The EPUB3 Working Group is investigating the gap in recommendations for the production of accessible fixed-layout content in EPUB. The accessibility guidelines for reflowable content are well-established, but the working group is hoping to produce similar documentation for fixed-layout, and would like to get feedback from the industry on methods that people have used, are interested in using, or challenges they have faced in producing high-quality fixed-layout content. They are particularly interested in use cases and examples where content creators have tried SVG, fixed layout with reflowable sections, or modern CSS (Grid/Flexbox).
With the 2025 deadline for the implementation of the European Accessibility Act (EAA) approaching fast, experts from across publishing gathered at the virtual Frankfurt Book Fair under the subtitle All you need to know from international accessibility experts to present how the publishing sector can get ready and fully seize the opportunity the Act presents for all readers.
This report was kindly shared with us by the International Publishers Association and was prepared by Cristina Mussinelli and Elisa Molinari from the LIA Foundation.
The 2020 Frankfurt Book Fair, the most important event for the international publishing industry, went 100% digital for the first time ever. Nevertheless, the organizers were able to offer a rich professional program of events, seminars and conferences.
As such, Frankfurt Book Fair, IPA (International Publishers Association) and FEP (Federation of European Publishers) decided, in collaboration with Fondazione LIA (Libri Italiani Accessibili) to move the event on accessibility online. That event was convened by Aldus Up, the recently approved project funded under Creative Europe that is building on the work of Aldus, the European Fairs network.
This event: European Accessibility Act (EAA): A Chance for Publishers, was conceived as the first of a series of initiatives focused on accessibility, that the project will organize in the different EU book fairs in the forthcoming years under the coordination of Fondazione LIA. You can read more about the European Accessibility Act at the end of this report.
The seminar, chaired by Anne Bergman-Tahon, FEP Director, opened with remarks from Hugo Setzer, IPA President, and Peter Kraus vom Cleff, FEP President.
The seminar began with an introduction to the new legislation by Inmaculada Placencia-Porrero, Senior Expert Disability and Inclusion DG Employment Social Affairs and Equality European Commission. She presented the new Directive providing a general overview followed by the implications and the requirements for the publishing industry. Monica Halil Lövblad, Head of the World Intellectual Property Organisation’s Accessible Books Consortium further explained how this directive is inter-related with the Marrakech Treaty.
The second part of the seminar aimed to take delegates on an accessibility journey, to better explain what problems visually impaired people face if a publication, a website or an app is not accessible and the benefits if they are accessible. Fondazione LIA provided a short video showing the experience of a visually impaired person in searching, accessing and reading a publication in these two different situations: not accessible and fully accessible.
The accessibility journey, starts with the production of ebooks following the Born Accessible principle, continues with the creation and distribution of that content to stores and online platforms accompanied by metadata describing the accessibility features. Thanks to the possibility of buying or borrowing ebooks on accessible websites, it is possible to complete the journey by making reading accessible to all.
Cristina Mussinelli, Secretary General of Fondazione LIA, explained what makes a publication accessible and how to create Born Accessible content i.e. including accessibility from the very first steps within a workflow. She also provided information on the available international standard guidelines and the tools to check the compliance of ebooks with the requirements described. She highlighted the point that creating accessible digital publications means creating higher quality publications for any reader.
An Accessible Environment
Once the ebook is produced as accessible, it is important that it is also distributed in a fully accessible environment. Paolo Casarini, CTO and IT Director at Società editrice il Mulino, explained why and how they decided to acquire the knowledge to make PandoraCampus, their most important web platform providing students access to their publication, in an accessible format, with the support of Fondazione LIA. All the work they have done is based on international web standards, such as WCAG 2.1 (Web Content Accessibility Guidelines) and WAI-ARIA (Web Accessibility Initiative, Accessible Rich Internet Applications). They also made metadata available to end-users providing detailed information on the accessibility features of the publications and have published a statement describing all the work they have done to embrace accessibility.
Luc Audrain, accessibility expert and former head of the accessibility project at Hachette Livre, France, stressed the importance of accessibility metadata options within ONIX and Schema.org. If used correctly, these can provide end-users with detailed information on the accessibility features of digital publications, such as presence of reading order, structural navigation, linked table of contents, alternative image descriptions, etc. This will become very important as one of the goals of the EAA Directive is to make accessible publications available in the marketplace. It will be fundamental for any end-user to know if an ebook responds to each need before acquiring it.
