Posts

Inspiring Words from Industry Leaders: Interview with Julie Ganner, Institute of Professional Editors, Australia

Head shot of Julie GannerInclusive Publishing is continuing with its popular series of interviews with industry leaders and their approach to accessibility. Julie Ganner AE represents the Institute of Professional Editors (IPEd) at the Australian Inclusive Publishing Initiative (AIPI), a cross-sector forum launched in 2016 to foster a collaborative, consultative and consensus-based approach to tackling accessibility problems in Australia. Its members include representatives of the publishing industry, authors, agents, editors, designers, indexers, libraries, copyright organisations, disability associations, government and accessible-format providers. The aim of the AIPI is to increase access to published material for people living with print disabilities in Australia.

Designing a book to be inclusive from inception is much more efficient and cost effective than trying to retrofit accessibility features into it later, once you have already published it in other formats.

Julie is the co-author of Inclusive Publishing in Australia: An Introductory Guide, which is available for free download from the AIPI website in EPUB, PDF, Word, braille and DAISY formats.

Why is inclusive publishing important to you and/or your organization?

The AIPI recognises that for publishing to become inclusive, we need to start with a consultation process that is fully inclusive too. Everyone involved in creating, publishing, supplying and using accessible books needs to be consulted about what they need, and how they can contribute, if we are to tackle this issue efficiently as an industry. It’s a big jigsaw puzzle and each AIPI participant holds a piece that completes the full picture.

IPEd’s participation in the AIPI is a good illustration of the benefits of this collaborative approach. The fundamental task of an editor is to ensure the author’s message is communicated to the reader clearly and in full. Editors therefore already have the tools to remove some of the barriers to information access that readers with a print disability can experience, such as missing or inappropriate text alternatives for graphic material. But we can do this only if we’re aware of what those barriers are in the first place. Taking part in the AIPI has offered IPEd a great opportunity to hear about and observe the specific problems readers with a disability can encounter when accessing published materials, so we can see how editing practice needs to evolve. And the consultative process works the other way too: it enables IPEd to explain what editors and proofreaders need from publishers and authors if we are to contribute effectively, such as the inclusion of accessibility requirements in editorial briefs and house style sheets.

This inclusive approach was also invaluable when we were creating the content for Inclusive Publishing in Australia. While my professional experience is in traditional book publishing, my co-author Greg Alchin is an inclusive design consultant and disability advocate, so we each came to the project with very different perspectives on what we needed to convey. Into the mix we then added contributions and expert advice from representatives of disability agencies, publishers, editors, designers, indexers and government. This was vital to ensure not only that the information we provided was accurate and workable, but also that it addressed the needs and experiences of everyone involved.

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

When starting a new publication, plan ahead and consider the needs of everyone who will participate in the publishing workflow. When writing our guide, we focused on workflow planning because we recognised how crucial it is for all contributors to know what is expected of them. This includes not only authors and in-house staff but also the contractors employed on a project-by-project basis, such as copy editors, proofreaders, designers, indexers and typesetters.

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

As an editor, I wish I had been more aware of the issues that people with a print disability face when their needs are not addressed during the writing and editing process. It was only brought home to me after I visited the Royal Institute of Deaf and Blind Children’s Alternative Format Publications unit and saw firsthand how much work the staff and volunteers do each year to transcribe textbooks into accessible formats, such as braille. Watching a teacher using a screen reader for a digital maths textbook was also instructive, as it demonstrated the need for care not just with the obvious tasks like providing useful alt text but also smaller style decisions, such as how numbers in thousands are set. (In Australia, the convention is to use a thin space to separate tens of thousands rather than a comma. However, a screen reader delivers this as ‘ten zero zero zero’, so it is clearly time we reviewed this practice!)

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

More and more publishers recognising that there is a solid business case for investing in inclusive design.

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

Creating books that are accessible to every reader benefits us all: not just the consumer and the community but also the publishing industry itself. We want our content to be read by as many people as possible, and for it to be useful to everyone who does so. Inclusive publishing therefore makes good business sense, as increasing the number of readers who can access your books also means the potential to increase sales. Offering your content only in traditional formats, on the other hand, means you could be missing out on a great opportunity for sales in a market segment that is not well serviced at present.

