Articles (page 5)

A World Tour of Inclusive Publishing Initiatives (W)

World Tour of Inclusive Publishing Initiatives opening slide
World Tour of Inclusive Publishing Initiatives opening slideIn our series of free weekly webinars July 1st saw a session focused on activities taking place globally to promote inclusive publishing practices. This page contains:

Full Video of the Webinar


  • Richard Orme, The DAISY Consortium—host and chair
  • Hugo Setzer, Manual Moderno and The International Publishers Association
  • Deborah Nelson, eBound Canada
  • Brad Turner, Benetech
  • Kirsi Yianne, NIPI and IFLA

Session Overview

This week we mixed things up a little and had a brief whistle-stop tour of what is happening around the world before opening up to our esteemed panel for a larger discussion for the greater portion of the webinar. Richard Orme guided us through various initiatives from a variety of countries. There is so much happening and this is a truly exciting time for accessible publishing everywhere. We hope that some of the initiatives presented will inspire you in your market and help you to further the good work within the publishing industry. During this time we also ran a poll to find out where our audience hails from: 56% from North America, 30% from Europe, 9% from Asia and 5% from South America so we were delighted to have such a global audience with us on this journey.

Panel Discussion

The discussion opened with a lively chat focusing on a few key themes as listed below. For a fuller overview we recommend listening to the video recording.

The Accessibility Eco-System

Hugo Setzer empahisized the importance of an entire eco-system that works together to achieve accessible experiences. Deborah Nelson sees awareness of vendors as being a hurdle within the eco-system and how we should be encouraging users to motivate these partners into action.

End User Awareness

Kirsi Yianne discussed engagement with end users to drive awareness. NIPI have worked hard to understand the needs of print disabled readers and how their needs should involve the entire eco-system.

Supporting Regulation

Kirsi Yianne reminded us all that the European Accessibility Act will come into force in 2025. Standards are vital to help with compliance to the new rulings.

International Standards and Compliance

All our panelists commented on the importance of international standards to drive compliance. Brad Turner explained how the Benetech GCA Certification System is underpinned by international standards. GCA uses WCAG Level 2 as their gold standard. Compliance in the USA tends to be at an educational level and Higher Ed establishments are looking to publish accessible materials. Deborah Nelson told us about the plans in Canada to develop a certification scheme as a result of their Landscape Research report. eBound Canada plans to run a pilot of the Benetech GCA scheme to see what certification will look like for 250 independent Canadian publishers.

Advocacy, Training and Expert Support

Training and awareness is a major portion of the Canadian research project and Deborah Nelson puts the end user at the very center of this project, helping to build a knowledge base and an understanding of accessibility needs. The work of organizations such as DAISY, WIPO & ABC drives awareness building. Hugo Setzer pointed our audience towards the practical training tools provided by ABC, commenting that may publishers around the world are working hard to ensure the accessibility of their content.

Call to Action

Each panelist was asked to briefly tell us what our main takeaway from this session should be:
  • Deborah Nelson: Make sure you are able to communicate the business case
  • Brad Turner: Learn about Born Accessible and take the first step by reaching out for help
  • Hugo Setzer: Sign the Accessible Publishing Charter which is available in 7 languages from ABC
  • Kirsi Yianne: Do not wait until 2025 for the European Accessibility Act. Start learning now
In a final poll about the greatest perceived challenges to implementing inclusive publishing practices the webinar audience voted as follows:
  • 33% Business case is hard to make
  • 30% Do not know where to start
  • 30% No strong laws to make it happen
  • 7% The tools don’t exist

Related Resources

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DAISY Consortium Showcase 2020

DAISY Showcase Opening Slide

DAISY Showcase Opening SlideA component of the 2020 DAISY AGM was a showcase presentation highlighting some of the work being conducted, and the impact of that work around the world.

This page contains:

Full Video of the Showcase


Linked Resources

We have lots more information about the activities mentioned in the Showcase throughout the DAISY website. You can find further information about the content Links to DAISY activities mentioned in the recording:

DAISY Vision and Mission

Accessibility Standards

Essential tools:

Collaborative projects:

Driving inclusive publishing

Extending the DAISY community

Downloadable Items

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Describing Images in Publications—Guidance, Best Practices and the Promise of Technology (W)

Describing Images in Publications opening slide

Describing Images in Publications opening slideIn our series of free weekly webinars June 17th saw a session focused on the process of authoring quality image descriptions which are essential for accessibility.

