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Inspiring Words from Industry Leaders: Interview with Pedro Milliet, Fênix Editorial

Pedro Milliet, head shotInclusive Publishing is continuing with its popular series of interviews with industry leaders, focusing on their approach to accessibility. Pedro Milliet, Director of Accessibility Development at Fênix Editorial has worked tirelessly for many years to improve the accessibility of published content for all readers.

It is very important to listen to people who read your books and who use accessibility features. Understanding their experience and listening to first hand analysis helps a lot to establish quality goals and create new solutions or improve current ones.

We are very proud to welcome Fênix Editorial to our Inclusive Publishing Partner program,

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

For the past 15 years I have been dedicated to accessibility. Until 2017 this was linked to the institutional field, working, together with Eduardo Perez, in the development of tools and processes for the production and reading of accessible digital books: first in DAISY format and then in EPUB 3. My personal connection with inclusive publications comes from before, when in the 90’s I had an exceptional blind musician as a partner. Since then, the issue of accessibility to information, knowledge, culture and art has become a challenge and a motive. I participated in the DAISY Consortium Council for 7 years, and in the development of public policies for accessible textbooks in Brazil.

In 2018 I migrated from the institutional field to an editorial technology company. This year, I’ve joined two old friends and excellent professionals, Paulo Henrique Santos Pedro and Maurício Barreto, in Fênix Editorial. For the three of us, inclusive publishing, in addition to being a citizenship right provided for within the Brazilian Inclusion Law, is a strategy of universal access to our publications. It is an ethical and political commitment, and a market action.

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

It is very important to listen to people who read your books and who use accessibility features. Understanding their experience and listening to first hand analysis helps a lot to establish quality goals and create new solutions or improve current ones.

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

Knowledge about the extensive global collaborative community network, dedicated to the development and dissemination of Inclusive Publishing, is always very handy.

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

Natural Language AI assistants, AI driven Image description, Expressive 3D Avatars for Sign Language real time translation, and the adoption of the latest full HTML and Web specs are all going to impact accessibility within publishing. The advancement of local and international public policies, such as the European Accessibility Act, the Marrakesh Treaty and the Inclusion Law in Brazil, will also be important incentives for the inclusive publishing evolution.

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

There are a number of reasons: accessibility brings new ways of facing publishing challenges, it transforms in-house processes and it improves product quality. Accessibility also expands your market reach and universalizes your clients’ base.

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

Good, accessible content improves the readability for all our readers. It allows them to listen when they cannot see the text, or to read on any device or platform. But this happens not only on the product side, it also affects the development of reading apps, optimizing its usability and improving overall quality for readers.

Why should companies consider publishing a policy on Inclusive Publishing?

An inclusive publishing policy helps users to identify companies that are committed to high accessibility standards, and this, in turn, helps companies identify customers. It is also important internally, to inspire co-workers and partner companies.

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

Universalizing the access to our content, using inclusive publishing, improves our business and our lives.

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

I encourage everyone involved in the publishing industry to adopt accessibility as a primary tool. I am sure it will bring new opportunities and transform your product. New challenges arise all time, and accessibility is always at the edge for new solutions to read, listen, touch and perceive.

European Accessibility Act: A Chance for Publishing

October 16th, 2020

Last year, the European Accessibility Act was passed. This event, organized by the IPA and the conference team at FBF will highlight the opportunities of the European Accessibility Act for publishers and feature statements from the Presidents of the Federation of European Publishers (FEP) and IPA. DAISY friends and IPP members will be taking part.

Earlier this year, DAISY ran a webinar on the EAA and the full recording is available for you to prep for this event!

Date

October 16, 2020

Venue

Online

Learn More

Event details can be found at the Frankfurt Book Fair website

WordToEPUB Wins ALPSP Award

ALPSP Awards Winner BadgeThe DAISY Consortium is proud to have been named a winner of the ALPSP Awards for Innovation in Publishing 2020 for our work on WordToEPUB. This ground-breaking new tool offers a free, simple and straightforward method of converting structured Word documents to valid and accessible EPUB files.

The inspiration for the WordToEPUB tool was academic publishing, and in this time of Covid, educational materials are being digitized into accessible files that are a lifeline to students with disabilities unable to study at school. WordToEPUB has revolutionized the conversion process for many users already and this award will only help to improve awareness.

ALPSP were looking for “any new development, product, service or project which is both innovative and of significant value to scholarly communication. The winners must demonstrate excellence in terms of originality, innovation, value to the community, utility and long-term viability.”

