Articles (page 5)

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

Publishing Accessibility and W3C Standards opening slide
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

Speakers

  • 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.

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Accessibility at Apple: Innovating For All (W)

Accessibility at Apple title slide

Accessibility at Apple title slide
In our series of free weekly webinars May 27th saw a session focused on Accessibility at Apple. Today your most important assistive device is likely the iPhone or other smartphone you carry around with you in your pocket, rather than the bespoke, costly, and clinical types of equipment that pervaded accessibility in the past.
Apple has been at the forefront of this accessible technology revolution. When it comes to accessible reading, the massive popularity of iPhone and iPad has resulted in materials produced by both mainstream publishers and specialist organizations being accessed primarily using popular consumer devices.

This page contains:

Full Video of the Webinar

Speakers

  • Richard Orme, The DAISY Consortium—host and chair
  • Sarah Herrlinger, Apple

Session Overview

Sarah Herrlinger, Director of Global Accessibility Policy and Initiatives at Apple introduced the subject of today’s webinar with some interesting statistics and information on disability and learning:

  • 15% of the world’s population is reported to have a disability
  • In the U.S. 1 in 5 students have a learning or an attention disability
  • In the U.S. 1 in 10 students are English language learners

These numbers alone show Apple takes accessibility so seriously both externally and internally where it is one of their 6 corporate values.

Accessibility is part of Apple’s DNA

Apple have concentrated heavily on creating a cohesive eco-system across all devices to provide “seamless continuity” for accessibility. With the 4 areas of focus: vision, hearing, cognitive and motor functions, Sarah walked us through a number of major features and tools that can be utilized on apple products. This webinar looked specifically at VoiceOver, Math and Data, Speak Screen, Inverting Colors and Safari Reader but there are many others also, supporting a wide range of use-cases.

This webinar was an exciting delve into some of what Apple can offer and it is worth exploring the remote learning resources and other features that Sarah mentioned.

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Leveraging InDesign for Accessible EPUB Creation (W)

Leveraging InDesign for Accessible EPUB Creation opening slide

Leveraging InDesign for Accessible EPUB Creation opening slideIn our series of free weekly webinars May 29th saw a session focused on Leveraging InDesign for Accessible EPUB Creation. If InDesign is part of your book production toolchain, then this webinar gave an invaluable overview of how to get cleaner, more accessible reflowable EPUB output. This page contains:

Full Video of the Webinar

Speakers

  • Richard Orme, The DAISY Consortium—host and chair
  • Laura Brady, House of Anansi Press
  • Michael Murphy, Adobe

Session Overview

This was a webinar in 4 parts with top tips and hints for the ebook designer to ensure that their exported EPUBs are as accessible as possible:

Establishing Structure With Styles

Michael Murphy opened the webinar with an overview of the importance of styles within InDesign, the first crucial step in file preparation and one which covers approximately 70% of accessibility related tasks, if properly and consistently used. Using paragraph and character styles enables you to achieve as clean and semantically rich accessible EPUB as possible—packing information into the formatting of your file via styles ensures that your EPUB is off to a flying start.

Edit All Export Tags

Export tagging of your styles avoids HTML cleanup later and Laura showed  everyone how to successfully edit tags so that the HTML is as precise and semantic as possible:

Let the HTML do the accessibility heavy lifting

With a little nudging InDesign will perform and Laura demo’d various screens with us during the webinar

Image Output and Alt Text

In order to achieve an end result where the order, appearance and alt text of images are as intended in the final EPUB, Michael showed us various settings needed to ensure accessibility and good reflow of images.

Semantics and Post-Export CleanUp

Laura explained that InDesign has a full set of semantics built in and how we should think of epub:type as the scaffolding on which we can build ARIA roles. If you are passionate about accessibility then you should think of the InDesign Export EPUB as a starting point and be prepared to clean up the file with Laura’s list of specific cleanup tasks.

