Librarian and Front end developer with Michigan Publishing, I’ve been working there since 2012 -- where I’ve managed a suite of digital publications, online journals and books, and now mostly do design and coding for these projects, including accessibility checks and implementations. I’ve been working on the web for about 8 years. I’m here because In the Fall of 2015, the U-M Press adopted a new set of accessibility initiatives specifically aimed at publishing accessible ebooks in the EPUB format. This initiative involved modifications to many areas of the Press’ operations -- it wasn’t just a technical endeavor, and I should say it is still a major work in progress -- I’m here to talk about what we’ve learned so far and share with you some thoughts on how this could be done at other presses.
I don’t have a lot of time, and I’ve packed a lot of information in here, which is why I’ve included this link to my slides -- but the big goals for the next 20 minutes are to: Offer a path to born accessible publishing - I’ll share what we did so you can model after our approach and along the way I’ll talk about What works? What doesn’t? So if you adopt some of these things, you don’t have to deal with some of the false starts that we had to as a group. This being a workshop, I’ve tried to make this as practical as possible so you can take this back to your press and think about how it might fit into your culture
Accessibility at University of Michigan Press The University of Michigan Press is committed to making its publications and electronic media accessible to the broadest possible audience. This commitment is firmly in line with our mission statement and University of Michigan accessibility guidelines. Our current initiatives to support accessibility include: Website has gone thru a couple audits with fixes and changes over the years to improve accessibility. Participate in BookShare, an accessible online library for people with print disabilities, the LoC National Library Service, as well as provide direct fulfillment when people with print disabilities purchase a print version and need a DRM free PDF of the book. Make DRM-free versions available to users with print disabilities However, we were getting to the point where we recognized this was only good enough -- we had only been distributing PDF and kindle versions of our ebooks, but we with the many different devices and reading experiences out there, we had not addressed how to improve the accessible experience around these products and devices. We were about to get to that when...
Stephen Kuusisto, a blind professor of disability studies and literature at Syracuse University beat us to the punch. In July 2015, he wrote a blog post about problems he encoutered with the accessibility of our ebooks, ironically, a disability studies book and title the post: My Everest: The University of Michigan Press. Because we take a11y seriously and were ready to move into this territory, we immediately formed our E-Book Accessibility Task Force This could happen to any UP, and it probably has.
15% of the world population uses an assistive technology 1 in 8 struggle to read conventional print < 5% of books published in U.S. are available to users with print disabilities
Not only did his post uncover that we had neglected our ebook products themselves, but that we had also made it confusing for users with print disabilities when it came to using our products -- the ebook reader we recommened users use on an iPad didn’t work with assistive technologies for a Mac.
We started to put together a timeline and to scope the project. We decided EPUBs ONLY - fundamentally PDFs are just not good enough New Titles ONLY -- we would not go back and deal with backlist titles. Whatever changes we made, we would apply first to Disability Studies series and related titles (8-10 year) Iterate, learn, and apply to all titles I’m going to come back to this again later, but it is worth saying now. Start small and practically. When you have entrenched business processes and practices, revamping an entire workflow (both acquisitions and prod) at once to meet all A11y requirements is not feasible. Start with what you can do now, and work incrementally to make improvements. Be realistic about what you can do - establish a roadmap that involves incremental changes to guides and procedures, so you learn from your mistakes and have the opportunity to correct them. In our case, we are beginning with two approaches Enable sales of all EPUB3 titles (we were previously only selling PDF and Kindle versions) Add enhanced a11y features of titles in our Disability Studies series (about 8 a year) and using these titles as a pilot to inform how we’ll go about creating a baseline for a11y that is realistic for the press, and then applying this to all new books going forward -- a goal is to be able to start doing this by July 2017.
In order to add a11y features and enhancements to our titles, we focused on creating a group of people dedicated to the a11y initiative, responsible for deliverables such as an audit, updated author’s guide, image description guidelines, production guidelines, and an a11y statement. I’m going to walk through each
Education -- POET image description training tool for us.
At the Press, we created an EBook Accessibility Task Force and appointed an Accessibility Lead responsible for ensuring that all departments and individuals within the company collaborate to implement accessibility policy. Support for this role and task force was endorsed by our senior managers, helping to demonstrate the importance of accessibility throughout the organization.
