Tag Archive for: EPUB

Accessibility Takes Centre Stage at ebookcraft 2019

a panel with donuts displayed on it for delegates at ebookcraftebookcraft is fast becoming the number one conference for many who work in digital publishing—Laura Brady and the steering committee have, over the years, devised an inclusive, accessible, diverse and unmissable event that welcomes its delegates to Toronto with open arms. From the atmospheric and moving opening ceremony given by Whabagoon, an Ojibway Elder of Lac Seul First Nation,  to the cheeky treats on offer (a.k.a. the donut wall) there was something for everyone and much more besides.

This year saw an increase in focus surrounding accessibility. All of the sessions that I attended referred to inclusivity and accessibility in some way with 4 sessions dedicated entirely to the subject. No other conference does this. No other publishing event puts accessibility centre stage. Is this a sign of exciting things to come? Let’s hope so.

Marisa DeMeglio and Romain Deltour, (DAISY Consortium), ran one of the opening workshops: Be an Ally at A11y, looking at the background to technical ebook accessibility and then focusing on the tools that DAISY has developed. Holding the attention of a packed room for 3 hours they deftly walked us through all aspects of accessibility giving resource pointers and demos for everyone to experience how they can include validation within their workflows and what they need to do to achieve this. Ace by DAISY, the free open source EPUB accessibility checker is their creation and news of an updated GUI version was welcomed by the crowd as well as details on SMART, which provides information on manual checks necessary to ensure conformance with EPUB and WCAG requirements. Together, Ace and SMART provide the most complete method for accessibility conformance testing of EPUB publications. Take a look at their slides for all the detail on this session, including useful resource recommendations (such as the DAISY knowledge base) and access to the demos.

Laura Brady (House of Anansi) ran a workshop on Remediating Backlist ebooks with Accessibility in Mind, a subject which we think is going to become increasingly important to publishers as they master their approach to accessibility. There is no quick way to do this but Laura showed us all that there is indeed a straightforward process and that there are things that you can do right now to improve the accessibility of EPUB 2 files, particularly for the less complex content that needs work. Top of Laura’s List:

Convert your files to EPUB 3, the number one format for accessibility opportunities.

Other areas for consideration include:

  • Remove bits and bobs you no longer need
  • Level up the HTML
  • Clean markup
  • Language declarations
  • Navigation file
  • Include a navigable Table of Contents
  • Landmarks
  • Page list
  • Semantics – epub:type and ARIA
  • Have complete and relevant Image descriptions
  • Include accessibility Metadata

Check out Laura’s slides for more detail on this and the rest of her presentation.

Sabina Iseli-Otto (National Network for Equitable Library Service) and Shannon Culver (eBound Canada) presented a review of the work done by the NNELS Accessibility Summit in January in their session Who Does What to Make Great EPUB: How to Build an Airplane in Mid-Air.  The outcomes of this summit are gathering momentum and there are a number of exciting working groups forming that all ebookcraft delegates were invited to take part in. They shared detailed feedback from the summit on how to develop and create accessible EPUB 3 files and what still needs to be done. The challenges are clear (image descriptions, tables , EPUB 2 still in use etc) and the group of people that they drew together in January are a stellar selection of top minds who are enthused and passionate about moving forward.

We want to encourage publishers to move towards born accessible publishing. Accessibility features are good for everyone. 

The slides from this session will give you more information on the achievements of this group.

Kai Li, a visually impaired NNELS employee, talked to us all about his reading experiences in his presentation The Users Perspective: Accessibility Features in Action, affirming in our minds that user testing is going to become increasingly more important as we work on old and new files and formats. He impressed upon us that having people with disabilities in the workplace enhances and improves working practices, giving insights that might otherwise be overlooked.

Fixed layout does not make your books last and it is bad for accessibility. In fact, as screen reader users, every word is displayed on a separate line!

Kai and other colleagues were at ebookcraft to answer questions throughout the conference and we were very lucky to have their hands on knowledge made so available to us all.

