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EPUB Accessibility 101 (W)

EPUB Accessibility 101 Title SlideIn our series of free weekly webinars October 6th saw a session focused on EPUB Accessibility. Our speakers showed everyone what happens under the hood of an EPUB file to support accessibility and managed to demystify some of the technicalities surrounding EPUB.

This page contains:

Full Video of the Webinar

 

Speakers

  • Richard Orme, The DAISY Consortium—host and chair
  • Rachel Comerford, Macmillan Learning
  • Tzviya Siegman, J. Wiley and Sons

Session Overview

What is EPUB? The Basics

Rachel Comerford took us through some of the “acronym soup” that makes up an EPUB file, namely:

  • Mimetype – which tells the reading system being used that this is an EPUB file
  • META-INF – which points to the file and allows the reading system to find it
  • OEPS-OPS – containing the content and everything needed to display that content (including the CSS which describes how the book should look)

What is EPUB? Focus on HTML

The text of an EPUB publication is written in HyperText Mark-Up Language (HTML) and Tzviya Siegman explained to us the importance for accessibility of the native semantic elements that can be conveyed within the HTML. Every element in the HTML mark-up contains a meaning and greatly assists with content navigation and order of reading layout.

What is EPUB? Focus on DPUB-ARIA and epub:type

Sometimes content is more complex than the available HTML elements can cope with and Accessible Rich Internet Applications (ARIA) provide another way of applying semantic meaning to content i.e. it describes a content component to the reader. DPUB-ARIA specifically maps to the epub:type vocabulary for EPUB content.

Navigating EPUBS

Rachel explained that all EPUB packages contain a navigation document (within the OPF file) from which the Table of Contents (TOC) is generated. The TOC is crucial for accessibility and together with headings, it generally echoes the familiar structure of printed content.

Links are also valuable for accessibility and it’s important to choose a reading system that exposes internal and external links to the reader.

The Value of EPUB Metadata

Also found in the OPF file, EPUB metadata provides information about the accessibility features and potential limitations of the content. Rachel urged us all to make as much use of metadata features as possible, not least via The Accessibility Summary section where the publisher can provide specific information for readers in a non-technical way. See the slide deck attached to this overview for a terrific example of this type of summary provided by Macmillan Learning.

Related Resources

Discover the other webinars we’re running!

The Essentials for Accessible Publishing in 2021 (W)

opening slide: The Essentials for Accessible Publishing in 2021In our series of free DAISY webinars July 21st saw a session focused on The Essentials for Accessible Publishing in 2021. This webinar was held in partnership with the UK Publishers Association, Accessibility Action Group (AAG) in place of their annual in person seminar at The London Book fair.

This page contains:

Full Video of the Webinar

Speakers

  • Stacy Scott (RNIB), chair of the PA Accessibility Action Group—guest host.
  • Dr Agata Mrva-Montoya (Sydney University Press)
  • Laura Brady (House of Anansi)
  • Richard Orme (DAISY)
  • Graham Bell (EDItEUR)
  • Daniella Levy-Pinto (NNELS)

Session Overview

In keeping with previous AAG seminars this webinar promised to be a quick fire journey through this huge topic with lots of speakers, experts in their fields and plenty of take homes for our delegates. Stacy Scott introduced the topic and our first speaker Dr. Agata Mrva-Montoya briefly explained the areas that would be covered.

Advocacy and Policy

Agata briefly took us through the results of an insightful survey conducted in Australia this year,  encouraging us to ensure that in-house advocacy is in place accompanied by a clear and thorough accessibility policy so that “publishers can produce born accessible publications themselves”. Her presentation included an extremely useful overview of how to put together an effective accessibility policy and areas that should be taken into account. Publishers shouldn’t forget that this policy together with their overall approach to accessibility requires regular review and should be cognisant of technical standards and provisions for procurement.

 Content Workflows

Laura Brady gave us a tour of the various workflow routes to accessible EPUB, emphasising the need for culture change in-house to effect these workflow options and stressing that “buy-in throughout the chain is key to the successful production of accessible content.” Lots of useful resources and options to consider including, WordToEPUB, InDesign workflows and XML workflows (the head of the workflow food chain).