DAISY were short-listed alongside 7 other very worthwhile initiatives selected from a pool of 34 applicants and we wish to congratulate everyone on their achievement.

WordToPUB is the work of many volunteers around the world, and on behalf of everyone involved we extend our thanks to ALPSP for the recognition this award brings.

Details of the award and all the finalists can be found on the ALPSP Innovation Awards page.

Inspiring Words from Industry Leaders: Interview with Erin Lucas, RedShelf

head shot of erin lucasInclusive Publishing is continuing with its popular series of interviews with industry leaders, focusing on their approach to accessibility. Erin Lucas is Senior Director of Accessibility at RedShelf and her passion for accessible publishing is contagious! RedShelf are working tirelessly to improve the reading experience for all their readers and we are very proud that they are Inclusive Publishing Partners.

Providing born-accessible digital textbooks is a crucial part of a campus support ecosystem to empower ALL students and can provide peace of mind to accessibility office personnel and faculty.

Why is inclusive publishing important to you and/or your organization at this moment in time?

It’s never been more important to ensure students have access to accessible course materials. As many schools continue to limit on-campus learning this fall, the most vulnerable students are in danger of slipping through the cracks. Those who rely on the in-person support of the accessibility office are at even higher risk. Providing born-accessible digital textbooks is a crucial part of a campus support ecosystem to empower ALL students and can provide peace of mind to accessibility office personnel and faculty.

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

Accessibility is a journey, not a destination – expand your horizons and get connected to other accessibility champions! Look for MeetUps, Facebook Groups and LinkedIn posts to keep learning and connecting. I know from experience that it can be challenging to feel like you’re the only person in an organization who cares about accessibility, but the passion that the a11y community has for the important work we are doing is contagious! Become your organization’s a11y evangelist by sharing your experiences and knowledge with others and I guarantee you’ll find others who care as much as you do.

What you wish you knew about accessibility 10 years ago?

Having worked in the government IT sector for so long before coming to RedShelf, it was always a part of my job – but 10 years ago I had no idea that accessibility would be my full-time job someday. I probably would have connected with more folks outside of the government sector, to better understand how far behind some industries were with accessibility.  

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

It’s encouraging that so many publishers recognize the many benefits of EPUB and, thanks to this shift, we have seen an incredible change in the inclusivity of our catalog from only 40% EPUB to 75% EPUB in just three years! But, I think the true game changer will be campus stakeholders embracing EPUB format. Adoption of PDF still outpaces EPUB by a large margin and accessible course materials often isn’t top of mind for faculty. Bookstore managers may not know how to encourage accessible adoptions with those faculty members. In addition, many accessibility offices don’t have the bandwidth to learn how to handle EPUB, or have legacy assistive technology that only ingests PDF. But, if nothing else, the accessibility community is tenacious and I’m confident that by continuing to work together – on and off campus – we can affect change. 

For those still on the fence, why should they consider accessibility, bearing in mind the possible “new normal” for students in September?

I would reiterate the answer to question #1 – not considering accessibility places students at additional risk. Accessibility and usability go hand in hand, so by keeping accessibility top of mind, you help ALL students

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

It’s been especially influential on campuses where the accessibility office is part of the process of ensuring inclusive adoptions. They can be the voice for all students, helping faculty understand how time consuming accommodations can be and how EPUB can often eliminate the need for an accommodation. But it’s not just about the students who need additional support. The current generation of learners has always been digital and learns in a completely different way than previous generations. They also expect their technology to work in very specific ways, and only inclusive materials can support those expectations. 

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

Inclusive publishing is the key to success for EVERY student’s digital educational experience.

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

A huge thank you to all of our publishing, campus and accessibility industry partners for being so willing to share their knowledge and work with me and my colleagues at RedShelf. Together, we can ensure an accessible future for more generations to come!

Back to School….Are We Ready?

graphic containing back to school items including screens and tabletsWith countries issuing plans and advice for the long-awaited return to school in September, we thought it would be useful to pause and consider how the accessibility of digital learning materials remains as important as ever. Some element of online learning seems inevitable in the “new normal” and it’s amazing how many educational content providers have adapted and reinvented their own workflows and content to suit these new environments.

It’s not been easy. Change to workflows to accommodate staff working from home is an enormous step but combined with adapting content to allow for greater access is an even greater challenge. For some publishers this second hurdle was not a problem…already producing born accessible EPUB 3 and giving students the best online experience as a result. But for those just dipping their toes into digital publishing, this will have been a fast learning curve and one that requires the collaboration of all supply chain partners. It takes a village.

