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Announcement: EPUB 3.3, EPUB Reading Systems 3.3 and EPUB Accessibility 1.1 Move to Candidate Recommendation

The W3C has announced that the following documents are now W3C Candidate Recommendation Snapshots:

EPUB 3 defines a distribution and interchange format for digital publications and documents. The EPUB format provides a means of representing, packaging, and encoding structured and semantically enhanced web content — including HTML, CSS, SVG, and other resources — for distribution in a single-file container.

The full W3C announcement explains this important development in more details and provides information for implementation and feedback.

Our article What Does EPUB 3.3 Mean For Accessibility explores the new version of the standard and you may also be interested in the recent TechForum webinar The Year of Testing Dangerously where Wendy Reid (Kobo) and Dave Cramer (Hachette), co-chairs of the W3C working group, discuss the new specs in more detail.

What Does EPUB 3.3 Mean For Accessibility?

The publishing community eagerly awaits the new version of the EPUB standard, EPUB 3.3, the related EPUB 1.1 accessibility specification and the updated version of EPUBCheck. We asked EPUB 3.3 editor and DAISY developer Matt Garrish; “What does this mean for accessible publishing?’

Can We Expect Major Changes For Accessibility?

Neither the EPUB 3.3 nor the Accessibility 1.1 revisions represent major changes. Most of our efforts are focused on taking the work we’ve already done and moving the documents through the W3C process to make formal recommended specifications of them (i.e., to be fully recognized by W3C membership). EPUB 3.2 was published by the W3C publishing community group, so those documents did not have any formal standing (they didn’t have to go through W3C membership votes, they didn’t have to show independent implementations, etc.). So, EPUB 3.3 will formalize the standard.

So, EPUB 3.3 Doesn’t Look That Much Different?

Actually, EPUB 3.3 does not look at all like EPUB 3.2 from a document structure perspective. EPUB 3.2 was made up of five specifications (not including Accessibility 1.1 which is a separate specification):

  • EPUB 3.2
  • EPUB Packages 3.2
  • EPUB Content Documents 3.2
  • EPUB Open Container Format (OCF) 3.2
  • EPUB Media Overlays 3.2

The authoring requirements from these specifications have now been merged into a single specification called EPUB 3.3, which is available in draft form right now at: https://www.w3.org/TR/epub-33/

There aren’t any major new features in EPUB 3.3, although there are a couple of new core media types, which are formats that you can use in your content without fallbacks. These are the WebP image format and the Opus audio codec.

EPUB 3.3 Splits Authoring From Reading Systems

The reading system requirements have now been split out into a new specification called, appropriately enough, EPUB Reading Systems 3.3 which is also a working draft: https://www.w3.org/TR/epub-rs-33/

Splitting authoring from reading systems was designed to make it easier for people to find only the requirements that apply to them. No more sifting through requirements. We’ve also done a lot of restructuring of sections to ease the burden of reading them. Now that we don’t have concepts split across multiple documents, we can group requirements more logically (for example, fixed layouts requirements used to be split across the Packages and Content Documents specifications, as part were about how to author the content and part were about how to identify the metadata in the package document).

Separating authoring and reading systems also has the side benefit of having fewer documents to take through the W3C process and better isolation when it comes to showing how the specifications can be implemented.

What Stage of the Process Have You Reached?

We’re just getting ready to wrap up the working draft stage and move to a candidate recommendation (the links above won’t change when we do). What this means is that our focus will change from revising the technical details of the specifications to showing that the specifications can be implemented by authors and reading systems. There is a testing task force working on creating tests for all the normative requirements and then during the CR stage we’ll be looking for implementations to prove the tests.

For readers who aren’t completely familiar with EPUB 3, we maintain an overview document (https://www.w3.org/TR/epub-overview/). This isn’t only about what has changed in 3.3 but provides a general introduction to the state of the format as of this revision.

How Does this Affect the EPUB Accessibility 1.1 Specification?

The Accessibility 1.1 revision is very similar to EPUB 3.3 in that there are not a lot of major changes from 1.0. The new version incorporates the text improvements that were made to EPUB 1.0 as part of making it an ISO standard (ISO/IEC 23761:2021), but those changes were editorial in nature (i.e., the IDPF and ISO specifications read differently, but have the same base requirements).

