Tag Archive for: textBOX

Free Webinar: Telling The Story, Better Accessibility Statements with ASPIRE

April 29th, 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 focus on:
– The background to ASPIRE.
– Accessibility Statements: the legal framework.
– The criteria measured by the ASPIREreview.
– The ASPIREreview process.
– What does a good accessibility statement look like?
– What are the benefits of an accessibility statement?


April 19th, 2020 at 3pm UTC


Live online via Zoom or via the DAISY YouTube channel afterwards

Learn More

Sign up for the April 29th webinar

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


Rethinking Content for Inclusive Higher Education Part Two

A photo of a bookshelf running the full length of a narrow, lighted hallway. The focused foreground advances into a blurred background.In March, textBOX examined the challenges in delivering accessible web content for print-disabled college students in Part 1 of Rethinking Content. This second article focuses on practical solutions for universities and publishers that impact the future of inclusive higher education.

At the March 2019 CSUN Assistive Technology Conference, Pearson, McGraw-Hill and Macmillan presented accessibility milestones and initiatives. Jonathan Thurston, Head of Global Product Accessibility at Pearson, announced their commitment to publish born-accessible digital content, as well as strategic partnerships forged with Kurzweil, VitalSource and T-Base Communications. Lisa Nicks, Director of Accessibility at McGraw-Hill, described the challenges of transforming publishing from a print to digital workflow and announced several new company directions, including EPUB 3 certification through Benetech’s Global Certified Accessible program, EPUB 3 accessibility metadata and new quality assurance policies and procedures. Macmillan’s Rachel Comerford, Senior Director of Content Standards and Accessibility, announced their commitment to delivering born-accessible digital content and meeting Macmillan’s timelines for accessible product releases.

Major academic publishers are overcoming significant barriers to accessible publishing and have changed their organizational culture and approach. The publishing industry has reached a tipping point with delivering inclusive higher education. Accessibility is no longer considered a niche area and is now a central factor in usability and intuitive design. We are at a critical juncture for tackling more specific issues while providing proactive solutions that will have a wide-ranging impact on the higher education community. Universities and publishers now need to seize the potential of this moment and move forward together with a renewed, unified direction and purpose.

Major Obstacles to Inclusive Higher Education

While universities and publishers are making progress with delivering accessible content, major obstacles are creating a vicious cycle and consuming valuable time, money and resources. The graphic below illustrates the challenges faced:

A table comparing the major obstacles for Universities and Publishers. Universities. Passive accessibility policies and procedures. Allocation of staff resources and technical expertise. Remediation without publisher accountability. Publishers. Inadequate communication and transparency. Delayed response to university requests. Vendor quality and consistency issues.

Solutions for Universities

Implement Proactive Accessibility Policies and Procedures

Proactive accessibility policies and procedures can save time for universities in the long run and have the power to influence widespread adoption of industry standards, such as EPUB 3 and WCAG 2.1. Adoption of inaccessible content creates a continual strain on university resources and risks of legal exposure. Now is the time for universities to raise procurement standards and expectations to keep pace with increasing publisher accessibility practices. The AEM Center’s Quality Indicators provide a comprehensive guide for creating proactive accessibility policies with links to useful resources.

The recommendations and examples on the checklist below save valuable Disability Service Office (DSO) resources while furthering the availability of accessible content for the entire higher education community:

  • Ensure university accessibility statement requires vendors to meet WCAG 2.1 AA. Example: CSU Vendor Accessibility Requirements.
  • Allow sufficient time for alternative format development. Contact publishers as soon as DSO or faculty identify the adoption of non-compliant products.
  • Establish procedures for evaluating content collaboratively with publishers. Example: CSU ATI Procurement Process.
  • Include requirements in new and existing publisher contracts for content accessibility and remediation as well as delivery timelines.
  • Create faculty guidelines and incentives to adopt accessible content. Example: TBR Procurement Considerations.
  • Designate DSO staff to build effective publisher partnerships. Conduct regular publisher meetings, establish requirements and expectations, create an action plan and timeline and track progress.