Related Resources

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Easy Access to Books and Articles Through a Smart Speaker (W)

Access to reading through a smart speaker opening slide

Access to reading through a smart speaker opening slide
In our series of free weekly webinars May 13th saw a session focused on reading experiences via Smart Speakers and how this relatively new technology has been a game-changer for many people already, especially those with print disabilities.

This page contains:

Full Video of the Webinar

Speakers

  • Richard Orme, The DAISY Consortium—host and chair
  • JoAnna Hunt—Amazon
  • Kiran Kaja—Google
  • Scott White—NFB Newsline
  • Thomas Bryan & Geraldine Lewis—BLVNZ
  • Sarah Chin & Jarek Beksa—Sonnar

Session Overview

JoAnna Hunt opened this session with a overview of work at Amazon on Alexa, Kindle and Audible and how Alexa can support reading experiences via both. Alexa has the ability to read any book from the Kindle library in multiple languages and in local accents, at various speeds. Sync’d perfectly with your other devices, you can easily navigate and pick up where you left off. In addition Audible offers professionally narrated audio books directly through Alexa with the similar navigation features as with your Kindle titles.

Next, Kiran Kaja introduced us to the Google Assistant—your own personal Google which will help you across your devices. Google Play Books allows the reader to listen to audio books on speakers, smart displays and on your mobile phone and will read web pages and news when commanded. Available in 42 languages and with speed adjustment features, the Google Assistant offers a multi-faceted reading experience.

Scott White from The National Federation of the Blind introduced us to NFB Newsline and gave us a terrific live demo of how to read the New York Times via Alexa, using Newsline, at various speeds and in several voices. Newsline offers the opportunity to simply ask Alexa to email a particular article.

Thomas Bryan & Geraldine Lewis gave us an overview of work with smart speakers at Blind Low Vision New Zealand where they were early to recognize the potential of Alexa to create a new way to access their library service. Their usability study indicated a number of key findings highlighting the sheer simplicity of the interface and the high level of connectivity that can be achieved for new online users. Support for this new service has been overwhelming with extremely positive feedback, especially from older, less technology confident people.

Sarah Chin & Jarek Beksa, from Sonnar Interactive, were instrumental in helping the team from BLVNZ achieve their goal.  The Sonnar Library offers an all-in-one solution for accessible reading services with a reader, a user and content management system and a content exchange solution that can work with any IT system. Their excellent  live demo ended with an offer for individuals and organizations to access their solution free of charge during the lockdown period.

This session really gave us an overview of how versatile and exciting smart speaker technology can be. Exciting times for anyone working in this field and for readers benefitting from this accessible reading experience.

Related Resources

Links mentioned in the webinar

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Publishing, Accessibility, W3C Standards—Where Are We and How Did We Get Here? (W)

publishing, accessibility W3C standards title slide

publishing, accessibility W3C standards title slide

In our series of free weekly webinars May 6th saw a session focused on publishing technology at the W3C, the EPUB eco-system, and baking in accessibility within digital content. Behind the scenes of any technology you will find that a significant amount of effort invested over many years has shaped where we are today. This webinar reflected on the EPUB 3 journey to become the most popular and most accessible digital publishing standard in the world.

This page contains:

Full Video of the Webinar

Speakers

  • Richard Orme, The DAISY Consortium—host and chair
  • Bill Kasdorf, Publishing Technology Partners
  • Luc Audrain, Inclusive Publishing Consultant (just retired from Hachette)
  • George Kerscher, The DAISY Consortium

Session Overview

Bill Kasdorf opened this webinar with an overview of book production workflows—the evolution of publishing technology has  enabled “accessibility to be more accessible than ever”. Today, every step of the workflow is digital and assistive technology benefits from the interoperability and open standards that are in play for digital files, systems and devices. Web technology is the fundamental basis for EPUB 3, giving publishers the opportunity to produce born accessible EPUB 3 as a standard output from their workflows. But Bill stressed that whilst this is possible:

You have to use the tech properly!