The publishing supply chain around the world  reacted very quickly to support homeschooling parents and teachers delivering online learning resources,  making digital content available to all readers as much as they could. Platform providers set up schemes to ensure students could access, free of charge, the materials they needed and in most cases, these materials come with a high degree of accessibility. Our Inclusive Publishing Partners, Red Shelf and Vital Source are fine examples of this and their good work was highlighted in one of our early webinars, dedicated to considering access for students during a global pandemic.

But where do you start if you are hoping to make a difference in September but this is new and daunting for you and your team? There are some quick wins and some more challenging areas but the most important thing is that you take the plunge. None of it is quite as difficult as you might think and there is plenty of help and guidance on hand if you know where to look.

Quick Wins

  • Prepare a company commitment to accessibility and publish this on your website. This doesn’t have to say that everything you publish is 100% accessible but rather that your mission includes making your content as accessible as you can and that your work and focus is centered on user access and requirements.
  • Assess your digital content.  How complex is the content that you are producing? Focus on the monochrome simple layout documents to start with as these can ease you into the path of accessible publishing.
  • Consider EPUB – EPUB is the most widely used format within the publishing industry and offers the greatest opportunity for accessibility. EPUB 3.2, the latest version, is where you want to focus your attentions and you should instruct your developers (whether in-house or 3rd party) to take advantage of all the accessibility features it offers.
  • Use Ace by DAISY – Ace by DAISY is a free accessibility checking tool for EPUB content and you can use this on your desktop for one off documents or build it into your production workflow. The resulting report will help you to focus on what areas need attention.
  • Use the metadata! If you are confident that your content has passed Ace, then you should use the metadata options available in schema.org (for your EPUB file) and Onix for Books (for your retailer feed) and let your customers know that a particular title might indeed be suitable for them. Shout about your good work and your sales will increase accordingly.

All of these things can be put in place with relatively little aggravation. For some, your developers will already have fully embraced the EPUB 3 format so it might just be a question of making sure that they are using it to it’s full capability. Wherever you are in the process, you can embrace some of this in time for September….anything you are able to install is better than doing nothing.

And Then What?

Once you’ve got started with the simpler content you will want to think about more complex documents that might include rich and interactive material. How do we make this accessible to readers with a print disability? It is a challenge, indeed, but much of the hard work has been done for you and it’s simply a question of deciding what methods work for you. This can depend on the size of your organization, whether you outsource any areas of your workflows and what the subject matter is of the content. All of these elements coincide to produce a unique environment and you will want to take time to consider what works best.

We have heaps of guidance to help you make these choices.

Why Exactly Do You Need to do this Now?

Accessibility has always been important and the business case for it has been proven in the past so why is it particularly important right now? Well, access is a vital issue for everyone, whether fully-abled or disabled and it is understood that an EPUB with all the accessibility features enabled provides a richer and more satisfying experience for everyone. We should be affording students the best online learning experience that we can offer them and an accessible EPUB file does that.

But it is worth noting that it is also possible to remediate files so that they can be made accessible after the fact, but imagine the time and potential cost of this when you could just build everything from the start? Your files can be born accessible so that you are offering all students the same material, in the same format, at the same time and for the same cost as everyone else. This is what true accessibility looks like and we should be doing our level best to make this happen for September. Education challenges are going to be great but let’s make the “new normal” an accessible one.

Commit to making your content as accessible as you can and you are part of the solution for September. It’s simple!

Resources

  • Our Introduction to Inclusive Publishing is a great place to understand the benefits of accessible content. Take a look at the rest of the publisher resources within this area of our website to further your understanding.
  • Our developer area will give you some idea of what is required of you technically—it’s not as hard as you think!
  • There is plenty of guidance highlighted in both these areas of our website so that you can start to put some of your understanding into practice.
  • Register for our Weekly Webinar series put together is in response to multiple challenges faced by conferences around the world, as well as feedback from the wider DAISY community expressing interest in online training resources.

Publishers have stepped up to the challenge in a big way and the International Publishers Association has gathered together details of resources available in various countries to assist during this time. This list of IPA resources brings together the good work being done around the globe to provide as much information as possible.

Hugo Setzer, IPA President said:

Self-isolation around the world has seen a boom in reading. Books and reading are the ideal way of escaping our four walls but also to understand what is happening around us, how to overcome this and how to make our lives better in the future. We will need books and we will need each other. The International Publishers Association will play its role to support our international colleagues, our authors and readers, our researchers, our teachers and pupils, to overcome this crisis.

