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December 2017: Access to Books and Reading-Finding Solutions Together

BrailleNet, Arald and Enssib organized a professional day on December 7th, 2017 entitled: Access to Books and Reading for People with Disabilities. This day was intended for all book professionals: publishers, producers of adapted books, librarians, developers of web solutions for online libraries and bookstores, developers of digital reading applications, t

eachers and students of the book trades. With workshops and demonstrations on the programme, attendees enjoyed a lively and interactive forum for discussion.

http://www.braillenet.org/acces-livres-journee-trouver-solutions-ensemble/

Photograph of panel at the Braillenet conference on December 7th

When: December 7th, 2017

Venue: Villeurbanne, France

When: 09:00 – 17:00

 

 

 


December 2017: Futurebook Conference

FutureBook brings together leading thinkers in publishing, retail, editorial, writing, marketing and tech, along with speakers from other industries. Europe’s largest digital publishing conference expanded in 2016 to include dedicated strands on the growing EdTech and AudioBook markets. A number of sessions are of interest to inclusive publishing: Reaching More Readers in a Distracted World and How is Technology changing the way we Listen.

https://www.thebookseller.com/futurebook-conference

Date: December 1st, 2017

Venue: London, U.K.

When: 08.30am – 18.30pm

Emerging Digital Solutions at the 11th French National Dyslexia Day

Logo of the Federation francaise desDys, The French Federation of Dyslexia Associations.This article was written for Inclusive Publishing by Luc Maumet, a consultant in accessible reading for print impaired persons. He was in charge for 15 years of the main library for the blind in France. He focuses today on digital solutions and born accessible content for all print impaired persons. For EDRLab Luc explores the impact the EPUB ecosystem may have on dyslexic person’s access to reading.

October was Dyslexia awareness month and many events were organized to spread information on the subject and to promote solutions and good practices. The French Federation of Dyslexia Associations, FFDYS, chose October the 14th to welcome professionals, parents, publishers and dyslexic persons for it’s annual “Dyslexia Day”. Taking place in the renowned University of Paris 8 Vincennes-Saint-Denis, the event attracted a large crowd of visitors.

The program was a mix of conference and technical presentation opening with a welcome video from the French Minister in charge of disabled persons, Sophie Cluzel, – a mark of the French government’s interest in and commitment to this issue .

I attended the event of behalf of EDRLab in order to gather more information on the impact of the EPUB ecosystem on reading accessibility for dyslexic people. EDRLab has begun to map the digital solutions already available in the market place including both reading apps and adapted ebooks.

EDRLab goals, by mapping the diversity of these existing solutions, are :

  • to lead to a better understanding of the actors, and their work in this specific field, in relation with EPUB.
  • to address their needs by a standardisation of EPUB enhancements for dyslexic people.
  • to develop reading solutions supporting these enhancements.
  • potentially, to help with the development of back-office tools for producing such enhanced content .

The FFDYS event was one of those days when you wish you could clone yourself in order to speak to more people and attend more workshops at the same time! Among the diversity of solutions presented, some were of particular interest from an inclusive publishing perspective :

L’arbradys, the recently created publishing house for dys children, is publishing a weekly newspaper. The text is specifically produced in-house with two different versions : one for children and one for teenagers. Two different accessibility settings  are available : one for dyslexia, one for dyspraxia. These newspapers are available on paper and in EPUB. The most recent editions  dealt with subjects such as “Wild life”, “Street art” or “The Olympic games in Paris 2024”.

Castlemore, a French children’s publisher, is producing some of its titles with specific settings for dyslexic kids which include features such as:

  • Specific quality of paper
  • Dyslexia font
  • Larger font
  • Shorter phrases
  • Work on line breaks etc…

All Castlemore books are also available in EPUB without DRM, allowing many other possibilities for dyslexic kids.  Bragelonne, Castlemore’s mother house, is an EDRLab member.

Readspeaker textaid “helps teachers and institutions face accessibility challenges with it’s read-aloud reading, writing, and studying tool, helping those with learning disabilities become confident, autonomous learners.” The reader has  specific functions to ease access to text for dyslexic people including :

  • Text to speech
  • Line spacing
  • Page masking tool to help focus  the attention
  • Reading ruler for reading line by line

Readspeaker Textaid can handle EPUB.

Livres-Accès is a website that gathers  information on accessible books for dyslexic or otherwise print disabled children. It’s catalog contains printed books as well as ebooks, and several of them are distributed in EPUB. Livres-Accès was a bookstore but it is now evolving toward consulting and training activities.

ADELE Team is a university software project with the ambition of creating new solutions in the digital reading field for dyslexic people. The University Paris 8 Vincennes-Saint-Denis researchers work in coordination with the French dyslexia expert Laëtitia Branciard. Dyslexic children have been assisting with the project by supplying their own writings in order to test the system.

Disney Company : in the collection “Les mots sont à toi”, Disney presents ebooks in EPUB with specific functions for dyslexic readers. These include:

  • Choice of fonts and their size
  • Space between letters
  • Colorization of syllables 
  • Alternating lines

What makes this collection so special is the availability of famous licences such as Star Wars or Cars in EPUB.