Tools and Solutions

Richard Orme continued Laura’s workflow presentation with a look at post-export tools for validation and conformance checking of content. In particular he highlighted EPUBCheck, Ace by DAISY, Ace SMART, The Accessible Publishing Knowledge Base and the Inclusive Publishing hub, urging everyone to take a look at the latter and sign up for the inclusive publishing newsletter at the very least!

Accessibility Metadata

Graham Bell gave us a clear overview of why it is so important to include accessibility metadata at all stages of content production. “If you optimize the accessibility of your books, then your book metadata should reflect that.” He focused on the 3 types of metadata that should be included: metadata included in web pages, metadata included within the EPUB package and accessibility metadata about the book which is embedded in the ONIX. All three serve quite different purposes and should be considered.

Consumer Testing and Feedback

Daniella Levy-Pinto impressed upon us the importance of testing content, using the tools that Richard spoke about and via manual testing using testers with lived experience. It is a necessary and vital part of your content workflow and must take into account the various types of assistive technology that may be used in order to access published works. “Assistive Technology provides opportunities for print disabled readers to access content and it’s important for publishers to understand this technology and to test their content with it.” Talking us through the testing process, Daniella showed us how an accessibility testing process with user feedback improves awareness and communication amongst employees, consumers and other end users.

Related Resources

Discover the other webinars we’re running!

EPUB Accessibility: EU Accessibility Act Mapping

The European Accessibility Act (EAA) is an EU directive that establishes accessibility targets to be met by many different types of products and services in order to strengthen the rights of people with disabilities. It is relevant for the publishing industry as it includes ebooks, dedicated reading software, ereading devices and ecommerce sites.

W3C’s EPUB 3 Working Group has published a working group note demonstrating that the technical requirements of the European Accessibility Act related to ebooks are met by the EPUB standard.

Further information on this is available in the Working Group note.

Inclusive Publishing has a number of pages referring to the European Accessibility Act:

Global Accessibility Awareness Day 2021

May 20th, 2021

GAAD takes place on May 20 this year and we’d like to encourage all our readers to take part so that we can build awareness in our industry and play our part to increase the availability of your digital content to people with print disabilities, particularly during this challenging time when many of you are working from home. If your organization has an accessibility advocate then this is their chance to build awareness and co-ordinate activities that your teams may be able to take part in whilst self-isolating. See our GAAD resources page for ideas and activities.

Date

May 20th, 2021

Venue

Online

Learn More

Check out our Publishers Toolkit and 2021 Accessibility Quiz!

 

EPUB Adoption in Academic Libraries–Progress and Obstacles

cellphone with ebsco name displayed and various icons extending from the sides to represent a swiss army knife effect New Inclusive Publishing Partner, EBSCO, explores the challenges of EPUB adoption for academic libraries.

Just as accessibility in publishing has gained momentum in recent years, so has accessibility in libraries. In 2019, the Los Angeles Community College District ruling was an inflection point–libraries were found to bear responsibility for the resources they make available to users, even with limited control over the vendor platforms themselves. Vendors perked up and have made great strides in recent years, ensuring their software and platforms conform to standards whilst providing increasingly accessible experiences for users. Despite the progress with platforms, however, there are still some endemic challenges that limit the accessibility of ebooks in academic libraries. With EBSCO’s scope and reach, we feel we have a vital role to play in addressing these challenges wherever we can.

We see this un-met potential when we look at the EPUB availability and EPUB accessibility of academic content.

One challenge is that the EPUB format has simply not yet achieved broad acceptance with academic users. EPUB has many accessibility advantages compared to PDF, but until the format is pervasive and fully supported, academic users will not fully benefit from those advantages. Since demand for the format is limited, so is the pressure on publishers to create EPUBs and to invest in the accessibility potential. Academic users tend to gravitate to PDF because it’s familiar. They know exactly what they can and can’t do with it, and they’re using PDF for journal articles, which is a large portion of academic research output. EBSCO gives the user a choice to access the EPUB version for every title where the publisher makes both a PDF and an EPUB version available, and users only select the EPUB version 15-20% of the time.