The Accessibility EPUB Eco-system in Action: Following the Journey from Publisher to Student (W)

Accessible EPUB Ecosystem opening slideIn our series of free weekly webinars July 8th saw a session about the journey accessible EPUB publications take to ultimately be delivered to students in their education establishments and our speakers came from organizations involved throughout this journey.

This page contains:

Full Video of the Webinar

Speakers

  • Richard Orme, The DAISY Consortium—host and chair
  • Michael Johnson, Benetech
  • Rachel Comerford, Macmillan Learning
  • Trisha Prevett, Southern New Hampshire University
  • Brendan Desetti, D2L

Session Overview

This webinar looked at aspects of the educational materials eco-system for accessibility and Michael Johnson opened by summarizing what would be covered:

  • What is the Eco-System?
  • The Publishing Workflow
  • Accessible Titles in Retail
  • What is Happening on Campus
  • A View Inside a Learning Management System

Michael Johnson talked to us about what is happening now. Publishers are already creating accessible EPUBs, they are preparing files for 3rd party certification and accessible ebooks are are available for sale. There is reader software to support accessible EPUB files and campuses are buying accessible content and changing their procurement policies for their systems.

All elements in the workflow from the publisher to the point of retail, from being available for purchase to appearing within the LMS / library system, are part of the accessible eco-system. Our eco-system should be accessible from start to finish to benefit all students.

The business case is clear and Rachel Comerford reminded us that:

You or someone close to you has benefitted from accessibility work at least once in the last year / /month / week whether or not you consider yourself disabled.

The ingredients for an accessible environment must include:

  • The Data
  • The People
  • The Content
  • The Platform
  • The End Product

Rachel took us through each of these areas in relation to publishing in general and, more specifically, how Macmillan Learning have approached these.

Trisha Prevett gave us an insight into how this feeds into what is happening on campus, where they currently have 180,000 online students! Accessibility is more important than ever and impacts the following areas:

  • Procurement workflows
  • Electronic Information Technology
  • Assessment of Products
  • Relationships with contracted vendors
  • Cost of resources
  • Training of faculty and staff

Brendan Desetti spoke to us about Learning Management Systems and how accessibility affects the three areas:

  • Content: in supporting instructors with accessible course content
  • Process: in facilitating practice of universal design for learning
  • Platform: enabling accessibility and an equitable user experience

Brendan showed us how D2L are ensuring that all layers of their LMS are attending to these.

Michael Johnson summarized :

  • This is indeed all happening now
  • A Born Accessible EPUB is a better EPUB
  • This is all real work and very do-able
  • Campuses must insist that their vendors are compliant
  • Publishers and platform folk should make sure they are compliant

Accessibility is about meeting the specifications but also about the user experience, the audience response, the assistance and support that comes with a product, and the change that the product undergoes.

Related Resources

Discover the other webinars we’re running!

Free Webinar: WordToEPUB Extended Tutorial – Accessible EPUB in Seconds

July 29th, 2020

You can start making accessible EPUBs after just a few seconds with Microsoft Word and the free WordToEPUB tool from the DAISY Consortium, but you can also achieve much more. This practical session will demonstrate how to get started with WordToEPUB and introduce some of the features beyond the effective one-click solution, including custom styling, page numbering control, content with multiple languages, adding a cover image and customizing metadata.

Date

July 29th, 2020

Venue

Online via Zoom or via the DAISY YouTube channel afterwards

Learn More

Sign up for the July 29th webinar

For information on the whole DAISY webinar series on offer you can register your interest on the Webinar Information Page

Welcoming New Inclusive Publishing Partners

We are very pleased to welcome three new organizations to our Inclusive Publishing Partner program. Pearson, Microsoft and Fenix Editorial are now among the select group of companies who are enjoying the benefits of the IPP program. Congratulations to all involved and we look forward to having you on board.

The IPP program is open to anyone working within the publishing industry and we are proud to include Google, Adobe,VitalSource & Red Shelf amongst our esteemed list of partners. A full list of members is available and we welcome your interest. Get in touch so see how the benefits available to you via this program might be able to change the way you approach accessibility and enable us to design and produce tools and solutions that work for you.

A World Tour of Inclusive Publishing Initiatives (W)

World Tour of Inclusive Publishing Initiatives opening slideIn our series of free weekly webinars July 1st saw a session focused on activities taking place globally to promote inclusive publishing practices.