EPUB 3 doesn’t guarantee accessibility, rather it offers “accessibilityability”.

Luc Audrain walked us through a history of EPUB 3 which is now hosted within the Publishing@W3C organization who’s focus is on creating a global EPUB 3 ecosystem. The revision of the EPUB 3 spec and upgrade of EPUBCheck were the initial focus and now it is time to create the best EPUB 3 ecosystem for born accessible content, with tools such as EPUBCheck, Ace by DAISY and the EPUB 1.0 Accessibility specification.

George Kerscher spoke about integrating accessibility into all aspects of publishing and reading:

Accessibility is not a frosting spread on a cake; it must be baked in.

Authoring and publishing production software can integrate Ace by DAISY, the SMART tool and the DAISY Knowledge Base into their working practices and these have been built from DAISY’s years of experience and participation in digital publishing initiatives.

Alongside these tools and best practices, publishers need to take advantage of conformance and discovery metadata if they are to communicate the good work they are doing. The forthcoming User Experience Guide for accessibility metadata will help libraries and print disabled readers to buy born accessible EPUB 3 content and to have access at the same time, in the same format and at the same price as all other readers.

If you are interested in the future of EPUB and publishing standards then the second part of this webinar is worth registering for. The future of accessible publishing and standards – where are we going? will take place on June 3rd, 2020

Related Resources

Links mentioned in the webinar:

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Telling The Story, Better Accessibility Statements with ASPIRE (W)

ASPIRE webinar cover slide

ASPIRE webinar cover slide

In our series of free weekly webinars April 29th saw a session focused on the work of the ASPIRE service which helps publishers and vendors tell the story of the amazing accessibility work they are doing to create a transparent environment for content.

This page contains:

Full Video of the Webinar

Speakers

  • Richard Orme, DAISY Consortium—host and chair
  • Huw Alexander, TextBOX Digital
  • Alistair McNaught, McNaught Consulting

Session Overview

Huw Alexander gave us a brief overview of what this session would cover:

  • Accessibility statements and the Law
  • The Evolution of ASPIRE
  • The ASPIREreview process
  • What makes a Gold Statement
  • The Benefits of Accessibility Statements

An overview of the legal situation in the UK and Europe from Alistair McNaught framed the webinar and gave us context and background for the work they have achieved. Organizations are required to provide an accessibility statement as part of content provision and this includes library services etc.

The ASPIRE project began in the summer of 2018 as a crowdsourced project with a large number of stakeholders. Looking at accessibility statements, the project uncovered many untold stories of good work within our industry. Publishers weren’t telling us about the accessibility of their content and not engaging with their customers about their plans for accessible experiences.

Fast forward a year and the project has developed into a fully fledged cost-effective service which offers an audit and review of publishing accessibility statements together with a set of transparent, positive and clear recommendations for improvement. Scoring and the possibility of  “Gold” level status has meant that we now have a range of wonderful examples of how the anatomy of a statement should look.

Huw and Alistair talked us through a number of examples explaining the key benefits of getting this right. By “telling your story about your content” publishers are fulfilling their legal obligations whilst engaging and supporting customers and readers.

Related Resources

Referenced in the webinar were:

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Making Math Accessible, One Step At a Time (W)

Making Math Accessible opening slide

Making Math Accessible opening slideIn our series of free weekly webinars April 22nd saw a session focused on the strategies for making Math accessible to readers with a print disability.

This page contains:

Full Video of the Webinar

Speakers

  • Richard Orme, DAISY Consortium—Host and Chair
  • Abi James—Abilitynet and University of Southampton
  • Alex Cabral—UX Researcher, DIAGRAM
  • Matt Nupen—Senior Product Manager, DIAGRAM

Session Overview

Many children have disabilities around learning and attention, such as dyslexia, dyscalculia, and ADHD and, sadly, these students are significantly more likely than their peers to repeat a grade or drop out of school. Lack of support and poor performance can also prevent them from continuing on to higher education, thereby locking these students out of certain career fields entirely. These types of barriers are particularly strong in the field of mathematics.