Allocation of Staff Resources and Technical Expertise

Taking time for a transition stage is necessary while the long-term benefits of a proactive approach take effect. Therefore, universities must plan ahead to resolve content remediation issues collaboratively with publishers.

First and foremost, universities must prioritize the use of industry standards, EPUB 3 and Accessibility 1.0, over PDF to continue positive momentum. While PDF remediation may seem like a quick fix it does not contribute to increasing the availability of mainstream accessible content in the long term. Prioritizing EPUB 3 will require changes to existing procedures. For example, universities can create an action plan that involves requesting accessible EPUB content and Voluntary Product Accessibility Templates (VPAT) from publishers and the provision of appropriate training to staff and students on how to use EPUB files.

It is also imperative for the DSO to have at least one employee who has experience with EPUB files and industry accessibility standards. For eTextbooks, AccessText and Benetech’s Bookshare offer a wide range of EPUB content that DSOs can take advantage of using. Additionally, Ace by DAISY is a helpful free and open source tool for automatically checking the accessibility of EPUB files.

Accountable Remediation

If universities are forced to continue to remediate EPUB 3 content, publishers should be held responsible. Universities must require resolution in a timely manner. If the publisher does not respond, online retailers may be able to assist the university by contacting the publisher to remediate the problem. If universities allow time to request EPUB 3 files early in the adoption process, this will contribute to increasing accessible content availability on the market. A remediated PDF file must be a last resort and temporary solution for the university. Publishers should be responsible for providing accessible content for every non-compliant product adoption. The DSO should notify the instructor and the adoption should be identified as at risk if the university is not able to acquire an accessible EPUB 3 file in a timely manner.

Universities must also hold publishers accountable for quality assurance (QA). EPUB files must be tested by publishers and print-disabled users on multiple platforms with assistive technologies to ensure all functions and accessibility features are working consistently. If there are issues encountered in the QA process, the university should be notified and the publisher should work to resolve the issue. Publishers, platforms and assistive technologies should not work in isolation. They all play a critical role in delivering an accessible learning experience for the user.  

Solutions for Publishers

Publishers have made major improvements in recent years. Many have established a central accessibility task force responsible for listening to university partners, secured executive sponsorship, promoted accessibility across the organization and budgeted for improvements for WCAG non-compliant digital products. Publisher commitments to born-accessible content have raised the bar in an ever-competitive marketplace. For publishers who have not tackled these issues yet, now is the time to move forward to remain relevant.

While publishers have prioritized accessibility and made improvements to digital content and technologies, they now must tackle communication and transparency as well as improve responsiveness to university requests and vendor management.    

Enhanced Communication and Transparency

Publishers need to be more transparent with providing accessibility specifications for digital products and platforms to eliminate the need for university evaluation and consumption of DSO time. Populating digital product accessibility metadata in ONIX (codelist 196), on retail websites and/or within EPUB files is an industry standard requirement that improves the discoverability and sales of digital products while reducing the number of DSO requests for alternative formats.

Publisher sales representatives must be aware of accessibility requirements so they can inform and answer questions and avoid misleading prospective adopters. Representatives are on the front lines selling digital products to universities and must be instructed to notify the publisher accessibility team of problems. Educating sales representatives demonstrates support for university policies, procedures and resources. It is not acceptable to expect the university to shift resources to handle emergency remediation when this should have been handled at the front end by publishers.

Accessibility statements on publisher websites require improvement. The ASPIRE Project evaluated publisher websites for accessibility information, including accessibility contact details, enquiry response times, file navigability and image descriptions. The results revealed that publishers scored an average of 3.3 out of a total of 35 (ASPIRE). Publishers must implement the ASPIRE guide for updating website product information (available here).

Publishers can improve communication with universities by listening more actively. For example, publishers can host a session with universities to collect accessibility feedback. They can also participate in specialist conferences like Accessing Higher Ground and CSUN. Maintaining a constructive, collaborative dialogue between publishers and universities is the key to successful partnership and change.

