Digital Content Manager at Benetech – a hi-tech nonprofit. I work specifically with Bookshare – the world’s largest library for people with print disabilities. Over 200 publishers worldwide Managing everything from acquisition to member issues Today I’m here to talk about something a little different: accessibility
-wheelchair ramps and self-opening doors -group of disabilities not often considered: print disabilities Print disabilities could include someone in a wheelchair since “print disabilities” include anything…..
Just how many people need some kind of help accessing print? According to the WHO Fortunately, many tools and technologies have been developed to bridge….. As a group called Assistive Technology
Software Hardware Programs But the basis for all these things is content – digital content – that follows standards that support accessibility
Imagine that all your friends are talking about the latest bestseller they just read. But you can't join in because the publisher didn't create a version you can use. You are out of luck until someone creates an accessible version - and by that time your friends are talking about a new “latest and greatest”. Doesn’t that sound frustrating?
But things are getting better. There are two open standard file formats that take accessibility seriously. DAISY talking books from the Daisy consortium and epub from the International Digital Publishering Forum.
Based on MP3 Based on XML Navigation allows interaction like a CD – jumping from track to track – rather than a cassette tape….
-as complete audio substitute for print material - 6 levels of navigation and embedded objects like images without navigation, like trying to find a single phrase on a cassette tape Choose your own amount of audio and text regulate reading speed without distortion Highlighted text
- open standard by IDPF - intended as a single format for in-house production use and sale - currently approved as a final Recommended Specification
HTML5, the latest version of the markup language used to create webpages, as support for precise layout and formatting (coffeetable or comic books) Glossary headings, sidebars - without navigation support, we're back to the cassette tape Beautiful coffeetable cookbook, but doesn’t prevent the underlying data being accessible your book should have the same meaning without any styling - accessible media content like image descriptions and close captioning for video
- perennial question: why not use PDF? - accessibility tools rely on underlying structure, top picture is what's under the pretty surface of a PDF: gibberish - underneath EPUB and DAISY is human-readable structure that tools can grab and use
- we're "living in interesting time" for accessibility. standards are converging to goal of one "gold standard" with accessibility baked in from the start Getting closer to goal as Benetech’s VP says “everything born digital is born accessible” - same convergence happening in tools. More and more people are using their ios and android device as AT. - at the same time the standards are changing, new accessibility challenges are popping up with the increase in interactive content (like online testing) and multimedia content being added to digital books.
And speaking of multimedia: - The most common kinds of non-text content are images and graphics. Consider the amount of information in these pictures. Now imagine you can't see the pictures. How do you get this information? You could ask the person sitting next to you, but what if they don't know? Fortunately there are several techniques being developed for making images accessible.
- I have examples of tactile graphics for anyone who wants to check them out after. - sonification most easily explained for graphs. It provides a sound that illustrates what the graph shows. For instance, (and I apologize for my singing) a sine wave makes the sound  and a parabola would sound like  - haptic technology uses tactile feedback like vibrations, much like tactile graphics but without the paper - 3D printing is the new kid on the block. You can now manipulate a model of a heart instead of.....
A lot of work on these challenges is being coordinated at the DIAGRAM Center. Questions we’re looking at include - What technique is best for what type of graphic? What is the best way to describe complex images? - Develop new tech and tools including POET - a tool designed to make crowd-sourced image description easier because we all know how hard it is to get the right people in the right place at the same time. - DIAGRAM also advocates for standards and best practices that address accessibility needs. A case in point is the ongoing discussion of the long description element (longdesc) used for image descriptions in HTML5.
- To quote Barbie, "Math is hard". Making digital math accessible is no exception.
- Today in most books, math equations and notations are presented as pictures. As I said earlier, content in pictures is inaccessible to people who can't see the pictures. - To a blind person using a screen reader, the excerpt below would be read as...
- Enter MathML - Mathematical markup Language from the W3C. It's a markup language based on XML that integrates mathematical formula into web pages and other digital materials. - If the page on the previous slide were done using MathML, it would be read
- The most obvious benefit of mathml is that it makes equations accessible at all! That's a really big first step. - Accurate rendering - you're not trying to fake math equations using the symbols on your keyboard - Voiced consistently. If you ask three people to read an equation, everyone will say it slightly differently which is very confusing to learners - step-by-step progression instead of having a narrative description that you can only listen to all at once - you can stop midflow – like a CD instead of cassette tape - bi-directional: if you are in the middle of a big equation and you forget where you are, you can step backwards - Math looks good and when read aloud, the meaning of the equation and the relationships between the parts is maintained - its not just a string of numbers and symbols that you need to already know how to interpret. - Is very important: Those three people you asked to read the equation just a minute ago? They might not have understood what they were reading and accidently said something wrong - and that's a real problem in something like math where if you’re a little wrong, you’re a lot wrong.
