Tag Archive for: W3C

WCAG 2 and Internationalization

Icon representing accessibility checking

W3C’s Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG), which forms the foundation of the EPUB Accessibility Specification, include success criteria that provide guidance on the presentation of text, including when users apply styles that change features of text. This has, at times, led to confusion and concerns about whether these success criteria apply to content in all languages and writing systems.

In this article, we’ll explore how the recently released WCAG 2.2 provides additional clarity for two such success criteria and highlight the next steps the Working Groups are taking to address these concerns.

Text Spacing

The first issue raised by the W3C Internationalization Working Group during the 2.2 revision, and supported by the DAISY Consortium, was with Success Criterion 1.4.12 Text Spacing.

This success criterion focuses on ensuring that content remains readable and usable when users change line heights, letter spacing, word spacing, and the amount of space after paragraphs. For example, changing letter spacing should not result in a button label being partially obscured because the text becomes wider than the button. Similarly, changing line heights should not cause the content to be cropped at the edge or bottom of a page so that it is no longer readable.

Although beneficial for some writing systems, these requirements are not beneficial to all. Japanese text, for example, often uses line spacing that is wider than the basic requirement while using first-line indentation to indicate new paragraphs rather than relying on space after paragraphs. In addition, specific writing systems may have additional requirements that are just as important but that this success criterion does not cover.

Additionally, authors sometimes misread the success criterion as requiring them to style their content to meet the specified settings, but the minimum requirements only set the bar at which content must not fail when users re-style the content.

The Accessibility Guidelines Working Group, the maintainers of WCAG, did not intend to imply the success criterion’s requirements are universal or that they are content styling requirements. The success criterion is not trying to enumerate the requirements for every writing system or set display minimums. The design of WCAG is to incrementally improve content for as many users as possible when techniques are proven to enhance accessibility.

To help make these points clearer, the Text Spacing Success Criterion now includes two notes to address the concerns raised:

  • The first note clarifies that the author’s responsibility is only to ensure that content remains accessible at the specified settings, as users can change these settings in their reading systems per their needs.
  • The second note clarifies both that the settings do not always apply to every language and writing system and that authors should follow any additional language-specific best practices that improve the readability of the text.

Visual Presentation

The second issue raised by the Internationalization Working Group was related to Success Criterion 1.4.8 Visual Presentation.

This success criterion also aims to ensure that content remains accessible as users adjust display settings. For example, it requires that users be able to resize the text up to 200% without having to scroll horizontally to read lines, that users be able to control foreground and background colours, and that users be able control the justification of lines.

The concern raised here was that these requirements only sometimes apply to vertically written text, and the success criterion does not indicate what to do when this is not the case.

Like with the previous issue, it was not the intention of the WCAG working group that users be able to control the settings where they do not apply or affect the accessibility. It is another case where WCAG addresses what it can to help the people it can.

To make this clearer, the Visual Presentation Success Criterion now includes a note explicitly stating that the requirements do not apply to writing systems that do not need or use a presentation setting. It also notes that there may be additional presentation settings that could help users of other writing systems and not to ignore them because the success criterion does not mention them.

The working group also added a second note to clarify that it is not authors who have to add mechanisms to control these settings when the user agent already provides controls. EPUB reading systems, for example, are widely available that allow users to change the font size, text and background colours, line justification and other properties noted in the success criterion.

It is also worth noting that this success criterion falls at level AAA. So even if it is not perfect for all writing systems, publishers typically do not have to meet it for regulatory purposes – level AAA is most often considered aspirational and the guidelines themselves note they should not be required for conformance.

Next Steps

Getting these two issues addressed in WCAG 2.2 was a helpful step in improving the understanding of how WCAG applies to different languages and writing systems, but it is not the end of the work. The Internationalization Working Group and Accessibility Guidelines Working Group WCAG 2.2 taskforce will continue working together to write potential errata and update informative documents such as the Understanding documents (for example, see issue 3343 and issue 3345 in the Working Group’s tracker).  The results of this joint effort will better highlight other internationalization practices and remove other possible sources of confusion.

The development of WCAG 3 also presents another opportunity to bring more internationalization issues into focus and to ensure that the guidelines are developed with international audiences in mind. If these issues are important to the work you do, we encourage you to participate in the Accessibility Guidelines Working Group and contribute to the development of WCAG.

