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Accessible ebooks: BIC Breakfast Event Report

BIC logoThe Book Industry Study Group held their regular BIC Breakfast meeting last month on the 25th of April focusing specifically on accessible ebooks. Speaking to a full room Emma House, Deputy CEO of the Publishers Association in the UK, opened proceedings with a presentation on the importance of accessibility and setting the scene in terms of legal and international requirements.

Do not wait; the time will never be “just right.” Start where you stand, and work with whatever tools you may have at your command, and better tools will be found as you go along.

Richard Orme, CEO of the DAISY Consortium, followed presenting a range of tools and support services based on industry accessibility standards. In particular, he concentrated on Ace, the new , open source, EPUB Accessibility Checker, a newly developed knowledge base built to accompany Ace and SMART (Simple Manual Accessibility Reporting Tool).

The DAISY Consortium (@accesibledaisy) promotes EPUB 3 because it has all the accessibility provisions that the book industry might need. #bicbreakfast

Chris Saynor from EDItEUR rounded off proceedings with a presentation on the importance of accessibility metadata looking specifically at schema,org, ONIX, the crosswalk and the role of each. Chris was asked the question whether accessibility metadata was actually being used by retailers and it was promising to hear that this is indeed starting to happen and that Amazon are keen for publishers to supply this level of detail.

Metadata improves discoverability. “Good” metadata improves sales. People with print impairments require different functionalities and the population of specific metadata fields to find the book they need. #bicbreakfast

For further information on this interesting event and access to the slide deck used by all speakers, readers should visit the BIC website.

Accessible Publishing to Feature at DPUB Summit in Berlin

The Digital Publishing Summit Europe, being held in Berlin on the 16th and 17th of May, 2018, has a significant focus on accessibility this year. EDRLab, the organizers of this popular event, aims to “strengthen a true spirit of cooperation between professionals supporting the adoption of open standards and software by the European publishing industry”.

Avneesh Singh, COO of the DAISY Consortium, will be presenting a session on EPUB 3 and accessibility alongside Stephan Knecht, CEO of Bones AG.

Avneesh and Stephan will concentrate specifically on validation tools and processes which can enable the publishing industry to implement accessibility with consistency and uniformity across diverse production processes. The new EPUB accessibility checker, Ace by DAISY, will demonstrated at this session and delegates will also benefit from an accessibility focus throughout the summit – from an introduction by ABC Excellence Awards Winner, Luc Audrain from Hachette Livre, to a presentation given by Cristina Mussinelli of the LIA Foundation, we look forward to an exciting and informative event.

For further details on the full program and registration see the DPUB Summit events page.

 

Ace by DAISY is for Everyone – Video

Your feedback tells us that there are a lot of people around the world who are interested in using Ace to check their EPUB files for accessibility. We would like to thank everyone for the wonderful response to Ace, and for your continued support. We have also heard that some people are keen to give Ace a try, but might be a little daunted by the installation process. Understandably not everyone is familiar with using command line tools.

We are here to reassure you that Ace is not reserved for techies, anyone can use it!

The process of installing and running Ace is very simple. You can follow our guide to Getting Started with Ace, or simply watch the video below as it walks you through the simple steps required.

For further information about Ace, our Ace Accessibility Checker introduction page is a great place to start.

CSUN Assistive Technology Conference Program is Live!

The program for the 33rd CSUN Assistive Technology Conference has been announced and, as ever, there is much on the agenda that is of interest to the publishing industry. George Kerscher, Chief Innovations Officer within the DAISY Consortium will be presenting 3 sessions at the conference:

Publishing at the W3C: The Future of all Accessible Digital Publishing– March 21st, 9am

Your Ace in the Hole to Win the Digital Publishing Accessibility Jackpot– March 21st, 10am

Why EPUB is the Standard for Accessible ebooks– March 22nd, 1.20pm

 

In addition to these presentations Inclusive Publishing has identified the following sessions which will also be of interest:

DIAGRAM Report 2017: Deep Look at Emerging Technologies for Learning.– March 21st, 10am