The single biggest factor driving academic libraries’ resistance to EPUB (and the persistence of PDF) is the lack of pagination. Most EPUB files we receive from publishers do not contain pagination, which means there are not stable page numbers for citations, a critical aspect of academic research and scholarly communication. Citation standards have mostly kept up with the times: they instruct users to cite the database or even the chapter and paragraph if an ebook is in EPUB format or is accessed on a reader without stable pagination. This is simply unacceptable for most of the faculty that we talk to, on practical grounds as well as philosophical. Faculty members that have to grade papers and check sources recoil at the thought of finding an ebook in a database and counting paragraphs when they are already sitting under a mountain of undergraduate essays. But perhaps more important is the integrity of knowledge-transfer–it’s important for the scholarly record to easily identify the place in the work where the knowledge was produced, and to preserve the continuity of the scholarly discourse. So “arbitrary” page numbers that might be displayed by the device are not acceptable if they don’t correspond to other versions of the work, and if they aren’t consistent across platforms. Only 25% of our incoming EPUB files contain page numbers, and until we can get this number much higher, academic libraries and users will not adopt EPUB at scale. Without the use and demand, the evolution of the format and the possibilities for academic users that would benefit from it are diminished.

Only 25% of our incoming EPUB files contain page numbers, and until we can get this number much higher, academic libraries and users will not adopt EPUB at scale.

We see this un-met potential when we look at the EPUB availability and EPUB accessibility of “academic content.” Publishers whose content is available in academic libraries range from large commercial publishers to university press publishers (among which there is also much variation), to very small or specialized academic presses. A significant portion of this content set is still in PDF only–30% looking at 2019 and forward publication years. Most of the publishers that aren’t creating EPUB for all of their titles indicate that they can’t afford the EPUB conversion process. It’s an unfortunate reality that many small academic publishers are simply not able to produce EPUB files, let alone born accessible ones. That said, even some major publishers have indicated that if a title has formatting or other characteristics that don’t easily lend themselves to reflow, they only produce a PDF. We are aware of some working groups addressing formatting challenges like these, so we are hopeful that EPUB solutions will be found in the coming years.

Among the EPUB-format files EBSCO receives, not all have been made fully accessible. While the production processes of trade and higher education publishers have matured to the point where most are creating born-accessible EPUB files, the landscape of academic publishers is much more varied. To assess the files we do host, EBSCO created an EPUB assessment tool integrating Ace by DAISY, and to date we have assessed 1.16 million EPUB files. Only around 40% of these fully pass a check for the WCAG 2.1 A standard.

EBSCO works closely with publishers to provide them data about the accessibility of their files. Our detailed “Progress Reports” show them the extent to which they are passing or failing accessibility checks, what percentage of their titles have an EPUB version, and how to access resources, vendors, or organizations like Benetech to help them improve. We even produce a title-level report showing which files pass or fail which WCAG metrics, in the hopes that the data can be used to drive targeted improvements in their production processes. That said, only a quarter of our publishers say that the problem is the know-how. Almost half of publishers say they just don’t have the budget to make the needed improvements to their workflows.

Since EPUB has not yet been broadly adopted (or demanded), few vendors offer online EPUB reading systems which would greatly improve and universalize an accessible experience for users. The reason an online reading system is important is that most academic publishers require the use of (Adobe) DRM to support library checkouts and user access limitations. (Not all publishers require DRM, and for those that don’t, users can get a DRM-free EPUB for download fairly easily.) With the option to access the EPUB online, users can access the full range of EPUB and accessibility features available without having to download into a separate reader that might limit the accessibility of the title.

