Posts

Accessibility Takes Centre Stage at ebookcraft 2019

a panel with donuts displayed on it for delegates at ebookcraftebookcraft is fast becoming the number one conference for many who work in digital publishing—Laura Brady and the steering committee have, over the years, devised an inclusive, accessible, diverse and unmissable event that welcomes its delegates to Toronto with open arms. From the atmospheric and moving opening ceremony given by Whabagoon, an Ojibway Elder of Lac Seul First Nation,  to the cheeky treats on offer (a.k.a. the donut wall) there was something for everyone and much more besides.

This year saw an increase in focus surrounding accessibility. All of the sessions that I attended referred to inclusivity and accessibility in some way with 4 sessions dedicated entirely to the subject. No other conference does this. No other publishing event puts accessibility centre stage. Is this a sign of exciting things to come? Let’s hope so.

Marisa DeMeglio and Romain Deltour, (DAISY Consortium), ran one of the opening workshops: Be an Ally at A11y, looking at the background to technical ebook accessibility and then focusing on the tools that DAISY has developed. Holding the attention of a packed room for 3 hours they deftly walked us through all aspects of accessibility giving resource pointers and demos for everyone to experience how they can include validation within their workflows and what they need to do to achieve this. Ace by DAISY, the free open source EPUB accessibility checker is their creation and news of an updated GUI version was welcomed by the crowd as well as details on SMART, which provides information on manual checks necessary to ensure conformance with EPUB and WCAG requirements. Together, Ace and SMART provide the most complete method for accessibility conformance testing of EPUB publications. Take a look at their slides for all the detail on this session, including useful resource recommendations (such as the DAISY knowledge base) and access to the demos.

Laura Brady (House of Anansi) ran a workshop on Remediating Backlist ebooks with Accessibility in Mind, a subject which we think is going to become increasingly important to publishers as they master their approach to accessibility. There is no quick way to do this but Laura showed us all that there is indeed a straightforward process and that there are things that you can do right now to improve the accessibility of EPUB 2 files, particularly for the less complex content that needs work. Top of Laura’s List:

Convert your files to EPUB 3, the number one format for accessibility opportunities.

Other areas for consideration include:

  • Remove bits and bobs you no longer need
  • Level up the HTML
  • Clean markup
  • Language declarations
  • Navigation file
  • Include a navigable Table of Contents
  • Landmarks
  • Page list
  • Semantics – epub:type and ARIA
  • Have complete and relevant Image descriptions
  • Include accessibility Metadata

Check out Laura’s slides for more detail on this and the rest of her presentation.

Sabina Iseli-Otto (National Network for Equitable Library Service) and Shannon Culver (eBound Canada) presented a review of the work done by the NNELS Accessibility Summit in January in their session Who Does What to Make Great EPUB: How to Build an Airplane in Mid-Air.  The outcomes of this summit are gathering momentum and there are a number of exciting working groups forming that all ebookcraft delegates were invited to take part in. They shared detailed feedback from the summit on how to develop and create accessible EPUB 3 files and what still needs to be done. The challenges are clear (image descriptions, tables , EPUB 2 still in use etc) and the group of people that they drew together in January are a stellar selection of top minds who are enthused and passionate about moving forward.

We want to encourage publishers to move towards born accessible publishing. Accessibility features are good for everyone. 

The slides from this session will give you more information on the achievements of this group.

Kai Li, a visually impaired NNELS employee, talked to us all about his reading experiences in his presentation The Users Perspective: Accessibility Features in Action, affirming in our minds that user testing is going to become increasingly more important as we work on old and new files and formats. He impressed upon us that having people with disabilities in the workplace enhances and improves working practices, giving insights that might otherwise be overlooked.

Fixed layout does not make your books last and it is bad for accessibility. In fact, as screen reader users, every word is displayed on a separate line!

Kai and other colleagues were at ebookcraft to answer questions throughout the conference and we were very lucky to have their hands on knowledge made so available to us all.

The conference ended with the extraordinary news that the Canadian Budget 2019 has announced huge funds to be put towards accessible publishing, confirming to us all that Canada is determined to embrace born accessible publishing.

There are a number of excellent event reports emerging from this two day extravaganza and we recommend these for details on the other terrific sessions. A heartfelt thanks to all who make ebookcraft what it is: the details, the welcome and the healthy attitude to conference planning—an impressive display of thoughtful and exacting organization.

We are looking forward to next year already!

 

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!

Ebookcraft – An Excellent Adventure Indeed!

Group of signs for various locations at the conferenceThis blog piece was kindly written by Romain Deltour, lead software developer for the recently released EPUB accessibility checking tool Ace by DAISY. Romain delivered a workshop at ebookcraft entitled: Is Your EPUB Accessible: Put it to the Test. This image is one of Romain’s slides used during his workshop.