Guerilla Alt Text: Making Accessibility Happen– March 21st, 4.20pm

EPUB Creation Tool Comparison– March 22nd, 9am

Global Certified Accessible: EPUB Accessible Certification Goes Global– March 22nd, 10am

RNIB’s Operational Impact 2 Years Post-Move to Bookshare’s Private Library– March 22nd, 4.20pm

 

Registration for the conference opens on January 13th. For more details https://inclusivepublishing.org/news-and-events/march-2018-33rd-csun-assistive-technology-conference/

Accessibility to Feature at Digital Book World, 2018

Digital Book World Conference Logo

The popular mainstream publishing and technology conference, Digital Book World, is scheduled to return this year with a new focus and an exciting program. Accessible publishing will feature in Nashville as well as other publishing hot topics and DAISY are delighted to be be playing a significant role at the conference.  The session entitled “Building Accessibility Into Publishing Workflows: From The Ground Up” will be delivered by DAISY speakers and the Consortium will also play an advisory role in the creation of an Achievement in Accessibility in Publishing Award to be presented at the awards ceremony.

For details of the full announcement visit https://www.digitalbookworld.com/single-post/2018/01/15/The-DAISY-Consortium-joins-forces-with-Digital-Book-World-to-talk-accessibility

Ace by DAISY: Open Source EPUB Accessibility Checker – New Beta Release 

Ace, by DAISY, the newly developed accessibility checking tool for EPUB, has entered its last phase of testing with a new beta release this week. The full release of Ace 1.0 is scheduled for the end of January 2018, so now is the ideal time to explore how you can incorporate accessibility checking within your workflows. For full details on Ace and what it can achieve for you, visit https://inclusivepublishing.org/toolbox/accessibility-checker/ 

Introducing ACE: Accessibility Checker for EPUB

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

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

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

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

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

Ace, in a nutshell

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

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

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

Automated checks

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

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

Data extraction

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

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

When to use Ace?

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

What’s the plan, and how can I help?

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

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


Romain Deltour is a software developer and accessibility expert for the DAISY Consortium, and is a firm believer in the Web’s potential to enable a truly inclusive publishing ecosystem. When he’s not coding or attending W3C conference calls, he can usually be seen playing with one of his three lovely kids. Sometimes, they happen to enjoy the conference calls too…but shh!
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Announcing Ace Beta Release

Announcing the First Beta Release of Ace, by DAISY, the Accessibility Checker for EPUB.

The DAISY Consortium are delighted to announce the first beta release of their new open source software tool – Ace – an accessibility conformance checking tool for EPUB 3 publications. This new tool will provide clarity for the publishing industry where accessibility can mean many things to many people. Based on the requirements specified in the new EPUB Accessibility Conformance and Discovery Specification 1.0, Ace has been designed to check packaged or unpackaged EPUB 3 files at any point in the publishing workflow process.

Specifically, Ace:

  • runs automated accessibility tests on EPUB content documents
  • extracts the publications metadata, and checks accessibility-related metadata
  • separates various document outlines (the Navigation Documents, ToC, the HTML etc) for side-by-side comparison
  • presents all the EPUB’s images and graphics and their associated accessibility descriptions in a consolidated table, for easier review
  • consolidates the various content features to facilitate human-driven accessibility audits
  • can be run as a command line tool, or integrated as a Javascript node module, or driven by an HTTP API

Reports on conformance can be output at all stages of the publishing process as user friendly HTML documents or machine readable JSON-LD data. This type of early feedback is particularly helpful with future conformance issues and for training in-house employees to include accessibility within their workflows. Third party suppliers can be required to implement Ace checking on EPUB files and provide reports for their publishers. The appropriate metadata will be available for content providers to announce their subsequent conformance.

This beta release is actively seeking feedback from technical experts in the publishing industry who are happy engaging with EPUB3 code and working through a command line interface.

Please note, this early release tool is testing the examination and content presentation processes, and through feedback the tool will be refined with a second round of beta testing, with a final mainstream release scheduled towards the end of the year.

Technical experts can get involved with the Ace Getting Started Guide.

For more news and information all areas related to accessibility and publishing, including Ace release updates, sign up to the Inclusive Publishing mailing list, and follow @InclusivePub on Twitter.