EBSCO’s choice to offer and evolve a fully-featured online EPUB reader stems from our desire to optimize the experience for all our users, to support the EPUB standard as it evolves, and to be advocates for the potential of EPUB in the academic setting. Each year, we measure our industry’s progress–on EPUB output, on accessibility metrics, and on usage, and we are happy to report that all of these metrics are headed in the direction we, as a community, would like. We have also joined the W3C EPUB working group to address EPUB pagination consistently across the publishing ecosystem. Many of the EPUB working groups are populated by trade publishers and reading system vendors, so we see our role as being advocates for the academic users as a vital partnership with these colleagues. We hope that combining their experience in trade publishing with ours in academic libraries will lead to real benefits for users performing research and accessing readings assigned in academic courses. To learn more about accessibility at EBSCO, visit https://www.ebsco.com/technology/accessibility.

This article was written for Inclusive Publishing by Kara Kroes Li, Director of Product Management, EBSCO

New Releases: Ace By DAISY

The DAISY Consortium are pleased to announce new releases for both versions of the Ace By DAISY EPUB accessibility checking tool: the Command Line Interface (CLI) and the Graphical User Interface (Ace App) versions 1.2.

These releases contains significant internal changes that address security issues, improve performance, and fix bugs at various levels of the project architecture. Crucially, DAISY Ace now uses the latest version of Deque’s Axe library.

There are also improvements for screen reader users including updated accessibility checks that match the latest W3C WCAG and ARIA specifications.

Both DAISY Ace CLI and  the desktop Ace App depend on a number of third-party code libraries, which are up to date. As usual with DAISY Ace App releases, the latest revision of the DAISY Knowledge Base is included.

For more information on Ace by DAISY visit the Ace resource pages.

 

What does the European Accessibility Act Mean for Global Publishing?

Flags of the member states of the European Union in front of the EU-commission buildingDirective (EU) 2019/882 of the European Parliament and of the Council on the accessibility requirements for products and services

Our thanks to Laura Brady (House of Anansi) and Tzviya Siegman (John Wiley & Sons) for this article.

The European Accessibility Act

What do publishers around the world need to know about the European Accessibility Act? This legislation is some of the strongest we’ve seen around accessibility and will force change, without question. If publishers plan to sell digital products into the European Union in the near future, they must get up to speed on what this means for their workflows.

So, what is the legislation exactly? The EAA is a directive that aims to improve the functioning of the internal market for accessible products and services, by removing barriers created by divergent rules in Member States.

Businesses will benefit from:

  • common rules on accessibility in the EU leading to costs reduction
  • easier cross-border trading
  • more market opportunities for their accessible products and services

Persons with disabilities and elderly people will benefit from:

  • more accessible products and services in the market
  • accessible products and services at more competitive prices
  • fewer barriers when accessing transport, education and the open labour market
  • more jobs available where accessibility expertise is needed

The Directive entered into force in June 2019.  Member states have until 28 June 2022 to adopt and publish the laws, regulations and administrative provisions necessary to comply with this Directive. This means introducing new and/or updating existing national legislations to comply with its principles and requirements. The full force of the legislation comes into effect on June 28, 2025.

The legislation follows market-driven standards, requiring publishers to produce their digital publications in an accessible format  It also requires the entire supply chain (retailers, e-commerce sites, hardware and software reading solutions, online platforms, DRM solutions, etc.) to make content available to users through accessible services.

The EAA hinges on the discoverability of products and services by end users. Using international standards for accessibility , such as EPUB 3, and describing the accessibility features within the content with schema.org and ONIX metadata enables publishers to expose metadata on retailer and publisher websites, which is crucial.

General Summary

The legislation applies to products and services placed on the market after June 2025

These include:

  • Hardware
  • Software
  • Websites
  • Mobile Apps
  • ecommerce
  • ereaders
  • ebooks and dedicated software
  • all products and services, including information about how to use above, user sign in, and identity management

There are several factors which allow specific organisations to be exempt from compliance. In addition, the directive does not apply to the following types of content on websites and apps:

  • Pre-recorded time-based media published before 28 June 2025.
  • Office file format documents published before 25 June 2025.
  • Online maps; though if the map is used for navigational purposes then the essential information must be provided in accessible format.
  • Third party content that is entirely out of the control of the website or app owner.
  • Reproductions of items in heritage collections which are too fragile or expensive to digitise.
  • The content of web sites and apps which are considered archival, meaning they are not needed for active administrative purposes and are no longer updated or edited.
  • The web sites of schools, kindergartens, and nurseries, except for content pertaining to administrative functions.