This work will impact your organization -- so you need representation from every major group to ensure things are communicated across your press. If you contract work out, be sure to involve those people at some point too.
Timeline for implementation can help you with getting buy-in across your organization. It can also help you plan ahead to iterate on the different deliverables you end up creating.
One of the first tasks the group did was an audit of our existing EPUB3 output
We needed to see how our current EPUBs were being generated through our XML workflow (Scribe) -- what was good, and not so good about these files
Better use of semantic markup Glossaries, dictionaries, etc. are not using <dl> elements Logical reading order not always maintained Publications typically have a primary narrative that readers are expected to follow from beginning to end, and being able to navigate this dialogue uninterrupted is a key factor in making publications accessible. The narrative flow in the following textbook excerpt is obvious to sighted readers who can distinguish the images and sidebar it flows around from visual cues. If sidebar, footnotes, endnotes, etc. is not clearly marked and identifiable as secondary information, readers navigating at the markup level will have the primary narrative interrupted as the reading system attempts to play back the auxiliary content.
With the guidance from our a11y specialist in the library, one of our biggest revelations was the idea that this was more than just a technical project. We needed to figure out the entire workflow of a book, from acquisition to production, and introduce a11y concerns at the earliest point possible. So we focused on revamping our Author’s Guide -- a tool many presses share with their authors to help make the transmittal and production process easier.
What we found is that the earlier we insert accessibility into the process, the better off we’re going to be in the end, instead of having to retrofit content at the end, or write our own descriptions, or ask an author to write them later. To accommodate this, we modified our Author Guidelines that we share with contracted authors. The guide included new accessibility requirements and also featured examples to help them comply with our new guidelines.
Images, maps, and figures appearing in books must include a nonvisual text description, particularly when the images are central to the themes, arguments, findings, and/or narrative of the book. In this way, readers using screen access software can still have access to these important features of the book.
Delivered in same format as captions so they too can be copy edited
Alternative text or “alt” text: 140 characters or less, brief description of illustration contents. Required for every image that is meaningful and not merely decorative. Description: indefinite length, communicates information and details relevant within the context. Required for illustrations that are necessary for understanding. There may be special considerations for different types of illustrations and contexts.
Captions are distinct from textual description (both alt text and description) as captions are always displayed alongside illustrative material, in both the print and electronic versions of your book.
But when an author provides alt text and descriptions, this reading experience is dramatically improved.
Go over example. This image is of a towering billboard. The text on the billboard appears composed of words and letters cut out from a variety of different print sources and pasted together. The text reads:“12 million kids are held hostage by a psychiatric disorder.” Sometimes the context around the image is enough and a description is not required. In other cases, it might be a good idea.
But we realized that asking author’s to do this would require some education on our part. We were already familiar with the excellent image description guidelines created by Benetech, but they lacked examples from the humanities and arts - posters, paintings, page images from archival documents, photographs, abstract art, portraits, sculptures, movie stills
This is just one example we created using our own titles (previously publishing).
Each example we create shows the surrounding text, because as Sue Ann points out, is important to determining both the alt text and the description (and whether or not a detailed description is needed).
The caption from the book, and the alt text -- keep it short
We utilized an internal Research and Creative Projects grant at the library to get $5000 to fund time for expanding these descriptions. We’d like to use the $$ for staff time to interview authors, editors, and specialists in the arts and humanities fields for the kinds of illustrative materials that they use in their manuscripts so that we can generate better descriptions for them.
We continue seeking grant funding to create a larger stakeholder group of experts to give and provide feedback on creating an improved guide for arts and humanities visual materials.
To take advantage of the new image descriptions and alt text, and carve out a path for us to follow when we add more a11y features to our content, we needed a11y specific guidelines that our copy editors, production staff, and other could consult when working with a manuscript
Book cover a11y document aims to provide a criteria for determining if textual descriptions of cover images are needed, and where they should be placed within the text on a title by title basis.
Laura thinks setting tables as images isn’t the best idea. If a table really complex, she suggests using a link out to some piece of HTML somewhere in the eBook that has live data.
