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Epubcheck Development Update

Epubcheck plays a significant role within the ebook production process, checking EPUB files against the specification to ensure they validate. As the EPUB specification has evolved over time it is important that the tools we use to create and validate EPUB files are kept up to date. Many retailers require EPUB files to have been validated by epubcheck. However, in its current state, epubcheck cannot properly validate many EPUBs that meet the most up to date standards.

To address this the Publishing Business Group at W3C put out a request for proposals to update epubcheck, and following a competitive selection process the DAISY Consortium has been selected to perform the update to:

  • Bring epubcheck in sync with the dynamically evolving core web specs of HTML, CSS, and SVG and also with the current version of EPUB 3
  • Fully support the EPUB Accessibility Guidelines, making sure that your products are usable for everyone
  • Add new features, such as HTML validation (in coordination with the W3C validation services) and a better check of media overlays
  • Offer better service to the publishing industry with a faster response to bug reports and feature request.

This work is being funded through donations from organizations which use the epubcheck tool, and while there are different sponsorship levels, any amount of donation is welcome to help support this effort to update and overhaul epubcheck. Full details are available at the Publishing@W3C fundraising page.

We look forward to bringing you updates as this exciting work evolves.

Workshop Report: The Production of Natively Accessible Books

logo for the french publishers associationThis post was kindly submitted by Luc Audrain, Head of Digitalization at Hachette Livre and co-chair of the W3C Publishing Business Group.

Inside the Syndicat National de l’Édition (SNE), the French publishers’ association, a technical group “Norms & Standards*” has been formed to work on standardization for the digital world, bringing together publishers, booksellers, the BnF and the Electre and Dilicom companies, to reflect on the implementation of standards which are shared by all.

The group organizes practical workshops aimed at informing SNE members about standardization and monitoring technical developments. In France, EPUB accessibility is taken very seriously by the publishing industry and for the second year running the annual workshop of the N&S group has focused on this subject.

Lead by Luc Audrain, the N&S group held it’s workshop on Thursday 5th of July to provide SNE members further in-depth knowledge of EPUB accessibility.

This year, the group showed that with existing production and validation tools, it is indeed possible to achieve a high level of mainstream accessibility in simple books like novels.

The audience had the opportunity to discover :

  • on which international standards EPUB accessibility is based and which major organizations are involved, like the DAISY Consortium
  • how to practically encode accessibility in EPUB content, following the EPUB Accessibility Techniques 1.0 document
  • How to use Ace by DAISY to avoid evident errors through a live demo
  • How Indesign EPUB3 export can be used and how much work afterwards is necessary to bring the file to pass Ace
  • what training and financial support might be available

Demo of Ace by DAISY showing a perfect score for a file exported from InDesign

This slide shows the perfect technical validity from Ace (Accessibility Checker for EPUB) for this EPUB3 file exported from InDesign. All the steps described in the presentation are also available on the SNE website (in French) at the Norms & Standards page together with group documentation from the day’s event.

 

As a reminder, the N&S workshop from last year was covered by DAISY in their newsletter:

http://www.daisy.org/planet-2017-06#a1

*Members come from publishing houses and also from the national library (BNF), the Ministry of Culture, booksellers, books in print database, and include a blind EDRLab employee Fernando Pinto da Silva.

Help Improve Reading Experiences for Everyone

Can you Help Change the World?

The accessibility of digital reading experiences has improved dramatically over recent years, but it is still incredibly difficult to identify a reading experience (app or hardware) which you know will work with the latest EPUB 3 publications, and with specific combinations of assistive technology to provide a fully accessible reading experience.

On EPUBtest, an initiative created by DAISY, IDPF and BISG, we are taking the guess work out of selecting a reading experience by applying a clear and consistent testing procedure to different reading solutions. This directly results in valuable feedback for developers, so they can identify where they might need to focus their efforts, as well as clear information for consumers and procurement specialists which allows informed purchasing decisions.

There are lots of different solutions and assistive technology combinations we would like to test, so we’re looking for your help.

If you are able to help with testing we have lots more information for you at the link below. We would also love your help in spreading the word, and inviting more people to learn more about the testing process.

Together we really can change the world!

Find out more at:

https://inclusivepublishing.org/tre

The DAISY Consortium Releases Ace, the Free EPUB Accessibility Checking Tool

Ace LogoThe DAISY Consortium is delighted to announce the launch of Ace by DAISY, the ground-breaking free and open source accessibility checking tool for ebooks created in the widely adopted EPUB format.

Ace by DAISY equips the publishing industry with a tool which can test their ebooks against internationally recognized standards for accessibility. Designed to assist content providers at any stage in their workflow, Ace by DAISY will make it easier to produce higher quaity, more accessible EPUB content files.

