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The Journey Towards Dyslexia-Friendly, Digital Publishing

Teenage boy walking with handheld device with earphones attached. Image is just of his torseDuring 2018 Dyslexia Awareness Week, Abi James, Chair of the British Dyslexia Association New Technologies Committee, looks back at how dyslexia-friendly practices have evolved and how the latest accessibility standards and inclusive practices can help publishers produce materials that are suitable for everyone.

Dyslexia affects approximately 10% of the population and, of those individuals, 4% severely. It is a life-long condition and studies have shown it has a neurological basis, often running in families. Dyslexia is one of several Cognitive Disabilities that are hidden from view but, through their impact on processing, attention and recall, can significantly affect the effort, efficacy and enjoyment of printed text. Technology has increasing been used to help overcome the difficulties associated with dyslexia.

The British Dyslexia Association (BDA) New Technologies Committee has been providing free advice on assistive technology for over 20 years. Popular tools include those that support the composition of text, such as word processors, spell checkers and speech recognition; or assistive technologies such as text to speech and other customised tools to aid reading. However, while technology has evolved significantly in that time, the most popular articles are still those about fonts and layouts for making accessible documents.

In 2003, as word processing became a common tool, the BDA developed a Style Guide to promote dyslexia-friendly publishing practices. The style guide called for a minimum font size, the use of clear font styles and consideration of how glare and colour combinations can have an impact on some readers. The BDA Style Guide remains one of the core references for those interested in inclusive publishing practices and is frequently cited in academic studies.

In the decade that followed the publication of the Style Guide, interest from typographers also grew with the creation of several dyslexia-specific fonts (i). These fonts attempted to aid dyslexic readers by making letter sizes more consistent and recognisable. Some of these fonts have been included in mainstream ebook tools, including the OpenDyslexic font which comes with some Kindle devices. This in turn has led to an increased interest from researchers about how fonts and colours affect some dyslexic readers. Studies such as Rello and Baeza-Yates’ Good Fonts for Dyslexia have failed to identify the benefits of dyslexia-specific fonts, although they have continued to highlight the impact that fonts and typography have on reading skills.

This work has led to the BDA once more revisiting the style guide, to update it not only to include the latest research, but also to take account of the latest technologies and publishing practices. The 2018 BDA Style Guide highlights several important findings from recent studies including:

  • Font size matters; larger fonts improve readability.
  • Letter spacing can have as big an impact on readability as the font style. Fonts where letters have a more equal spacing are easier for dyslexic readers.
  • Word and line spacing also influence readability for those with dyslexia. Line-spacing of at least 1.5 lines can be beneficial, although if the line spacing is too large, the benefits are removed.
  • Shorter lines or reading on small screens can help some dyslexic readers.

How can these Recommendations be Built into Digital Publications and Ebook Devices?

The increase in the availability and use of e-books, as well as the all-pervasive nature of smart devices has meant that dyslexic children and adults have a greater opportunity to make use of assistive tools when reading text. Ebooks can bring many hidden accessibility wins and the publishing community, through initiatives such as epubtest.org are working towards making ebooks more accessible to all users. Being able to change the font style, the background colour and/or hear content read aloud can make a difference. However, the options to allow users to personalise all their ebooks frequently remains unavailable or are limited to basic font size changes.

This may be due in part because accessibility standards have tended to focus on supporting the needs of those who face sensory and/or physical barriers. The primary web accessibility standard, WCAG2.0, which forms part of accessibility legislation in many countries, had minimal guidelines on personalisation. Earlier this year an update of the Web Accessibility Content Guidelines (v2.1) was released with several new guidelines aimed at supporting the needs of those with cognitive disabilities as well as the use of new technologies such as touch screens. Guidelines related to reflow (1.4.10) and text spacing (1.4.12) will be particularly useful for encouraging dyslexia-friendly text, although additional dyslexia friendly approaches remain unspecified.

One area that still needs to be addressed by accessibility guidelines is background colour. Colour choice is felt to be a design issue and so guidelines only consider barriers that may arise due to insufficient contrast or certain colour combinations. While the impact of coloured filters and lenses remains controversial to remediate dyslexia, the negative impact of glare on readability has been recognised for nearly a century (ii). Recent studies have shown that dyslexic readers prefer coloured backgrounds that reduce glare although some also prefer back on white rather than unfamiliar colour combinations, which can be distracting. The BDA style guide continues to recommend that alternative background colours should be considered to reduce glare.