Abi James began this webinar by explaining the impact of these difficulties and, in particular, how the struggle with how to learn math can severely affect a student’s success at high school and at college. For many learners, the ability to read or understand math is at the root of the problem and accessible math can help with this—decoding the math itself to help with accuracy and understanding.

Matt Nupen explained that it can be very difficult to diagnose learning difficulties like this early on. Once diagnosed, there are a number of good methodologies and tools which can help such as MathShare which enables a student to show their workings throughout their progression in a step by step process. Free and open source, MathShare is the only tool that currently allows this.

Alex Cabral also showed us the tools: PhET and Desmos, which work with students interactively on math concepts, focussing on the process rather than the solution.

This webinar shows how we can support students who have math challenges by using the various tools available, developing their number sense and using different modalities to solve problems.

Related Resources

Referenced in the webinar were:

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Create EPUB Publications from Word with a Simple Tool Anyone Can Use (W)

WordToEPUB webinar opening slide

WordToEPUB webinar opening slideIn our series of free weekly webinars April 15th saw a session focused on the WordToEPUB tool recently developed by The DAISY Consortium. WordToEPUB is free, simple and straightforward method of converting structured Word documents to valid and accessible EPUB files.

This page contains:

Full Video of the Webinar

Speakers

  • Dawn Evans, Access Text Network—host and chair
  • Richard Orme, DAISY Consortium
  • Joseph Polizzotto, UC Berkeley
  • Erin Williams, Microsoft
  • Prashant Verma, DAISY Consortium

Session Overview

WordToEPUB has been developed to provide a simple, easy to use tool that can convert accessible word documents into fully accessible EPUB files. Richard Orme began by explaining this process, thanking everyone who contributed to this project for their support. There are many situations in which this new tool is already proving invaluable, going beyond the standard publishing workflow—word documents are produced in many environments, commercial, public, government etc etc. The list of use cases for which WordToEPUB is relevant is long!

There are many use cases that require simple, practical workflows for creating accessible and flexible materials

Erin Williams, from Microsoft, spoke about the support that MS has for this new tool and how it is in harmony with the accessibility checker that MS Word already has built-in. This checker assesses the accessibility of word documents—success at this stage is vital. WordToEPUB can’t invent accessibility features so the the accessibility of the original word document is very important.

The design goals of the WordToEPUB tool include: straightforward and accessible installation, simple usage, different language support, extensible as users need. Richard Orme then demonstrated how these goals have been met with a live demo which you can see on the webinar recording.

Joseph and Prashant both discussed use cases in academic environments and environments with low resources and basic skill levels. WordToEPUB has been quickly adopted by many organizations already, proving that:

With a structured and accessible document, making a great EPUB from Word is now simple and accessible

Related Resources

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Publishers Faceoff to Prove the Accessibility of their Titles (W)

Publishers Faceoff webinar title slide

Publisher Faceoff opening slide In our series of free weekly webinars April 8th saw a session comparing the accessibility of EPUB titles produced by a range of education publishers.
Publishers are now being required to demonstrate their accessibility claims. It is no longer acceptable to simply say that your products are accessible without proving it. Eighty percent of Higher Education publications come from five big publishers. With the rise of EPUB 3 as the dominant format in publishing, we can now demand Born Accessible materials from all publishers. Now publishers are making accessibility claims, but what is really inside the cover?

