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Free Webinar: Create EPUB Publications from Word with a Simple Tool Anyone Can Use

April 15th, 2020

The DAISY Consortium has announced the launch of a series of free weekly webinars on accessible publishing and reading in response to the multiple challenges being faced by conferences around the world due to Coronavirus, as well as feedback from the wider DAISY community expressing interest in online training resources.

This webinar will introduce the new WordToEPUB tool from the DAISY Consortium. The free tool, developed with support from Microsoft, is a simple and straightforward method of converting Word documents to valid and accessible EPUB files. The session will describe the concepts that underpin WordToEPUB, demonstrate different ways it can be used, describe benefits and limitations, highlight early use cases and discuss future roadmap.

Date

April 15, 2020 at 3pm UTC

Venue

Live online via Zoom or via the DAISY YouTube channel afterwards

Learn More

Sign up for the April 15th webinar 

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

Free Webinar: Publishers Faceoff to Prove the Accessibility of their EPUBs

April 8th, 2020

The DAISY Consortium has announced the launch of a series of free weekly webinars on accessible publishing and reading in response to the multiple challenges being faced by conferences around the world due to Coronavirus, as well as feedback from the wider DAISY community expressing interest in online training resources.

Publishers are being required to demonstrate their accessibility claims. It is no longer acceptable to simply say that your products are accessible without proving it. With the rise of EPUB 3 as the dominant format in publishing, we can now demand Born Accessible materials from all publishers. This webinar will provide a platform for disability experts from the DSO and accessible publishing community to dive deep into EPUB 3 digital textbooks from the top selling publishers in Higher education.

Date

April 8, 2020 at 3pm UTC

Venue

Live online via Zoom or via the DAISY YouTube channel afterwards

Learn More

Sign up for the April 8th webinar

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

Free Webinar: Helping Higher Ed Students with Access to Accessible Course Material During the COVID-19 Crisis

April 1st, 2020

The DAISY Consortium has announced the launch of a series of free weekly webinars on accessible publishing and reading in response to the multiple challenges being faced by conferences around the world due to Coronavirus, as well as feedback from the wider DAISY community expressing interest in online training resources.

This first webinar will explore some of the innovative considerations the industry is making to support students at this challenging time. Learn how students and instructors in nonprofit, semester-based colleges and universities can use digital reading systems to access the materials that they need to continue learning through the remainder of the term. The session will highlight initiatives available in the US, Canada, UK and Ireland.

Date

April 1, 2020 at 3pm UTC

Venue

Live online via Zoom or via the DAISY YouTube channel afterwards

Learn More

Sign up for the April 1st webinar 

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

Inclusive Publishing Seasonal Survey 2020 Reveals Promising Trends

The words "What Does progress look like?"Our annual survey, looking at accessibility within the publishing industry, has, this year, revealed a very promising trend towards awareness building and born accessible content creation. We seem to be at a tipping point and our hope is that accessibility becomes the norm within the digital publishing world and that ebook building blocks are finally equipped to serve all readers.

We received responses from a good mix of geographical locations including: USA, UK, Canada, Australia, France, Argentina, Mexico, Denmark and India. We were also pleased to receive responses from a wide range of publishing content types which has enabled us to get a more realistic and helpful view of the state of play.

Confidence Levels are Up!

Bearing in mind that those who filled out the survey probably discovered it because of an active interest in accessible publishing, the results in the category are as expected with 56% of replies claiming to feel “very” confident in their awareness of their product’s accessibility. 32% are “somewhat” confident and only 9% professed to feeling “not so” or “not at all” confident. The majority of replies from those in this last category came from publishers who publish text and graphics i.e. richer content which can bring additional accessibility challenges. Confidence levels are also boosted by the availability and awareness of tools to test titles for accessibility, but more on that shortly.

Embracing the EPUB Accessibility 1.0 Specification

68% of replies said that they adhere to the EPUB  Accessibility 1.0 Specification. Most of the organizations adhering to the specification felt very confident in their awareness of the accessibility of their products so it is good to see the specification gives reassurance and confidence in this way. Some people did offer the remark that they “weren’t sure” so there is certainly scope to improve the awareness and understanding of the specification.

