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Finalists Announced for the 2019 ABC International Excellence Awards

The short-list for the 2019 ABC International Excellence Awards for Accessible Publishing has now been published and the winners will be announced at the awards ceremony  on March 12, 2019 at the London Book Fair. Our congratulations to all the finalists who are:

Publishers Award

  • Argentina—Ediciones Godot
  • Brazil—EDITORIAL 5 (ED5)
  • United Kingdom—Kogan Page Ltd.

Initiative Award

  • Botswana—Companies and Intellectual Property Authority
  • Canada—BC Libraries Cooperative, National Network for Equitable Library Service (NNELS)
  • Canada—Centre for Equitable Library Access (CELA)
  • Italy—Fondazione LIA
  • Kenya—eKitabu

Full details of these awards can be found at the Accessible Books Consortium website 

Accessibility in EPUBs—Kobo Writing Life Podcast

Kobo Writing Life, Kobo’s self-publishing platform, produces a regular podcast for authors to learn more about the industry. In January’s episode they covered accessibility in an interview with QA Analyst Wendy Reid, discussing what accessibility means for ebooks and easy ways to implement it. Authors interested in making accessible EPUB files were advised to focus on creating EPUB 3 files with good semantic tagging and alt text. The episode includes recommendations for resources, including the popular #eprdctn group on Twitter. The discussion also covered the launch of audiobooks at Kobo, and Wendy’s work on an upcoming specification for audiobooks.

To access this excellent podcast visit the Kobo Writing Life website

Accessible Publishing Summit—A Triumph for NNELS

Sign saying" Accessible Publishing=Good Publishing"Inclusive Publishing had the pleasure of attending the Accessible Publishing Summit on the 28th and 29th January in Toronto, possibly one of the snowiest cities to be in at the beginning of the week. Despite the hazardous weather the turn out was incredible and interested parties from all relevant stakeholder groups attended with buckets of enthusiasm, excitement and expertise.

The summit was organized by NNELS, the National Network for Equitable Library Service in Canada and representatives from the ebook production and distribution chain (authors, editors, designers, publishers, distributors, librarians, and alternate-format producers) were invited to help develop a set of best practices and techniques for accessible publishing relevant to their community.

Flip chart page listing the challenges and solutions that the NNELS testers identified in their sessionThe agenda was jam packed and we were treated to a fabulous demonstration session on the first morning from the group of print impaired testers who work for NNELS—what an insight! Each table of delegates experienced a different set of reading choices made by their demonstrator using the DAISY Fundamental Accessibility Tests for Reading Systems. With a huge variety of results which depend on every part of the supply chain we were able to see, first hand, just how frustrating the process can be for readers and how amazing it can be when everything goes well.

The chart shown above identifies the following challenges and solutions which were highlighted in this session:

Challenges

  • Lack of semantic tags e.g. headings for navigation
  • Lack of page numbers
  • Broken or incomplete table of contents
  • Images without a useful description in alt
  • EPUB 2 format still used
  • Fixed Layout
  • Discoverability

Solutions

  • Use Valid HTML tage
  • Reflowable text can change the font
  • Accessible Metadata to enable discovery
  • Universal design

Interested stakeholders then took to the floor in the afternoon to tell the crowd a little bit about their side of the story and Inclusive Publishing was pleased to be invited to take part in this session, highlighting the good work that is happening internationally and how we’ve created a resource and information sharing hub.

In stakeholder groups we discussed the assets, challenges and opportunities for accessible ebooks culminating in our top choices which we shared with all delegates. This gave a framework for the beginning of day two where we started to work on recommendations for the industry. The rest of the day was spent refining these action points, discussing exhilarating new ideas and identifying immediate next steps for all involved. Lots of interesting ideas are on the table and this group is going to be looking at the challenges that still face us from all angles—from involving accessibility testers much earlier in the content creation process to creating guidance templates for publishers to customize for their own organization. From discussions regarding internships for accessibility to how we might establish a certification process for accessible publishing in Canada, it was broad ranging and all-encompassing.