This page contains:

Full Video of the Webinar

Speakers

  • Richard Orme, The DAISY Consortium—host and chair
  • Hugo Setzer, Manual Moderno and The International Publishers Association
  • Deborah Nelson, eBound Canada
  • Brad Turner, Benetech
  • Kirsi Yianne, NIPI and IFLA

Session Overview

This week we mixed things up a little and had a brief whistle-stop tour of what is happening around the world before opening up to our esteemed panel for a larger discussion for the greater portion of the webinar. Richard Orme guided us through various initiatives from a variety of countries. There is so much happening and this is a truly exciting time for accessible publishing everywhere. We hope that some of the initiatives presented will inspire you in your market and help you to further the good work within the publishing industry.

During this time we also ran a poll to find out where our audience hails from: 56% from North America, 30% from Europe, 9% from Asia and 5% from South America so we were delighted to have such a global audience with us on this journey.

Panel Discussion

The discussion opened with a lively chat focusing on a few key themes as listed below. For a fuller overview we recommend listening to the video recording.

The Accessibility Eco-System

Hugo Setzer empahisized the importance of an entire eco-system that works together to achieve accessible experiences. Deborah Nelson sees awareness of vendors as being a hurdle within the eco-system and how we should be encouraging users to motivate these partners into action.

End User Awareness

Kirsi Yianne discussed engagement with end users to drive awareness. NIPI have worked hard to understand the needs of print disabled readers and how their needs should involve the entire eco-system.

Supporting Regulation

Kirsi Yianne reminded us all that the European Accessibility Act will come into force in 2025. Standards are vital to help with compliance to the new rulings.

International Standards and Compliance

All our panelists commented on the importance of international standards to drive compliance.

Brad Turner explained how the Benetech GCA Certification System is underpinned by international standards. GCA uses WCAG Level 2 as their gold standard. Compliance in the USA tends to be at an educational level and Higher Ed establishments are looking to publish accessible materials.

Deborah Nelson told us about the plans in Canada to develop a certification scheme as a result of their Landscape Research report. eBound Canada plans to run a pilot of the Benetech GCA scheme to see what certification will look like for 250 independent Canadian publishers.

Advocacy,Training and Expert Support

Training and awareness is a major portion of the Canadian research project and Deborah Nelson puts the end user at the very center of this project, helping to build a knowledge base and an understanding of accessibility needs.

The work of organizations such as DAISY, WIPO & ABC drives awareness building. Hugo Setzer pointed our audience towards the practical training tools provided by ABC, commenting that may publishers around the world are working hard to ensure the accessibility of their content.

Call to Action

Each panelist was asked to briefly tell us what our main takeaway from this session should be: a call to action

  • Deborah Nelson: Make sure you are able to communicate the business case
  • Brad Turner: Learn about Born Accessible and take the first step by reaching out for help
  • Hugo Setzer: Sign the Accessible Publishing Charter which is available in 7 languages from ABC
  • Kirsi Yianne: Do not wait until 2025 for the European Accessibility Act. Start learning now

In a final poll about the greatest perceived challenges to implementing inclusive publishing practices the webinar audience voted as follows:

  • 33% Business case is hard to make
  • 30% Do not know where to start
  • 30% No strong laws to make it happen
  • 7% The tools don’t exist

Related Resources

Discover the other webinars we’re running!

Image Description: Advice From the Front Lines

a splattered ink blotter authoring equipment-notebook, sketch paper, post it notes, cell phone, paper clip, pen and pencilA few weeks ago The DAISY Consortium ran a webinar on image description and we were lucky to have some practical advice and top tips on hand from a variety of publishers. This blog piece looks at that advice and shows how different publishers are approaching the issue of image description which can be very different depending on the size and genre of publishing activity.

Image descriptions and how to handle them effectively were one of the greatest challenges identified by publishers in our seasonal accessibility survey. Do you ask your authors to contribute to the creation of image descriptions? Do you bake them into your internal workflows or do you choose to out-source them to a third party vendor who has an expertise in this area? All perfectly valid and reasonable solutions but how do you know what is the right path for your organization? There is no magic, one solution fits all answer to this but we will endeavour to shed some light on why the various options may or may not work for you.

Some Top Tips to Bear in Mind

A number of very useful tips were presented by Valerie Morrison from The Georgia Institute of Technology which will help to frame the advice from our contributing publishers. These have been listed next to the best practice advice from our publishers, where appropriate.