This page contains:

Full Video of the Webinar

Speakers

  • Richard Orme, DAISY Consortium—host and chair
  • George Kerscher, DAISY Consortium—panellist
  • Charles La-Pierre, Benetech—panellist
  • Joseph Polizzotto, UC Berkeley—panellist
  • Rachel Comerford, Macmillan Learning—publisher (Rachel.Comerford@macmillan.com webaccessibility@macmillan.com)
  • Martin Klopstock, Kogan-Page—publisher (accessibility@koganpage.com)
  • Evan Yamanishi, W.W. Norton—publisher (accessibility@wwnorton.com)
  • Ben Schroeter, Pearson—publisher (disability.support@pearson.com)
  • Christina Volpe, John Wiley—publisher (permissions@wiley.com)

Session Overview

This webinar was based on a session scheduled for the CSUN Assistive Technology Conference this year and it was great to have such wide, international interest in the work of these fine publishers. The premise behind the activities discussed here allowed for much collaboration between our “competing” publishers and this sharing of knowledge has led to some great improvements already being actioned.

The 3 members of the panel discussed content from each publisher taking part in the session: Charles gave a brief review from a GCA standpoint with George commenting on what works particularly well for him as a reader. Joseph then highlighted specific features within each title which make for an improved reading experience for students.

Based upon comments and suggestions each publisher was invited to respond to the critique of their EPUB. There were many questions at the end of the session which we didn’t have time to cover and you can find these listed at the end of this article with answers from our panellists and publishers.

Resources

Further Questions and Answers

Some questions were asked in the webinar which we didn’t have time to respond to in the session. Questions and answers are listed below.

Q1: How many titles were reviewed per publisher and how was the sample chosen? Was it a random sample or did the publishers submit specific titles for review?

A1: One title each was reviewed for each publisher. Publishers selected a title that best represented their overall publishing standards to give reviewers a sense of their accessibility philosophy.

Q2: There are a lot of good ideas regarding UX here and the improvements identified. Would the DAISY Consortium/Benetech be willing to share a full compilation of best practice ideas, with examples, for UX design in EPUBs, based on the audit of publisher files? Effectively, a guide to best designed EPUBs.

A2: There are a number of wonderful (free!) resources available for EPUB best practices that publishers and others can use to get started. Among them are:

More work on best practices is taking place at the W3C in the EPUB 3 Community Group, and these will be published.

Q3: Cengage is not one of the publishers included here. Have you tested Cengage textbooks? If not, will you in the future? They’re making a big push at my institution, and I have heard that their textbooks (and platforms) are not very accessible.

A3: We wouldn’t exclude testing a Cengage EPUB file, if they want to participate if/when we do this again in the future.  But there are thousands of publishers and due to time constraints and just doing five publishers is a huge investment in time and money to go into a very detailed analysis of these books.  Actually GCA has been in contact with Cengage in the past to become a GCA member and we will see how this unfolds as they consider merging with McGraw-Hill, who are currently going through the GCA process to be certified. More accessibility information is available on the Cengage website.

Q4:  Is this Global Certified Accessibility methodology a publicly available VPAT mapped to specific WCAG elements?

A4: The GCA (Global Certified Accessible) program ensures that the EPUB Accessibility 1.0 Conformance and Discovery Specification is met and goes beyond the required WCAG-A conformance required by this specification by requiring WCAG-AA is met along with all EPUB specific conformance and discovery requirements made in that specification.  In addition our GCA program looks at over a dozen areas such as (Images, Lists, Tables, Math, DPUB-ARIA, etc and dives into over 60 specific nuances rating each one some of which may be WCAG aligned, others may be Best practices aligned to improve the overall accessibility beyond WCAG.  That Born Accessible score must be above 80% along with WCAG-AA compliance in order for a publisher’s EPUB workflow to be GCA certified.   We do not have a specific VPAT mapping out our process as I don’t believe this is relevant.  We certify a publisher has met the EPUB Accessibility 1.0 requirements at a WCAG-AA level, anything else above this is a bonus.

Q5: Which of the featured publishers provide accessibility metadata via their ONIX feed (or other method) that reading platforms can display to users?

A5: All of the publishers who participated provide some accessibility metadata within the EPUB files and all are currently or working towards exposing that accessibility metadata.