"What does accessibility mean to us"- list of ideas from delegatesEnthusiasm remained key throughout the whole process and I think if we had had the option to remain at the Toronto Public Library for another day we would have done despite the risk of being snowed in! It is rare to experience such a powerful surge of commitment to a project and our thanks must go to the organizing team from NNELS and to Laura Brady for putting so many dynamic and proactive people together. It was a triumph and we are very excited to see how we progress.

 

 

For further information on the summit, it’s agenda and how you can get involved please visit accessiblepublishing.ca and join in the good work!

 

Accessible Publishing and the Marrakesh Treaty – Are You Ready?

March 14th, 2019

The Marrakesh Treaty allows for copyright exceptions to facilitate the creation of accessible versions of books and other copyrighted works for visually impaired persons. It sets a norm for countries ratifying the treaty to have a domestic copyright exception covering these activities, and allowing for the import and export of such materials. The treaty has now entered into force in the UK and changes to the UK’s Copyright Law have been made which publishers will need to comply with. 

This session will briefly explain these legal changes and the obligations to publishers alongside showcasing best practice from publishers and other organisations on how to ensure your publishing processes are compliant with the new law.  We will also hear from a representative from “Inclusive Publishing” announcing the results of their recent survey on the progress we have made as a global industry in our work towards publications that can be enjoyed by all readers. 

This session is aimed at publishers and distributors of content. Whilst the session will focus on the UK law, the principles of the Marrakesh Treaty will be applicable to WIPO member countries and therefore the case studies will be relevant to all publishers worldwide. 

The annual Accessibility Action Group Seminar at the London Book Fair is suitable for everyone in the book industry who is involved in producing good quality ebooks and bringing them to their readers. No registration is required and the AAG welcomes everyone at the fair.

Date

March 14, 2019, 2.30-3.30pm

Venue

The Faculty at The London BookFair 

 

Accessible Publishing Summit

January 28th to 29th, 2019

The Accessible Publishing Summit invites stakeholders in the ebook production and distribution chain (authors, editors, designers, publishers, distributors, librarians, and alternate-format producers) to help develop, compile, and distribute a set of best practices and techniques for accessible publishing relevant to their community. This event is being organized by NNELS, the National Network for Equitable Library Service, a digital public library of books for Canadians with print disabilities

Date

January 28-29, 2019

Venue

Toronto, Canada

Learn More

All documentation created will be made publicly available on the summit website.

Inclusive Publishing Readers Discount Code for ebookcraft 2019

Inclusive Publishing readers can get 10% off tickets to ebookcraft and Tech Forum 2019, March 18-19 in Toronto, by using the promo code DAISY10. Take a look at the schedule to see the lineup so far and watch out for DAISY sessions which will be announced soon. The last day for early-bird pricing is Jan. 25 and registration closes on March 12.

See the ebookcraft events page for further details and book your place now!

BookMachine Unplugged. The Business of Accessibility: Content that is More Usable is More Valuable

February 20th, 2019

As well as the obvious ethical and now legal requirements to make sure our books, ebooks and content is accessible there are also sound business reasons. Yet why are so many publishers still not achieving fully accessible products? The panel will examine the standards, legislation and technical issues that companies of all size face. They will provide straightforward answers to what you need to do to be accessible as well as why and how you can make it happen. Speakers include:

  • Ken Jones—Circular Software
  • Huw Alexander—textBOX
  • Stacy Rowe—RNIB
  • Alicia Wise—Elsevier
  • Alistair McNaught—JISC

Following a Q&A session with the panel, the talks will close with a short awards ceremony. The ASPIRE awards are given in recognition of the work being done in the industry on accessibility by top publishers and vendors.