Even when an ebook publisher or platform offers many accessibility options, it can be difficult for readers to identify if the platform will meet their needs. In particular, dyslexic readers who wish to listen to text find their assistive technology does not work as the tools tend to rely on accessing the clipboard, while built-in accessibility modes can present ebook content as pure text, removing the formatting and visual structure clues that dyslexic readers rely on. A recent audit of ebook accessibility by university library staff highlighted how difficult it was for students to know if ebooks and digital resources were accessible for their needs. There were no clues in the ebook description or by the download as to whether text to speech or other personalisation options would work.

One initiative, which may bring real change to the sector, includes recent legislation that applies across Europe to ensure that public sector websites, digital resources and mobile apps meet accessibility standards (iii). This will require organisations such as public libraries, universities and local government to confirm that content they publish on their websites, even if sourced from a third-party supplier, meets accessibility standards. These organisations will be required to publish an accessibility statement outlining how the digital sites and resources meet the European accessibility standard EN 301 549 (which is aligned to WCAG 2.1).

What Does This Mean for the Publishing Community?

As these new regulations come into force, accessibility could become an increasingly important factor in procurement decisions as public sector organisations look to minimise their accessibility issues. Understanding accessibility and personalisation requirements could put you ahead in business decisions, as well as providing a better experience for your readers. But remember, creating accessible and inclusive publications is not just about meeting technical standards. It is about understanding the needs of people with different strengths and weaknesses and how they might overcome digital barriers as well as understanding how personal preferences and choices combine. At the University of Southampton, we provide the opportunity for anyone to learn more about digital accessibility and its impact through our free FutureLearn Digital Accessibility MOOC (Massive Open Online Course). This course will be running from early October 2018, so why not encourage colleagues to sign-up now.

Abi James is the Chair of the British Dyslexia Association New Technologies Committee and a digital accessibility researcher at the University of Southampton.

 

Footnotes

i Dyslexia fonts include Sylexiad, Dyslexie , Read Regular and OpenDyslexic.

ii Goldsberry reported to negative impact of white and shiny paper in Goldsberry, L. D. (1921). Eyesight and paper glare. The Elementary School Journal, 21(10), 782-785.

iii Countries within the EU have been required to implement the EU directive on the accessibility of the websites and mobile applications of public sector bodies by September 2018

Epubcheck Development Update

Epubcheck plays a significant role within the ebook production process, checking EPUB files against the specification to ensure they validate. As the EPUB specification has evolved over time it is important that the tools we use to create and validate EPUB files are kept up to date. Many retailers require EPUB files to have been validated by epubcheck. However, in its current state, epubcheck cannot properly validate many EPUBs that meet the most up to date standards.

To address this the Publishing Business Group at W3C put out a request for proposals to update epubcheck, and following a competitive selection process the DAISY Consortium has been selected to perform the update to:

  • Bring epubcheck in sync with the dynamically evolving core web specs of HTML, CSS, and SVG and also with the current version of EPUB 3
  • Fully support the EPUB Accessibility Guidelines, making sure that your products are usable for everyone
  • Add new features, such as HTML validation (in coordination with the W3C validation services) and a better check of media overlays
  • Offer better service to the publishing industry with a faster response to bug reports and feature request.

This work is being funded through donations from organizations which use the epubcheck tool, and while there are different sponsorship levels, any amount of donation is welcome to help support this effort to update and overhaul epubcheck. Full details are available at the Publishing@W3C fundraising page.

We look forward to bringing you updates as this exciting work evolves.

Inspiring Words from Industry Leaders: Interview with Cristina Mussinelli, The LIA Foundation

Head shot of Cristina Mussinelli, subject of this interview pieceInclusive Publishing has embarked on a series of interviews with industry leaders and their approach to accessibility. Cristina Mussinelli has championed inclusive publishing throughout much of her career and the work of the LIA Foundation has radically changed the way that mainstream accessibility is approached by publishers in Italy and abroad.

Producing accessible files means producing well-structured, high-quality publications that any reader can enjoy.

Please share with us the major achievements of the LIA Foundation to date

Firstly, we are very proud of the LIA catalogue which now hosts over 20.000 born accessible e-books produced by 73 Italian publishing imprints using mainstream production process and which are  also distributed in the most important online retail outlets. Our hope is to add more and more publishers to this continually growing list so that we can, in the near future, offer print impaired people a complete catalogue of all new ebooks published in the Italian trade market.