The most significant change that people will need to be aware of is that we’re now allowing conformance to adapt to the latest versions of WCAG 2 as they become recommendations (the Accessibility 1.0 specification only allowed conformance to WCAG 2.0). You still have to minimally meet WCAG 2.0 Level A to meet the base requirements of our specification, but publishers are now encouraged to conform to the latest recommended version of WCAG 2 (which is 2.1 right now, but 2.2 is coming). Level AA conformance is also recommended. This means that there is now a new conformance identifier that publishers will have to use in the metadata that adapts to what WCAG version and level you have met. The details are explained here: https://www.w3.org/TR/epub-a11y-11/#sec-conf-reporting-pub.

Other minor tweaks include the separation of the page navigation and media overlay objectives into separate sections to make them easier to read, but they aren’t different from the 1.0 specification.

Will EPUBCheck be Updated to Support EPUB 3.3?

The next version of EPUBCheck, the free command line EPUB checking tool, will provide complete support for checking conformance to the EPUB 3.3 standard. The Public Beta version is due out shortly.

 

EPUB 3 has been widely adopted as the format for digital books (ebooks), and this revision continues to increase the format’s capabilities to better support a wider range of publication requirements, including complex layouts, rich media and interactivity, and global typography features. The expectation is that publishers will utilize the EPUB 3 format for a broad range of content, including books, magazines, and educational, professional, and scientific publications. (Overview introduction taken from EPUB 3.3 working draft)

NNELS Accessible Publishing Summit 2022: Event Overview

NNELS LogoLast week saw the 4th iteration of the hugely successful NNELS Accessible Publishing Summit, held virtually for the 2nd time. One of the benefits of being held virtually was evident in the number of international delegates who joined the summit to share their expertise and experiences with the Canadian publishing industry. For the 1st time NNELS made some of the main sessions available via YouTube and the links for these sessions can be found throughout this report. What this summit does so well is to bring together communities of people to discuss and share ideas on accessible publishing via panel sessions, presentations, moderated group sessions and working group sessions.

Day One

One of the most successful elements of this summit has always been the NNELS tester demonstrations which were as informative and powerful as usual. The first demo concentrated on Reflowable EPUB and was presented by Ka Li (NNELS) and the second demo focused on Fixed Layout EPUB and was presented by Mélissa Castilloux (NNELS). Both sessions are invaluable and it is wonderful to have these now available as YouTube videos.

The User Perspectives Panel asked questions such as: How do you read? What does your access toolkit look like? What does timely and meaningful access mean for you? David Kopman (NNELS) answered this last question with the simple and straightforward answer: “Equality”. Lots of thoughts and ideas were presented in response to the question: What is the one issue or factor which impacts your reading experience that you would most like to see prioritized within the reading ecosystem? Answers included: access to sample chapters, DRM, reading apps to improve accessibility for screen readers, structure always, one app for everything. This panel is well worth watching if you haven’t yet had a chance.

The Industry Updates and Expert Perspectives Panel, also on day one, was a chance for accessibility organizations to update delegates on what is new and what is on the horizon for accessible publishing. DAISY was pleased to update everyone on current activities and it was helpful to hear from others on this panel about all the good progress being made.

Day Two

Day two began with the International Panel which was moderated by Sarah Hilderley (Inclusive Publishing). This interesting session asked questions of panelists from Italy, Australia, Brazil and the UK, highlighting the very different landscapes that we all work in and the various challenges in these markets. Well worth a watch if you want an alternative perspective.

Following this opening session. we moved into panel discussion breakout rooms and delegates had the choice of attending sessions on metadata, certification and reading systems which gave everyone an opportunity to familiarise and update their knowledge in these areas before the working groups on day three. Impressive groups of experts sat on each of the panels and it was difficult to choose where to spend time! A second set of panels on digital literacy, publisher needs and publishing education brought this most informative day to a close.

Day Three

Day three allowed the delegates to get down to the nitty gritty in the 3 hour-long working group sessions . We are looking forward to the notes and resources that result from these stimulating sessions where everyone felt very comfortable in expressing their opinions and contributing to discussions. Creating the right atmosphere for this type of working experience is undoubtedly where NNELS have excelled at the summit. Congratulations to all involved.

Additional Resources

 

 

 

2021 DAISY Information Sharing Day (W)

3 people are sat on a bench, backs to the camera, looking at a wall of photographs of many different faces,  used here to depict the large reach of The DAISY Consortium.Towards the end of 2021 we held a special DAISY Information Sharing Day webinar. Maarten Verboom, President of The DAISY Consortium, opened the session by welcoming the large audience and explaining that events would be divided into three sessions. You can catch up on each session via the links below.