Methods of Testing for Accessibility

Ace by DAISY, the free EPUB accessibility checking tool has clearly had a remarkable effect on publisher’s ability to test and check the accessibility of their content, with both the desktop app and command line versions scoring well in the survey. Those who have integrated the command line tool into their in-house workflows hail from quite a variety of publisher types. The bigger houses are certainly incorporating Ace into their workflows but it is very encouraging to see that some of the smaller publishing concerns are also managing to make this change. Publishers from the USA  and UK are top of the leader board here.

There is much confidence in Ace but no single solution is appropriate for all accessibility testing, and the survey results reflected that with a range of testing taking place. 44% of respondents indicated that they had access to accessibility experts either in-house or contracted, and 41% said they were outsourcing accessibility to 3rd party as part of production. 

A smaller number of people are currently using SMART, the DAISY tool to assist with manually checking titles and resolving issues after testing with Ace. Full access to SMART is available with our Inclusive Publishing Partner program, but anyone can use SMART for free to test 2 titles per month.

A few respondents indicated that they use a pool of testers with print disabilities to learn directly from end users, which is something we would encourage for periodic testing. This approach to testing provides an important perspective on how assistive technology interacts with reading systems and your publications.

What Proportion of Content is Tested?

The method of testing is very important but currently not all publications are being tested as we hear that this remains impractical for some publishers, depending on their workflows and content type. We were therefore very pleased to see almost half of respondents said that they test all of their content, and some of those produce a wide variety of publications including text with rich content.

Even if content will not currently pass accessibility testing or you are not able to immediately act on the results, running your publications through Ace can provide useful data to build a case for adopting accessibility as well as information about issues which need to be addressed.

Barriers and Challenges

Significant progress continues to be made throughout the industry in the adoption of inclusive publishing practices, yet many barriers remain which prevent widespread adoption. By far the biggest barrier reported was the cost and time required to implement accessibility related practices, which was identified by both small and larger publishers.

Interpreting and keeping current with the standards, guidelines and legislation was another topic highlighted by a few respondents, with mention of being “knee deep” in documentation and struggles with simply working out which standards apply to book publishers.

Alt Text and image descriptions in general were highlighted again this year but to a lesser extent than we saw last year. The amount of work involved in producing good quality alt text appears to be an issue that some organizations are actively seeking a cost effective workflow solution for.

Other challenges included handing of complex content including math, chemistry and scientific materials, raising awareness that ebooks do not have to resemble the print edition and keeping current with user needs, including the need for greater understanding of assistive technology.

 

Many thanks once again to everyone who participated in the survey—your time and honesty has enabled us to put together this snapshot of how we are progressing as an industry. We are extremely positive about tackling some of the issues raised and hope to report back with interesting feedback soon. We will be back with another survey towards the end of the year to continue to track our progress as an industry.

Hugo Setzer Urges Publishers to Embrace Accessible Publishing at the NNELS 2020 Summit

The following presentation was delivered by Inclusive Publishing’s Sarah Hilderley on behalf of Hugo Setzer, President of the International Publishers Association, at the NNELS Accessibility Summit 2020. Hugo was not able to attend in person and we were delighted to present his important message.

___________________________________________________________________________________________

Many thanks to the National Network for Equitable Library Service, for your kind invitation to participate at this second Accessible Publishing Summit to present the views of the International Publishers Association on accessible publishing. This is something IPA fully supports and that is also close to my heart.