Service Providers must prepare necessary information and explain how services meet this act.

All accessibility information must remain private.

In general, this follows the same principles as WCAG’s Perceivable, Operable, Understandable, Robust model, but it points to specific outcomes. The requirements of this legislation incorporate many types of disabilities, including cognitive disabilities, which have only begun to be incorporated into WCAG.

It’s time for publishers to come to terms with what’s required to meet accessibility standards. If the EU is part of your market, it should be a business imperative to investigate how to fix workflows, and implement robust metadata practices.


Information from the EAA Legislation that Pertains to the Publishing Industry

Details from Appendix I in Directive 2019/882

Information and Instructions

Information, instructions for use must be:

  1. be made available via more than one sensory channel;
  2. be presented in an understandable way;
  3. be presented to users in ways they can perceive;
  4. be presented in fonts of adequate size and suitable shape, taking into account foreseeable conditions of use and using sufficient contrast, as well as adjustable spacing between letters, lines and paragraphs;
  5. with regard to content, be made available in text formats that can be used for generating alternative assistive formats to be presented in different ways and via more than one sensory channel;
  6. be accompanied by an alternative presentation of any non-textual content;
  7.  include a description of the user interface of the product (handling, control and feedback, input and output) which is provided in accordance with point 2; the description shall indicate for each of the points in point 2 whether the product provides those features;
  8. include a description of the functionality of the product which is provided by functions aiming to address the needs of persons with disabilities in accordance with point 2; the description shall indicate for each of the points in point 2 whether the product provides those features;
  9. include a description of the software and hardware interfacing of the product with assistive devices; the description shall include a list of those assistive devices which have been tested together with the product.

User Interface (UI) and functionality design.

Products and their UI must contain features that enable disabled people to perceive, understand and control them, by doing the following things:

  1. Communications must be over more than one sensory channel
  2. Speech alternatives must be provided
  3. When product uses visuals, must provide flexible magnification, brightness, contrast
  4. When product uses color, must convey information in an alternate way
  5. Audible information must be conveyed in an alternative way
  6. Visual elements must offer flexible ways of improving vision clarity
  7. Audio –  must provide user control of volume and speed and improve clarity
  8. Manual controls shall provide sequential controls (not simultaneous)
  9. Avoid operations requiring extensive strength
  10. Avoid triggering photosensitive seizures
  11. Protect user’s privacy when using accessibility features
  12. Alternatives to biometric id and controls
  13. Consistency of functionality and enough and flexible time for interaction
  14. Interaction with assistive tech
  15. the product shall comply with the following sector-specific requirements:

Publishing

  • e-readers shall provide for text-to-speech technology

Support Services

Where available, support services (help desks, call centers, technical support, relay services and training services) must provide information on the accessibility of the product and its compatibility with assistive technologies, in accessible modes of communication.

Section IV, article f  Ebooks

  1. ensuring that, when an e-book contains audio in addition to text, it then provides synchronised text and audio
  2. ensuring that e-book digital files do not prevent assistive technology from operating properly
  3. ensuring access to the content, the navigation of the file content and layout including dynamic layout, the provision of the structure, flexibility and choice in the presentation of the content
  4. allowing alternative renditions of the content and its interoperability with a variety of assistive technologies, in such a way that it is perceivable, understandable, operable and robust
  5. making them discoverable by providing information through metadata about their accessibility features;
  6. ensuring that digital rights management measures do not block accessibility features

(Note: all of these, except as relates to DRM are part of the EPUB specification)

 E-Commerce Services

  1. providing the information concerning accessibility of the products and services being sold when this information is provided by the responsible economic operator;
  2. ensuring the accessibility of the functionality for identification, security and payment when delivered as part of a service instead of a product by making it perceivable, operable, understandable and robust;
  3. providing identification methods, electronic signatures, and payment services which are perceivable, operable, understandable and robust.

