Learn More

For full program details and registration information visit the NISO Plus 2021 Conference website

New Australian Research Offers a Valuable Insight into Accessible Publishing

Smart phine being held up with a picture of book shelves which take up the whole screenThe findings of an exploratory survey of Australian book publishers seeking to better understand the issues affecting the production of accessible content show that although producing digital books is almost the norm, ensuring that they are accessible is not.

But there is a lot of good will. Publishers are motivated by ethical considerations, the need for legal compliance and the desire for innovation to engage with the production of accessible ebooks, and see the return on investment to be of lesser importance.

Need for More Guidelines and Training on What Accessibility Is and How to Achieve it

Interestingly, publishers of all sizes have been able to produce accessible content, which shows that this is achievable regardless of the human, organisational, and financial resources available to them. However, there is a clear need for “plain language instructions and resources that can be understood by publishing staff without prior knowledge”.

This survey is part of a larger study investigating the production of accessible content in Australia carried out at the University of Sydney. It collected information from staff working for Australian publishers regarding the key drivers and challenges to transitioning workflows to create “born-accessible” books. The second survey was aimed at staff of disability organisations and alternative format providers, as well as disability support services from universities, vocational training organisations and state departments of education, about the process of converting books into accessible formats, and the key challenges that they need to deal with.

While the results from this small study, developed in collaboration with the Australian Inclusive Publishing Initiative and the Round Table on Information Access for People with Print Disabilities, cannot be generalised to the whole publishing industry in Australia, it offers valuable insights into the level of engagement of the publishing industry in the implementation of accessibility standards, and provides preliminary recommendations for the sector.

The surveys identify an important role that the Australian Inclusive Publishing Initiative can play in raising awareness of accessibility, developing industry-specific guidelines, resources and training, and facilitating collaboration with the disability sector, libraries and other stakeholders.

Long Term Aspirations

In the long term, publishers need to incorporate accessibility standards directly into their publishing workflows and produce basic accessible ebooks and perhaps even audiobooks themselves, leaving disability organisations to focus on more complex projects such as braille transcription and other specialised services. In order for publishers to embed accessibility in the whole publishing workflow, they need to make an organisational commitment to accessibility, develop and implement an accessibility policy, and invest in staff training.

Short Term Possibilities

In the short term, there is a lot that publishers can do to help make the conversion process easier and ensure faster access to books for individuals with print disabilities. The key suggestion is for publishers to improve response and turnaround time for providing files, provide updates on the processing of requests, and provide access to suitable files, such as InDesign, Illustrator, EPUB or MS Word, or editable PDFs (free of DRM restrictions or watermarks). It would also be good – and easily achievable, even in the current COVID-19 environment – for publishers to have on their websites a clearly defined and accessible policy and procedure for requesting content.

Further Research Would Help Inform Development

Finally, it is also clear from the responses that further research is needed to investigate the distinct needs of people of print disabilities themselves, as well as of the various stakeholders across the book supply chain. This would then inform the development of a set of best practice guidelines for writers and all publishing professionals involved in the creation and distribution of books, which is urgently needed by the industry.

The reports can be downloaded via the following links:

This report was kindly submitted to Inclusive Publishing by Agata Mrva-Montoya, who conducted the surveys discussed and prepared the above detailed reports on their findings.

Agata Mrva-Montoya, PhD, is Publishing Manager at Sydney University Press. Agata has been involved in the Australian Inclusive Publishing Initiative since 2018 and led the implementation of accessible publishing practices at Sydney University Press (SUP), which resulted in SUP becoming a signatory of the Accessible Book Consortium’s Charter on Accessible Publishing in January 2020. She can be contacted at agata.mrva-montoya@sydney.edu.au and @agatamontoya. ORCID iD: 0000-0001-6043-575X

W3C Announces the First Public Working Draft of EPUB 3.3

The EPUB 3 Working Group has published four First Public Working Drafts today for EPUB 3.3. This technology defines a distribution and interchange format for digital publications and documents and is the main format for accessible digital publications.  Read the full W3C announcement which indicates that EPUB 3.3 is now on a W3C Recommendation Track.