These are just a few examples of the vitality of the digital publishing ecosystem for dyslexic persons, as seen at the 11th French National Dyslexia Day organized by FFDYS. We are seeing very specialized solutions converging with mainstream tools and contents. EPUB as an ecosystem with EPUB documents (born accessible or with specific enhancements) and EPUB readers can play a historic role in easing access to reading for dyslexic persons.

EDRLab’s mapping of EPUB solutions for dyslexia is at an early stage : the French solutions are on the map (or at least a large majority of them). and wee now need  feedback from other European countries. If you happen to know a publisher with specific involvement in this field or if you yourself are promoting a reader for it’s qualities for dyslexic users, please contact us and we will add them to the EPUB and dyslexia map. In this era of such active innovations we strongly believe information exchange is key to our goal : “ to make publications accessible to all, including people with print disabilities.”

For more information on this topic please see Luc’s article entitled Accessibility in reading systems: what about dyslexia? published on the EDRLab website in June 2017.

November 2017: Digital Book Conference, Paris

The French Publishers Association, Synidcat National de l’Edition, is holding its annual digital publishing event dedicated to the strategic development of the publishing sector in the digital age. Of particular interest is the session delivered by EDRLab and industry colleagues on EPUB 3 for an Excellent Reading Experience. For registration and program information visit http://www.sne.fr/evenement_sne/assises-du-23-novembre-2017/

Date: November 23rd, 2017

Venue: Amphithéâtre Novotel Tour Eiffel, 61 quai de Grenelle 75015 Paris

When: 9.30am


November 2017: Inclusive Design 24

November 15th to 16th, 2017

A Free 24-Hour Online Community Event On Accessibility organized by The Paciello Group. Registration is free and all sessions will be streamed publicly on YouTube. Full program information is available at https://www.inclusivedesign24.org

Date: 15th – 16th November, 2017

Where: Online

When: 7pm UTC

November 2017: Accessing Higher Ground

November 13th to 17th, 2017

This 5 day conference focuses on the creation of accessible media and information resources and legal and policy issues within education, business and public settings.

This conference is intended for:

  • individuals who need to design or provide accessible Web, media, information resources and technology in the academic and business environment;
  • faculty and administrators interested in ADA & Section 508 compliance;
  • faculty and other professional interested in incorporating Universal Design content or UDL into
    curriculum;
  • faculty and other professionals who wish to ensure that their curriculum is accessible.

For further information and registration details visit: http://accessinghigherground.org

Date: November 13th – November 17th, 2017

Venue: Westminster, Colorado, USA

 

 

December 2017 BISG Making Information Pay: Higher Education

December 8th, 2017

Making Information Pay: Higher Education is an extension of BISG’s signature annual event that will focus on the needs and developments in the Higher Education side of publishing. This year’s dual focus will be on education technology and the impact of accessibility initiatives on higher-education content delivery. For registration and program information see http://bisg.org/events/EventDetails.aspx?id=891617&group=

Date: Friday, December 8th, 2017

Venue: Macmillan Learning, 1 New York Plaza, New York, NY

When: 1pm

ebookcraft, Toronto

March 21st to 22nd, 2018

ebookcraft is a two-day conference dedicated to ebook production—if you’re looking for a mix of practical tips and forward-thinking inspiration, you won’t want to miss it. In 2018, the main conference day will take place on Thursday, March 22, with an optional workshop day for the #eprdctn crowd on Wednesday, March 21.

Of particular interest to us here at Inclusive Publishing is the session

Is Your EPUB Accessible? Put it to the Test!

Romain Deltour (software developer, The DAISY Consortium) and Matt Garrish (Editor, Digital Standards and Process, The DAISY Consortium) will demonstrate the new Ace by DAISY, open source, EPUB accessibility checking tool.

With several sessions devoted to accessibility and specific focus on inclusive publishing throughout the conference make sure you don’t miss out!

Date:

March 21-22, 2018

Venue:

MaRS Discovery District, Toronto, Canada

Learn More:

For program information and registration details (early bird pricing is open through January 2018) visit: http://techforum.booknetcanada.ca.

 

Introducing ACE: Accessibility Checker for EPUB

Photograph of 4 ace playing cardsThis was a guest post for EPUBSecrets by Romain Deltour, lead developer of the Ace software tool, and re-posted here with the kind permission of Laura Brady, editor of EPUBSecrets.

The mission of ebook developers and publishers is a pretty darn cool and noble one, if you ask me: crafting pure information, pure knowledge, so that it can be readable by everyone. Yes, Everyone. As Billy Gregory playfully put it on Twitter in 2015, “when UX doesn’t consider ALL users, shouldn’t it be known as Some Users’ Experience, or… #SUX?”. If some people are left out, SUX. Well, we don’t want that in our EPUBs! The alternative is of course truly inclusive publishing, where content is accessible to all.