Section VII – Functional Performance Criteria

  1. Usage without vision. Where the product or service provides visual modes of operation, it shall provide at least one mode of operation that does not require vision.
  2. Usage with limited vision. Where the product or service provides visual modes of operation, it shall provide at least one mode of operation that enables users to operate the product with limited vision.
  3. Usage without perception of colour. Where the product or service provides visual modes of operation, it shall provide at least one mode of operation that does not require user perception of colour.
  4. Usage without hearing. Where the product or service provides auditory modes of operation, it shall provide at least one mode of operation that does not require hearing.
  5. Usage with limited hearing. Where the product or service provides auditory modes of operation, it shall provide at least one mode of operation with enhanced audio features that enables users with limited hearing to operate the product.
  6. Usage without vocal capability. Where the product or service requires vocal input from users, it shall provide at least one mode of operation that does not require vocal input. Vocal input includes any orally-generated sounds like speech, whistles or clicks.
  7. Usage with limited manipulation or strength. Where the product or service requires manual actions, it shall provide at least one mode of operation that enables users to make use of the product through alternative actions not requiring fine motor control and manipulation, hand strength or operation of more than one control at the same time.
  8. Usage with limited reach. The operational elements of products shall be within reach of all users. Where the product or service provides a manual mode of operation, it shall provide at least one mode of operation that is operable with limited reach and limited strength.
  9. Minimising the risk of triggering photosensitive seizures. Where the product provides visual modes of operation, it shall avoid modes of operation that trigger photosensitive seizures.
  10. Usage with limited cognition. The product or service shall provide at least one mode of operation incorporating features that make it simpler and easier to use.
  11. Privacy. Where the product or service incorporates features that are provided for accessibility, it shall provide at least one mode of operation that maintains privacy when using those features that are provided for accessibility.

Resources

EPUBCheck: W3C Announces Release of Version 4.2.5 and New Website

W3C are pleased to announce the latest production-ready release of EPUBCheck, version 4.2.5, providing support for checking conformance to the EPUB 3.2 family of specifications. This is a maintenance release. Full details and release notes are available at [https://github.com/w3c/epubcheck/releases/tag/v4.2.5.

They are also excited to launch the EPUBCheck website at https://www.w3.org/publishing/epubcheck/. Visit this site to download the latest release of EPUBCheck and find useful resources about it.

The DAISY Consortium is proud to provide maintenance for EPUBCheck on behalf of W3C. This work is being funded through donations from organizations which use the EPUBCheck tool. Full details are available at the Publishing@W3C fundraising page.

George Kerscher Named NISO Fellow for Lifetime Achievement in Information Access

Photograph of George KerscherCongratulations to Dr. George Kerscher,  Chief Innovations Officer at The DAISY Consortium and Senior Advisor, Global Education and Literacy at Benetech, who was recently recognized as a Fellow by the National Information Standards Organization (NISO) for his lifetime of achievement. An internationally recognized leader in document access, he has been devoted to making published information fully accessible to persons with print disabilities since 1987. We had a chance to hear from George about what this honor means to him and how people with reading barriers can be better served across industries and disciplines going forward.

Q: What does being named a NISO Fellow mean to you?

GEORGE: I have worked with NISO for more than 20 years, and most of that work has been in the library sector. NISO is also a pathway for the US to contribute to international standards, and I have participated in those activities as well. Most recently, ISO (an independent, non-governmental international organization) has approved the EPUB Accessibility Conformance and Discovery specification, and I participated through NISO in that work.

Being named a NISO Fellow is a great honour, and, being blind, I feel this reflects the change in society toward inclusion. People with print disabilities must be considered as we design information systems and standards.

Q: After achieving this distinguished honour through your work and accomplishments, what is the next critical problem that needs to be addressed regarding accessibility?