Part One: DAISY Activities

Six presentations in this session focused on the various activities that have been undertaken by DAISY:

  1. DAISY Project Highlights
  2. DAISY Pipeline Case study
  3. Accessible Books on the Web
  4. Capacity Building During Covid Times
  5. Preparing for the Revolution in Born Accessible Publishing in Europe
  6. Improving Access to Music Braille

Part Two: Member Activities

  1. DAISY In Egypt
  2. Digital Braille Innovations
  3. Voice Assistants and DAISY Online
  4. Sign Language Video in Accessible Digital Content
  5. Leveraging Machine Learning with Page AI

Part Three: Accessible Publishing

  1. Overview
  2. European Accessibility Act Mapping
  3. The User Experience Guide for Displaying Accessibility Metadata
  4. Reading Systems Evaluation
  5. Near Future Plans

Each webinar overview includes a transcript, recording of the various sessions, related resources and information. This event included many excellent speakers and DAISY would like to thank them all for their time and expertise in delivering such an informative and exciting program.

Inclusive Publishing 2021 Annual Review

Profile head shot of Richard OrmeIt’s been a busy year for Inclusive Publishing. As we look forward to 2022, Richard Orme, CEO of The DAISY Consortium, reflects on some of this year’s successes for accessible publishing.

As an industry hub and news portal, InclusivePublishing.org has continued to share and report on events, projects and news items in 2021. In particular, the ongoing success of the DAISY webinar series has drawn much attention internationally and we have been proud to feature the overviews and resources from these sessions on inclusive publishing. With many of the webinars featuring practical demos and workshop style examples, there is something for everyone at whatever stage of their accessibility journey they find themselves.

Despite travel restrictions and the inability to meet in person there is much good news for accessible publishing and much to look forward to. Preparations for the European Accessibility Act have moved on apace and DAISY has hosted the European Inclusive Publishing Forum which has enabled conversation and collaboration between markets. The new legislation will affect publishers worldwide whether they are publishing or selling in these markets. DAISY has also been involved in the project to map the specification EPUB Accessibility 1.1 to the requirements of the EAA.

Inclusive Publishing has been delighted to welcome the following new organizations to the Inclusive Publishing Partner program:

Our network of partners is ever-growing and we welcome interest from all sectors of the publishing industry who we can support in their accessibility journey. We’d love to discuss our Inclusive Publishing Partner program with you so do get in touch if you would like to support our work and collaborate on your own accessibility journey.

2021 saw the release of The User Guide to Displaying Accessibility Metadata in which we were pleased to play an integral developmental role. This simple and easy to follow guide will assist the user in making sure that their content is discoverable by those with accessibility access requirements. There are still many publishers doing all the good work and not telling people about it!

We’ve been very lucky to work with some top-quality authors this year and our thanks go to all of them for their contributions and news updates. From event reports to opinion pieces, we’ve been fortunate to be able to publish some terrific pieces of extremely high quality. Our European Accessibility Act case studies are a prime example of this, giving our readers insight into the preparations being made for this important legislation and offering tips on lessons learned.

We’ve managed to participate in many online sessions over the past 12 months and we are amazed at how the “virtual event” has developed over the course of the pandemic. In addition, we published an at-home toolkit for the occasion of GAAD 2021 (Global Accessibility Awareness Day) and were pleased to report on many industry events that took place online to celebrate this important occasion.

DAISY hosted the annual Accessibility Action Group seminar which usually takes place at The London Book Fair. This year we presented the seminar as part of our webinar series and were thrilled with the international interest for this session which was entitled: The Essentials for Accessible Publishing in 2021. The stellar line-up of speakers gave a quick-fire round up of the top 5 must haves for today’s publishers and you can still access the recording, slides and resources for this event.

Work continues on the tools, solutions and projects that are so important to our friends and members:

to name but a few. You can read about our progress in these areas by signing up to the Inclusive Publishing newsletter which is published on a monthly basis and will make sure that you don’t miss out on our latest news.

It’s very important to us that we continue to support the wider industry on their journey towards inclusive publishing and we look towards 2022 with perhaps more optimism and enthusiasm than previous years. There are some exciting developments we will be sharing with you in the coming months and we will continue to publish both technical and non-technical information to cater for all our readers in this way.

We wish you all a very healthy and successful year ahead.

