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Lessons Learned in the Journey to Accessible Publishing (W)

Lessons Learned in the Journey to Accessible Publishing title slide

Lessons Learned in the Journey to Accessible Publishing title slide

In our series of free weekly webinars November 23rd saw a session focused on the lessons that have been learned by speakers from 4 different areas of the publishing industry. This was the perfect way to round off this current season of webinars and an excellent chance to reflect on some of the challenges that have been encountered

This page contains:

Full Video of the Webinar

Speakers

      • Richard Orme, DAISY Consortium—host and chair
      • Anne Bergman, Federation of European Publishers
      • Cristina Mussinelli, The LIA Foundation
      • Simon Mellins, Penguin Random-House
      • Wendy Reid, Kobo Rakuten

Session Overview

Ann Bergman was our first speaker, reminding us about the work of the FEP during the development, planning and eventual implementation of the European Accessibility Act. This has involved years of preparation for our industry and is the result of over 20 years of engagement at EU level. The EAA, which comes into force in 2025 will have a global impact as it covers ebooks, ereaders and eretailers. The good news is that EPUB has been deemed to fulfill the specifications of the directive, but there are challenges that still remain: backlist concerns, the liability of retailers and DRM, to name but a few! Ann’s advice to everyone thinking about accessible publishing was an important lesson:

Accessibility is about making the books we publish better, satisfying the needs of all customers and broadening readership

Cristina Mussinelli and the LIA Foundation have a wealth of advice learned from years of advocating for accessible publishing in Italy and Europe. Lessons include:

      • Collaborations – building bridges with all the stakeholders in the industry is key
      • Accessibility needs to be treated as a strategic resource and the corporate culture should reflect this
      • Implement a roadmap within your organization
      • Training is absolutely key as accessibility can get quite technical

Simon Mellins gave us a snapshot of lessons learned from a larger publishing organization of which the 2 biggest are:

      • Metadata and the challenge of implementing accessibility metadata for such a large volume of content and the backlist remains a huge challenge. PRH have found that metadata templating is practical for trade titles but the challenge remains to get the retailers support display.
      • Image description remains the hardest accessibility challenge for most publishers and there is no one solution that works for everyone. Simon gave us a number of strategies to cope with the challenges and these slides are full of helpful detail on this

Finally a reminder about future-proofing and how accessibility enhances content for everyone’s enjoyment.

A properly structured EPUB file with detailed semantic tagging and metadata is the best way to archive books for future generations.

Wendy Reid gave us the retailers perspective by highlighting lessons learned at Kobo Rakuten.

      • Communications are key to success, working with publishers on accessibility requirements
      • Implementation of accessibility can be complex in retail
      • User needs and perspectives must be taken into consideration at every stage. Testing early and testing often can result in changes of approach, making sure that readers with print disabilities are included in the feedback process.

Listen to the recording to hear more about the challenges and lessons learned discussed by our 4 experts.

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Accessible Reading Systems: Requirements and Examples of Good Practice (W)

Accessible Reading Systems title slide

Accessible Reading Systems title slideIn our series of free weekly webinars October 26th saw a session focused on accessible reading systems, hosted by DAISY’s George Kerscher. In his intro George reminded us that “people want to be able to read with their eyes, ears and fingers and its the reading system that enables this.” A crucial link in the publishing and content ecosystem, the accessibility of a given reading system greatly impacts the reading experience.

This page contains:

Full Video of the Webinar

Speakers

  • George Kerscher, The DAISY Consortium—host and chair
  • Prashant Verma, The DAISY Consortium
  • Lars Wallin, Colibrio
  • Laurent Le Meur, EDRLab

Session Overview

The session began with an overview of the webinar, beginning with a reminder of the:

Fundamentals for Accessible Reading

Laurent Le Meur asked why this is so important right now and top of his list of answers is the advent of the European Accessibility Act in 2025 which the whole world is preparing for. By this time, every product and service created or sold into Europe must be accessible and this includes reading systems which are within the scope of the new legislation.

The fundamental requirements of an accessible reading system include:

  • the ability to make visual adjustments
  • screen reader support
  • keyboard navigation (when available)
  • text to speech

Laurent’s presentation includes demonstrations of these basic items, including a closer look at Thorium, developed by EDRLab. EDRLab’s unique experience of developing the Thorium reading system is something we can all learn from. The specific challenges that developing an accessible reading system of this calibre include:

  • the development team themselves must have a thorough understanding of accessibility
  • the development framework is often inaccessible itself
  • the budget to develop accessible reading systems needs to be high
  • testing is complex
  • all kinds of complex content needs to be accommodated in a variety of formats.