An Accessible Reading Experience
The last step of the journey is the reading experience. The European Accessibility Act requires both the reading devices and ereading apps to be accessible. Wendy Reid, Accessibility and Publishing Standards Lead at Rakuten Kobo, described the work being done in this field. She explained also that, as for the publications themselves, all the features that are required for accessibility, such as text or font adjustment or line spacing, make the reading experience better for everyone, irrespective of ability. The reference standards are the WCAG.
The Relevance of the Directive
The session closed with Anne Bergman interviewing Thomas Kahlisch, Representative of the European Blind Union and Director of the German Centre for Accessible Reading (dzb lesen) on the relevance of the Directive. He highlighted as a fundamental element the strong collaboration among the different stakeholders: publishers, the different actors of the publishing value chain, organizations representing print impaired persons and specialist organizations.
The concept of born accessible publications and of mainstreaming their distribution in the traditional channels has only emerged in recent years so many parts of the supply chain are not yet aware of the role they have to play in the accessible digital ecosystem, where if only one element in the chain fails, accessibility is lost and the end-user is penalized. Accessibility should become a crucial element of the whole publishing supply chain’s strategy. Understanding users’ needs and acquiring the specific knowledge, through training and collaborating with those who have already embraced accessibility will be fundamental if the industry is to be ready by 2025.
The European Accessibility Act
The common goal presented at the seminar was to set the roadmap, create awareness and provide adequate knowledge to the publishing industry, in preparation of the entrance in force of the so called European Accessibility Act, the EU Directive 2019/882 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 17 April 2019 on the accessibility requirements for products and services.
The Directive will apply to many products and services, such as consumer general purpose computer hardware systems (personal computers, notebooks, smartphone and tablets) and operating systems for those hardware systems, self-service terminals (payment or ticketing terminals), consumer banking services, electronic communication services, payment services, services to access audiovisual media services. It also includes all ebooks, dedicated reading software, ereading devices and ecommerce placed in the EU market from June 28, 2025 by European and international business operators. Any publisher selling ebooks in Europe and all the actors of the epublishing supply chain will then need to respect the accessibility requirements set by this new legislation.
Just as ebooks and software ereading solutions are considered parts of a service, the concept of service provider includes publishers and all the other economic operators involved in content distribution:
- distributors and online retailers, ecommerce websites and mobile apps, online platforms;
- software ereading solutions;
- DRM solutions;
- metadata managing systems.
The Directive in fact requires that all these organizations make content available to users through accessible services so that any user can carry out the entire process independently.
The goal here is to offer everyone the same opportunities to read and be informed, without distinction.
To break down current barriers it is necessary that a person with a visual disability can independently carry out all the steps necessary to select, buy and read. The seminar offered a chance to better understand the role that every member of the ebook value chain has to play in order to be compliant and to build a fully accessible epublishing ecosystem.
Organizers of the seminar have posted a video of the session which can be viewed at:
- The European Accessibility Act
- The DAISY Consortium conducted a webinar in June 2020 focusing on some of the detail of the EAA and we encourage readers to back up the information provided here: The European Accessibility Act, Considerations for the Publishing Industry and Benefits to Consumers Globally.
- Inclusive Publishing published an early report by Alejandro Moledo (European Disability Forum) entitled: The European Accessibility Act: A Push for Accessible Publications which includes useful background for all our readers
This free webinar will explore what a university press and a library are doing to support the needs of all researchers regardless of their ability. How do students with disabilities access and read academic research materials – what tools do they use and what challenges do they face? How can a publisher incorporate digital accessibility into everyday processes? How does a library help patrons with accessibility requirements?
Speakers from Cambridge University Press and Royal Holloway University will give us an insight into how they deliver on these questions.
December 4th, 2020
For further information on the schedule, the speakers and how to register please visit the UKSG website.
After reviewing many incredible activities taking place around the world which are working to advance the accessibility of publications, we are pleased to announce the recipient of the 2020 DAISY Consortium Award for Accessibility in Publishing is The Department of Canadian Heritage.