Last month, on March 21 and 22, while the lovely Toronto was still hesitating between staying firmly in winter or boldly entering spring, I attended ebookcraft, a two-day conference on ebook production. I have followed previous ebookcraft conferences remotely via twitter, and been told several times by friends and colleagues that this event was an amazing experience, so when I was invited to speak about accessibility testing on the workshop day, I was thrilled. And well, ebookcraft didn’t disappoint. It was a fantastic conference.

From the inclusivity guidelines in the speakers’ guide, to the pronoun stickers attendees could put on their badges, you knew that the awesome Lauren Stewart and the BookNet Canada team were serious about organizing an inclusive event. This welcoming atmosphere no doubt helped the attendees and speakers to feel at home and made us enjoy, all the more, the very interesting presentations, round-tables, and corridor discussions. Among the various topics in these exchanges, accessibility was perhaps the most often cited subject. I was very happy, in particular, that the leading efforts of the DAISY Consortium to help make digital publications accessible to everyone were unanimously acknowledged. Despite the technical challenges, the enthusiasm of ebook developers and publishers to make born-accessible publications was tangible. Ebookcraft was all about learning and sharing; when it comes to inclusivity and making information truly accessible to everyone, this feels very heartwarming.

There have been a number of excellent event reports written since the conference and we have listed those that we have found here below. Booknet Canada has already provided access to the slides from the conference, once again increasing inclusion in this ground-breaking event.

Publishing @ W3C Goes to Ebookcraft

An excellent conference report written by Tzviya Siegman, Information Standards Lead at Wiley and Chair of the W3C Publishing Working Group

For many of us who work with ebooks, the highlight of our year is ebookcraft in Toronto…. Why do we love ebookcraft? It’s full of “practical tips and forward-thinking inspiration.” It’s impeccably organized, by the wizardly Lauren Stewart and her team. It’s warm and welcoming. There are cookies. More than half the speakers are women. It really is about making beautiful, accessible ebooks. Of course, that requires standards. The ebook world has suffered more than most, with interoperability being a dream rather than a reality.

Accessibility, Accessibility, Accessibility: A Recap of Ebookcraft 2018

Kris Tomes, author of this Lerner Blog piece, focuses on accessibility as one of the major themes of the conference

As more schools, libraries, and governments set a11y requirements, it is important to understand why a11y features matter and how to implement them in digital publishing.

That’s a Wrap on Tech Forum and ebookcraft 2018

A Booknet Canada blog piece by Kira Harkonen listing conference resources including slides, you tube videos of presentations, links to articles, a round up of conference tweets and information on next year’s event.

@Simon_Collinson’s conference tweet stood out in particular:

Steve Murgaski: ‘For a lot of blind people, books are really important. They’re one of the aspects of popular culture which are available to us without modification.’ Fascinating talk at #ebookcraft

Ebook Magiks

A blog piece for epubsecrets by Melissa deJesus, Associate Production Editor at Houghton Mifflin Harcourt

If we get it right, ebooks can combine with any technology, ereader or assistive technologies, to enshrine content not in dead tree sheets but in machine-readable, universally accessible, deathless code.

Booknet Canada and Rakuten Kobo Award 2018 – Ebook Coding Prize

This news piece by Porter Anderson, Editor in Chief of  Publishing Perspectives highlights the winner of the So You Think You Can Code competition held every year at ebookcraft. This year’s winner, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt’s Katy Mastrocola, used Ace by DAISY to check the accessibility of her entry.

Getting ‘aesthetically pleasing and accessible content’ out of what the judges gave her as a mashup of sci-fi and Lewis Carroll, Katy Mastrocola beats the competition.

Hats off to Laura Brady and the rest of the ebookcraft steering committee – we can’t wait till next year!

Publishing Accessibility Jargon Deciphered

Ahead of their ebookcraft presentation Is Your EPUB Accessible: Put it to the Test where they will showcase Ace by DAISY, the new EPUB accessibility checking tool launched at the end of January, Romain Deltour and Matt Garrish have written a incredibly useful Guide to Accessibility Jargon for BookNet Canada. Make sure you gen up on all of your terminology in preparation for this sell-out event!

Visit our event pages for full details of the ebookcraft event

ebookcraft, Toronto

March 21st to 22nd, 2018

ebookcraft is a two-day conference dedicated to ebook production—if you’re looking for a mix of practical tips and forward-thinking inspiration, you won’t want to miss it. In 2018, the main conference day will take place on Thursday, March 22, with an optional workshop day for the #eprdctn crowd on Wednesday, March 21.

Of particular interest to us here at Inclusive Publishing is the session

Is Your EPUB Accessible? Put it to the Test!

Romain Deltour (software developer, The DAISY Consortium) and Matt Garrish (Editor, Digital Standards and Process, The DAISY Consortium) will demonstrate the new Ace by DAISY, open source, EPUB accessibility checking tool.

With several sessions devoted to accessibility and specific focus on inclusive publishing throughout the conference make sure you don’t miss out!

Date:

March 21-22, 2018

Venue:

MaRS Discovery District, Toronto, Canada

Learn More:

For program information and registration details (early bird pricing is open through January 2018) visit: http://techforum.booknetcanada.ca.