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Inspiring Words from Industry Leaders: Interview with Erin Lucas, RedShelf

head shot of erin lucasInclusive Publishing is continuing with its popular series of interviews with industry leaders, focusing on their approach to accessibility. Erin Lucas is Senior Director of Accessibility at RedShelf and her passion for accessible publishing is contagious! RedShelf are working tirelessly to improve the reading experience for all their readers and we are very proud that they are Inclusive Publishing Partners.

Providing born-accessible digital textbooks is a crucial part of a campus support ecosystem to empower ALL students and can provide peace of mind to accessibility office personnel and faculty.

Why is inclusive publishing important to you and/or your organization at this moment in time?

It’s never been more important to ensure students have access to accessible course materials. As many schools continue to limit on-campus learning this fall, the most vulnerable students are in danger of slipping through the cracks. Those who rely on the in-person support of the accessibility office are at even higher risk. Providing born-accessible digital textbooks is a crucial part of a campus support ecosystem to empower ALL students and can provide peace of mind to accessibility office personnel and faculty.

Do you have a top tip for others new to accessibility?

Accessibility is a journey, not a destination – expand your horizons and get connected to other accessibility champions! Look for MeetUps, Facebook Groups and LinkedIn posts to keep learning and connecting. I know from experience that it can be challenging to feel like you’re the only person in an organization who cares about accessibility, but the passion that the a11y community has for the important work we are doing is contagious! Become your organization’s a11y evangelist by sharing your experiences and knowledge with others and I guarantee you’ll find others who care as much as you do.

What you wish you knew about accessibility 10 years ago?

Having worked in the government IT sector for so long before coming to RedShelf, it was always a part of my job – but 10 years ago I had no idea that accessibility would be my full-time job someday. I probably would have connected with more folks outside of the government sector, to better understand how far behind some industries were with accessibility.  

What do you think will be the biggest game changer for inclusive publishing in the next few years?

It’s encouraging that so many publishers recognize the many benefits of EPUB and, thanks to this shift, we have seen an incredible change in the inclusivity of our catalog from only 40% EPUB to 75% EPUB in just three years! But, I think the true game changer will be campus stakeholders embracing EPUB format. Adoption of PDF still outpaces EPUB by a large margin and accessible course materials often isn’t top of mind for faculty. Bookstore managers may not know how to encourage accessible adoptions with those faculty members. In addition, many accessibility offices don’t have the bandwidth to learn how to handle EPUB, or have legacy assistive technology that only ingests PDF. But, if nothing else, the accessibility community is tenacious and I’m confident that by continuing to work together – on and off campus – we can affect change. 

For those still on the fence, why should they consider accessibility, bearing in mind the possible “new normal” for students in September?

I would reiterate the answer to question #1 – not considering accessibility places students at additional risk. Accessibility and usability go hand in hand, so by keeping accessibility top of mind, you help ALL students

How have good inclusive publishing practices influenced the majority of your customers?

It’s been especially influential on campuses where the accessibility office is part of the process of ensuring inclusive adoptions. They can be the voice for all students, helping faculty understand how time consuming accommodations can be and how EPUB can often eliminate the need for an accommodation. But it’s not just about the students who need additional support. The current generation of learners has always been digital and learns in a completely different way than previous generations. They also expect their technology to work in very specific ways, and only inclusive materials can support those expectations. 

Can you sum up your attitude towards inclusive publishing in one sentence.

Inclusive publishing is the key to success for EVERY student’s digital educational experience.

Do you have any final thoughts on accessibility or inclusive publishing practices you would like to share?

A huge thank you to all of our publishing, campus and accessibility industry partners for being so willing to share their knowledge and work with me and my colleagues at RedShelf. Together, we can ensure an accessible future for more generations to come!

WordToEPUB Extended Tutorial (W)

WordToEPUB opening slideIn our series of free weekly webinars July 29th saw a detailed session focused on our new groundbreaking tool, WordToEPUB, following on from the introductory webinar on this topic held earlier in the series.

This page contains:

Full Video of the Webinar

Speakers

  • Dara Ryder—host and chair
  • Richard Orme, The DAISY Consortium
  • Joseph Polizzotto, U.C. Berkeley
  • Nancy Zhang, Provincial Resource Center for the Visually Impaired, British Columbia

Session Overview

Richard Orme introduced the themes of webinar, opening with an overview of the basics for anyone new to the WordToEPUB tool. WordToEPUB is free to use and can create EPUBs from accessible Word documents for any platform and reading app.

A point and shoot demo of an academic paper showed us just how straightforward the method of creating accessible EPUB can be using this tool which is available in multiple languages. The originating word document does have to be accessible in the first place. By clicking on the WordToEPUB button in the ribbon, a dialogue starts within which you can modify the file name and its location. You can also convert by right clicking on your document or you can run the tool from the desktop….easy and straightforward to create an accessible EPUB document.

There are many advanced features available in WordToEPUB and the rest of this webinar looked at these in some detail:

  • Accessibility checker and Headings report
  • Metadata and Word properties
  • Cover images
  • Languages​ (with a demo using the Thorium reader)
  • Table of Contents
  • Splitting level
  • Stylesheets
  • Pagination

Our presenters spoke about these from their unique perspectives giving us examples of use cases and practical insights into how WordToEPUB has been a game changer already. With default conversion options available within the preferences menu, there is much opportunity for this tool to create bespoke documents that work for your particular environment. The Q & A session was lively and worth catching up on! Feedback opportunities and release updates are available.

Related Resources

Discover the other webinars we’re running!