In 2019, Canadian Heritage announced an unprecedented initiative to encourage the Canadian book industry to integrate accessible publishing features into the production and distribution of digital books (ebooks and audio books). The program will support the production and distribution of accessible digital publications that can be used by everyone, including readers living with print disabilities. The initiative is supported by a funding program of CA$22.8M over 5 years. Canadian Heritage was recognized with this award for leading the way globally with this activity which will not only benefit readers in Canada, but also people reading Canadian publications around the world.
Richard Orme from DAISY said
We are delighted to award Canadian Heritage the 2020 DAISY Award for Accessibility in Publishing to celebrate this ground-breaking initiative which provides a shining example of how government agencies can promote and support publishing accessibility for people with print disabilities
Congratulations to the Department of Canadian Heritage and the partner agencies implementing this wonderful enterprise.
Our thanks to Digital Book World who support the DAISY Award for Accessibility in Publishing.
The Independent Publishers Guild held its annual awards ceremony this week and we are delighted to announce that Kogan Page won the IPG Digital Publishing Award for its accessible ebook program. Kogan Page’s tireless efforts…
opens up textbooks to visually impaired students. Having reengineered its workflows, consulted widely and refined interactive features, the program has been warmly received by those campaigning for better accessibility in publishing—and future-proofed the business’ tech as well.
Recognition for this important work in this field is well-deserved and our congratulations go to all at Kogan Page who contribute to the greater accessibility of digital content. Judges said:
This is important work… Kogan Page’s commitment to accessibility is to be applauded.
Details of this and other awards can be found at the IPG Awards page.
With countries issuing plans and advice for the long-awaited return to school in September, we thought it would be useful to pause and consider how the accessibility of digital learning materials remains as important as ever. Some element of online learning seems inevitable in the “new normal” and it’s amazing how many educational content providers have adapted and reinvented their own workflows and content to suit these new environments.
It’s not been easy. Change to workflows to accommodate staff working from home is an enormous step but combined with adapting content to allow for greater access is an even greater challenge. For some publishers this second hurdle was not a problem…already producing born accessible EPUB 3 and giving students the best online experience as a result. But for those just dipping their toes into digital publishing, this will have been a fast learning curve and one that requires the collaboration of all supply chain partners. It takes a village.
The publishing supply chain around the world reacted very quickly to support homeschooling parents and teachers delivering online learning resources, making digital content available to all readers as much as they could. Platform providers set up schemes to ensure students could access, free of charge, the materials they needed and in most cases, these materials come with a high degree of accessibility. Our Inclusive Publishing Partners, Red Shelf and Vital Source are fine examples of this and their good work was highlighted in one of our early webinars, dedicated to considering access for students during a global pandemic.
But where do you start if you are hoping to make a difference in September but this is new and daunting for you and your team? There are some quick wins and some more challenging areas but the most important thing is that you take the plunge. None of it is quite as difficult as you might think and there is plenty of help and guidance on hand if you know where to look.
- Prepare a company commitment to accessibility and publish this on your website. This doesn’t have to say that everything you publish is 100% accessible but rather that your mission includes making your content as accessible as you can and that your work and focus is centered on user access and requirements.
- Assess your digital content. How complex is the content that you are producing? Focus on the monochrome simple layout documents to start with as these can ease you into the path of accessible publishing.
- Consider EPUB – EPUB is the most widely used format within the publishing industry and offers the greatest opportunity for accessibility. EPUB 3.2, the latest version, is where you want to focus your attentions and you should instruct your developers (whether in-house or 3rd party) to take advantage of all the accessibility features it offers.
- Use Ace by DAISY – Ace by DAISY is a free accessibility checking tool for EPUB content and you can use this on your desktop for one off documents or build it into your production workflow. The resulting report will help you to focus on what areas need attention.
- Use the metadata! If you are confident that your content has passed Ace, then you should use the metadata options available in schema.org (for your EPUB file) and Onix for Books (for your retailer feed) and let your customers know that a particular title might indeed be suitable for them. Shout about your good work and your sales will increase accordingly.
All of these things can be put in place with relatively little aggravation. For some, your developers will already have fully embraced the EPUB 3 format so it might just be a question of making sure that they are using it to it’s full capability. Wherever you are in the process, you can embrace some of this in time for September….anything you are able to install is better than doing nothing.
And Then What?