All these standards are great, but how can you find out what materials they have been applied to? How can you find materials that will work for you – whatever your needs are?
New support is emerging for accessibility metadata. This is metadata that tells users: Primary usage mode known as accessMode This is arguably the most important property in the accessibility metadata a novel might have only a textual mode, a cartoon purely visual, comics and manga may have textual and visual components to them, while videos typically have visual and auditory access modes.
This metadata is already in the wild. Here you can see a Google search for videos about the moon landing. Because accessibility metadata was specified, you can identify those videos that have closed captions. 6/27/2011 Digital Image and Graphics Resources for Accessible Materials
- Benetech is involved in one of the main programs in this field: LRMI, which is focused mainly on educational materials but the standards can be applied much more widely. 6/27/2011 Digital Image and Graphics Resources for Accessible Materials
The bottomline is that everyone benefits from accessibility. Just like people pushing baby strollers using the curb cutouts designed for wheelchair users, accessibility features are useful for people who aren't part of the disabled population. People with temporary disabilities can use them - when my dad had a detached retina last summer, he kept from going bonkers while recovering for 3 months by using the accessibility features of his Kindle like enlarging print and having some books read aloud. If you watch TV while on treadmill in the gym or watch videos on a noisy train ride and use the closed captions? You’re benefiting from the standards and work initially done to meet accessibility requirements. - Not everyone absorbs information the same way. You might find reading a description works better for you than studying a diagram - or it might be the other way around. Accessibility standards give you these options to tailor your digital materials to suit your needs. - And last, but certainly not least, accessibility gives you a bigger audience. That 15-20% of the US that has a language-based disability? They would love to buy or borrow digital materials that they can fully enjoy. By following accessibility standards, libraries and publishers get more patrons and those patrons get to read more. If that's not a win-win situation, I don't know what is.
Here’s list of links to the groups and standards I mentioned. The bottom half is a list of sources for more information about the new EPUB3 standard and guidance for implementing it accessibly.
Here’s how to get in touch with me. I’m happy to answer questions now or via email. I’ll be around afterward if you want to check out the tactile graphics and see a demo of a DAISY book.
NISO/BISG 7th Annual Changing Standards Landscape: Reading for All: Accessibility in a Digital World
Reading for All:
Accessibility in a Digital World
NISO/BISG Changing Standards
June 28, 2013
Who Needs Print Accessibility?
Americans with print disabilities
of US population has a language-based disability
people with vision impairment worldwide
of digital books are made accessible
What is Assistive Technology?
• JAWS, VoiceOver
specialized reading tools
• ReadHear, Read2Go
braille note takers
specialized media players
DAISY Talking Books
Digital Accessible Information SYstem
A DAISY book is a set of digital files that include:
one or more digital audio files
a marked up file containing the text
a synchronization file to relate the text file with the
a navigation control file
Allows flexibility in the mix of text and audio used
Benefits of DAISY
Designed for accessibility from the start
Highly structured content
Full navigation including bookmarking
Flexible for multiple use modes
Supports multi-modal reading
from the International Digital Publishing Forum
Benefits of EPUB 3
More support for semantic structure
Better navigation control
Better separation of content and style
Support for accessible media content
Why not use PDF?
PDF is not really accessible:
EPUB and DAISY are accessible:
DAISY and EPUB
More non-text and
How is an Image Made Accessible?
Provide a different mode of access to
visual information contained in an
Accessible image research
New technology and tools
Standards and best practices
Currently equations are rendered as pictures:
Mathematical Markup Language
developed by W3C
based on XML
included in HTML5
Benefits of MathML
accurate digital rendering of equations
equations voiced logically and consistently
allows step-by-step progression
supports bi-directional navigation
retains presentation and meaning
does not rely on knowledge of narrator
Learn more at http://www.w3.org/TR/MathML3/
Metadata that tells users:
primary usage mode of content
additional accessibility features (e.g., braille or alt text)
if content poses any physiological hazards (e.g.,
Helps users find content that works for them
Metadata in Action: Educational Videos
Learning Resources Metadata Initiative (LRMI)
a subset of Schema.org
led by Association of Education Publishers and Creative
Other efforts around accessibility metadata
Dublin Core Accessibility
Access for All (ISO 24751, IMS Global), EDItEUR/ONIX
Learn more at
Accessibility Helps Everyone
People with “temporary disabilities” can use
People with different learning style have choices
Accessibility means a bigger audience for
publishers, booksellers and libraries
For More Information
International Digital Publishing Forum
EPUB 3 Accessibility Guidelines
Top 10 Tips for Accessible Content
W3C’s Authoring Tool Accessibility Guidelines (ATAG)
Accessible EPUB 3 by Matt Garish (O'Reilly)
Digital Content Manager
Bookshare - a Benetech Initiative