Q6: Is there a best practice for index linking? If you have a subject index entry link back to one page, it’s relatively easy, but if you mention the same subject entry across 10 pages, is best practice to link only to the first page of all 10 (as a kind of starting point for the subject idea) or to link to the start of each section (say pages 3-5) or to link to each page mention itself (page 3, 4, and 5)?

A6: In the suite of EPUB 3 specifications, there is a section covering the index. Recommended practice is to link to the first page in the range but link both numbers so that the link label is clear that it’s a range. Here’s an example from the indexes spec: <li><a href=”…”>76-79</a></li>

Q7: It appears that testing was done exclusively via Thorium on the front end. Are the strengths and areas of improvement fairly consistent across the backend (JAWS, NVDA, Narrator, etc)?

A7: Interoperability between reading systems and assistive technology will vary. There is also variation in functionality within reading systems. Those variations will impact how effective the accessibility work on the EPUB is. At epubtest.org there is extensive testing of reading systems and with a wide range of Assistive Technologies. When we encounter bugs in reading systems or in the Assistive Technology, we file an issue with the developer.

Q8: Have any other publishers besides Macmillan been certified recently?

A8:  Currently only Macmillan Learning is the only GCA certified Publisher.  We do have 3 Conversion Vendors that are GCA Benetech Recommended including: AMNET, Apex, and Newgen.  There are a couple other publishers who are very close to becoming GCA certified with another half dozen or so going through the process.

Q9:  when you say GCA certified — it’s going beyond ACE with a human review. have the humans received a certification? Or just experience? What makes it GCA certified?

A9: Benetech’s Global Certified Accessible (GCA) program certified goes beyond Ace checking. Ace can only automatically check approximately 25% by machine, which uses the underlying AxE by deque HTML checking engine.  The remainder of the WCAG conformance checking is done manually with human review.  Benetech has been building out our GCA program for the past 3 years where we did a pilot with a dozen publishers and conversion vendors and working with top accessibility experts to ensure that the reports we provide are accurate and map directly with WCAG 2.0 AA and EPUB Accessibility 1.0 Conformance and Discovery requirements which Charles LaPierre was one of the editors of that specification at the IDPF and has since moved to the W3C.  Benetech and DAISY have worked together along with our other Global partners RNIB in the UK, Dedicon in the Netherlands, and Vision Australia to ensure this is truly a Global certification program.  We are also looking to expand our certification into Canada as well. In order for a publisher to become GCA certified they meet the EPUB 1.0 Accessibility Specification at WCAG-AA conformance (not just WCAG-A which is the minimum requirement).  In addition the publisher must score above 80% on our GCA Born Accessible Score where we have over 60 individual areas we report on as part of our process.  We provide the Publisher detailed reports from DAISY’s Ace & SMART along with our Born Accessible scores for each of the areas we identify and score.  In addition we provide a detailed document for each of the issues found either automatically or manually with what was observed, actual code from the EPUB that is in question, along with our recommendation including the code to remediate the issue found.  We also call out what is required to pass certification (ie. any WCAG conformance failure), some strongly suggested issues they fix and finally minor improvements or best practices that can help improve the overall accessibility of the EPUB.  There is no formal certification for those performing the GCA certification; our experience and our partners who were a part of writing the Accessibility 1.0 specification makes us more than qualified.

Note: In addition to Ace by DAISY and the Simple Manual Accessibility Reporting Tool (SMART), the GCA program uses a customized version of SMART to guide them in the process.

Q10: A big issue with Silver / WCAG 3 is the conformance metric.  How easy do you think it might be to adapt your EPUB testing methodology to more generic web content?

A10: Because EPUB3 is composed primarily of web elements – CSS, HTML, etc – the testing methodology for an EPUB is not entirely different from a web page in its current state and the testing we currently do is designed to align to WCAG requirements. The WCAG normally applies to single pages, while our testing covers the entire publication, which is made up of many XHTML documents.