DAISY Consortium would like to give special thanks to the Accessibility Guidelines Working Group chairs and W3C staff contact for reviewing and providing invaluable input on this article.

What’s Next For Digital Publishing?

Head shot of Wendy Reid, author of this blog pieceEPUB 3.3 is nearing publication and, as such, is mostly fixed in what it will contain. It remains the most accessible publishing option for content creation and this, it’s final iteration, offers the most accessible experience for print disabled readers. 

As our readers are probably aware, the EPUB specification is a distribution and interchange format standard for digital publications and documents. EPUB defines a means of representing, packaging and encoding structured and semantically enhanced Web content, including HTML5, CSS, SVG and other resources, for distribution in a single-file format. EPUB is the industry standard for digital publications and is based on open technologies used on the Open Web Platform. The EPUB 3 Working Group is an integral part of the activities undertaken at W3C. Wendy Reid, Accessibility and Standards Lead at Kobo and Joint Chair of the EPUB 3 Working Group at W3C asks what is next for the standard and for digital publishing?

The process of developing EPUB 3.3 was an interesting one, because of the conflict between our constraints and our dreams for the format. Our constraints were not surprising, EPUB has a very hard requirement for backwards compatibility. Physical books do not stop working because the software updates and ebooks can’t stop working either. The publishing industry, particularly in the trade space, can also be resistant or unsure of change, leaving us with publishers we’re still convincing to adopt “new” technologies like EPUB 3 — which was first introduced in 2011.

Our hopes were to do some modernization, bring EPUB to at least 2015 with the addition of full HTML 5 support, possibly add some new features.

What we have achieved is a massive overhaul of how the standard is structured, to facilitate better understanding of what it contains. We’ve also made a number of changes in terms of clarifying requirements for certain features, and descoping others. EPUB 3.3 looks very different from it’s predecessors, all the while maintaining that very important backwards compatibility and support for accessibility.

EPUB 3.3 will also very likely be the last version of EPUB 3. The standard is stable and any more substantial changes to it at this point would get us into trouble with backwards compatibility. If you were waiting for any reason to make the switch, please, please do it now.

So what is next then? What does the future look like for digital publications? People who have been in this space for a while know we have asked this question a lot. We’ve even worked on it a bit (remember web publications?), but to no great success.

Over the last few years, the way in which people consume content has changed, in some ways quite drastically. In the trade sector we have seen the rise of new formats like webtoons, growing interest in audiobooks and text-to-speech, fan fiction become mainstream fiction, the need for digital access to book content, and the growth of born accessible content for mainstream publications. Platforms and how people buy, read, and share content have also changed. BookTok, BookTube, and social media have altered how people find, recommend, and categorize the books or stories they read.

That is just trade. Things have changed massively in other areas of the publishing industry as well, as we see the digitization of course content in education and the push for more openness in scholarly publishing. Accessibility requirements and needs have played a major part in these changes for students and academic scholars.

Whatever is next for digital standards has to both reflect these changes and support future developments in the industry. A one-size-fits-all approach might be challenging, but is there room for a single foundation to build many solutions atop of? Can a single standard support the many requirements of our industry as it evolves? We must maintain the high level of support for accessibility that the standard currently offers and yet we need to explore ways to improve upon this solid base.

The best route to a solution is to explore and understand the problem and constraints. We know we want to continue using web technologies. We know anything we work on must be accessible, interoperable, international, offline-able, distribute-able, and secure. We want to build something that is flexible and adaptive to change.

To achieve this we do need to understand the problems. To that end, we’re holding a “salon” to gather feedback and use cases from the industry to better understand the challenges, constraints, and dreams of the industry. If you’re interested in attending, it will be held on September 13 at 8AM-12PM Pacific, as part of the W3C TPAC conference. You can register to attend in person or virtually here: https://www.w3.org/2022/09/digpubsalon. This is open to everyone and your input will help to inform the way forward.

This blog piece is an extension of a twitter thread posted on August 23rd, 2022 (@wendy_a_reid). Our thanks to Wendy for turning the thread into a thought-provoking article! We are proud that Kobo is an Inclusive Publishing Partner.