Kogan Page

Kogan Page is an independent publishing company founded in 1967 and headquartered in London, with branches in New York and New Delhi. Kogan Page specializes in business books and digital content, with over 1,000 titles published in key subject areas.

Current Practice

  • Image descriptions are outsourced to vendors rather than authors.
  • One vendor has team in-house
  • Another has a panel
  • Decided against author descriptions
  • Alt text and extended descriptions are provided

Advice

  • Develop guidelines for your vendors. Top Tip: Make sure you encourage your vendors to consider the “cognitive load” that is being presented to readers
  • Develop a small library of ‘exemplar figures/tables’
  • Control costs
  • Spot check vendor descriptions for QA

Macmillan Learning

Educational publisher, Macmillan Learning is one of the leading educational technology companies in North America. With a number of offices throughout the US, Macmillan Learning has been a driving force in accessible publishing, gaining awards and recognition for their innovative and inclusive approach.

Current Practice

Image descriptions are generated at Macmillan via a variety of different routes, depending on the nature of the content:

  • Originated by Authors
  • Outsourced as part of the ebook creation process
  • Description specialists with subject matter expertise may be the best choice for technical titles
  • In-house authoring where subject matter knowledge is available

Advice

  • Aim for iterative improvement rather than for perfection to begin with
  • Descriptions are content so you should remember to apply the same rules you use for anything else you publish
  • Be careful with the length of your descriptions – don’t err on the side of too much or too little. Top Tip: Try to keep to 125 characters or the length of a standard tweet

John Wiley & Sons

John Wiley & Sons is an American multinational publishing company founded in 1807 that focuses on academic publishing and instructional materials. The company produces books, journals, and encyclopedias, in print and electronically, as well as online products and services, training materials, and educational materials for undergraduate, graduate, and continuing education students.

Current Practice

  • All alt text is written by trained subject matter experts
  • Training includes understanding how descriptions are used with assistive technology
  • All alt text also goes through a QA process
  • Involve end users
  • Alt text creation begins during EPUB production
  • Care is taken when images are re-used

Advice

  • Become familiar with the different image concepts. Top Tip: Consider different modalities to convey meaning and to avoid overlap
  • Understand the difference between short and long descriptions, and when to apply them to an image. Top Tip: Some images don’t require lengthy descriptions. A photograph of a specific person might only need their name, a simple graphic might only need one sentence.
  • Create internal requirements around style and language to help create consistency in the learner’s experience
  • Alt text should not be used to teach, but to describe. Top Tip: Descriptions should be neutral and informative
  • Don’t forget spelling, punctuation, and grammar. Top Tip: don’t include any hard line breaks either and avoid acronyms and symbols (a screen reader will read everything)
  • And validate, validate, validate.

W.W. Norton

W. W. Norton & Company is an employee-owned publisher in the United States, which publishes fiction, nonfiction, poetry, college textbooks, cookbooks, art books, and professional books

Current Practice

  • The norm at W. W. Norton is to outsource to image description specialists, toward the end of the book’s production cycle
  • In-house editorial staff are responsible for reviewing all third-party image descriptions and are trained on this quite extensively.
  • Editorial assistants do sometimes author image descriptions in-house. Mainly when a non-STEM book revises and only a small number of images change
  • STEM or complex materials always require a specialist
  • Authors volunteer to describe images rarely. It’s preferable that they spend their time on content development

Advice

  • Aim for an equivalent experience to how people consume images visually. This is best accomplished by a short description and structured extended descriptions. Top Tip: Work from the general to the specific so that a sense of what is being described can be accessed immediately.
  • Write guidelines for yourself and other authors so that your chosen nomenclature is clear—whether you use “alt text,” “image description,” “short description,” etc.
  • There is no single solution for all images. Best practices and examples will help but authoring alt text ultimately requires quite a lot of executive functioning and decision making.

4 different publishers and 4 very different ways of approaching image description. What works for you? We’d love to hear about your experiences and any top tips that you can pass on to others. If we can share our various approaches then we can learn from each other and find a workflow that suits us. Drop us a line at office@inclusivepublishing.org

All 4 of our contributors support the development of in-house guidance to establish methods of working and house-style for a consistent approach to image description. These guidelines should be made available to 3rd party vendors or authors if that is the route you have chosen. An in-house quality check is necessary and during this time it is really important to keep in mind the needs of the reader and the context in which the specific images appear. Describing the meaning rather than the appearance will ensure you are considerate of the end users needs.

You may wish to register for our next webinar on image description entitled: The Art and Science of Image Description which takes a deeper dive with two more experts in this field.