In November 2017 we reached a great milestone. After many years of fruitful collaboration, Fondazione LIA – Libri Italiani Accessibili and the Italian Blind and Partially Sighted Union decided to strengthen their partnership with UICI becoming an institutional participant and electing the UICI president as the Fondazione LIA president. This collaboration confirms that if the publishing world and the organizations representing people with visual impairments work closely together, actions, projects and outcomes can be incredibly fruitful and effective.

Last, but not least, we are witnessing a growing interest towards accessibility from content producers, software houses and many others who are involved in the book supply chain. We will be working with them to make sure that accessibility is central in everyone’s publishing strategy.

Can you sum up the Foundation’s attitude towards inclusive publishing in one sentence.

I would like my catalogue to be everybody’s catalogue.  I’d like to be able to choose just like everybody. I don’t want to be limited to specially made books but to be free to read like anybody else.

Mario Barbuto, President of the Italian Blind Union and now also of Fondazione LIA.

How has the work of the LIA Foundation affected the accessibility of mainstream publishing in Italy?

LIA has created an innovative service increasing the availability of mainstream accessible fiction and nonfiction titles in digital format (e-books) for blind and visually impaired readers.

To reach this target, LIA put in place true cultural change in the way accessibility is approached by Italian publishers. Accessibility is now considered integral to publishing production processes and is no longer thought of as an add-on feature. The LIA project has resulted in the production of accessible mainstream files with appropriate metadata attached being much higher on the agenda for publishers. 

LIA has been a true revolution for more than 362,000 blind and 1,5 million visually impaired Italians who proved to be strong readers according to a 2011 survey carried out by LIA prior to the implementation of its mainstream accessibility model. Reading an average of 9 books every year,  visually impaired readers consume three times more titles than the average domestic reader.

Do you have a top tip for publishers who are new to accessibility?

Just to not be afraid and to start the journey towards accessibility. Changing workflows and production habits, even slightly, can produce astonishing results. It is also worth mentioning that accessibility means quality. Producing accessible files means producing well-structured, high-quality publications that any reader can enjoy. The real question is: why a publisher shouldn’t produce accessible files? Why would they not take advantage of the potential on offer from accessible content?

The LIA Foundation is focusing heavily on training at the moment – how will this complement the work that the project has already completed?

As the first LIA project completed it was clear that our team had developed a particular and very specialised know-how about accessible digital publishing, assistive technologies and everything in between. As many companies and institutions publish corporate documents, we decided to address their need to provide this content to blind and partially sighted users. The publishing world has been and will always be our core focus but we think that every content provider should embrace accessibility.

The goal of LIA is to promote access for visually impaired readers to editorial products from traditional publishers as well as content providers in general, thus allowing them to choose how, when and, above all, what to read.

Nowadays we offer tailor made training and consultancy services to publishing houses, public and private companies, in Italy and abroad, who are interested in producing accessible content. We provide assesments on current publications, we offer training courses based on their actual workflows and production tools and we provide guidance and help-desk responses in the follow-up phase.  For instance – we will soon start an ad hoc training program for the Banca d’Italia, the central bank of the Republic of Italy and we are also organizing an in-house training course for Italian publishers specializing in medical publications so that they can create “born accessible” publications and set up an accessible reading platform.

What do you think will be the biggest game changer for inclusive publishing in the next few years?
The Marrakesh Treaty and the European Accessibility Act will foster the adoption of inclusive publishing strategies for sure. The move from EPUB 2 to EPUB 3 will also be pivotal. Why not move now?

What is on the events calendar for the LIA Foundation over the next year?

Next year is going to be a fun one. We are planning a calendar of events for all the members of the book supply chain, starting from the reader. Through a project funded by Fondazione Cariplo, we’ll organize training courses for blind and visually impaired readers about accessibile digital publishing.

We are also organizing an Accessibility Camp, in Milan, in the spring for publishers, developers and print impaired readers where to share best practice and define common strategies and projects to implement.

overhead shot of a reading in the dark event with readers on stage and a large audience able to listen and watch via a screen.