Why should companies consider publishing a policy on Inclusive Publishing?

Having a policy on inclusive publishing encourages thinking that embeds accessibility into the workflow right from the start. Designing a book to be inclusive from inception is much more efficient and cost effective than trying to retrofit accessibility features into it later, once you have already published it in other formats.

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

Inclusive publishing is simply good publishing.

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

The Chinese have a wonderful aphorism for just about everything. One of my favourites is: ‘If you want to go fast, go alone. But if you want to go far, you must take everyone with you.’

AIPI Launches Accessibility Guides in Australia

The Australian Publishers Association has launched 2  publications this week as part of the Australian Inclusive Publishing Initiative (AIPI)—Making Content Accessible and Inclusive Publishing in Australia: An Introductory Guide. The AIPI aims to develop a greater awareness of the needs of people living with a print disability, to communicate the laws that govern access to published content, and to build publishing industry capability in producing accessible digital books that are inclusive by design.

To read about these guides and download them in a variety of formats visit the AIPI website.

Funding Boost for Australian Inclusive Publishing Initiative

The Australian Publishers Association (APA) has announced that it has been successful in securing funds from the Copyright Agency’s Cultural Fund for the production of two accessible publishing guides. Michael Gordon-Smith, Chief Executive of the APA has commented:

“This funding is a boon to two priority projects for the Australian Inclusive Publishing Initiative. Important information will get to the right people sooner and that should make a difference to the level of inclusive publishing. Uncertainty is a brake on what gets done. This funding will mean we can create two key guides. A copyright guide will present the legal framework clearly and succinctly. A publishing guide will introduce inclusive publishing practices, and include practical information on workflow and content. It’s a valuable opportunity to help build the industry’s capability.”

Further details about this exciting news can be found at the Australian Publishers Association website. Our congratulations to all involved.

World-Leading Book Accessibility Initiative Creating the Dignity to Read

Handout rom the forum - diagram revelaing the inclusive publishing ecosystem - iinterested parties outlined in the following paragraphThirty individuals from more than 20 organizations met last week at Barangaroo for the third forum of the Australian Inclusive Publishing Initiative (AIPI) which is uniquely comprised of representatives from the ecosystem that makes books accessible to people with print disabilities, including libraries, publishers, authors, editors, print disability peak bodies, copyright experts, and government agencies.

Reflecting on two years of work since the first Marrakesh Treaty Forum, the AIPI mapped the next steps towards an accessible future of creating books to ensure all people, regardless of ability, have the dignity to read.

The AIPI was created in 2016 to address concerns that people are missing out on the joy and learning experience of reading books. It can take up to a year to convert a traditional book into a version that is suitable for someone with vision impairment or a print disability.

International book accessibility expert, Bill Kasdorf, opened the AIPI forum via web cast, commenting that the collaborative efforts of the Australian cohort is world-leading and inspirational. “There are other publishing industry groups across the globe that are further ahead in terms of technology, but the wide group of stakeholders AIPI has is actually world-leading, innovative and will ensure sustainability of outcomes,” Kasdorf said.

Josie Howse, a world authority on braille and large print services from the NSW Department of Education, has “never been so excited” by the developments in the print disability space. “In more than 30 years that I have been working on copyright access to files for people with vision impairment, this is the most exciting time I’ve experienced. The progress and stimulation felt with our third AIPI get-together is significant.”

Historically, print accessibility groups have come together but never with as many organizations under the one banner. “There was a round table for print disability in 1988 and an annual meeting since,” Ms Howse continued, “but the dynamics of now, largely due to the driving force of the Australian Publishing Association, is what’s making the difference.”

The fact we’ve progressed so much in a year, and we have achievable targets involving the widest group of stakeholders from publishing and the disability advocacy space, demonstrates the great momentum and opportunity we currently have.