Q11: Are the publishers working on making their online learning platforms accessible to screen readers?  It is very expensive to convert the homework and test files into Braille format. I asked this question due to the several of required textbooks will have an online component.

A11: Depending on the publisher, there is work on either legacy or new platforms taking place to improve the accessibility of online learning platforms. Each publisher can be contacted directly for specific information including their VPAT, the status of their accessibility work, and any accessibility services they may be able to provide. The accessibility of these websites are subject to accessibility laws and regulations and we should be vigilant in monitoring these LMS platforms.

Q12: How are the audited publishers creating Alt Text and Long Descriptions? Is this being outsourced, written by authors or written in-house? I think most publishers struggle with the cost involved in creating image description, so it would be useful to know how publishers have handled this, for successful Alt Text creation?

A12a: Alternative text authoring processing varies between publishers and even between titles at each publisher. When it’s possible, we include the author in the alt text authoring process as they are closest to the content and understand its purpose and content better than anyone else involved in the process. Alternatively, we have also used vendors and/or subject matter experts for this work. Bringing in a third party allows for a valuable outside perspective on the content.

A12b: We use exclusively third-party vendors. The main reason for this is that in our view the writing of alt text and long descriptions is a specialist skill that authors do not necessarily possess. In fact, authors can be ‘too close’ to their images whereas professional alt text writers on the whole seem able to put themselves into the position of the print impaired reader and know what to look out for when they create descriptions. We formed our own view of what might be considered a useful approach to alt text and long descriptions for end users by engaging with a) Benetech’s DIAGRAM Center; b) with the specialist TextBox website, inspecting their carefully calibrated description methodology; c) with a number of vendors offering alt text services and d) a print impaired EPUB expert to whom we showed a number of different alt texts/long descriptions for a selection of images. His feedback was very valuable. We then selected a representative sample of images from our content and generated what we thought would be well structured and clear alt text and long descriptions. We then sent this sample to a number of vendors to see how their alt text / long descriptions compared with ours. Where we preferred theirs, we amended our concept of a useful description. We then selected three vendors whose approach to descriptions was close to ours. The documentation we created to initially brief these vendors can now be used to source additional vendors, if required.

Q13: If these publishers also publish other titles outside of the textbook genre, do they build them in the same manner?

A13a: The process for producing titles may change based on the structure of the content that the publisher is producing.

A13b: We publish Trade/Professional/Textbook content, but there is only a single workflow for all publications. Very specialist publications (e.g. dictionaries, major reference works) might well require separate workflows.

Q14: What kinds of standards are being used for meaningful alt text? Are there standards for publishers to follow?

A14: The DIAGRAM center has been working on how to create meaningful image descriptions and with GCA continue to improve these best practices.  I would recommend you go to http://diagramcenter.org/making-images-accessible.html which links to Poet Image Description Training Tool, DIAGRAM Image Description Guidelines, and Accessible Image Sample Book, along with a few training webinars on Image description best practices.

Q15: What epub authoring tools do you use? Does each publisher have their own proprietary software, or are there any generally available tools they would recommend?

A15: One of our publisher guests writes: We developed our own XHTML schema, online validation tool and CSS and produce all our titles in the same workflow using InDesign. The schema allows us to maintain accessibility features and link them to the structural semantics and CSS. This drives consistency into the end product and ensures that different vendors create highly consistent output. Our vendors all have their own technology stacks and are highly skilled at importing/maintaining/exporting XHTML in their respective InDesign workflows. The key is that our schema and validation tool is used both at the import and export stage of the process. By providing the validation tool, we QA the input and output which allows the vendor a degree of freedom in how they remain schema compliant within their own toolset.”

Note a DAISY webinar on InDesign will be announced soon.

Benetech’s GCA uses a number of tools: “We use Sigil or Calibre to look at the underlying code which also can do editing of the EPUB directly.  For those who do not create EPUBs regularly we would recommend looking at DAISY’s new plugin for Microsoft Word called WordToEPUB which does an excellent job and makes a very accessible EPUB.”