Timely Response to Remediation

A born-accessible approach is a giant leap forward for inclusive higher education, however, there must be a solution for fixing existing inaccessible content and platforms. Universities are continually battling deadlines and are forced to triage internally when publishers do not provide usable content.

Publishers must establish both reactive and proactive approaches to university requests. If publishers take a reactive approach, they must also develop a solution to quickly respond to requests and meet university deadlines. Publishers must be prepared to receive rush requests from universities that may only have a few days before the start of class. Collaboration with partners in the education sector is key here. Everyone needs to help each other to be successful in these time-critical situations.

On the other hand, a proactive approach is more desirable because it reduces the amount of content remediation and helps them remain competitive with other publishers. This approach involves creating a prioritized list of published content and then budgeting to remediate selections on an annual basis. Regardless of approach, updating existing content will save time and money when the next edition is published.

To improve responsiveness, publishers should assign a primary contact person for university requests. This person must have a direct line of communication with the publisher’s internal department or an external vendor responsible for resolving accessibility issues. The contact person must be diligent about submitting requests and informing the university of expected delivery dates. This will build trust, ensure satisfaction and reduce the amount of time it takes to deliver an accessible file to the student.

Vendor and In-House Quality and Consistency Issues

As Bill Kasdorf states, vendor management is a critical aspect in publishing accessible content at scale: “many people don’t realize that most publishers don’t actually do the hands-on production work for their books and journals – their vendors do that. But what is a lot of work for the publishers is, frankly, training their vendors. We owe a big debt of gratitude to all the publishers–Hachette Livre in trade and the Big Five higher education publishers (Cengage, Macmillan Learning, McGraw-Hill, Pearson, and Wiley) particularly come to mind – who have spent years working closely with their vendors to get accessibility right. Now all the other publishers who use those vendors will have an easier path to making their publications born accessible.”

Vendors have a responsibility to maintain the publisher’s brand and reputation and aim to deliver consistent, high-quality digital products that meet accessibility requirements. To address university complaints about the quality of digital products, publishers should implement regular quality assurance checks to evaluate whether vendors are meeting expectations. Publishers must push back on vendors to resolve concerns and, when necessary, add accessibility requirements to vendor contracts.

Publishers should also require vendors to be responsible for remediation and to adhere to delivery timelines that meet university expectations. Addressing issues with vendors proactively will save time for publishers and universities.


We cannot let current challenges prevent us from making the changes we all want to see in the future. We can overcome obstacles together through communication, collaboration and action. Universities must be more consistent and proactive to prevent unnecessary strain on time and resources. Publishers must be more transparent and responsive to maintain their relevance. Solving these problems will make a difference for both disabled and non-disabled readers while establishing a new standard for inclusive higher education.

This article was kindly submitted by Caroline Desrosiers and Huw Alexander, Co-Founders of textBOX. To learn more about textBOX please visit the textBOX website or reach out at hello@textboxdigital.com

Rethinking Content for Inclusive Higher Education—A Two-Part Article from textBOX

A photograph of dozens of open books and atop one another. The right angles of the books' spines and edges contrastwith the folds and imprints of gently used pagesOver the last few months, textBOX has been on a listening tour, speaking with disability service offices and publishers to understand the challenges and opportunities they are facing with delivering accessible digital content. We were inspired to learn more about university and publisher accessible digital content perspectives from our discussions at the 2018 Accessing Higher Ground conference.

In this two-part article, we will take a closer look at university efforts to remedy accessibility issues with digital content and explore publisher progress in building accessibility into their workflows. The second article, due for publication in April, will focus on solutions to reduce time, resources and remediation costs at the same time as increasing equal access to accessible digital content.  