Once you’ve got started with the simpler content you will want to think about more complex documents that might include rich and interactive material. How do we make this accessible to readers with a print disability? It is a challenge, indeed, but much of the hard work has been done for you and it’s simply a question of deciding what methods work for you. This can depend on the size of your organization, whether you outsource any areas of your workflows and what the subject matter is of the content. All of these elements coincide to produce a unique environment and you will want to take time to consider what works best.
We have heaps of guidance to help you make these choices.
Why Exactly Do You Need to do this Now?
Accessibility has always been important and the business case for it has been proven in the past so why is it particularly important right now? Well, access is a vital issue for everyone, whether fully-abled or disabled and it is understood that an EPUB with all the accessibility features enabled provides a richer and more satisfying experience for everyone. We should be affording students the best online learning experience that we can offer them and an accessible EPUB file does that.
But it is worth noting that it is also possible to remediate files so that they can be made accessible after the fact, but imagine the time and potential cost of this when you could just build everything from the start? Your files can be born accessible so that you are offering all students the same material, in the same format, at the same time and for the same cost as everyone else. This is what true accessibility looks like and we should be doing our level best to make this happen for September. Education challenges are going to be great but let’s make the “new normal” an accessible one.
Commit to making your content as accessible as you can and you are part of the solution for September. It’s simple!
- Our Introduction to Inclusive Publishing is a great place to understand the benefits of accessible content. Take a look at the rest of the publisher resources within this area of our website to further your understanding.
- Our developer area will give you some idea of what is required of you technically—it’s not as hard as you think!
- There is plenty of guidance highlighted in both these areas of our website so that you can start to put some of your understanding into practice.
- Register for our Weekly Webinar series put together is in response to multiple challenges faced by conferences around the world, as well as feedback from the wider DAISY community expressing interest in online training resources.
Publishers have stepped up to the challenge in a big way and the International Publishers Association has gathered together details of resources available in various countries to assist during this time. This list of IPA resources brings together the good work being done around the globe to provide as much information as possible.
Hugo Setzer, IPA President said:
Self-isolation around the world has seen a boom in reading. Books and reading are the ideal way of escaping our four walls but also to understand what is happening around us, how to overcome this and how to make our lives better in the future. We will need books and we will need each other. The International Publishers Association will play its role to support our international colleagues, our authors and readers, our researchers, our teachers and pupils, to overcome this crisis.
In our series of free weekly webinars July 22nd saw a session focused on the skill of writing image descriptions giving us an in-depth glimpse of how to approach various types of images.
This page contains:
- Richard Orme, The DAISY Consortium—host and chair
- Valerie Morrison, Center for Inclusive Design at The Georgia Institute of Technology
- Huw Alexander, textBOX Digital
Valerie Morrison opened this session with reference to the 1st image description webinar that formed part of this series, held last month, which concentrated on best practice for publishers and explained that today’s session would look closer at editing tips for Alt Text and how to describe some of the more popular types of image.
The Art of Editing
Valerie had previously presented on her basic approach to image description and was useful to be able to go over these again in reference to today’s more detailed dive into the topic. Editing alt text is vital and being able to call on multiple people to perform a review is a good idea. Valerie gave our listeners 4 useful tips to help them craft effective descriptions:
Edit to Provide Clarity
Make sure you use specific language and simple word choices in order to be clear. Write out any acronyms and symbols and use proper grammar and punctuation
Edit to Organize Information
Work from the general to the specific and group like items together for ease of cognitive load. Organize information within your image description in predictable ways, listing similarities first.
Edit to Remain Neutral
Try not to instruct or go beyond what is contained within the image. You can describe actions or expressions but don’t attempt to interpret thoughts and feelings unless the context requires this.
Edit to Reduce Redundancy
Edit descriptions which are too wordy and cut unnecessary phrases. Avoid repeating a caption, if one is present, and try not to regurgitate the surrounding text.
Before moving on to some specific examples Valerie reminded us to consider the cognitive load of your reader. The average person can remember 7 items at a time so less is more where your image descriptions are concerned. Introducing fewer words helps the listener to process information more efficiently and by simplifying and reducing alt text length you care reducing auditory fatigue.
Describing the Most Popular Types of Image
Huw Alexander talked to us about a method that he and his team have devised to provide an organized approach to image description: the focus/LOCUS method which very much complements the approach that Valerie suggested, advocating working from the general to the specific along a pathway of scene-setting and story-telling.