“Ace by DAISY is a significant step forwards, developed in partnership with the industry. It will help publishers achieve the shared goal of publication which can be enjoyed by everyone, irrespective of disability.” Richard Orme, CEO, The DAISY Consortium

This is the perfect time to encourage your technology teams to engage with this important new tool by integrating Ace within your workflows so that you can build accessibility requirements and testing into your product development at various stages.

Read the full Ace press release from The DAISY Consortium and visit the Ace by DAISY page for further information on getting started.

Inspiring Words from Industry Leaders: Interview with Luc Audrain, Hachette Livre

Inclusive Publishing has embarked on a series of interviews with industry leaders and their approach to accessibility. Luc Audrain, Head of Digitilization at Hachette Livre, has been a driving force within the publishing industry, both in France and internationally, on the subject of accessibility. Headshot of Luc Audrain, Head of Digitalization at Hachette Livre and subject of this interview

Nothing has been more valuable for me during these last two years than being in touch with visually impaired people and understanding their skills in managing mails, sms, ebooks, etc.

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

Market Expansion: visually impaired people are suffering from a “book famine”. They are eager to be included in the mainstream reading experience and when a natively accessible ebook catalogue becomes available, I’m sure they are more than ready to lend or buy these titles

Regulations: at a national and European level, rules are being set to enforce the accessibility of products and services. We are taking these rules seriously and are preparing ourselves in advance.

Good Practices: structuring information is a must to implement accessibility within ebooks. We know, by experience, that the foundation of good practice in an editorial workflow is necessary for any kind of reuse of high quality content.

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

Structure your content!

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

I wish I had had the opportunity to understand how blind people read and write digital text in their day-to-day life!

Nothing has been more valuable for me during these last two years than being in touch with visually impaired people and understanding their skills in managing mails, sms, ebooks, etc.

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

Technology and standards are mature: Web accessibility is well described and EPUB3 production is increasing. From the French publishers side, the subject has been grasped and a significant move has already been made to publish simple monochrome titles as natively accessible ebooks.

Be prepared to see accessible categories in ebook stores in 2018.

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

Using the EPUB3 format and accessibility guidelines available from the IDPF and the DAISY Consortium, it is quite possible for simple books to achieve a good level of accessibility. Establishing good content structuring practices within editorial workflows helps to implement accessibility in EPUB3 files, and, in that case only, it is inexpensive.

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

Inclusive publishing sums up all the digital support I have brought to publishing teams throughout the years of my career.

 

Digital Publishing Summit, Berlin

May 16th to 17th, 2018

Logo for EDRLab the organizers of this conferenceFollowing the two highly successful EPUB Summits in Bordeaux (2016) and Brussels (2017), EDRLab have announced that the Digital Publishing Summit Europe will be held in Berlin on the 16th and 17th of May, 2018.

During this day and half, there will be presentations (from W3C and EDRLab members) and demos of technical and business innovations in the publishing industry, from the production of natively accessible ebooks to the spread of highly interoperable EPUB 3 reading applications on all platforms, with Readium LCP inside. Insights into the German publishing industry, the wide digitization of the whole sector, the evolutions of the Tolino platform and the innovations in German startups will also be a focus.

EDRLab aims to strengthen a true spirit of cooperation between professionals and encourages the adoption of open standards and software by the European publishing industry.

Date

May 16-17, 2018

Venue

Berlin, Germany

Learn More

For further information inclusing details of early bird pricing visit:  https://www.edrlab.org/dpub-summit-2018/

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/ 

EDRLab Webinar – Accessibility and EPUB 3: November 28th, 2017

November 28th, 2017

Since November 2016 EDRLab has gradually invested in the field of accessibility: production, certification, distribution and uses, all essential topics for a natively accessible ecosystem is emerging in France and elsewhere around the EPUB 3 format. Fernando Pinto da Silva (EDRLab) will be hosting a webinar dedicated to accessibility on the 28th of November. For further information visit the EDRLab website at https://www.edrlab.org/2017/10/20/webinaire-accessibilite-et-epub-3/.

NB: this webinar will be in French

Venue: – Online or via telephone

Date: 28th November, 2017

Time – 15.00 – 16.00 CEST

December 2017: Access to Books and Reading-Finding Solutions Together

BrailleNet, Arald and Enssib organized a professional day on December 7th, 2017 entitled: Access to Books and Reading for People with Disabilities. This day was intended for all book professionals: publishers, producers of adapted books, librarians, developers of web solutions for online libraries and bookstores, developers of digital reading applications, t

eachers and students of the book trades. With workshops and demonstrations on the programme, attendees enjoyed a lively and interactive forum for discussion.

http://www.braillenet.org/acces-livres-journee-trouver-solutions-ensemble/

Photograph of panel at the Braillenet conference on December 7th

When: December 7th, 2017

Venue: Villeurbanne, France

When: 09:00 – 17:00

 

 

 


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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