Accessibility: A Snapshot of Success—Are You in the Picture?
However, accessibility is not a given with an EPUB 3 file and it’s very important that all digital content is validated for conformance to accessibility standards. Our Ace by DAISY EPUB accessibility conformance checker is a free and open source tool that you can integrate into any part of your production workflow. We’ve had incredible feedback on the success of this tool and publishing companies worldwide are including Ace as part of their standard in-house process. The DAISY SMART tool provides manual conformance checks necessary to ensure conformance with EPUB and WCAG requirements. Together with Ace they provide the most complete method for accessibility conformance testing of EPUB publications. Our DAISY developers have also been working hard on EPUBCheck to bring it in line and up to date with industry requirements. Thanks to the support of the industry, EPUBCheck version 4.2 is now production-ready.
Certification of mainstream accessible content has been made possible by the Benetech Global Certified Accessible program and Macmillan has recently announced that they are the first publisher to gain accreditation via this program. Using Ace and SMART together with other Born Accessible criteria, Benetech is certifying content in accordance with WCAG and the EPUB 1.0 Accessibility specification.
For some time, we have advocated for publishers to use accessible metadata to improve the discovery of their content (via ONIX for books code list 196 and schema.org for EPUB packages). An EPUB conforming to the accessibility specification must have embedded accessibility metadata, which means the description of accessibility features is carried throughout the distribution chain. We are seeing renewed vigor in this area made possible by Vital Source, who are now displaying an accessibility icon on their platform where this accessibility metadata is available. How would a print-disabled reader find these books otherwise?
We’ve just completed an update to the DAISY 2019 accessibility reading system round up via EPUBTest.org that helps users make reading system decisions based on their own personal requirements. We all have different wants and needs when it comes to accessing content and this piece of work greatly assists everyone in making the choice that’s right for them.
All of these big stories are significant in our push in the Higher Education sector. DAISY partners Vital Source and RedShelf are prime examples of dedication within this area and we are excited to see where this will lead. Our webinar series is now reaching 3,000 higher-education Disabled Student Service Offices, which brings us back to awareness building as a mission focus.
International working groups such as those at BISG, NNELS in Canada, the PA in the UK, and APA in Australia are showing us the importance of accessibility in these countries, and we are proud to collaborate with their efforts. Guidance is available via the new edition of the BISG Quick Start Guide and the newly launched Inclusive Publishing in Australia: An Introductory Guide. While there are challenges that remain for complex and rich content, I have no doubt that the extraordinary work being done in this area will continue to amaze us all.
This has been an amazing couple of years for accessibility in publishing and we look forward to even greater things as Born Accessible publishing becomes part of our mainstream requirement. Publishers should work on this now, build the necessary elements into their workflows, and reach a more diverse audience. Join the DAISY party!!
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