The conference ended with the extraordinary news that the Canadian Budget 2019 has announced huge funds to be put towards accessible publishing, confirming to us all that Canada is determined to embrace born accessible publishing.

There are a number of excellent event reports emerging from this two day extravaganza and we recommend these for details on the other terrific sessions. A heartfelt thanks to all who make ebookcraft what it is: the details, the welcome and the healthy attitude to conference planning—an impressive display of thoughtful and exacting organization.

We are looking forward to next year already!


Frankfurt Book Fair 2019

October 16th to 20th, 2019

Frankfurt Book Fair is one of the most important marketplaces worldwide for printed and digital content and a great social and cultural event. Publishing experts, writers, and supply chain contacts from the creative industries across the world come together and Frankfurt becomes a hub for the media and publishing industry. There is always an exciting focus on accessible publishing and we will keep our readers posted as these details become available.

Of particular interest this year:


October 16-20, 2019


Frankfurt, Germany

Learn More

Full details are available at the Frankfurt Book Fair website

TPAC 2019

September 16th to 20th, 2019

The W3C Technical Plenary and Advisory Committee Meetings (TPAC) brings together W3C technical groups, the Advisory Board, the TAG and the Advisory Committee for an exciting week of coordinated work, including sessions from the Publishing Working Groups

To be eligible to register and attend, you must be one of the following:

  • a participant in a W3C Working, Interest, Business or Community Group scheduled to meet at TPAC
  • a W3C Member Advisory Committee Representative
  • a participant on either the Advisory Board or the TAG
  • an employee of a W3C member organization
  • an invited Guest
  • a W3C Evangelist
  • W3C staff or W3C Office staff


September 16-20, 2019



Learn More

Details are available via the W3C TPAC website.

Digital Book World 2019

September 10th to 12th, 2019

The popular mainstream publishing and technology conference, Digital Book World, will feature presentations on accessible publishing content and we look forward to updating you on our DAISY sessions at this event. As usual, there is wide variety of subject matter covered at this 3 day conference with many aspects of digital publishing highlighted. A stellar line-up of speakers is already stacking up so don’t miss out!


September 10-12, 2019


Nashville, Tennessee

Learn More

For full program and registration details visit the Digital Book World website

Webinar: Creating Accessible Content

March 20th, 2019

Tzviya Siegman, Information Standard Lead at Wiley and member of the W3C Advisory Board is taking part in this NISO webinar entitled: Long Form Content: Ebooks, Print Volumes and the Concerns of Those who Use Both. Her presentation will offer an overview of accessibility, covering the basic definition of accessibility and the standards that define it, the business, social, and legal obligations around accessibility and the practices for getting started on an accessible workflow and resources, testing, and tooling for accessibility. Don’t miss this essential guide!


March 20, 2019


Online webinar

Learn More

Full details including how to register can be found at the NISO website.

Inspiring Words from Industry Leaders: Interview with Tzviya Siegman, Wiley

Head shot of Tzviya Siegman who is the subject of this interviewInclusive Publishing is continuing with its popular series of interviews with industry leaders and their approach to accessibility. Our first interview of 2019 is with Tzviya Siegman, Information Standards Lead at Wiley and a member of the World Wide Web Consortium Advisory Board. Tzviya is passionate about accessibility and has inspired many industry colleagues to embrace the accessibility opportunities offered by digital publishing.

I have learned so much about the way that tools, systems, browsers, and reading systems work from my work on accessibility….it will help you become a better developer.

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

We serve a variety of customer from students to research to corporate consumers. It is widely established that students require and deserve accessible materials. Wiley believes that our customers are life-long learners. Life-long learners need access to all materials

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

Start with the tools at W3C’s WAI website (https://www.w3.org/WAI/). Even after being involved in accessibility for years, I go back to these resources again and again. They start off simply and walk a beginner through the basics clearly.