“When UX doesn’t consider ALL users, shouldn’t it be known as Some Users’ Experience, or… #SUX?”

Producing accessible ebooks, however, comes with its own challenges. Sometimes, accessibility is just underestimated and dashed off. Other times, goodwill may be damped down by perceived technical complexity. In any case, it is — sadly — far too easy to let some inaccessible content slip through a production workflow.

Wouldn’t it be useful to have some tools to help spot the most obvious accessibility errors, so that you can more easily work your way towards inclusive publishing? That’s the idea behind Ace, an accessibility checker for EPUB developed by the DAISY Consortium and currently in public beta testing.

Ace, in a nutshell

Ace is an open source tool that can help with evaluating conformance to the EPUB Accessibility 1.0 specification. Ace actually does two things: it runs some automated checks (and will report obvious accessibility violations), and it also extracts some data that can be used in a later manual inspection process.

Ace is usable as a command line tool, or can be integrated in larger software via a Javascript or HTTP API. Ace can create reports both in a machine-readable format (JSON-LD), or as a human-friendly HTML document.

“Ace is an open source tool that can help with evaluating conformance to the EPUB Accessibility 1.0 specification.”

Automated checks

When it comes to automated checking, it is very important to understand that a tool can only detect a limited set of accessibility requirements. Steve Faulkner, W3C HTML editor and well-known accessibility expert, for instance recently mentioned the figure of 30% of WCAG 2.0 criteria being able to be automatically verified. Trying to report more can result in a report riddled with false-positives and bloated information, which can be counter-productive.

In Ace, we’re trying to adopt a conservative approach and only report true and confirmed violations. Under the hood, to check an EPUB’s HTML content documents, Ace notably relies on aXe, a high-quality Web accessibility checker by Deque Systems. On top of these WCAG-related checks, Ace also runs a few EPUB-specific checks, for instance to check the presence of accessibility metadata. When a violation is found, Ace will point to DAISY’s accessible publishing knowledge base (curated by Matt Garrish).

Data extraction

In addition to the automated checks, Ace extracts some data that is intended to be useful for manual accessibility inspection. For instance, Ace can report the outline computed from the HTML headings (HTML elements h1 to h6) alongside the ToC from the Navigation Document, so that a person can check that they are consistent. Ace also extracts the list of the EPUB’s images and graphics along with their associated accessibility descriptions, and renders them in a consolidated table for easier review.

Again, automated checks cannot give the full picture, and by extracting relevant data Ace intends to prepare for the later stages in the process.

When to use Ace?

Fixing inaccessible content can be a costly operation. Imagine that you’re building a house: would you consider piercing the windows after having raised the walls and decorated with wallpaper, or would you rather consider it at build time? The example may sound trite, but it’s really what is at stake for accessibility. The well-known mantra “test early, test often” totally applies. The sooner you identify an issue, the easier and cheaper it is to fix. Accessibility testing doesn’t have to be put off to the QA stages down the line; it is a sane practice to also test during development.

What’s the plan, and how can I help?

Ace is currently in beta testing phase, and we’re eager to get feedback from technical experts in ebook production. Please be aware it may have some rough edges and …erm… bugs too (wouldn’t life be a bit bland without them?). We’re also looking forward to any usability suggestions or feature requests (on both Ace or the knowledge base). Feel more than welcome to use our issue tracker, or the beta testing feedback form.

We intend to release version 1.0 later this year. There’s already a bunch of improvements on our radar, including better configurability, more EPUB-specific rules, basic support for EPUB 2, localization, integration with EpubCheck,… Stay tuned! For news on Ace release updates (as well as all areas related to accessibility and publishing), don’t hesitate to sign up to the Inclusive Publishing newsletter, and follow @InclusivePub on Twitter.


Romain Deltour is a software developer and accessibility expert for the DAISY Consortium, and is a firm believer in the Web’s potential to enable a truly inclusive publishing ecosystem. When he’s not coding or attending W3C conference calls, he can usually be seen playing with one of his three lovely kids. Sometimes, they happen to enjoy the conference calls too…but shh!
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Accessibility: Ensuring that Edtech Systems Work Together to Serve All Students

The attached article was written by Rick Johnson, Vice President of Product Strategy at VitalSource Technologies LLC, and published in the EDUCAUSEreview on September 25th. Key takeaways, as identified by EDUCAUSEreview, are:

  • As course materials are increasingly deconstructed and customized to specific learners, ensuring accessibility and interoperability of edtech tools and systems is crucial.
  • The next generation digital learning environment offers an ecosystem to provide this cohesion and ensure the accessibility of learning materials.
  • When vendors follow standards such as Web Content Accessibility Guidelines,their components support individual accessibility and contribute to enhancing the accessibility of the whole system.
  • Ultimately, the real-world test is not how each of the parts conform to a standard, but how all of the parts work together to provide a highly functional system for users.

For Rick’s full article please visit https://er.educause.edu/articles/2017/9/accessibility-ensuring-that-edtech-systems-work-together-to-serve-all-students