GEORGE: There is a lot more to do in access to information. Yes, the publishing industry has really stepped up to the accessibility plate, but there are still many publishers who need to embrace the principles of born accessible publications, meaning ebooks that have accessibility features built in from the start. Furthermore, society in general needs to be producing born accessible publications as a part of the normal process of document creation. I understand that Ph.D. students are now starting to produce their theses as accessible publications. This trend needs to be pushed down to all college students, and then down to high schools and into elementary schools. As soon as students start to produce materials for other students, they should make sure all students can read and consume what they produce. I can envision seventh graders creating documents which they share, and some of the students read them with the read aloud function and text highlighting as it is spoken. Once the features of accessibility are generally understood, they will become commonplace.

Q: How do people know if a title will be accessible?

GEORGE: In a born accessible EPUB, accessibility metadata is embedded using the schema.org vocabulary. Publishers are also including accessibility metadata using ONIX. The Publishing Community Group at the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) is finishing up a user experience guide for translating the technical metadata to a user-friendly set of information. VitalSource has already implemented this in their catalogue, which means people can decide if the title will work for them, or if it would be a good option for a course. We need to promote this approach of exposing accessibility everywhere, including library systems and search engines.

Q: What’s next for areas such as accessible math standards?

GEORGE: All browsers and reading systems need to support MathML natively. Screen readers used by blind users have supported MathML for years, but until browsers and reading tools provide correct visual presentation of equations written in MathML, it will not be accepted. I expect that read aloud functions will present spoken math correctly and highlight the expression as it is spoken. If we can figure out how to have a car drive itself, we should be able to have math made fully accessible. While reading math correctly is the first step, doing math must also be fully accessible. Interestingly, it was the National Science Foundation (NSF) that first provided me with a tiny grant to work on accessible math back in 1989, and this problem is still not solved.

Q: How can professionals in publishing, education, technology, and other disciplines work together to better serve people with reading barriers?

GEORGE: Born accessible documents and publications are at the core of a change in the information society to be fully inclusive. Authors and publishers must embrace the born accessible movement. Authoring tools must include accessibility checkers, like Word does today, MathML, and features to add alt text to images and provisions for extended descriptions. The reading systems and apps must be fully accessible and tested, and the work at epubtest.org is a good example of the testing. Schools and institutions of higher education must buy born accessible ebooks that are third-party certified, as Voluntary Product Accessibility Templates (VPAT) may say all the right things but do not prove that the book is accessible.

About George Kerscher

George Kerscher, PhD, is the Chief Innovations Officer for the DAISY Consortium and served as the President of the International Digital Publishing Forum (IDPF).  An internationally recognized leader in document access, he has been devoted to making published information fully accessible to persons with print disabilities since 1987. He coined the term “print disabled” to describe people who cannot effectively read print because of a visual, physical, perceptual, developmental, cognitive, or learning disability. A tireless advocate, George believes that access to information is a fundamental human right and properly designed information systems can make all information accessible to all people.  He is the Director Emeritus at Guide Dogs for the Blind and in 2012 was honoured at the White House as a Champion of Change for leading innovation in the fields of science, technology, engineering, and math for people with disabilities. George and his guide dog Kroner graduated from Guide Dogs for the Blind in July, 2015.

About NISO

The National Information Standards Organization is a not-for-profit membership organization that identifies, develops, maintains, and publishes technical standards to manage information.

This article has been cross-posted with kind permission of Benetech, where George is a Senior Advisor. Our thanks to Carrie Motamedi, the author of this interview. George is also the Chief Innovations Officer at The DAISY Consortium and you can read more about the NISO Award at our DAISY news piece.

NISO Plus 2021

February 22nd to 25th, 2021

The NISO Plus Conference has been devised as a place where publishers, vendors, librarians, archivists, product managers, metadata specialists, electronic resource managers, and much more come together to both solve existing problems and more importantly have conversations that prevent future problems from ever occurring. DAISY developer Marisa De Meglio will be speaking alongside EDRLab’s Laurent Le Meur on “Accessibility and Ebooks: Strategies for Ensuring it’s Done Well” and we encourage all of our readers to take the opportunity to hear for themselves from one of the Ace by DAISY developers.

Date

February 22-25, 2021

Venue

Online

Learn More

For full program details and registration information visit the NISO Plus 2021 Conference website