We are all here because we know something about accessibility within the book industry. We are also here because we are eager to learn more about it; from different perspectives and different experiences. But really, the main reason why we are here is because we believe in accessible publishing. As a publisher and as President of the International Publishers Association, I have committed myself to the cause. At the IPA, the world’s largest federation of publishers’ associations, we are fully convinced that a disability should not be an impediment for anybody around the world to have access to books. This is why we endorse the Marrakesh Treaty as a legal framework to make a responsible transition toward accessibility. This international treaty is an example of proper copyright legislation because of its precision: it allows specific exceptions to make content accessible to more people, without disincentivizing the creation of new content. Furthermore, at IPA we believe that we can strive for full accessibility by working together with the industry’s key stakeholders. This is what motivates me to participate in events such as this one; and, for this same reason, IPA works closely with the Accessible Books Consortium (ABC) of the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) to provide the operative support and resources for a prompt transition to accessibility. I have the privilege of participating on ABC’s Board of Advisors and have been in at least a dozen countries exhorting publishers to commit to accessible publishing by signing the ABC Charter.

With legal and operational frameworks in place and many key institutions working in favour of accessibility, we need to move on from the groundwork and tackle the actual challenge: increasing the number of accessible works for visually impaired people. According to the ABC and the World Blind Union, 256 million people in the world can only access about 10% of published works. That is the whole population of Canada, 7 times! In five years’ time, I hope we will be able to say that we have, at least, doubled that percentage. Now, I believe we can achieve this. We must seize two big opportunities derived from the changes that we have witnessed in recent years and will continue to observe in this new decade.

The first big opportunity has to do with the digital era we all know we are living in. I will not try to explain everything that is going on. It is so fast- paced, I do not think anybody can really explain what a digital world is. Instead, I will limit myself to some facts related to the publishing industry. According to the annual report Global 50: The world ranking of publishing industry, digital markets are soaring for publishers. “For trade publishers, ebooks and more recently audiobooks, account for a combined share of revenue well in the two digits in the big corporate consumer book publishers”. For instance, digital and digital enabled services comprised 62% of Pearson Plc’s annual revenue in 2019. 2 Pearson is the world’s largest publishing group. And it is a similar story for all other sectors of the industry and for publishing houses of smaller sizes. An increasing demand in the digital market of books is relevant for accessible publishing because the tools to publish in accessible formats are digital. EPUB, Daisy and Protected Digital Talking Books (PDTB) have already allowed publishers to create products accessible for VIPs.

But there is still room to grow. I know myself, as an STM publisher specializing in medical books in my day job outside the IPA, that it is not always easy and that certain titles are more suitable for accessible formats than others, but we move on and work on ways to make it possible. I know that the technologies already in place will develop further to make the big leap to full accessibility easier for publishers. So, in a nutshell, digital technologies to create accessible formats are the first big opportunity.

The second big opportunity has to do with the moral importance which is inherent to accessibility. YS Chi, past President of IPA, stated the following back in 2014: “We really believe that publishing in accessible formats is not optional and not just a moral decision. It is a good business decision overall.” I would like to add to that accessible publishing will become a good business opportunity because it is a moral decision. According to an article from McKinsey and Company, “consumers expect brands to take a stand” because their consumption is determined by ethical principles. Any industry has to understand that it has to adapt to the demands of its consumers, and inclusivity will be a big part of adapting to future generations. The book industry has to be inclusive, diverse and accessible. So, those who did not believe in accessibility on principle, now have a utilitarian argument to take the moral high ground. Meanwhile, for us believers of accessible publishing, I could say, we are on the right track.

Thank you very much.

Journey to Accessibility: A Case Study from Sydney University Press

Sydney University Press logoSydney University Press is a not-for-profit, scholarly publisher of research-based books in several areas across the humanities and social sciences including animal studies, archaeology, Australian literary criticism, Indigenous music, as well as Australian classics. Providing access to as wide an audience as possible to our books is at the core of our mission, and we actually published some of our books in large-print format before ebooks arrived on the scene and we started producing EPUB files.

From the beginning, we were really keen on producing ebooks in-house and we reviewed various platforms and XML workflows. Our search for the best solution took place before the option of exporting an EPUB file from InDesign was available. Eventually, we adopted an XHTML-based digital publishing platform from Infogrid Pacific, which allows us to produce files for print and digital delivery from a single source file. We also aspired to follow best practice in ebook production. Some of the best-practice methods were driven by technology: we had to carefully format and style our manuscripts before uploading them into the platform, which resulted in well-structured content. Also, early on we incorporated the inclusion of alt text into our publishing workflow. At first it was added to each image file at the very end of the production process just before the EPUB file went through quality assurance testing.