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

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

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

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

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

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:

W3C Releases First Public Working Draft for Specification for Spoken Presentation in HTML

Announcement from the W3C:

“The Accessible Platform Architectures (APA) Working Group has published a First Public Working Draft of Specification for Spoken Presentation in HTML from the Pronunciation Task Force. This document is part of W3C work on pronunciation to provide normative specifications and best practices guidance so that text-to-speech (TTS) synthesis can properly pronounce HTML content.

This First Public Working Draft specification describes two possible technical approaches for author-controlled pronunciation of HTML content, using Speech Synthesis Markup Language (SSML).

Either approach will satisfy our accessibility requirements. However, we seek to establish a widely applicable approach. W3C is therefore seeking more input on these approaches, particularly from content authors and implementors who would convert the authoring techniques described into aural presentation. Please send comments by 18 June 2021.”

EPUB3 Working Group Requests Feedback on FXL Accessibility

The EPUB3 Working Group is investigating the gap in recommendations for the production of accessible fixed-layout content in EPUB. The accessibility guidelines for reflowable content are well-established, but the working group is hoping to produce similar documentation for fixed-layout, and would like to get feedback from the industry on methods that people have used, are interested in using, or challenges they have faced in producing high-quality fixed-layout content. They are particularly interested in use cases and examples where content creators have tried SVG, fixed layout with reflowable sections, or modern CSS (Grid/Flexbox).

Feel free to contact the chairs at group-epub-wg-chairs@w3.org, or Wendy Reid directly at wendy.reid@rakuten.com with questions or feedback.

Publishing, Accessibility, W3C Standards. Where Are We Going? (W)

Publishing Accessibility and W3C Standards opening slideIn our series of free weekly webinars  June 3rd saw a session focused on the future of the W3C, entitled Publishing, Accessibility, W3C Standards. Where Are We Going? The EPUB 3 standard can support accessibility to a degree never seen before. It’s already the most popular and most accessible publishing standard, but can we do better? Our speakers explored this theme during their webinar giving us an overview of what the publishing industry can expect from Publishing@W3C in the future.

This page contains:

Full Video of the Webinar


  • Richard Orme, The DAISY Consortium—host and chair
  • Wendy Reid, Rakuten Kobo
  • Dave Cramer, Hachette Book Group
  • Tzviya Siegman, Wiley

Session Overview

Wendy Reid, Chair of the Publishing WG and Chair of the upcoming EPUB3 WG at W3C, opened this webinar by giving us an overview of the recent W3C survey conducted to understand how EPUB was being used within our industry. For publishers, EPUB is indeed the format of choice and it is very popular although , overall, it was concluded that publishers need it to do more. There is some misunderstanding about EPUB and better communication and spec improvements are needed to rectify this.

Dave Cramer, Chair of the former EPUB Community Group and Chair of the upcoming EPUB3 WG at W3C, gave us some background on how Publishing@W3C works and how we need to be using the W3C process as a tool to make improvements to our industry standards. The EPUB3 WG has seen 20 years of dedication to the EPUB spec but interoperability challenges, in particular, demand refinement and the new goals for the spec focus on these as well as other overdue alterations.

Tzviya Siegman, Chair of the Publishing WG and member of the W3C Advisory Board, discussed the EPUB accessibility spec—which she hopes will be a formal W3C recommendation by 2021. The EPUB Accessibility Taskforce is also working on a metadata project—The Accessibility Metadata Crosswalk, to identify gaps within the accessibility metadata in major industry standards.

Tzviya also discussed using DPUB ARIA and explained that if you use it correctly, how it can greatly enhance the reading experience for screen reader users. However, if used incorrectly the result can be quite the reverse so she suggests not using it unless competency levels are high.

WCAG Accessibility guidelines expect an update in Q4 2020 with several new success criteria to be included.

Wendy introduced us to the Audiobook specification which is on track to reach recommended status in Q3 2020, allowing for the creation of born accessible audiobooks and providing a mainstream standard for the creation of audiobook titles.

Our presenters gave us many resources and recommendations throughout the webinar and the Q & A at the end was most informative. Make sure you listen to some of the thought provoking questions and our panels expert thoughts on these topics.