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

I wish I had a better understanding of “native” accessibility and the way that assistive technology works. Understanding the interactions of the Accessibility Tree and the DOM changed my approach to accessibility and design. There are a few articles and documents that can really help. Melanie Richards’ Semantics to Screen Reader (https://alistapart.com/article/semantics-to-screen-readers) explains this relationship really clearly.

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

There are so many things in progress that it is hard to choose just one. There is a lot of work happening in the world of SVG that could have a huge impact on accessibility. SVG can be made accessibly, and as it is becoming a more widely used and accepted format. I have heard rumors about the Canadian government offering funding incentives to Canadian-owned publishers who publish accessibly. That would make a real difference.

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

Accessible content and platform provides a better user experience for all users. Further, most users experience some form of disability at some point in their lives, whether it is situational (e.g. power loss requires navigating without sight), temporary (e.g. a broken arm requires hands-free navigation), or due to age (e.g. low-vision). Considering all users is usually good for business.

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

Writing image descriptions forces us to think about what an image truly conveys. If an image is too complicated to describe well, maybe it is also too complicated for a sighted reader to understand and it needs to go back to the author for improvement?

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

Inclusive publishing improves your content and makes it more available and useful to all users.

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

It might seem like a lot of work to make your content accessible, but I have learned so much about the way that tools, systems, browsers, and reading systems work from my work on accessibility. It is a lot of work, but it is also interesting work that will take you down a very interesting path and ultimately help your users. You will learn so much along the way, and it will help you become a better developer.

The Business of Accessibility: Content that is More Usable is More Valuable

Delegates avidly watching the presentations

This article has been re-posted with the kind permission of the author, Abbie Headon and Bookmachine

I have to finally accept that it’s too late to say ‘Happy New Year’, but we’re right on time to say ‘Happy new Unplugged series!’ The 2019 series of BookMachine Unplugged events kicked off on Wednesday 20 February at a new venue, The Century Club, with a focus on the theme of accessibility. BookMachine Editorial Board member Ken Jones, our Production specialist, and his panel Huw AlexanderStacy Rowe and Alicia Wise provided important insights into why accessibility matters and what we need to be doing about it.

Are You an Accessibility A11y?

Ken started by setting accessibility in context: between 10% and 20% of the world’s population live with some form of disability; 36 million people are registered blind worldwide; and 217 million people live with some form of visual impairment. But the audience requiring accessible content is even larger than this, when you take into account mobility issues, dyslexia and attentional disorders, to give just a few examples.

The concept of accessibility is not a new one: Braille was developed in the 1820s, the RNIB was founded in 1868, and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights explicitly included people with disabilities 70 years ago. So, while it may be tempting to think of accessibility as a modern phenomenon, it really isn’t – and therefore we have even less excuse for not having it at the heart of our publishing. And it was sobering to hear from Ken that currently less than 8% of the world’s books ever make it into accessible formats.

But we’re not on our own if we want to start improving our publishing practices. As well as experts like this event’s panel, there are countless people out there on the internet who are ready to help. A Twitter search for #a11y and #eprdctn will open up a world of helpful discussion around the topics of accessibility and ebook production. (And if you’re wondering what ‘a11y’ means, it’s the word ‘accessibility’ with the 11 middle letters swapped for ‘11’.)

A Library Full of Blank Pages

Stacy Rowe (Reader Services Product Manager, RNIB Bookshare) asked us to think about what it means when content isn’t accessible. Imagine walking into a fantastic library, with shelves stretching for miles. You search until you find the book you want – but when you open it, you discover all the pages are blank. That’s what life is like when content is not accessible to you. And perhaps the pages you aren’t able to read contain the very information you need for your education and your future career: without this information, you won’t be able to start off your life on the right track.

If we stop to think about it, there’s no need for the world’s publishing to be divided into ‘normal’ and ‘accessible’ content. If all content is structured in an accessible way, then everyone can use it. An accessible book is one that can be read using text-to-speech, enlargeable text and text-to-braille conversion – this is what we need to be aiming for. As long as our content is set up in the right way, it’s ready for apps and other accessibility devices to transform it into a medium that’s right for each user.