Visualizing the Gap: Educational Attainment Among Visually-Disabled Students

Visually-disabled college students depend on their disability service office (DSO) to provide training, support and accommodation as they pursue a degree in their chosen field. In 2016, the National Federation of the Blind collected statistics on educational attainment for individuals with a visual disability for the ages of 21 to 64 (NFB). The results, as shown in the graphic below, revealed that visually-disabled individuals are far below the US average. According to US Census data provided in 2017, 90% of all adults over the age of 25 have a high school diploma (Census.gov). When you isolate the visually-disabled population using the NFB data, only 31.6% achieve a high school diploma. For bachelor’s degrees, the educational attainment statistics are 34% for all adults but visually-disabled individuals continue to fall behind the general population with only a 15.7% bachelor’s degree completion rate.

A chart that shows the educational attainment statistics for non-instuttionalized individualswith a visual disability. 847,000 or 22.3% have less that high school graduation. 1,201,600 or 31.5% have a high school diploma or GED. 1,151,500 or or 30.3% have some college or associated degree. 598,000 or 15.7% have a bachelor's degree.

How can universities and publishers work together to break down degree attainment barriers? It starts with ensuring that all students are set up to succeed on the first day of every course, irrespective of their ability. A current challenge to meeting this goal is that universities continue to receive content requiring modification before it can be used by visually-disabled students. This is happening because many publishers are still not producing content in the current EPUB 3 digital publishing standard format, which is universally recognized as providing the greatest opportunity for born accessible content. For those who are working with EPUB 3, many are not meeting the requirements of EPUB Accessibility 1.0 specification. Digital content is, therefore, often inaccessible and requires universities to intervene to fix the issues for their students. Additionally, while there has been progress in recent years with transitioning to a born-accessible publishing strategy for newly published digital content, there is still a vast amount of inaccessible legacy content used by university professors. Universities cannot depend on consistent delivery of accessible EPUBs and end up having to rely instead on an outmoded process of remediating PDFs.

If It’s Broken, Fix It—Content Remediation as a Barrier to Student Success

American universities have legal and ethical responsibilities under the American Disabilities Act (ADA) to provide equal access and educational participation for all students. To meet ADA requirements, DSO staff are required to evaluate individual student needs and procure alternative course materials where necessary (e.g., audio files, eBooks, accessible PDFs or Word files). This process begins when the student enrolls in the course and submits a request to the DSO. Since publisher content delivered to online retail websites is often inaccessible, DSOs cannot direct visually-disabled students to purchase their course materials through these sites. Where this is the case, they must obtain alternative digital formats from publishers directly or through intermediary services such as the AccessText Network. Unfortunately, the DSO’s responsibility does not end there. Racing against the clock, they must complete thorough content analysis and remediation to deliver materials that are at least functionally accessible for the student by the first day of class—this is their responsibility to their students. Wherever materials originate, as mainstream content or specialist format, there are still areas that need attention. Common issues that need correcting include: structural and navigational errors, manual digital format conversion for Text-to-Speech technology and missing or poor-quality image descriptions (alt-text) for visuals, such as photographs, tables, figures and graphs.

Susan Kelmer, Alternative Format Production Program Manager at the University of Colorado, Boulder, finds that EPUB can be unpredicatble. “Students with print disabilities (who are not blind) count on features like page numbering, and the ability to access the entire book in small portions with their technology (like being able to access a single chapter at a time). While there are some standards in place for EPUBs, not all publishers have embraced these. And for a student using text-to-speech technology, as long as the EPUB can’t be read out loud and navigated effectively, that becomes a full stop. The EPUB must then be dissected and compared to a hard copy of the book in order to get all of the elements back into the document.” Kelmer’s point is key to the successful implementation of EPUB workflows. EPUB industry standards and best practices address structural and navigational issues and eliminate the need for universities to remediate content. Publishers must adhere to EPUB Accessibility 1.0 standards so that the whole supply chain can benefit from the additional features of EPUB. However, until they can do this Susan prefers the predictability of remediating PDFs because she can feel confident that the turnaround time will be 4 days or less. The CU Bolder DSO often has tight deadlines and does not have time to sort through time consuming issues.