Date

February 20, 2019

Venue

The Century Club, London

Learn More

For program and registration information visit the event page on the bookmachine website

Inclusive Publishing—End of Year Review

Head shot of Richard Orme, CEO of the DAISY ConsortiumIt’s been a busy year for Inclusive Publishing and, as we look forward to 2019, Richard Orme, CEO of the DAISY Consortium, reflects on some of this year’s successes for accessible publishing and our industry.

As an industry hub and news portal, InclusivePublishing.org has seen and reported on some major advancements in 2018. Our own Ace by DAISY tool launched in January giving the industry, for the first time, an EPUB accessibility checking tool which has now become invaluable to many in-house workflows. Open source and free, Ace by DAISY can be integrated at any point in the creative process and has immediately become one of the essential EPUB building blocks for publishers and vendors. We are thrilled to report that a version of the Ace tool with a graphical user interface will be available early next year and we will, of course, keep you posted!

We’ve been pleased to report on some terrific events this year as accessibility becomes a major focus for publishers worldwide. In March we presented the Ace tool at ebookcraft in Toronto. The London Book Fair in April saw the 10th Annual Accessibility Action Group seminar focus on Strategies for Success and we were proud to stand alongside other industry stalwarts on the podium. June saw our DAISY Symposium entitled Building Bridges for Better Access, which focused on the accessible study materials.

In October we covered the new-look Digital Book World  and we were delighted to play a major role at this exciting event. We are already looking forward to next year! And the Accessing Higher Ground conference in November was a huge opportunity to hear from a wide variety of publishers about the strides towards inclusive publishing practices.

The DAISY Consortium now maintains and develops EPUBCheck, the conformance validator for the EPUB format. We rounded off the year by reporting on the release of version 4.1. EPUBCheck is overseen by the W3C and funded by generous contributions from across the digital publishing landscape.

We’ve been very lucky to work with some top-quality authors this year and our thanks go to all of them for their contributions and news updates. From event reports to opinion pieces, we’ve been fortunate to be able to publish some terrific pieces of extremely high quality.  In addition, we have been delighted with the response to our new interview pieces: Inspiring Words from Industry Leaders. Our interviewees are indeed an inspiration and we will be adding to this stellar line-up in 2019.

Accessibility has been a common thread in conversations across the publishingindustry for quite a few years now, but from anecdotal evidence 2018 appears to mark the start of something special—widespread mainstream adoption of accessibility. This reflects the changes we have seen and supported in accessible content creation and validation, but also throughout the supply chain, with a positive impact on education services, reading systems and the metadata which makes the whole process function.

It’s very important to us that we continue to support the wider industry on this journey towards inclusive publishing, and with this in mind, we have created a short end of year survey so that we may take a snapshot of our community.  We’d be very grateful if you could spare a few minutes to complete the survey (now closed) and to help us gauge where we are, and also to report to you all on how we are progressing as an industry. Our thanks to all those who have completed this already—we look forward to sharing the anonymous results with you all soon.

We look towards 2019 with perhaps more optimism and enthusiasm than previous years. It has been wonderful to see how the industry has responded to our InclusivePublishing website and newsletter, and we hope that you will all continue to support us—we rely on your input and are very grateful for it. There are some exciting developments we look forward to sharing with you next year, and we will continue to publish both technical and non-technical information to cater for all our readers in this way.

We wish you all a very peaceful holiday and we look forward to an exciting year ahead.

French National Accessible Digital Book Meeting

January 17th, 2019

After the success of the France’s National Day on Access to Books and Reading: Let’s Find Solutions Together , BrailleNet, Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes Book and Reading and The National School of Sciences of the World and libraries (Enssib) join forces again to organize the first National Accessible Digital Book Meeting.