© Gianni Peresson

Throughout the year we are planning to organize some highly engaging Reading in the Dark events as well,  through which Fondazione LIA make participants aware of issues such as accessibility and the socio-cultural inclusion  of people with visual impairments. During a reading in the dark the author reads a passage from the book and the blind reader continues reading with the e-book in the LIA Foundation catalog through different modes: magnifying the characters, using the Braille display or the text to speech functionality of tablets and smartphones. Antonio Manzini, author of Orfani Bianchi had this to say about Reading in the Dark:

I’ve been to the Lia Foundation Reading in the Dark. There were two boys reading. Their voices resounded in that huge room and gave life to the characters, the dialogues, the descriptions. We were able to see trenches, Africa, we saw the music and jealousy and a single Romanian carer in a ruthless Rome. They read as Gods, and they did it with the soul and with the hands, because those two boys did not see. And they gave us a breathtaking view.

Details of all of these events will be available via Inclusive Publishing.

The Importance of Text Accessibility: What We May Have Forgotten

head shot of jonathan hassell, ceo of hassell inclusionThis article was kindly submitted by Jonathan Hassell, CEO of Hassell Inclusion

If you care about being thought credible and intelligent, do not use complex language where simpler language can do.

Daniel Kahneman, Thinking Fast & Slow (winner of the Nobel Prize)

Back in 2001, when I first started working in accessibility at the BBC, one of the key things we thought about was the aim to make text as simple as possible. Using Plain Language. Writing designed to ensure the reader understands as quickly, easily and completely as possible. In the Accessibility Guidelines at the time, WCAG 1.0, this was a single-A requirement, recognising it as one of the most important aspects of accessibility.  Accessibility experts and readers agreed that how we used words was massively important.

The challenge then was how we could make sure that our online educational content and content written for audiences with their own slang was available in simpler language. How do you do Shakespeare in Plain Language? How do you do Black Urban Culture in Plain language? And would either of those make sense for the many people who need online text to be altered to fit their accessibility needs.

How we forgot about the importance of text accessibility

Fast forwards to 2009, when WCAG 2.0 replaced 1.0, and a curious thing happened. The importance of making web sites understandable through Plain Language dropped from level A to level AAA. For those of you who aren’t in the know, A is what everyone feels like they have to do, AAA is what everyone forgets.

The authors of WCAG 2.0 did this because they could not find a way to objectively test whether a page uses the clearest and simplest language. However, in making the change, the Guidelines effectively said that making sure people could understand the words was less important than making sure screen readers could pronounce those words correctly. Which, when you think about it, doesn’t make much sense. There were some voices of concern, but they were quickly forgotten.

Fast forwards again to July 2018, in London, where I’d been invited to speak on accessibility at the Copy Forum of one of our clients. I had the chance to see what WCAG’s decision had done to the relationship between content authors and accessibility experts. Due to that decision in WCAG 2.0, you don’t often hear people talking about the accessibility of text content. The huge communities of content marketers and copywriters, of people who craft words rather than images or code, have been completely forgotten by the accessibility world.

Remembering the importance of text accessibility

At the Copy Forum, they’d invited me to tell them what they could learn from accessibility. I was there to tell them that there was a lot that accessibility could re-learn from them. I said this because, if you look at WCAG 2.0, you’d be forgiven for thinking that words don’t matter. That’s a real problem, as a large part digital content is text. And lots of groups of people with impairments really benefit from text accessibility:

  • People who are blind, want text to be as short as possible and structured well
  • People whose first language is not the native language (including sign language users), want text to use the simplest language
  • People with learning difficulties, want text to be as simple as possible
  • People with ADHD, want text to be as brief as possible, in bulleted lists

The good news is that WCAG may now be revisiting its 2009 decision, as the accessibility of text is likely to be addressed by its new Cognitive and Learning Disabilities Accessibility Task Force. You can take part in the Task Force if this is a topic that means a lot to you.

What is important about the accessibility of words?

There are a few basic rules that are worth remembering:

  • Simplify – replace complex words with simpler ones
  • Summarize – cut out the ‘unnecessary’ content
  • Show topics – pull out topics in the text with links to additional information
  • Show definitions – include definitions for difficult words
  • AAC symbols – add symbols to help people who use them for literacy support

With great advances in Machine Learning and Artificial Intelligence it is possible to get a computer to make a passage of text shorter or simpler. But managing to do this and not lose inherent meaning is very difficult indeed. Generating automatic summaries of text can be very unreliable particularly with the sorts of text people really need to be simpler, such as financial terms and conditions. This will, undoubtedly, improve with time and there are various tools available now that are making terrific headway with this, such as IBM’s Content Clarifier. In the meantime, using tools like the Hemingway app to advise you on which aspects of your documents you could make simpler can help you improve their accessibility.