One of the most time-consuming tasks for remediating digital content is the process of writing image descriptions. Philip Voorhees, an Accessibility Specialist who has worked at numerous universities throughout his career, feels “the quality of image descriptions has improved over the last five years as publishers struggle with the level of detail, subject matter and context of the image within the text.” While the quality of image description has improved, publishers must continue to prioritize high-quality image descriptions to reduce the amount of content remediation work for universities and to improve learning outcomes. Publishers must also consider establishing a backlist content remediation  process to help universities provide alternative formats for older titles that do not have image descriptions.    

Missing complex image descriptions in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) textbooks have a tremendous impact on the DSO and students. Jamie Axelrod, Director of Disability Resources and ADA Coordinator/504 Compliance Officer at Northern Arizona University, described a delivery experience last semester with a graphics-heavy Biology textbook. The student enrolled late and Jamie’s team did not have enough time to create complex image descriptions. They enlisted the help of the publisher but ultimately, they were unable to meet the deadline. The student struggled to catch up after receiving the course materials at the end of the second week and decided to withdraw from the course. Publishers need to understand the detrimental impact that incomplete course materials can have on a print-disabled student.

The cumbersome process of delivering timely accessible content creates unnecessary dead ends for visually-disabled students pursuing higher education. Universities cannot solve this problem alone and need publishers help to create dynamic accessible content. Together, they can close the education gap and provide pathways to success.

Step by Step: The Shift Towards Delivering Accessible Content

Digital products enable publishers to reach an evolving population of students who are regular consumers of digital media while, at the same time, reducing the negative sales impact of the used print textbook market. Digital products can also be widely distributed to a larger customer base through popular online retailers like Amazon, VitalSource and RedShelf. Online retailers are quickly advancing the accessibility of their platforms in line with industry-standard recommendations. This rapid progress puts pressure on publishers to improve the accessibility of their content so that they are not out of step with the retailers they rely on to expand their businesses. Furthermore, due to the inconsistency of accessible content, online retailers recently began highlighting the level of accessibility within their product descriptions to respond to customer demands, improve sales and stand out in a competitive market. For example, VitalSource now includes accessibility specifications on product pages to provide customers the ability to discover and select accessible content that meets their needs.

Academic publishers are also competing with one another to develop proprietary platforms that offer immersive digital reading experiences to transform learning outcomes. These platforms are creating new possibilities for instructors to connect with students both in the classroom and online. If publishers do not uphold industry standards, visually-disabled students cannot participate or benefit equally from the transforming classroom experience.

Publishers have begun to respond to the importance of creating born-accessible content and they have made tremendous improvements over the last few years. Bill Kasdorf stated in his recap of a 2018 Accessing Higher Ground panel session with the Big 5 (Cengage, Macmillan Learning, McGraw-Hill Education, Pearson and Wiley), “… [the Big 5] are not just working hard on accessibility, they’re getting it done. All of them are producing new resources as accessible EPUBs that align with the EPUB Accessibility 1.0 specification” (Inclusive Publishing). The Big 5 have forged a path for others to follow to resolve accessibility issues and respond directly to customer needs. This is just the beginning and more work needs to be done to reduce content remediation and improve the student learning experience.

It is important to note that creating born-accessible digital products is not a simple or straightforward process. Many publishers have undergone a complete overhaul of digital production workflows and title management systems to address WCAG standards, simultaneously supporting multiple ebook formats and resolving proprietary platform accessibility issues. With expanding digital product offerings, new quality assurance and user experience testing procedures have been developed to ensure proper content functionality on platforms, browsers and devices. This is often a moving target with technological advancements that change industry standards and customer expectations. Since accessibility involves nearly every department within the publishing organization, internal committees and task forces have been established to prioritize accessibility projects and advocate for additional resources.