Q16: Is DRM considered an accessibility issue?

A16: DRM can be a barrier to accessibility if done improperly.  Most of the Reading System developers we test at epubtest.org make sure that Assistive Technology works with their reading systems. There is a new proposed ISO approved DRM format called LCP (Licenced Content Protection) which allows assistive technology access to the content.  EDRLab and the Readium 2 project currently supports LCP and more information can be found on the EDRLab website.

Q17: Many of our students have had issues attempting to navigate and use a different  method of accessing audio per publisher.  When each publisher has a different method of offering accessible texts it can be difficult for students to remember the steps for each book, especially student who may have cognitive issues.  We often ask for PDF’s over ePub because we can standardize the use which helps students avoid being overwhelmed.  Thoughts?

A17: I suggest that students should learn an EPUB Reading System really well. The method for going to the Table of contents and following links to the chapters and sections will be the same. There will be variation in the content and how it is structured, but that is the nature of digital publications.

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Helping Higher Ed Students with Access to Accessible Course Material During the COVID-19 Crisis (W)

Webinar title slide

Webinar title slideAs part of the DAISY Consortium series of free weekly webinars the April 1st saw a session focusing on the needs of higher education students from the UK, USA, Canada and Ireland during this time when their learning is being greatly impacted by international events.

This page contains:

Full Video of the Webinar

Speakers

  • Richard Orme, CEO DAISY Consortium—host and chair
  • Erin Lucas, Senior Director for Digital Accessibility at RedShelf
  • Rick Johnson, Founder and VP, Product Strategy at VitalSource
  • Stacy Ray, Product Manager at VitalSource

This webinar looked in some detail at the programmes being offered by both organizations to assist students during this period namely RedShelf Responds and VitalSource Helps

RedShelf Responds

At RedShelf we believe that education changes the world and that, through technology, we can change education for the better. We believe in win-win solutions that make education more accessible, affordable and impactful for students, and more financially sustainable for educators and content creators.

To ensure that all students have access to their course materials amidst the COVID-19 outbreak, RedShelf have partnered with the publishing community to provide up to 7 free ebooks from participating publishers in the US and Canada.

Features

  • More than 300k titles from 100+ publishers
  • This opportunity is currently set to run through May 25 2020, but if students in Canada have different semester dates and require longer access, this will be arranged
  • Available to any student with a .edu student email address and in the case of organizations who use different email suffixes, alternative arrangements will be made
  • Books added to My Shelf feature can be launched within the RedShelf ereader, a browser based reading system with many accessibility features including, Text-to-Speech controls, keyboard shortcuts, screen reader compatibility etc.
  • RedShelf have a dedicated accessibility team ready to respond to requests for accommodations and samples

RedShelf Links

VitalSource Helps

For nearly two decades, VitalSource has worked to ensure our products are designed from the beginning with accessibility in mind. We go beyond simply adhering to industry standards, as we are also actively involved in helping create those standards through participation in and leadership with key accessibility partners.

VitalSource have made their Bookshelf program available to students, instructors and colleges during the COVID-19 outbreak who may need access in difficult circumstances—at home or elsewhere, both online and offline. Up to 7 titles may be accessed during this time.

Features

  • This opportunity is currently set to run through May 25 2020 in the US, April 30 in Canada and June 30 in the UK and Ireland. If colleges have different semester dates and require longer access this will be arranged.
  • Available to any student with a .edu student email address and in the case of organizations who use different email suffixes, alternative arrangements will be made.
  • The app can be downloaded for ease of use offline. Native apps are 100% capable of being accessed offline.
  • The VitalSource Bookshelf is a digital learning platform and not simply an ereader (the webinar includes an excellent demo of the levels of navigation possible and the excellent compatability with Assistive Technology).
  • Accessibility features include: screen reader support, visual adjustment modes for various different requirements, read aloud tools  and rich learning tools.

Links

Other Resources

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