Adding alt text adds meaning. Decorative images don’t add information to the content of a page. For example, the information provided by the image might already be given using adjacent text, or the image might be included to make the website more visually attractive.
Define languages so screen readers know when a different language is being used.
Define the content of each tag when appropriate Navigation The navigation document is one of the two key methods readers use to move around your content, the other being headings. It provides readers easy access to the entire structure of your publication, which simplifies quick traversal and random inspection of the publication. List of figures, illustrations, tables, video, audio - put it in the nav document Metadata As part of a general good practice of documenting the accessibility of your content, provide accessibility metadata in your files so end users know what features are there and search engines can discover your accessible materials. The schema.org CreativeWork class includes properties defined by the Acessibility Metadata Project that can be used to identify the accessible qualities of a publication. This metadata can be expressed in XHTML content documents using RDFa or microdata attributes to identify the accessible qualities of the content (e.g., videos). It can also be included in the EPUB package document to provide an overall picture of the accessibility of the given rendition of the publication.
This could be the easiest place to start --
Reviewing on all devices for a11y. Don’t worry about building for specific devices, and do what you can to follow EPUB a11y guidelines.Instead, use epubtest.org and have a list or a page on your website that describes recommended devices for engaging with your a11y content, or, just point users directly to the epubtest.org page.Be prepared for scope creepTry and remain focused and specific and chip away at each task.FOCUS ON EPUB, not PDFsFocus on front-list titlesIdentifying in TMM, on website, etc.Depending on the state of your authors guide, this could be a rabbit hole (other things changed in the guide that were not related to a11y)Hand editing EPUBsGetting by for now because this is the easiest and at a small number, but this will not scale.Writing scripts to do conversion, working with Scribe to as much as possible to get our a11y content into documents, possibly modifying our very print based workflow.
Scaffolding - practical a11y publishing, timelines and communicating One step at a time Update staff regularly Iterate often Accessibility is complex and difficult, and involves many different people. Start with what is in front of you and work from there Collaborating with campus resources OIE can help with testing and QC Partnering with library -- unique in that we have an a11y specialist, find someone at your campus who has expertise Accessibility initiatives require mass collaboration amongst a group of experts. A future in which academic publishing is accessible for all requires the collaboration of authors, editors, librarians, and book production staff. Moreover, it requires collaboration with experts across the U-M campus - like the Office for Inst. Equity - to help you along the way and make sure the work you do is impactful. Most importantly, it requires us to connect with our customers -- readers who use the a11y features in our products to collect their feedback and make improvements to our Author guides, baselines, and production processes. Leaning on authors for descriptive and alt text Don’t use staff time to do this. You’ll still need to, but making changes to your author guides, communicating this clearly pre contract, and creating resources for authors is helpful. You will still need to hand-hold many authors. This is where our a11y specialist is especially useful, and we’ve learned a lot from her. Review manuscript to help with descriptions Does this need a full description or will alt text do? In some early cases, authors have reported enjoying
I hope you’ve found this useful and interesting case study. We’ll be continuing the work we’ve started, and if you’re interested in learning more, check out these resources and please do feel free to get in touch with the U-M Press accesibility Task Force or myself.
AAUP 2016: Getting to Accessible Publishing at the University of Michigan Press (J. McGlone)
Getting to Accessible Publishing
at the University of Michigan
AAUP 2016 Annual Meeting
Accessibility is Accessible: AAUP Design & Production Workshop
June 16 2016
Goals for the next 20 minutes
Offer a path for presses to follow
Lessons learned from U-M Press’s adventures
Follow Slides at https://goo.gl/ZaEkgC
Accessibility Initiatives prior to 2015-16
Conducted audits on U-M Press website for WCAG 2.0 AA
Provide services for users with print disabilities
LoC National Library Service
U-M Press Accessibility Roadmap
for select books
Enable sales of EPUB3
Develop QA protocol
Improve image samples
July - August
Create guide for EPUB
Train production staff on
Add A11Y metadata
to ONIX feeds
Improve HTML5 output
in conversion workflow
Refine QA protocol
Revise Author’s Guide
Review EPUB creation guide
Establish A11Y Baseline
for all books
All books conform to
E-Book Accessibility Task Force
Included representatives from all Michigan Publishing units and the
Library’s Accessibility Specialist.