As we were creating alt text ourselves, it was causing delays in the ebook release. We reviewed our editorial workflows and decided to, first of all, ask our authors to provide alt text (they are best placed to do it) and, second, embed it in the files earlier in the publishing process, so that all we have to do is to test the EPUB at the end.

We have included the need to provide alternative image descriptions in our author guidelines. In fact, we went a step further recently and now our

authors are contractually obliged to provide alt text as part of the manuscript delivery

and we provide detailed guidelines and examples to facilitate that process.

We thought that we were doing great, but we were, in fact, skipping an important stage—testing the accessibility of our books. We didn’t know how to do it. In 2018 we became involved in the Australian Inclusive Publishing Initiative (AIPI). The aim of this initiative, established in 2016, has been to identify key challenges to the implementation of accessibility standards, share best practice and innovative solutions to ensure the publishing sector meets the needs of Australians who are blind or vision impaired, and comply with the Marrakesh Treaty. Our involvement turned out to be a game changer. Sonali Marathe from the Royal Institute for Blind and Deaf Children tested a couple of our EPUB files and provided us with invaluable feedback. Our EPUB files were technically good, but we were missing a crucial step—adding accessibility metadata! This was easily rectified. We also learned that our EPUB 3 files conformed to the level A success criteria of the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.0 specifications. And that we could do better.

This is when our collaborators from Infogrid Pacific stepped in. They incorporated the ARIA attributes into the XHTML workflow and our EPUB 3 files are now WCAG 2.0 Level AA compliant, which is really exciting. We have also embedded accessibility testing into our workflow, which has been much easier with the recent release of the Ace by DAISY app. In January 2020, Sydney University Press became a signatory of the Accessible Books Consortium’s Charter for Accessible Publishing. We are committed to further improving the accessibility of our books (our PDF files need work, for example) and fine-tuning our publishing workflows so that the implementation of accessibility standards is efficient and effective.

We will also continue to support the work of AIPI and share our accessibility experiences with others. Lucy Greco, Web Accessibility Evangelist from UC Berkeley, was cited in a 2018 article in Learned Publishing as saying,

Accessibility does not happen in a vacuum.

Working together makes things happen.

This article was kindly submitted by Dr Agata Mrva-Montoya, Degree Director for the Master of Publishing program at The University of Sydney.

Understanding Accessibility in EPUB

February 25th, 2020

This Book Machine course, presented by Ken Jones ( Circular Software) is aimed at digital publishing professionals wanting to improve their publishing practices using EPUB in 2020. In particular, Ken will be looking at:

  • Adding accessibility within InDesign
  • Extra Recommend tools (Sigil, Brackets, GreenLight)
  • Epub:types, ARIA Roles & semantics
  • Image descriptions and alt text
  • Structure, TOCs, Page Lists, Landmarks and supplemental lists
  • Language declarations and shifts
  • Adding Schema.org Metadata
  • Checking accessibility with ACE
  • Modern ebook reading software for accessible EPUB content
  • The brand new format recommended by W3C for Audiobooks.

Date

FeBruary 25, 2020

Venue

London, UK

Learn More

Details of this Book Machine event can be found on their event page

Inclusive Publishing 2019 Review

Head shot of Richard OrmeIt’s been a busy year for Inclusive Publishing and, as we look forward to 2020, Richard Orme, CEO of the DAISY Consortium, reflects on some of the year’s successes for accessible publishing and our industry.

As an industry hub and news portal, InclusivePublishing.org has seen and reported on some major advancements in 2019, culminating in the release of a desktop version of our very popular Ace by DAISY tool, which gives the industry an EPUB accessibility checking tool—invaluable to many in-house workflows. Open source and free, the Ace App allows you to quickly test EPUB files through a familiar graphical user interface and highlight any issues which need to be addressed.