So why should we care?

In a nutshell, the benefits of simple text can be huge. W3C’s main case study for the benefits of accessibility is for Legal & General. Often we forget this study comes from 2005, when the Guidelines used were WCAG 1.0, with its emphasis on Plain Language. Fortune Cookie’s site and information redesign strategy for Legal & General certainly addressed the needs of “3.2m Britons (who) have difficulty using inaccessible websites”. But it also focused on customers of whom “6m have dyslexia; 1 in 3 is aged 50+; 3m speak English as a second language; 1.5m lack basic language skills; and 5.2m adults have sub-GCSE level English”. The results were these: “Conversion rates on every online product improved substantially, ranging between 26% and an incredible 200%”.

If you turn complex language into Plain Language, you can sell a lot more products because people can now understand them. Which is exactly what Daniel Kahneman was saying, all those years ago. Simpler means more credible, as well as more accessible. There’s a prize to be won here.

Hassell Inclusion is an inclusion and accessibility consultancy founded and directed by accessibility expert Professor Jonathan Hassell. Jonathan has over 16 years experience in identifying new directions and challenges in digital accessibility, finding best practice process and technology solutions to these challenges, authoring international standards and presenting best practices to conference audiences across the world. 

The DAISY Consortium is Announced as a DBW Award Finalist

The Digital Book World Awards Committee has announced that The DAISY Consortium is a finalist in their category, Innovation in Accessibility at the conference awards this year. DAISY is delighted to be listed alongside such an esteemed set of organizations. The full list of awards finalists can be accessed via the Digital Book World web site. Winners will be announced at the conference during the first week of October.

The DAISY Consortium will also be presenting the session Building Accessibility Into Publishing Workflows: From The Ground Up featuring the free open source accessibility checking tool Ace by DAISY. For more details on the conference see our Digital Book World events page . Inclusive Publishing readers have been offered a 25% discount on their conference passes with the code DAISYDBW2018

Accessible Publishing Made Easy!

October 10th, 2018

Learn how to create a better experience for all your readers.

As the Frankfurt Book Fair celebrates the 70th Anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, this presentation by Typefi CEO, Chandi Perera, will help you take the first steps towards contributing to a more inclusive society where content is accessible to all! For almost a decade, Typefi has helped organisations around the world produce accessible print and digital publications with minimal additional cost and effort. This presentation will show how straightforward it is to get started with minimal cost and effort.

Date

October 10, 2018

Venue

Frankfurt Book Fair Academic and Business Information Stage

Learn More

Information on how to participate in this event is available at the Typefi website

Inspiring Words from Industry Leaders: Interview with Dr Alicia Wise

Dr Alicia Wise, subject of this interviewInclusive Publishing has embarked on a series of interviews with industry leaders and their approach to accessibility. Dr Alicia Wise has been active in championing accessibility and inclusive publishing for nearly 20 years in roles crossing academia and publishing.  These include Jisc, Publishers Licensing Society, Publishers Association, Accessible Books Consortium, and most recently Elsevier.

There are many organisations who are available to help publishers on their accessibility journeys.  …..it is better for all if our industry works to shared standards for inclusive publishing.

Why is inclusive publishing important to you and to publishing organisations? 

I’m motivated by my incredible brother who has dyslexia, and really struggles to read printed text.  Despite this he is a successful artist and businessman, and as he loves story-telling he’s currently working on an illustrated children’s book.  For publishing organisations, inclusive publishing is important because it expands your potential market and offers the potential to delight and engage a wider audience.

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

Perfection is the enemy of the good.  Don’t feel you need to make all your books perfectly accessible in one step.  Get started on the journey, and keep this end goal in sight.

What do you wish you knew about accessibility 5 or 10 years ago?

I wish I had understood how very difficult it can be to engage supply chain partners, and particularly book retailers, in adopting accessible web practices.  If more were to do so, accessible books would be more easily discoverable by people who would like to buy them.

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

More publishers using the EPUB format for their digital publishing, and more publishers including information about the accessibility features of their products in their marketing materials.