Richard Orme

Thorium 1.8.0 New Improvements For Accessibility

Thorium Reader is the free desktop EPUB reader published by EDRLab. Version 1.8.0, recently launched, includes new features, improvements and bug fixes, notably the following accessibility features:

  • Full DAISY format 2.02 support in addition to the previously supported DAISY 3.
  • “where am I?”: blind users can get detailed headings trails indicating where they are in a textual publication.
  • Better keyboard focus management with screen readers.
  • Screen reader notifications when adding or removing bookmarks.
  • Better handling of MathML synthetic speech, both with and without screen reader.

For further information and a full list of updates visit the EDRLab information page.

Creating and Editing Accessible EPUB (W)

Title slide: Creating and Editing Accessible EPUBIn our series of free weekly webinars November 17th saw a session focused on “Creating and Editing Accessible EPUB”. This webinar follows our previous session on Validating and Conformance Checking EPUBs.

This page contains:

Full Video of the Webinar

Speakers

  • Dawn Evans, AccessText Network—host and chair
  • Richard Orme, DAISY Consortium
  • Amit Verma, InDesign Trainer
  • Marianne Gulstad, Publizon

Session Overview

Dawn Evans introduced today’s session by explaining how the panel of experts would guide us through a journey from content creation in mainstream tools and conversion processes, to how the resulting EPUB can be edited and amended to deliver accessible content for use by anyone.

Workflow Options for Accessible EPUB

InDesign

Amit discussed how to produce accessible content using InDesign:

  • Why and When to Use InDesign. InDesign is used by content creators to produce both print and digital publications. Once you have converted your InDesign file to EPUB there are a number of modifications that can be made to improve the overall accessibility of the content.
  • How to Use Accessible EPUBs with InDesign. Very often we hear that InDesign does not produce good EPUB files but if certain steps are followed, much of this can be avoided: use well-defined styles, anchor the images at the correct places, add ALT text to images and define the layout order using the story or articles panel, generate a well-defined TOC, insert chapter breaks and last but not least, making sure that the content structure is well defined with the correct HTML mapping headings. Watch the webinar recording to see examples of these.
  • InDesign + Circular Software. At this point in the webinar, Richard Orme conducted a brief interview with Ken Jones, Founder and Director of Circular Software to hear what he has been working on to make this process easier. The “no code accessibility” tools that Circular software has developed assist with the export of InDesign to accessible EPUB, making this a much easier process for users.

PressBooks, Hederis: Web-Based Services

Richard talked us through both of these platforms, with consideration given to the accessibility support offered and how he found the experience. Both platforms fared well in his assessments and it’s worth checking out both in the recording or transcript for details.

Google Docs, Apple Pages, Word: Word Processing Options

Richard discussed these options and the accessibility support they offer, emphasizing that in all cases it is vital to start with a well-structured document. Google Docs offers a “nearly valid” EPUB with some limitations which were outlined. Sadly an EPUB generated from Google Docs is not really fit for purpose in terms of accessibility.

Using Apple Pages resulted in “valid” EPUB. There are some missing elements but overall it is fairly clean.

And finally, Microsoft Word using WordToEPUB which also produces “valid” EPUB with the option to include many other accessibility features on top of the basic set including being able to integrate quality assurance tools to check accessibility (such as Ace by DAISY).

Editing EPUB to Improve Accessibility

Marianne Gulstad described the two ways to edit EPUBs:

  1. you can unzip the EPUB container and use any editing tool to change the text before using a specialist tool to rezip the EPUB archive.
  2. or you make life easier and use an EPUB editor. There are a number of EPUB editors that can open, edit and save edits such as Sigil, Calibre, Oxygen, Scrivener, Jutoh and Blue Griffon. Marianne took a close look at Sigil giving lots of examples and demos and showing how this editor can be used to check the EPUB using EPUBCheck.

Related Resources

EPUB testing

InDesign Resources

Web-based EPUB Production Services

Note: many other web-based EPUB conversion and production tools exist, this is not a comprehensive list or an endorsement of these services over others.

GrackleDocs – Google Docs accessibility plugin

Desktop EPUB Production Tools

Useful Sigil Tutorials

Discover the other webinars we’re running!

EAA Case Study: Germany

The European flag with an icon of The Brandenburg Gate in the centerThe European Accessibility Act has galvanized many European countries and The DAISY Consortium has been pleased to take part in many interesting and collaborative conversations with partners, members and interested parties.

Each country has their own story and their own unique set of experiences in approach to the EAA and we are attempting to capture some of these in our new series of case studies. The more we can share and learn from each other, the better prepared we hope everyone will be.