Related Resources

Discover the other webinars we’re running!

Free Webinar: The Future of Accessible Publishing and Standards—Where Are We Going?

June 3rd, 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.

The EPUB 3 standard can support accessibility to a degree never seen before. It’s already the most popular and most accessible publishing standard, but can we do better?
This webinar will:

  • discuss where we currently are and some of the challenges we face
  • summarize what is planned in the near future and the impact it will have on accessible publishing
  • gaze into the crystal ball of publishing standards to explore where we might be headed longer term and what we might encounter along the path.


June 3, 2020


Online via Zoom or via the DAISY YouTube channel afterwards

Learn More

Sign up for the June 3rd webinar

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

Free Webinar: Publishing, Accessibility, W3C Standards—Where Are We and How Did We Get Here?

May 6th, 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.

Behind the scenes of any technology you can find a significant amount of effort invested over many years has shaped where we are today. This session will reflect on the EPUB 3 journey to become the most popular and most accessible digital publishing standard in the world.


May 6th, 2020 at 3pm UTC


Live online via Zoom or via the DAISY YouTube channel afterwards

Learn More

Sign up for the May 6th webinar

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

Accessibility Camp—A Moment of Study Between Experts

A collection of pink sticky notes being positioned on a boardThe LIA Foundation recently organized a day completely dedicated to the theme of accessibility for professionals in the publishing world and for content producers at the  Talent Garden Calabiana in Milan , as part of the MiCA project—Milan for Accessible Culture.

It was a day in which participants were able to meet experts from the world of digital accessibility to share knowledge, information and experiences—offering a moment of study, exchange and comparison on the subject of accessibility amongst professionals.

The first part of the day was dedicated to presentations from national and international experts who introduced and explored the dynamics and scenarios taking place at a global level.

Speakers included:

  • Cristina Mussinelli—The LIA Foundation
  • Antonio Cotroneo—The LIA Foundation
  • Avneesh Singh—The DAISY Consortium
  • Luc Audrain—Hachette Livre

The day began with a demo of a visually impaired user trying to buy and read an ebook which was great for setting the mood for the day.

Print impaired reader presenting to delegates with Gregorio Pellegrino assisting


Cristina Mussinelli from the LIA Foundation then introduced the workshop and explained the need to work together in order to comply with the new European legislative framework for accessibility: Marrakech Treaty and European Accessibility Act. The LIA Foundation has recently produced a white paper entitled: EBooks for All: Towards an Accessible Publishing Ecosystem

Avneesh Singh from The DAISY Consortium gave a keynote speech on publishing standards, including:

  • an introduction to EPUB 3.2
  • EPUBCheck—the prerequisite for adoption of EPUB 3.2 together with plans for further development
  • State of the art accessibility of EPUB 3—greatly reinforced by EPUB 3 Accessibility Conformance and Discovery specifications
  • information on EPUB 3.0.1 and EPUB accessibility specifications becoming ISO standards which will serve to further elevate EPUB and the EPUB Accessibility specification worldwide.

Luc Audrain, Head of Digitalization for Hachette Livre, rounded off the first part of the day with a keynote describing Hachette’s move to an EPUB 3 born accessible publishing workflow, without incurring additional cost. Luc’s drive has been a major factor in Hachette’s success made possible because he was the right person, in the right place, at the right time. It was great to see how just one person can bring about such a change.


Luc Audrain presents on EPUB 3 and workflows within Hachette Livre


During the second part of the Camp, three operational working groups were organized to explore specific topics in more detail:

  • How to make mathematics accessible in traditional production processes. This workshop also looked at other STEM materials.
  • Reading solutions: platforms and user experience
  • Discoverability and metadata : what do users want and what steps are needed to meet the deadlines set by the European Accessibility Act?

The LIA Foundation has also recently announced that the notable organizations, Associazione Italiana Dislessia (AID) and the Biblioteca Italiana per i Ciechi (Italian Library for the Blind) (BIC) have signed an agreement for the production and distribution of accessible copies of textbooks to blind and visual impaired students. The full press release of this announcement is available. The Foundation is busy setting up a Scientific Committee with many esteemed collaborators and we look forward to hearing about the plans and work of this group.