With lectures in the morning and practical workshops in the afternoon, publishing professionals will be able to:

  • stay informed about industry developments to extend accessibility to all
  • become familiar with and / or improve their knowledge of digital accessibility
  • share their experiences and expectations

The event is aimed at all book and reading professionals and includes a session entitled: Ace by Example where Luc Audrain (Hachette Livre) and Fernando Pinto (EDRLab) will look at what the Ace by DAISY tool can test for and at the consequences of nonconformities for the reader.

Date

January 17, 2019

Venue

Enssib, Villerbanne, France

Learn More

Launching the New Edition of Fundamental Accessibility Tests for Reading Systems

A number of devices piled on top of each other

George Kerscher, Chief Innovations Officer at the DAISY Consortium, gives an overview of the newly updated Fundamental Accessibility Tests for Reading Systems, which will launch the January 2019 round of testing.

Over the last four years or so, the DAISY Consortium has been driving the testing of EPUB reading systems and apps. It is quite a challenge, but I think we have a pretty good methodology in place. This short article will give an overview of how the testing works and will provide an analysis of the value it delivers to various communities. Of special interest will be the newly updated Fundamental Accessibility Tests for Reading Systems.

The Methodology

The unique approach lies in the Fundamental Accessibility Tests for Reading Systems, which is an EPUB 3 publication. It is an all-in-one testing system containing uniquely identified pass or fail tasks that a person with a disability performs. The results, which indicate whether the tasks are supported or not, are recorded on epubtest.org. We know this test title is perfect from an EPUB conformance perspective, so if we experience difficulties we don’t need to wonder if there was a mistake in the EPUB. We can therefore confine our testing to the reading system/app and the assistive technology that is being used.

Three disability groups are targeted:

  • Persons who are blind and use screen readers
  • Persons who have low vision and use visual adjustments to make the title easier to see
  • Persons with learning differences such as dyslexia who rely on features such as increasing the line spacing or having the text read to them while the text is highlighted

An Example of a Test That a Person Who Is Blind Would Perform

A blind person like me uses a reading app with a screen reader. This reads the app menus and book contents using TTS (text to speech). Screen readers are available for computers, smartphones, and tablets, but not all apps work with them, including reading apps. This is why we test reading apps to make sure the fundamental accessibility features are supported.

The item below is a single test in the “Non-Visual” Reading chapter. Note, there are three parts:

  • It has the unique identifier for reporting
  • It gives the instructions for the test
  • It provides guidance as to what passes or fails

Reading-010 Initiate “read from here”

Focus on the beginning of a paragraph or a sentence and initiate reading. Reading should continue until interrupted by the user or at the end of the current document, e.g., current chapter.

The text being read should preferably remain in view, but this is not a requirement to pass the test.

Indicate Pass or Fail.

An Example of a Test That a Person with a Specific Learning Difference Would Perform

Individuals with reading differences such as dyslexia rely on personalization, and this can be critical as a learning strategy. For example, documents are printed onto colored paper using preferred fonts and spacing to make it easier to read and understand information. This personalization is now available in reading apps, and our tests for visual adjustments examine these capabilities.

Another essential strategy is reading the text on the screen while it is simultaneously read aloud. This dual mode of reading has been shown to improve comprehension and strengthen reading skills. The read-aloud feature is so important than many apps now include it. Read-aloud also gets its own section in Fundamental Accessibility Tests.

ReadAloud-610 Text is emphasized as it is spoken by read aloud

Activate the Read Aloud feature in the reading system.

When the Read Aloud is activated, the text being spoken should be emphasized visually using a contrasting color or any other means. As the reading continues, the emphasis should also move to the next section of text to be read.

Indicate Pass or Fail.

Who Benefits from all this Testing?