For those publishers who have joined our Inclusive Publishing Partner program they have the additional benefit of the enhanced SMART license (Simple Manual Accessibility Reporting Tool) which can be integrated with Ace, providing manual conformance checks. Other benefits of the program include expert advice and support and quarterly bulletins on the latest developments.

We’ve been pleased to report on some terrific events this year as accessibility becomes a major focus for publishers worldwide:

In March DAISY staff could be found at 3 major international events. The London Book Fair saw the annual Accessibility Action Group seminar focus publisher efforts towards inclusive and accessible publishing. DAISY presented results of our seasonal survey, framing the case studies and giving us some context to the challenges and opportunities for publishers. DAISY were also delighted to present at the LBF BIC Building a Better Business seminar where accessibility is always a highlight.

The CSUN Assistive Technology Conference was a huge success, as usual, and DAISY staff presented on a variety of inclusive publishing themes to packed audiences. Ebookcraft in Toronto had an enormous focus on accessible publishing and we were thrilled that our Ace developers were able to present a three-hour workshop at this very popular event.

In May we supported Global Accessibility Awareness Day with a publisher’s toolkit of ideas for highlighting the event in-house. We plan to give this even greater attention this year and urge our publishing colleagues to start planning asap.

EDRLab ran their annual DPUB Summit in June and DAISY staff played a prominent role in updating delegates on standards and DAISY tools. This is quite a technical event where accessibility is of huge importance.

In September we attended Digital Book World and we were delighted to play a major role at this event where we delivered a session on Born Accessible publishing and were proud to present the DAISY Award for Accessibility to Vital Source. We were also honored to receive an Outstanding Achievement Award for the Ace by DAISY tool.

In October we attended the LIA Accessibility Camp in Milan, presenting on standards developments and the Accessing Higher Ground conference in November was a huge opportunity to hear from a wide variety of publishers about the strides being made towards inclusive publishing practices. In particular, the face-off between various publishers was a terrific session.

The DAISY Consortium maintains and develops EPUBCheck, the conformance validator for the EPUB format and which received several updates, with a major release coming in 2020. EPUBCheck is overseen by the W3C and continues to be funded by generous contributions from across the digital publishing landscape.

We also maintain epubtest.org to conduct and facilitate reviews of reading systems, offering benchmark feedback to developers and consumers on flexible reading support. Working with technology companies of all sizes globally has proved incredibly fruitful, and we have seen a growth in interest from the wider community of developers seeking to maintain and improve their support for readers with print disabilities.

We’ve been very lucky to work with some top-quality contributors this year and our thanks go to all of them for their submissions. From event reports to opinion pieces, we’ve been fortunate to be able to publish some terrific pieces of extremely high quality. We very much hope that all our readers and supporters will take five minutes to update us on their progress by taking this year’s survey. Please make sure that we are aware of all your good work. Our thanks to all those who have completed this already—we look forward to sharing the anonymous results with you all soon.

We look towards 2020 with perhaps more optimism and enthusiasm than previous years. It has been wonderful to see how the industry has responded to our Inclusive Publishing website and newsletter, and we hope that you will all continue to support us—we rely on your input and are very grateful for it. There are some exciting developments we look forward to sharing with you next year, 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 happy new year and we look forward to working with you in the forthcoming months.

Richard Orme
CEO DAISY Consortium

Reflections from Accessing Higher Ground 2019

AHG Conference banner featuring conference information against a backdrop of a snow covered mountainAs we reflect on the Accessing Higher Ground Conference and look ahead to the new year, it’s clear that higher ed will continue to build an increased focus on accessibility. In an all-out effort to avoid falling victim to the triple-digit increase in digital accessibility lawsuits over the last few years, the higher ed community has been largely focused on getting its arms around the ins and outs of IT accessibility, governance, documentation, and remediation. Specifically, there has never been a more important time than now for institutions to place an increased focus around equitable and accessible learning materials. 