This page contains:

Full Video of the Webinar


  • Richard Orme, The DAISY Consortium—host and chair
  • Valerie Morrison—Center for Inclusive Design & Innovation, Georgia Institute of Technology
  • Charles La Pierre—Benetech
  • Gregorio Pellegrino—The LIA Foundation

Session Overview

Practical Tips and Advice for Writing Image Descriptions

Valerie Morrison gave us the benefit of her expertise to open this webinar giving our audience a list of best practice tips which can be applied to all image descriptions. These included:

  • Summarize what you see to begin with in one general and informative sentence
  • Keep your description neutral and informative
  • Use proper grammar, spelling and punctuation. Avoid hard line breaks.
  • Avoid acronyms and symbols (remember a screen reader will be reading everything you include)
  • Work from general to specific to provide a framework for the listener
  • Think about providing information in multiple modalities to vary the experience
  • Make sure that the surrounding text does not already describe the image. Avoid overlap

Knowing how long a description should be and when to stop is also important and Valerie recommends keeping to approx 125 characters. It can be hard to restrict the length of a description but screen reader software has limits. If an image is simply a photograph of a person, for example, it may be that the name of that person will suffice (depending on the context). Simple graphics can usually be described in one sentence and, whilst this can be challenging, this makes it easier for the listener—you don’t want to overload them.

Valerie’s slides give lots of examples of all of these useful notes with guidance given on describing symbols, charts and graphs.


Charles La Pierre presented the work of the DIAGRAM Center and the various resources that it offers the publishing industry. The POET tool is an image description training tool which focuses on:

  • When to describe images—is the information contained within the image essential to understanding?
  • How to describe images
  • Practice describing images

The Diagrammar resource is a framework for making images and graphics accessible. This data model provides a structured, standard way for image description data to be modeled.

Using AI to Automate Image Description

Gregorio Pellegrino presented the recent Italian project testing AI tools within the publishing industry with the goal of producing born accessible content. Results from this project revealed that:

  • some tools are better than others at identifying certain types of images
  • while the image category can be identified, more work is required before image descriptions are reliably produced

Depending on how images are classified, depends on which tool should be used and the next phase of this project will look to define an all-embracing taxonomy for image classification. This will enable the creation of datasets for training.

Publisher Approaches

Richard Orme presented comments and thoughts from 4 publishers who kindly agreed to participate in this webinar. See the slides for their full thoughts and comments

Kogan Page

Current Practice—descriptions are outsourced to vendors as it was decided not to proceed with author descriptions. These vendors provide alt text and extended descriptions.

Advice—Develop guidelines for your vendors with a small library of examples. Make sure you control costs and spot check descriptions when submitted by vendors.

Macmillan Learning

Current Practice—image descriptions are produced by a number of sources: the author, outsourced alongside ebook creation, description specialists or in-house

Advice—Descriptions are content so the same rules apply, be careful with the length of your descriptions

John Wiley & Sons

Current Practice—Alt text is written by subject matter experts which goes through a QA process. In-house training is provided to ensure understanding of descriptions are used with AT.

Advice—Become familiar with different image concepts, the various types of descriptions and when to apply them. Remember that alt text is there to describe, not teach.

W.W. Norton

Current Practice—image descriptions are outsourced to specialists towards the end of production. All descriptions are checked in-house for which there is extensive training provided

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Skippable and Escapable Elements in EPUB 3

photo of a hurdle on a running track

photo of a hurdle on a running trackIntroduction

At Dedicon, we strive to make information accessible to people with reading disabilities. Our roadmap aims to deliver a personalized, multi-modal reading experience to all of our customers. We expect that EPUB (version 3) will form the cornerstone of our future products, so over the last three years we have been exploring the features of EPUB as the go-to standard for inclusive publishing[1].

This article discusses two features in particular: skippability and escapability. We highlight their importance for the reading experience of people with a reading disability, but must conclude that these features are not widely supported at this time. We therefore want to engage developers in adding support for these features to their reading systems, and to gather information from other content providers about the alternatives they employ while support in reading systems is missing.

Customer needs and wishes are changing. There is a shift from standardized to personalized content. For example, someone could read large print in the morning and switch to human voice audio in the evening when reading print becomes too much of a strain. Or someone could listen to the audio version of a book, while preferring to see enlarged images rather than listening to image descriptions. EPUB allows us to build the rich, multi-modal products in which users can freely choose how they want to read. However, when synchronized audio is included or when a read-aloud function is available, we believe that skippability and escapability are features that are essential to offer the user. These features ensure that users receive the information they need without being overwhelmed by information that is irrelevant to them. This is increasingly important as publications become more complex.

Skippability and escapability

The W3C defines skippable and escapable elements as part of the EPUB Media Overlays specification, which also contains examples. An element is skippable if it can be excluded from being read. For example, sometimes you want to ignore secondary content such as footnotes or page breaks. Skippability is also useful for content alternatives that cater to a specific audience, such as image descriptions.

An element is escapable if it can be jumped out of at any point while being read. For example, you may want to stop reading a longer piece of content such as a table before reaching the end. Finally, an element can be both skippable and escapable, meaning that you can turn it on or off as well as jump out of it halfway through.

Skippability and escapability can also be applied to the read-aloud feature of a reading system, the only significant difference being that speech is synthesized instead of pre-recorded. Control of the (synthesized) audio playback remains the responsibility of the reading system. This is different from accessing the text of a publication using a screen reader. A typical screen reader offers many options for customizing its output, including features like skippability and escapability. However, not everyone who could benefit from these features will use a screen reader. People with dyslexia are much more likely to take advantage of a read-aloud function.