  • Developers of Reading Apps:  We have many developers who rely on our testing to improve their applications. We are happy to work directly with them to create a great reading experience for people who use their vision, audio, or braille (or as we say, with eyes, ears, and fingers!). We do not want to embarrass companies and we will withhold results while they improve their product. However, eventually we have a duty to other communities to publish our results. Fortunately, we are having great success with many developers of apps that are widely used, and they even ingest the title and make it available for use in their system; this has the added benefit of testing some of the advanced annotation capabilities.
  • Education Organizations: Universities and K-12 schools use the information and results that we publish to weed out applications that do not work for students with disabilities. In the US and other countries, it is a legal requirement to purchase accessible software and content. Once the information about the accessibility of specific products is known and made public, it makes it much easier for an educator to select an accessible product over one that could get them in trouble.
  • Assistive Technology (AT) Developers: Because we test using AT such as JAWS, NVDA, VoiceOver, Talkback, and Narrator, we often find that the reading app appears to be behaving properly but the AT is preventing a test from passing. Because we can pinpoint the problem and reproduce it broadly, we provide the information that the AT developer needs to fix the problem on their side.
  • Publishers: Publishers take note of the results. Many times, publishers provide guidance to customers about the applications that work for persons with disabilities and that support the accessibility features they are adding to their titles.
  • Libraries: DAISY Consortium libraries all over the world look at the results to get guidance for use in their services. We are seeing an increase in mainstream public library services being evaluated for their accessibility, and this will include the apps they use.
  • Persons with Disabilities: Of course, persons with disabilities themselves use the results and the guidance we publish to help them to decide which reading app to use. It really helps to get guidance because learning a new reading system can take a lot of time, and starting with one you know will work with your hardware and software configuration is a major benefit.

The Crowd Behind the Testing

We have a two-tiered method for recruiting testers. A core set of experts, including persons with disabilities, drive the development of the test titles and maintain the website and the results.  Most of these people have in their job description a work item to do work with accessibility testing at epubtest.org. Some come from publishing houses or reading system companies. Some are accessibility consultants who are hired by tech companies to test specific reading apps, and these folks often team up with volunteers to confirm their results are accurate. Some of the testers come from the education sector and are skilled with a wide range of AT used on their campus. Most people come from DAISY Consortium member organizations.

We have a second tier of crowd source volunteers. We started this in early 2018 and have been thrilled with the response. We now have more than 70 people signed up who contribute to the published results and we expect the number to increase. For those who love reading, a lot of tips and tricks to have a better reading experience with specific reading app and AT combinations are shared in this group.

We know that apps change frequently, and so does the AT. This usually results in better scores, but sometimes a change to the operating system, reading app, or AT makes things worse. The number of permutations that one can have is staggering, and this is why we love our crowd of testers.

What Happens in January 2019?

When we replace the old “Fundamental Accessible Reading System Tests” with the new one, the results on epubtest.org will change. Because there are new tests, the scores will change, and the site will show that the test needs updating. The last time we did this, the developers freaked out because they want to show off the accessibility work they had done. This time, we gave them advanced warning that a new title was coming out. We also plan to really “hit it” with the testing and update all the current apps ASAP. I certainly hope that by the end of January we will have most of the testing completed.

Resources

EPUB Test website: http://www.epubtest.org—where you can get the new test title from the test suite and you can also see the accessibility test grid.

Inclusive Publishing website: http://www.inclusivepublishing.org—for the Reading App Roundup with specific recommendations.

This article was written for Inclusive Publishing and for BISG where it has been cross-posted.

 

George Kerscher, PhD, began his IT innovations in 1987 and coined the term “print disabled.”  George is dedicated to developing technologies that make information not only accessible, but also fully functional in the hands of persons who are blind or who have a print disability. He believes properly designed digitally published materials and web pages can make information accessible to all people. George is an advocate for semantically rich content that can be used effectively by everybody.

As Chief Innovations Officer of the DAISY Consortium, Senior Advisor, Global Literacy, to Benetech, and member of Publishing Groups in the W3C, Kerscher is a recognized international leader in document access. In addition, he chairs the DAISY/NISO Standards committee and the Steering Council of the Web Accessibility Initiative and serves on the advisory board of the Institute of Museum and Library Services.