As an example, Stacy demonstrated for us how an ebook can be read super-fast using text-to-speech app VoiceOver and transformed into Braille by an Orbit Reader device. Thanks to this technology, readers can access Braille content through a handy device small enough to fit in a coat pocket, instead of needing a five-foot-tall mountain of Braille printouts. This demonstration underlined the fact that, as publishers, we don’t have to reinvent the wheel to make our books accessible: all we have to do is present our content in a well-structured way that people can use in the way they need to.

Some of Us Need the Stick

There are lots of positive reasons for us to provide accessible content: we know it’s good to spread our books to as many readers as possible; it can give us an advantage over our competitors, and it can boost out corporate social responsibility profile. But it’s not all about the carrots: some of us respond better to the stick, and there are plenty of legal sticks out there that we need to be aware of. Alicia Wise (Director, Information Power and Founding Member, ABC) explained that the two key types of laws that affect us on issues of accessibility concern copyright and equality.

The international copyright regime is monitored by the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO). The Marrakesh Treaty, administered by WIPO, enshrines the right of people with disabilities to make accessible copies without reference to copyright restrictions. Recent signatories to this treaty include the EU and USA – so its terms apply to us. We’re also obliged to follow the legislation of our own countries, such as the UK Equality Act 2010, which protects people from discrimination based on nine protected characteristics, one of which is disability.

It’s vital that we’re aware of these laws, because the stick of legal action is real. Domino’s Pizza was recently sued in the UK for having a non-accessible ordering app, and other organisations have been held to account for accessibility failures too. If you’re presenting the case for accessible publishing to your senior management team, the potential for damaging legal action is a motivating factor they are sure to take seriously.

Do you have to be perfect straight away? No. If you’re honest, and signal your awareness of accessibility as an important issue, your willingness to engage with it and your desire for help, people will support you. So we shouldn’t be intimidated by the work involved – we just need to get started. Alicia pointed us to the free online accessibility checker, Ace by DAISY, and there are lots of people who are ready to help us live a stick-free future.

A Picture Painted in Words

Huw Alexander (COO and co-founder, textBOX) gave us a tour of one of the thorniest accessibility issues faced by publishers: how to deal with images. Publishers who have embraced the modern EPUB3 standard are able to deal with almost all aspects of accessibility, but describing images in a way that works for all users remains a tricky issue. And if you imagine using a textbook where all the images, graphs and infographics are blank or missing, you can see just how limited your access to the book’s information would become.

Huw gave us some examples of the power of good image descriptions. A key factor is appropriateness: if a book has a picture of a painting simply to illustrate the concept of ‘paintings’, then the description can be very brief. But if, on the other hand, an in-depth book on art contains a reproduction of an artwork, then the description needs to be much more thorough. Looking at The Arnolfini Portrait, a detailed description would mention not only the couple standing at the centre of the work but also other key elements, such as the oranges in the foreground, signifying the couple’s wealth, and the fact that the only character in the painting who makes eye contact with the viewer is the couple’s dog. The level of information required depends on the context the image appears in.

Adding image descriptions improves the user experience, and accessibility is a central plank of that user experience. Making your content accessible to more people makes your books better, leading to better sales as well as helping you fulfil your goal of sharing information – which is why we’re all in this business, surely.

The Time to Start is Now

Overall, our first Unplugged panel of 2019 showed that there are a host of reasons to start producing accessible content: knowing we’re doing the right thing; reaching more readers; having a marketing and sales advantage; future-proofing our content by making it machine-readable; and protecting ourselves from legal action. And there are lots of people out there who can help us get started. So really, we have no excuse: it’s 2019 and it’s time to make our content accessible to everyone.