Publishing, Accessibility, W3C Standards. Where Are We Going? (W)

Publishing Accessibility and W3C Standards opening slideIn our series of free weekly webinars  June 3rd saw a session focused on the future of the W3C, entitled Publishing, Accessibility, W3C Standards. Where Are We Going? The EPUB 3 standard can support accessibility to a degree never seen before. It’s already the most popular and most accessible publishing standard, but can we do better? Our speakers explored this theme during their webinar giving us an overview of what the publishing industry can expect from Publishing@W3C in the future.

This page contains:

Full Video of the Webinar

Speakers

  • Richard Orme, The DAISY Consortium—host and chair
  • Wendy Reid, Rakuten Kobo
  • Dave Cramer, Hachette Book Group
  • Tzviya Siegman, Wiley

Session Overview

Wendy Reid, Chair of the Publishing WG and Chair of the upcoming EPUB3 WG at W3C, opened this webinar by giving us an overview of the recent W3C survey conducted to understand how EPUB was being used within our industry. For publishers, EPUB is indeed the format of choice and it is very popular although , overall, it was concluded that publishers need it to do more. There is some misunderstanding about EPUB and better communication and spec improvements are needed to rectify this.

Dave Cramer, Chair of the former EPUB Community Group and Chair of the upcoming EPUB3 WG at W3C, gave us some background on how Publishing@W3C works and how we need to be using the W3C process as a tool to make improvements to our industry standards. The EPUB3 WG has seen 20 years of dedication to the EPUB spec but interoperability challenges, in particular, demand refinement and the new goals for the spec focus on these as well as other overdue alterations.

Tzviya Siegman, Chair of the Publishing WG and member of the W3C Advisory Board, discussed the EPUB accessibility spec—which she hopes will be a formal W3C recommendation by 2021. The EPUB Accessibility Taskforce is also working on a metadata project—The Accessibility Metadata Crosswalk, to identify gaps within the accessibility metadata in major industry standards.

Tzviya also discussed using DPUB ARIA and explained that if you use it correctly, how it can greatly enhance the reading experience for screen reader users. However, if used incorrectly the result can be quite the reverse so she suggests not using it unless competency levels are high.

WCAG Accessibility guidelines expect an update in Q4 2020 with several new success criteria to be included.

Wendy introduced us to the Audiobook specification which is on track to reach recommended status in Q3 2020, allowing for the creation of born accessible audiobooks and providing a mainstream standard for the creation of audiobook titles.

Our presenters gave us many resources and recommendations throughout the webinar and the Q & A at the end was most informative. Make sure you listen to some of the thought provoking questions and our panels expert thoughts on these topics.

Related Resources

Discover the other webinars we’re running!

Publishing, Accessibility, W3C Standards—Where Are We and How Did We Get Here? (W)

cover slide for Publishing, accessibility, W3C standards

In our series of free weekly webinars May 6th saw a session focused on publishing technology at the W3C, the EPUB eco-system, and baking in accessibility within digital content. Behind the scenes of any technology you will find that a significant amount of effort invested over many years has shaped where we are today. This webinar reflected on the EPUB 3 journey to become the most popular and most accessible digital publishing standard in the world.

This page contains:

Full Video of the Webinar

Speakers

  • Richard Orme, The DAISY Consortium—host and chair
  • Bill Kasdorf, Publishing Technology Partners
  • Luc Audrain, Inclusive Publishing Consultant (just retired from Hachette)
  • George Kerscher, The DAISY Consortium

Session Overview

Bill Kasdorf opened this webinar with an overview of book production workflows—the evolution of publishing technology has  enabled “accessibility to be more accessible than ever”. Today, every step of the workflow is digital and assistive technology benefits from the interoperability and open standards that are in play for digital files, systems and devices. Web technology is the fundamental basis for EPUB 3, giving publishers the opportunity to produce born accessible EPUB 3 as a standard output from their workflows. But Bill stressed that whilst this is possible:

You have to use the tech properly!

EPUB 3 doesn’t guarantee accessibility, rather it offers “accessibilityability”.

Luc Audrain walked us through a history of EPUB 3 which is now hosted within the Publishing@W3C organization who’s focus is on creating a global EPUB 3 ecosystem. The revision of the EPUB 3 spec and upgrade of EPUBCheck were the initial focus and now it is time to create the best EPUB 3 ecosystem for born accessible content, with tools such as EPUBCheck, Ace by DAISY and the EPUB 1.0 Accessibility specification.

George Kerscher spoke about integrating accessibility into all aspects of publishing and reading:

Accessibility is not a frosting spread on a cake; it must be baked in.

Authoring and publishing production software can integrate Ace by DAISY, the SMART tool and the DAISY Knowledge Base into their working practices and these have been built from DAISY’s years of experience and participation in digital publishing initiatives.

Alongside these tools and best practices, publishers need to take advantage of conformance and discovery metadata if they are to communicate the good work they are doing. The forthcoming User Experience Guide for accessibility metadata will help libraries and print disabled readers to buy born accessible EPUB 3 content and to have access at the same time, in the same format and at the same price as all other readers.

If you are interested in the future of EPUB and publishing standards then the second part of this webinar is worth registering for. The future of accessible publishing and standards – where are we going? will take place on June 3rd, 2020

Related Resources

Links mentioned in the webinar:

Include! The NIPI Conference on Inclusive Publishing

March 16th to 17th, 2020

This conference has now been postponed. Further details on the rescheduled event will be promoted as soon as they are available.


The Nordic Initiative Publishing Initiative conference aims to connect key participants from the Nordic world of reading and inclusion with the goal of initiating the joint work on inclusive publishing. If you work in the publishing industry, with distribution or with key library functions, this is a great opportunity to meet the experts and organisations in the forefront of accessibility and universal design, and find out how you can start the movement towards making your own products and services accessible for all.

Date

March 16-17, 2020

Venue

Malmö, Sweden

Learn More

Visit the NIPI website for further information