The state-of-the-art in reading systems

During 2018 through early 2020, we investigated the state-of-the-art of multi-modal reading in accessible EPUB (version 3) reading systems, both hardware and software. These tests did not reveal a reading system that supports skippability and escapability in media overlays. In fact, support for media overlays in general was often not available. For many reading systems, this would be a fundamental step towards multi-modal reading. For now, the limitations we encountered mean that we must strike a balance between delivering all the rich content we have to offer and giving customers too much content to listen to.

Read-aloud features of reading systems perform a bit better. For example, in the read-aloud feature of VitalSource Bookshelf it is possible to enable or disable reading of text alternatives for images. This is a promising starting point, because as the world becomes more and more visual, image descriptions should become an integral part of many accessible publications. Being able to turn them on and off aids the personalized reading experience, but is no longer sufficient when descriptions become longer, necessitating escapability as well. It would also be good to see support for other elements besides images, such as notes and page numbers.

Exploring the alternatives

Coming back to the compromise resulting from the limitations of reading systems, we could also try to remedy the situation in our content. The key requirement here remains the same: the publication must be suitable for a broad variety of users. The only feasible solution that we found is to use scripting technologies, such as JavaScript, to allow the user to toggle features on and off within the content itself. Besides the question of how to store the state of the EPUB between reading sessions, this could be a good solution to implement skippability. Escapability is a different problem, though, because the reading system controls the playback and scripting cannot influence this. Another option is to use another content format, but this imposes limits on other functionality, such as interactivity. We would like to invite other content producers to share their experiences in this area.


Skippable and escapable elements are important for a personalized, uncluttered reading experience. They allow the user to skip or pass over elements of a book, but also allow the content provider to include additional content without the user having to read all of it. Skippable and escapable elements are not widely supported yet, although in theory our content is ready for it, provided that the reading system is designed to support these functionalities. We would like to urge developers to invest in these features, but are also eager to learn about alternative strategies from other content providers.

Authors: Davy Kager (Product manager) and Vincent de Jong (Project manager)

Dedicon, The Netherlands

[1] The exploration of accessibility features as well as testing other state-of-the-art EPUB features in reading systems was part of a project which was made possible through funding from the National Library of The Netherlands.

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The European Accessibility Act—Consideration for the Publishing Industry and Benefits to Consumers Globally (W)

Opening slide for the EU Accessibility Act webinar

Opening slide for the EU Accessibility Act webinarIn our series of free weekly webinars June 10th saw a session focused on the new European Accessibility Act and how we might approach this as an industry.

This page contains:

Full Video of the Webinar


  • Richard Orme, The DAISY Consortium—host and chair
  • Inmaculda Placencia Porrero—European Commission
  • Anne Bergman—Federation of European Publishers
  • Cristina Mussinello—Fondazione LIA
  • Luc Audrain—Inclusive Publishing Consultant

Session Overview

Introducing the European Accessibility Act

Inmaculda opened this webinar by giving us an overview of the EAA and how this applies to the publishing industry with regards to  services (ebook content and software) and products (such as ereaders), which fall within the scope of this new legislation. Both have accessibility obligations to meet within strict timelines and these were explained as well as transition periods

How the Publishing Industry Will Need to React and the Resulting Benefit to Consumers

Cristina Mussinelli gave us an overview of how the EAA is going to affect our industry and how we need to respond to the timelines for implentation, from various points of view—publishers, legal and consumers. We need to create an accessible publishing ecosystem to ensure that all areas of our digital workflow, from content creation through to paying for ebooks online and the accessibility of our reading app, are fully accessible. Every element of this workflow needs to play their part in complying with the requirements of the EAA.

By adopting international standards publishers can work towards creating born accessible digital content ie. content that is accessible from inception and available within mainstream publishing outlets. Accessibility metadata should be included as well as an accessibility statement describing accessibility features.

Helping Publishers Understand their Obligations

Anne Bergman showed how the FEP plans to raise awareness and why this is so important. The 29 publishers associations across Europe are ideally suited to promote accessibility obligations at bookfairs and in cooperation with booksellers and technology vendors. The Aldus project that unites bookfairs is organizing accessibility camps and various accessibility events to get publishers involved and play an active role in moving forward.

Some Concrete Organizational and Technical Advice

Luc Audrain, an inclusive publishing consultant in France, but formerly of Hachette Livre, talked about the move towards accessibility from a practical point of view and outlined organization and technical steps that publishers need to concentrate on in order to comply with the EAA.

Organizational Steps:

  • Raise Awareness
  • Build a Team or a Charter
  • Adopt a Progressive Approach
  • Decouple Specifications from the Purchase Order

Technical Steps:

  • Go Digital and Move to the EPUB 3 ebook format
  • Support the Main Actors of the Ecosystem and benefit from them
  • Use Open and Free Tools from the Community

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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


  • 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.

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  • 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


  • 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.

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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


  • 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.

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