The evening ended with the presentation of the ASPIRE Awards by Alistair McNaught, Subject Specialist (Accessibility and Inclusion) at Jisc. The awards were as follows:

Awards for Publishers:

Winner: Palgrave Macmillan

Highly commended: Red Globe Press; Policy Press

Sponsored by VitalSource

Awards for Platform Providers:

Winner: EBSCO

Highly commended: Kortext; VitalSource

Sponsored by textBOX

Abbie Headon is Commissioning Editor at Prelude Books, and also writes and edits books as Abbie Headon Publishing Services. She is a 2018 Bookseller Rising Star and sits on the BookMachine Editorial Board

Born Accessible Content Checker from Germany’s Central Library for the Blind

BACC logoThe DAISY Planet has published a useful update on the Born Accessible Content Checker from DZB in Germany. Using the Ace by DAISY accessibility checking tool, BACC is a web application which allows publishers and publishing service providers to check the compliance of ebooks in the EPUB format. To read more about this initiative from the German Central Library for the Blind you can access DAISY’s article in the Planet Newsletter.

Inclusive Publishing Readers Discount Code for ebookcraft 2019

Inclusive Publishing readers can get 10% off tickets to ebookcraft and Tech Forum 2019, March 18-19 in Toronto, by using the promo code DAISY10. Take a look at the schedule to see the lineup so far and watch out for DAISY sessions which will be announced soon. The last day for early-bird pricing is Jan. 25 and registration closes on March 12.

See the ebookcraft events page for further details and book your place now!

Inclusive Publishing—End of Year Review

Head shot of Richard Orme, CEO of the DAISY ConsortiumIt’s been a busy year for Inclusive Publishing and, as we look forward to 2019, Richard Orme, CEO of the DAISY Consortium, reflects on some of this 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 2018. Our own Ace by DAISY tool launched in January giving the industry, for the first time, an EPUB accessibility checking tool which has now become invaluable to many in-house workflows. Open source and free, Ace by DAISY can be integrated at any point in the creative process and has immediately become one of the essential EPUB building blocks for publishers and vendors. We are thrilled to report that a version of the Ace tool with a graphical user interface will be available early next year and we will, of course, keep you posted!

We’ve been pleased to report on some terrific events this year as accessibility becomes a major focus for publishers worldwide. In March we presented the Ace tool at ebookcraft in Toronto. The London Book Fair in April saw the 10th Annual Accessibility Action Group seminar focus on Strategies for Success and we were proud to stand alongside other industry stalwarts on the podium. June saw our DAISY Symposium entitled Building Bridges for Better Access, which focused on the accessible study materials.

In October we covered the new-look Digital Book World  and we were delighted to play a major role at this exciting event. We are already looking forward to next year! And the Accessing Higher Ground conference in November was a huge opportunity to hear from a wide variety of publishers about the strides towards inclusive publishing practices.

The DAISY Consortium now maintains and develops EPUBCheck, the conformance validator for the EPUB format. We rounded off the year by reporting on the release of version 4.1. EPUBCheck is overseen by the W3C and funded by generous contributions from across the digital publishing landscape.

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.  In addition, we have been delighted with the response to our new interview pieces: Inspiring Words from Industry Leaders. Our interviewees are indeed an inspiration and we will be adding to this stellar line-up in 2019.

Accessibility has been a common thread in conversations across the publishingindustry for quite a few years now, but from anecdotal evidence 2018 appears to mark the start of something special—widespread mainstream adoption of accessibility. This reflects the changes we have seen and supported in accessible content creation and validation, but also throughout the supply chain, with a positive impact on education services, reading systems and the metadata which makes the whole process function.

It’s very important to us that we continue to support the wider industry on this journey towards inclusive publishing, and with this in mind, we have created a short end of year survey so that we may take a snapshot of our community.  We’d be very grateful if you could spare a few minutes to complete the survey (now closed) and to help us gauge where we are, and also to report to you all on how we are progressing as an industry. 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 2019 with perhaps more optimism and enthusiasm than previous years. It has been wonderful to see how the industry has responded to our InclusivePublishing 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 peaceful holiday and we look forward to an exciting year ahead.