Huw chose 7 image types for this particular webinar with the reassurance that other types will be looked at in future sessions in this series:
- Bar charts
- Pie charts
- Line charts
- Venn diagrams
- Flow charts
- Scatter plots
showing us the major areas of focus for each and then providing an in-depth example of how it should be done. This level of information is invaluable to those of us who are writing image descriptions on a daily basis and we look forward to the next session (October 7th) which will look at info-graphics and timelines and how to describe these, as well as complex content, test and examination materials and, not forgetting, tables!
- PowerPoint slide deck (3.3 MB)
- Full transcript Word document (40 KB)
- The focus/LOCUS image description method
In our series of free weekly webinars July 8th saw a session about the journey accessible EPUB publications take to ultimately be delivered to students in their education establishments and our speakers came from organizations involved throughout this journey.
This page contains:
- Richard Orme, The DAISY Consortium—host and chair
- Michael Johnson, Benetech
- Rachel Comerford, Macmillan Learning
- Trisha Prevett, Southern New Hampshire University
- Brendan Desetti, D2L
This webinar looked at aspects of the educational materials eco-system for accessibility and Michael Johnson opened by summarizing what would be covered:
- What is the Eco-System?
- The Publishing Workflow
- Accessible Titles in Retail
- What is Happening on Campus
- A View Inside a Learning Management System
Michael Johnson talked to us about what is happening now. Publishers are already creating accessible EPUBs, they are preparing files for 3rd party certification and accessible ebooks are are available for sale. There is reader software to support accessible EPUB files and campuses are buying accessible content and changing their procurement policies for their systems.
All elements in the workflow from the publisher to the point of retail, from being available for purchase to appearing within the LMS / library system, are part of the accessible eco-system. Our eco-system should be accessible from start to finish to benefit all students.
The business case is clear and Rachel Comerford reminded us that:
You or someone close to you has benefitted from accessibility work at least once in the last year / /month / week whether or not you consider yourself disabled.
The ingredients for an accessible environment must include:
- The Data
- The People
- The Content
- The Platform
- The End Product
Rachel took us through each of these areas in relation to publishing in general and, more specifically, how Macmillan Learning have approached these.
Trisha Prevett gave us an insight into how this feeds into what is happening on campus, where they currently have 180,000 online students! Accessibility is more important than ever and impacts the following areas:
- Procurement workflows
- Electronic Information Technology
- Assessment of Products
- Relationships with contracted vendors
- Cost of resources
- Training of faculty and staff
Brendan Desetti spoke to us about Learning Management Systems and how accessibility affects the three areas:
- Content: in supporting instructors with accessible course content
- Process: in facilitating practice of universal design for learning
- Platform: enabling accessibility and an equitable user experience
Brendan showed us how D2L are ensuring that all layers of their LMS are attending to these.
Michael Johnson summarized :
- This is indeed all happening now
- A Born Accessible EPUB is a better EPUB
- This is all real work and very do-able
- Campuses must insist that their vendors are compliant
- Publishers and platform folk should make sure they are compliant
Accessibility is about meeting the specifications but also about the user experience, the audience response, the assistance and support that comes with a product, and the change that the product undergoes.
- PowerPoint slide deck (33 MB)
- Full transcript Word document (36 KB)
- W3C Business Case for Accessibility
- Macmillan Learning Accessibility
- VitalSource Benetech bookstore
- Benetech Born Accessible
This webinar will build on our first image description session to take a deeper dive into describing images, talking through plenty of examples from initial assessment through to solution, and starting to address some of the more complex challenges which can arise from graphical complexity and from informational constraints like those found with tests.
July 22nd, 2020
Online via Zoom or via the DAISY YouTube channel afterwards
Sign up for the July 22nd webinar
For information on the whole DAISY webinar series on offer you can register your interest on the Webinar Information Page
We are very pleased to welcome three new organizations to our Inclusive Publishing Partner program. Pearson, Microsoft and Fenix Editorial are now among the select group of companies who are enjoying the benefits of the IPP program. Congratulations to all involved and we look forward to having you on board.
The IPP program is open to anyone working within the publishing industry and we are proud to include Google, Adobe,VitalSource & Red Shelf amongst our esteemed list of partners. A full list of members is available and we welcome your interest. Get in touch so see how the benefits available to you via this program might be able to change the way you approach accessibility and enable us to design and produce tools and solutions that work for you.