Image descriptions have been a challenging endeavor for publishers. Many have not been able to get their authors to write the descriptions and there are limited editorial staff resources for this specialized task. Delays and complications due to clearing third-party image permissions have relegated writing image descriptions to the end of the publishing process. This results in publishers having limited time to focus on the creation, review and editing of this critical content. Additionally, outsourced production vendors have also struggled to deliver quality and consistency, especially for complex images, creating costly remediation work down the line for publishers and universities.

Publishers are indeed focusing on advancing accessibility by making improvements to the most accessible industry-standard ebook format, EPUB 3. While industry standards and best practices may not address every need for print-disabled users, they do create a unified approach and direction that promotes change, accountability and progress while increasing equal access. To prioritize EPUB 3 implementation, many publishers have made a strategic decision not to provide accessible PDFs that would tie up valuable resources. The PDF format dates to 1993 and, despite its familiarity and ubiquity, missing image descriptions creates a poor reading experience for users. The low university demand for EPUB 3 in exchange for PDF makes it difficult for publishing organizations to build a business case and allocate resources for EPUB 3. This ultimately creates a vicious cycle for both publishers and universities and has inhibited the widespread adoption of born-accessible EPUB 3 content. While it is acknowledged that we must be in a transitional stage until publishers can deliver fully accessible content and platforms, visually-disabled students should not suffer from delays as a result. Publishers must prioritize accessibility and expedite solutions to eliminate the need for universities to provide PDF stop-gap measures.   

At the Crossroads: Shaping the Future of Accessible Content

If students struggle to gain access to information, publishers and universities are setting up barriers to achieving educational goals that have an impact on long-term employment prospects. According to the National Federation of the Blind, only 29.5% of non-institutionalized US individuals with a visual disability between the ages of 21 and 64 were in full-time employment in 2016 (NFB). This statistic is clearly unacceptable and can only be resolved by publishers and universities working together and committing to action plans for change.

In the next article, we will explore solutions to eliminate content remediation, help publishers build a business case that propels born-accessible publishing and establish a sustainable action plan for inclusive higher education. By working together, we can disable barriers and enable learning.


This article was kindly submitted by Caroline Desrosiers + Huw Alexander, Co-Founders of textBOX. To learn more about textBOX please visit the textBOX website or reach out at hello@textboxdigital.com

The Sound of Silence

textBOX logo

One of the most challenging aspects of accessible publishing is understanding how to write immersive image descriptions for visually impaired and print disabled readers. Content providers are often uncertain about where to begin and how to integrate description work into their publishing process. The images included within digital content often remain silent to readers listening in audio format through screen readers, thereby negatively impacting learning outcomes and the joy of reading.

Legal, educational and commercial pressures are intensifying for content providers to now prioritize accessibility. Although resources and guidelines are readily available to help content providers establish accessible production workflows, the lack of available image descriptions continues to be a significant barrier to readers.

In a WebAIM survey conducted in December 2017, the most problematic content-related issues were the availability and quality of alternative text (alt-text) for images.(1) In addition, Bill Kasdorf stated in the January 2018 Learned Publishing special accessibility issue that “all of the publishers I interviewed – even extremely large publishers that have done extensive work on accessibility – find image descriptions to be probably the single biggest issue across all types of content.”(2)

For content providers, the decision comes down to choice. Who should create the descriptions for image content? Should it be the author of the work or a member of the editorial staff? Due to the complexity of the methodology, should it be outsourced to a specialist in a similar vein to indexing? Publishers may delay decision-making as a result of this predicament and elect to keep generic, inadequate and incorrect alt-text “image” tags.

There are a variety of resources to meet accessibility challenges and many companies are seeking to develop solutions. However, image description authoring services are still falling short of the detail necessary to capture image complexity. We can better understand the image description predicament by examining Utagawa Hiroshige’s 1857 print Sudden Shower over Shin-Ōhashi Bridge and Atake.(3)

A woodcut print by Utagawa Hiroshige depicts figures scattering during a sudden rainstorm on the Shin-Ōhashi bridge in Edo (now Tokyo) in 1857.