Nearly one in five college students have some type of disability, but on average only 11 percent of all undergraduate students formally register with a Disability Services Office (DSO). That means most institutions aren’t aware of the more than half of students with some form of disability or accessibility need. We are no longer in the age of a “one-size-fits-all” approach to instruction and learning. In the spirit of “accessibility helps everyone,” more and more campus stakeholders are embracing the universal design and inclusion mentality.

This year’s Accessing Higher Ground (AHG) Conference felt like the first major shift toward putting the student learning experience first. Thanks to conferences like AHG and the CSUN Assistive Technology Conference, the higher ed community now has a foundational understanding of what it takes to lead accessibility initiatives on campus. This has allowed us to turn inwardto the heart and soul of our institutions: the student learning experience.

One of the themes for this year’s sessions was focused around the equitable and accessible learning experience. An attendee who wanted to learn more about universal design and inclusion could curate an entire week of sessions around these subjects. From a workshop on the process of inclusive design, to tips on helping instructors and faculty understand the importance of usability, to planning for the variability of learners with universal design for learning (UDL) principles, this year’s sessions covered a wide range of topics. 

Another emerging theme from the conference was around “born accessible” EPUB in the higher ed space, driven by two of the world’s biggest accessibility rock stars, George Kerscher and Richard Orme. The publishing industry is beginning the shift from PDFs to more accessible EPUB formats in order to provide the best possible experience for all. George and Richard conducted workshops designed to demystify the world of EPUB, provided how-to sessions on creating and remediating EPUB, and chaired panels of key educational publishers showcasing the accessibility features of their EPUB titles. 

In addition to the forward-thinking sessions and discussions, an important piece of the conference went back to the basics of accessibility. As accessibility becomes increasingly more essential within higher ed, sessions and workshops around understanding accessibility laws and associated documentation, successful testing methods, and emerging assistive technologies were helpful for all of those looking to gain a base understanding. 

This year RedShelf was thrilled to share a presentation around helping campus stakeholders understand the importance of adopting accessible course materials. In order to create lasting change around accessibility, institutional stakeholders like publisher representatives, faculty, campus store managers, and accessibility offices need to be engaged. 

Knowing the importance of stakeholder involvement, one of the biggest initiatives of RedShelf’s accessibility team is educating our campus partners on the importance of adopting EPUB titles every term. Helping our partners understand why an EPUB is more effective than a PDF empowers them to create a groundswell on campus to ensure that everyone from individual faculty to admin offices is making sure course material accessibility needs are being met. While change is oftentimes difficult and institutional processes can be inflexible, we take pride in supporting each campus in their journey from accessible adoption to accessible delivery.  

The AHG Conference always feels like an opportunity to put the finishing touches on our yearly quest for accessibility as a requirement, not a feature, and look ahead to our ambitions for the new year. We are all truly accessing higher ground each November by learning, networking, sharing ideas, and seeing old friends and making new ones. I am proud to be aligned with such thoughtful and influential people helping to make the world a better place.  

Cheers to a prosperous and accessible 2020!

Our thanks to Erin Lucas for kindly submitting this article. Erin is Senior Director for Digital Accessibility at RedShelf, an Inclusive Publishing Partner.

Inclusive Publishing Seasonal Survey 2019

Silhouette of a tree with colored clipart icons on the branches. The icons denote different types of survey and assesment images which are purely decorativeAs we approach the end of 2019, it’s the perfect time for us all to reflect on the progress we have made as an industry in our work towards publications that can be enjoyed by all readers. Our short survey should only take a few minutes to complete and will allow us to share a snapshot of the community in the new year, as well as make progress towards identifying gaps in the current solutions, be they informational, technical, training provision or reference.

The survey can be accessed here—it is intended for publishing organizations. If you are not actively publishing content in digital formats we thank you for visiting, but ask that you do not complete this survey but we do always welcome comments and suggestions though our Contact Form.

We very much value your contribution, and respect your privacy. No identifiable information you submit about yourself or your organization will ever be published or shared in any way.

Thank you once again for your participation. We look forward to sharing a general summary of responses on the Inclusive Publishing website in the new year. In the meantime we would like to take this opportunity to wish you all a happy and healthy new year. Here’s to 2020!!