Advanced Document Interaction

Lars Wallin focused on requirements needed to give a good reading experience when dealing with complex, structured documents such as learning materials or academic papers. These include:

  • Focus management – if reading systems have not been developed with assistive technology in mind, they will not have the level of integrated accessibility that is needed. Focus management is at the core of a successful reading system.
  • Landmark navigation is extremely important in structured documents
  • Highlights, bookmarks and notes
  • Contextual actions and information (especially important for blind readers)
  • Text search
  • Visual aids

Testing and Benchmarking

Prashant Verma reminded that in order to achieve an accessible reading experience, both the content and the reading system need to conform to standards and best practices. By rigorous testing we can ensure that reading systems are accessible. To be successful, the reading system should have:

  • an accessible user interface that can accommodate different input methods and that supports a variety of commonly used assistive technology
  • support for EPUB accessibility features such as table of contents, image alt text etc.

The DAISY Consortium has developed epubtest.org in order to evaluate the accessibility of EPUB content via reading systems. Testing is conducted by a panel of experts, assistive technology users and readers with lived experience. Reading systems are tested in a variety of ways and the results enable developers to make improvements to the accessibility of their products. The published results also enable institutional purchasers to make informed decisions.

Prashant went into the detail of the epubtest.org evaluation systems and how the scoring is allocated. Results are displayed on epubtest.org and as an overview on Inclusive Publishing as a quick reference tool, summarizing the pros and cons of the systems that have undergone testing.

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Accessible Publishing Support (W)

Accessible Publishing Support opening slide

Accessible Publishing Support opening slideIn our series of free weekly webinars September 28th saw a session focused on Accessible Publishing Support which gave a round-up of training, tools and resources available to publishers and content creators. There are many resources available worldwide and this webinar highlighted some of the most used tools and guidance followed by an in-depth look at what is happening in two countries, Italy and The Netherlands.

This page contains:

Full Video of the Webinar

Speakers

  • Richard Orme, The DAISY Consortium
  • Elisa Molinari, The LIA Foundation
  • Hans Beerens, Dedicon

Session Overview

Richard Orme opened this week’s webinar with a general overview of training, tools and resources. We’ve listed these below but the webinar video gives you a lot more information.

Training

  • DAISY webinar series – 35 hours of material on a broad range of topics
  • Online courses which include, W3C learning, EPUB Accessibility Using InDesign, POET image description tool, Inclusive Publishing in Practice & the Accessible Publishing Learning Network
  • Conferences and Seminars – international bookfairs, publishing events
  • Bespoke training

Tools

A variety of tools are in use to validate and check the accessibility of content. These include DAISY’s suite of tools – Ace, SMART (Richard gave a demo) and EPUBCheck (which is maintained by DAISY)

Resources

There are many resources available to publishers who wish to keep up to date with the latest developments in the accessibility space. These include this website, the Accessible Publishing Knowledge Base, epubtest and stakeholder platforms within your own country.

A full list of items mentioned in the webinar can be found at the end of this report.

The Italian Job

Elisa Molinari began her presentation by giving an overview of the work of the LIA Foundation, reminding us of all they have achieved since 2011 when they delivered the first concrete example of the born-accessible principle.

The LIA catalog now features an astounding 30k ebooks from 76 publishers and imprints.

Moving forward LIA still focus on how to make accessibility work via events, certification, consultancy and tailor-made training for their publishers. Having everyone on-board with a shared goal is something that the LIA Foundation urges all publishers to focus on and they have prepared list of tools and resources for all areas of the workflow together with a white paper entitled; “Ebooks For All: Towards an Accessible Digital Publishing Ecosystem”. This was produced with the onset of the European Accessibility Act in mind.

The Dutch Oven

Hans Beerens followed with an overview of how accessible publishing is treated in The Netherlands. From a round table meeting of relevant stakeholders some invaluable resources have emerged giving publishers a set of quick start guides to get them started on their accessibility journey and provide them with some quick wins. This working group have also conducted a number of workshops and training programs together with the national website which hosts all of these resources.

Most recently, a project run in collaboration with German and French colleagues has resulted in the training site Inclusive Publishing in Practice which Hans gave us an overview of. Available in 4 languages this site offers 75 learning units over 4 learning pathways – covering a multitude of areas to assist publishers in the creation of accessible content.

It was terrific to be able to see how many resources are available to our industry. Although not exhaustive, the range of resources listed and discussed in this webinar provides a solid base for continued learning.

Related Resources

Resources mentioned in the webinar:

Training

Tools

Reference

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Upcoming Events

Digital Book World 2023

January 16, 2023 - January 18, 2023

New York City

CSUN Assistive Technology Conference 2023

March 13, 2023 - March 17, 2023

Anaheim, California, USA

DAISY AGM 2023

Date: May 9, 2023

Washington DC, USA