Microsoft Word includes a publishing tool for automated alt-text. For Hiroshige’s image, Word automatically assigns the following description: “A picture containing building, fence. Description generated with very high confidence.” This incomplete image description highlights the current limitations of alt-text automation.

So, what is the solution if publishers are struggling to find the best way forward and automated technologies generate deficient descriptions? textBOX addresses this challenge. We have a long-standing publishing background and a passion for promoting access for all readers.

The industry needs a simple, workable approach to image description and textBOX delivers it.

The objective of textBOX is to marry the art of immersive description with a scientific approach towards data analytics while adhering to industry standards.

textBOX’s solution is focus/LOCUS – a method for producing high-quality image descriptions. This approach deconstructs the image into key elements and builds the description using a pathway through individual components. The description becomes greater than the sum of its parts.

As the sighted reader will know, Hiroshige’s image is not a “building” or a “fence”, as interpreted by Microsoft Word. A more suitable alt-text description is:

A woodcut print by Utagawa Hiroshige depicts figures scattering during a sudden rainstorm on the Shin-Ōhashi bridge in Edo (now Tokyo) in 1857.

Hiroshige’s image may require a longer, more robust description in circumstances where detail is critically important (e.g., art history books or galleries). The focus/LOCUS method has been designed for this type of description:

The foreground is dominated by a wooden bridge on which seven figures are hurrying to avoid a heavy rainstorm. Two brightly-dressed women are traveling from right to left on the bridge, sheltering under their umbrellas. A man is following closely behind them wearing a conical hat and ducking down beneath the downpour. Three figures hurry in the opposite direction, huddled under a single umbrella. Before them walks a hunched-over figure covering his upper body with a cloak.

In the background, a boatman is steering his log raft along the river. A shadowy line of trees marks the bank of the river. The upper reaches of the picture are filled with ominous dark clouds and dark lines of rain streak across the face of the image. The positioning and postures of the figures in the image give a strong sense of movement and flight from the elements.

The reader’s understanding is increased because they feel the image is tangible and they are involved in the story.

“Writing useful alt-text is a bit of an art,” according to Google.(4) The objective of textBOX is to marry the art of immersive description with a scientific approach towards data analytics while adhering to industry standards. textBOX reveals to publishers that there is an opportunity to enrich their content and promote discoverability through image descriptions.

textBOX is the product of late nights, wide-ranging conversations and meticulous research. The foundation of our business is built on listening closely to the issues that content providers are experiencing and learning from the expertise of industry leaders, colleagues and friends. The accessibility community is overflowing with innovation and collaboration and it is this sense of community that has inspired us to embark on this path.

Inclusive Publishing plays a pivotal role within the accessibility community, the publishing industry and as a core resource for textBOX. We are delighted for the opportunity to share our thoughts and future goals through these pages.

Image description is challenging but it is also a fascinating field. We look forward to listening to content providers and working with the accessibility community to develop solutions and build a future where every image tells a story and every reader experience is equal.

For images, the sound of silence is far from golden.

To learn more about textBOX please visit the textBOX website, read our inaugural soapBOX blog post, or write to us at hello@textboxdigital.com.


  1. WebAIM Screen Reader User Survey #7 Results: https://webaim.org/projects/screenreadersurvey7/
  2. Kasdorf, B. (2018), Why accessibility is hard and how to make it easier: Lessons from publishers. Learned Publishing, 31: 11-18. doi:10.1002/leap.1146
  3. Utagawa Hiroshige, 1857. Sudden Shower over Shin-Ōhashi Bridge and Atake from the series One Hundred Famous Views of Edo. Public domain image. Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York https://www.metmuseum.org/art/collection/search/36461
  4. Kearney, M., Gash, D. and Boxhall, A., Text Alternatives for Images https://developers.google.com/web/fundamentals/accessibility/semantics-builtin/text-alternatives-for-images

This article was kindly submitted by Huw Alexander and Caroline Desrosiers, Co-Founders of textBOX.