Sonali Marathe from the Royal Institute for Blind and Deaf Children says this momentum through collaboration wasn’t always the case, “Two years ago, there was a divide between publishers and the print disability sector, but now we are a cohesive group. It’s a game-changer for the goal of creating book formats for all abilities to read and enjoy. The needs of people with a print disability is more widespread than some might think. Data from The Australian Bureau of Statistics highlights that there are one in five people in the community living with a permanent disability. Furthermore, more than 20% of these have some form of print disability which inhibits their experience of a standard print book. This initiative will enable so many more people to read for purpose and enjoyment.”

The AIPI working meeting ,with representatives from both sides, has resulted in a strong set of goals for 2019. Jess Coates from the Australian Digital Alliance said, “This year was particularly productive and has built nicely on previous years. The first year was big and I think we felt trepidation in what we were trying to achieve. The second year we had a lot of enthusiasm as a group and in 2018, we’ve been able to see outcomes. After the meeting today, you can say that things are really happening.One key task the group will work on,” Ms Coates says, “will be to create a digital knowledge hub. People have been asking what AIPI is doing and when this web platform is complete we will have a space to showcase what the group and industry has done. We will be able to share information about the regulatory framework publishers need to work within, guidelines for publishers and disability services personnel, and also conversations from the global context about developments in the inclusion and book accessibility milieu.”

The overarching challenge that the AIPI is working towards is called born-accessible publishing. This is where a master file holds the content of the book, which can then be exported into any format required: braille, audiobook, large font and more. It’s a process that requires new workflows for publishers, but one that has been piloted successfully by Sydney University Press (SUP). AIPI member and SUP Publishing Manager, Agata Mrva-Montoya, has shared her experience of creating born-accessible files through EPUB. One of the most time-consuming aspects of making a book’s content accessible is in describing images through what is called alt-text. “The alt-text of images in our workflow now goes to authors. They are best placed to provide content to describe any images in their books, so we get authors to write the alt-text and then we simply copy it in. It saves a lot of time and ends up being better content,”

Changes to the regulatory framework in which publishers operate are accelerating the need to find solutions. Since 2010, if a publisher has created a book that is not available in formats that consumers require, they are potentially in breach of the Disability Discrimination Act 2005. Lee Walker, President of the Australian Publishers Association and Director of School Publishing at Oxford University Press, says that besides the inherent desire to help more people to read books, “The changes in the legal space are key drivers for publishers to consider how to meet the problem of changing workflows. We want to create texts in various formats with ease—while safeguarding copyright for authors and publishers in the process.The print disabled community is quite vast. When you consider the ageing population, people with degenerative muscle disorders who can’t hold books, people with dyslexia—the market of people requiring books in non-traditional formats is not as narrow as one might first imagine.”

Greg Alchin, a member of AIPI from All Equal, explains the situation the book industry is in: “The book industry has a simple choice. They can either embrace publishing digital books to international accessibility standards or not. Accessible standards and modern formats such as EPUB enable publishers to reach a greater market, maintain better copyright control and diminish legal risks. Conversely publishers who choose to produce electronic books in outdated formats such as PDF fail to comply with accessibility standards and put themselves at great risk of lawsuits for not providing equal access. It’s like airbags with the car industry. By choosing to incorporate substandard airbags it has opened the industry to compensation lawsuits as well as the costly task of retrofitting better quality airbags in. The publishing sector stands to find itself in legal trouble if they don’t make changes soon. On a positive note, Australian publishers are making efforts to make their books more widely accessible and the AIPI group is working together to ensure their changes are fit for purpose,”.

The ultimate goal of AIPI is to make it as easy as possible for publishers to produce born-accessible content to the benefit of all readers. The AIPI group will continue to work towards a number of identified projects across the year. Further updates will be published on the APA News and the, soon to be developed, AIPI Knowledge Hub.

Inclusive Publishing will update its readers on AIPI’s progress and the projects that are identified for the future year.

This report was kindly submitted by The Australian Publishers Association. All images have been supplied courtesy of the Australian Publishers Association