For those still on the fence, why should they consider accessibility? 

Do you sell any books to organisations – businesses, libraries, schools, universities? If so, you’ll increasingly find requirements for book accessibility in tender documents so it is smart business to get on the front foot by embracing inclusive publishing.  Do you sell books to millennials? Well, you are in luck: many of the features and functions that will make your books more accessible will make your books more usable by these customers.

How have good inclusive publishing practices influenced the majority of readers?

By making digital texts more usable for all.

Why should companies consider publishing a policy on inclusive publishing?

This is a gentle way to get started and can be a really terrific way to engage employees: discuss and plan steps you’ll take as an organisation to be more diverse and inclusive in your publishing practices.

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

There are many organisations who are available to help publishers on their accessibility journeys.  Inclusive Publishing is linked with all of these, and is a terrific source of insight on best practice.  Please don’t feel you need to reinvent the wheel – in fact it is better for all if our industry works to shared standards for inclusive publishing.

What? How? Why? We’ve Got it Covered!

Street sign with the word "ASK" lit up under a lampDo you have questions you’d like answered?

We want to hear from you on any topic  related to accessibility and inclusive publishing to inspire articles and to help us build our FAQs and a relevant glossary.  Perhaps a colleague asked something you think might be good to share. Is there information that you think your co-workers would benefit from? It doesn’t matter if the question is for a novice or expert audience, we want to provide information which is relevant to you, your teams and the broader industry.

Let’s make sure everyone has the correct information on how they can include accessibility within their mainstream content workflows.

You can use our survey to submit your questions, or simply tweet them to us @inclusivepub. We look forward to reading your questions, and over the coming months we will endeavour to answer as many as possible.

Inclusive Design 24 #id24

October 11th, 2018

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

October 11, 2018

Venue

Online

Learn More

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

 

Inspiring Words from Industry Leaders: Interview with Hugo Setzer, The International Publishers Association

Photograph of Hugo Setzer, subject of this interviewInclusive Publishing has embarked on a series of interviews with industry leaders and their approach to accessibility. Hugo Setzer, CEO of Manual Moderno, a leading publishing house in Mexico City, is also Vice-President of the International Publishers Association and is personally committed to accessible publishing and to building awareness throughout the industry.

If you are serious about inclusive publishing, making it public and having a policy is the first step. It will allow you to inform and align forces within the company and to keep your commitment.

Why is inclusive publishing important to you and your organization?

First, I am convinced it is the right thing to do. For two years in a row our company has been included in the list of the Best Workplaces for Diversity and Inclusion in Mexico (Great Place to Work, Mexico) and we are convinced inclusion is not only important for our people, but for our customers as well. In addition, the International Publishers Association, where I am currently serving as Vice-President, fully supports and promotes accessible publishing. Our President, Michiel Kolman, is on the board of the Accessible Books Consortium.

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

Get started. Confucius said that a journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step. Stay consistent and, as Huw Alexander from SAGE says, don’t worry about failing once in a while, you will. Learn from others.

What do you wish you knew about accessibility 5 or 10 years ago?

I would have liked to be more aware about the importance of accessible publishing for persons with a visual disability. A colleague in my company, who is blind, had her family read out her textbooks in college for her so that she was able to major in communications. There were no accessible books available at the time.

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

I think technology for one thing, but I am also confident the landscape will change dramatically. Today less than 10% of publications are available in accessible formats. With all the efforts from so many publishers around the world, I am sure that number will show a sharp increase in the very near future.

For those still on the fence, why should they consider accessibility?

As mentioned, it is the right thing to do. But I am convinced it also makes perfect business sense. We have expanded our potential customer base and by improving the accessibility of our content, we are able to produce better e-books as well.

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

As we are only starting this journey, that is something we don’t know yet, but we expect it will have a positive impact. As consumers, we no longer just buy the cheapest product, we also want to make sure the company which produces it is aware and socially responsible.

Why should companies consider publishing a policy on Inclusive Publishing?

If you are serious about inclusive publishing, making it public and having a policy is the first step. It will allow you to inform and align forces within the company and to keep your commitment.

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

Inclusive publishing is the right thing to do.

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

Don’t try to do everything immediately. Choose the titles which are best suited for inclusive publishing. In our company, for example, we have some profusely illustrated medical textbooks, which are not the best candidates for making them accessible, but there are many others that are.