Germany

This case study looks at some of the work underway in Germany where The EAA has already been transposed into national law. We spoke with Dana Minnemann from dzb lesen, the German centre for Accessible Reading, and Kristina Kramer from Börsenverein des Deutschen Buchhandels, the German Publishers and Booksellers Association, 2 organizations who are very connected with their accessible publishing focus. Germany is one of the first countries to produce a text for implementation from the Federal Ministry for Labour and Social Affairs (Bundesministerium für Arbeit und Soziales) 

The publishing landscape in Germany is large and varied with digital publishing seeing something of a boom recently which has helped to turn publisher’s attention towards the accessibility of their digital content. Awareness surrounding accessible publishing has been influenced by the mandatory legislation although many publishers remain unaware about how to implement accessibility within their current workflows and are looking for guidance in this area.  The STM sector is probably the furthest ahead in their accessibility journey but is fair to say that the industry, as a whole feels, a new sense of responsibility. 

In Germany EPUB 3 is used extensively in the trade fiction market and a born accessible content checker is used in conjunction with these files which is an adaptation of the Ace by DAISY EPUB checker. Plans are to switch over to the mainstream Ace checker. The German publishing industry supports and closely follows the work done by FEP and The Lia Foundation in advocating for the use of EPUB 3 and this has helped to build awareness. 

Industry Task Force 

In December 2020 a Task Force was convened to bring together approximately 30 experts who meet every 6-8 weeks to discuss next steps, concepts for seminars, training courses and webinars. The task force concentrates on articulating the needs of each sector and includes participants from each area of publishing together with colleagues from Austria and Switzerland (both German-speaking markets). The task force works on a collaborative approach for all areas of the industry. 

The task force has produced industry documentation in German and these are housed in an accessibility area on the Publishers Association website alongside links to material that has been developed by other international partners. Guidelines such as a checklist for EPUB 3, together with best practice reports will be available on this site. 

The Publishers Association has close connections with international partners such as Federation of European Publishers, the International Publishers Association and the Accessible Books Consortium.  

Challenges Ahead 

For the German market there are a number of challenges that Dana and Kristina foresee in the future: 

  • Funding: dzb lesen and Börsenverein have applied for financial support from the Federal Ministry in order to be able to develop further training and seminars. 
  • The Backlist – questions over how to handle accessibility for legacy content remain and it is currently unclear as to whether publishers will be required to attend to this content and how this might be achieved. Costs surrounding this are also a concern. 
  • The text itself in the EAA directive is, at times, unclear and there are quite a few open questions that exist which may affect the recommendations that the task force are making. In particular, questions over how detailed alt text needs to be for specialist content has caused uncertainty amongst members. Where questions like this arise, the task force tends to refer back to guidance from the DAISY Consortium. 
  • Awareness around accessibility in the workflow and how to cater to the many different types of workflow that are utilized will be a challenge moving forward, but the task force are tackling this. 
  • Metadata and what exactly needs to be filled in by the publisher  

Final Thoughts for Other Publishers 

The time is golden right now 

Kristina urged all publishers to seize the moment and to treat the EAA has a huge opportunity for change 

Both organizations involved in this case study have commented that their collaboration and connection in this project has been fundamental for the successful implementation of the EAA in this market.  

Our thanks to Dana and Kristina for their collaboration on this case-study. If you are interested in the work being done in the German market or would be interested in taking part in a similar case-study please contact us for further information.   

Resources and Links 

Circular Software Launches New Accessibility Tools

UK company, Circular Software, has announced the launch of new tools as part of their range of software to help with the creation of accessible InDesign files. Use of this software is free of charge and offers a “no code” approach for users.

Read the recently published article by Ken Jones, Director of Circular Software

Ask The Accessibility Experts: Send Us Your Questions!

The DAISY webinar series has been a huge success and our final webinar of 2021 on December 15 will be a special “Ask The Accessibility Experts” session to give you the opportunity to ask our assembled team of experts any outstanding questions you may have.

You are welcome to bring your questions to the webinar itself but to help us organize questions into themes, and to ensure we have the appropriate experts on hand, we encourage you to send them in advance to: webinars@daisy.org. Questions on all aspects of accessible reading and publishing are welcome. You can expect this session to cover a broad range of topics and we look forward to hearing from you.

To register for this event:
https://us02web.zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_Lvcn7hLtTd6674d9LQlw8w