Collectively educated each other on a11y -- researched best
practices in accessible publishing, sought training, and consulted
with a11y experts on campus and elsewhere.
Task Force was a sub-team to a pre-existing “Operations Group”
that met regularly, so we had a channel to communicate our
E-Book Accessibility Audit
1-2 titles from each discipline/list
Heavy image use
Audit EPUB3 using IDPF a11y QA Checklist
E-Book Accessibility Audit
Tables not used for layout
Data tables not images
Structurally-significant content grouped
in <section> elements
Print page break locations
TOC includes the full structure
Numbered headings reflect document
Needing Serious Work
Images lack alt text or descriptions
Not using <fig> or <figcaption> for
CSS properties sometimes defined with
epub:type attribute not being used
Better use of semantic markup
For every image, in addition to the
caption, an author must also provide
alternative text and description.
Fig. 10 Detail of New York University Child Study Center’s
(2007) “Ransom Notes” campaign umbrella advertisement.
Photograph by Eduardo Trejos. Reprinted with artist’s
<img src="images/Fig10.jpg" aria-
describedby="Fig10-desc" alt="Photograph of
Ransom Notes campaign billboard." width="600"
<a data-locator="p153" class="page"></a>
<span class="fighn">Fig. 10</span> Detail
of New York University Child Study Center’s
(2007) “Ransom Notes” campaign umbrella
advertisement. Photograph by Eduardo Trejos.
Reprinted with artist’s permission.
<aside class="hidden" id="Fig10-desc">
<p>This image is of a towering
billboard. The text on the billboard appears
composed of words and letters cut out from a
variety of different print sources and pasted
together. The text reads:“12 million kids are
held hostage by a psychiatric disorder.”</p>
Field of Our Dreams
Field of Our Dreams is a mobile produce market serving the
Eastside of Detroit. The market emerged from conversations
at the Capuchin Soup Kitchen between artist Nick Tobier
and Keith Love and Warren Thomas, local residents and
patrons of the kitchen. Once a week, via a converted pickup
truck, the market roams through Eastside neighborhoods
that are underserved or unserved by grocery stores and that
as a result have constrained access to fresh fruits and
vegetables. Most of the market’s produce is purchased from
wholesale produce distributors using proceeds from previous
sales; the market also sells produce from Earthworks’ Youth
Garden, which receives all proceeds from these sales.
...From Andrew Herscher, Unreal Estate Guide to Detroit (2012)
Photograph of Field of Our Dreams produce stand with staff
working at a residential sidewalk corner.
From Andrew Herscher, Unreal Estate Guide to Detroit (2012)
Three staff people working at a Field of Our Dreams produce
stand. The stand consists of a folding table set up on a
residential sidewalk, piled with different size baskets of
greens, fruit, and vegetables. One staff worker, a middle-aged
Black man in an apron, adjusts a pineapple on the table; a
second worker, a Black man, speaks through a megaphone; a
third worker, a white woman, looks on and listens. In the
background are residential houses of a Detroit neighborhood
and cars parked along the street.
Note: In certain cases the author may wish to highlight other
elements of the photograph, identify the people pictured, or
provide greater context.
From Andrew Herscher, Unreal Estate Guide to Detroit (2012)
Accessibility Production Guidelines
Criteria for book cover a11y
Steps for adding in alt text, image descriptions, and markup
Changes to Scribe tagging procedures or tags to utilize
Custom a11y QA checklist for alt text and descriptions
List of desired to changes to make in the future
Accessibility Production Guidelines
Data tables should never be converted into images
Decorative images should have empty alt text
<span xml:lang="fr" lang="fr">rue Saint-Andre-des-Arts</span>
Define the content of each tag
Include navigation to the smallest heading level
Add accessibility metadata so others know your content is accessible and search engines can
Short information page that is available from every page on your
Present clear information about target level of a11y
What are your initiatives?
What are you working on now?
What are your known a11y problems and how do you plan to address them?
Statement of commitment to a11y