The author of these guidelines, Sarah Hilderley, is grateful to the many people who contributed time and expertise to their preparation and development; and by name would like to acknowledge the extensive input and advice given by the following people in ensuring that this publication provides the most practical and usable advice for publishers.
This document has been prepared for publication in April 2011, in the framework of the Enabling Technologies Framework project funded by the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO). It will be updated regularly and if you have any comments, suggestions or information that should be included please contact Sarah Hilderley at email@example.com.
These guidelines have been endorsed by:
10% of people in the developed world and 15% in the developing world have some degree of print impairment. These are people with visual impairments, with dyslexia, with motor disabilities or with age related macular degeneration which can seriously affect their ability to read. The publishing landscape is becoming much more user-oriented; ensuring your published content is accessible by all your potential readers is more and more important. Today’s readership needs to be able to consume technology in a variety of different ways and publishing’s metamorphosis from a print-dominated into a mixed and inexorably into a digitally-led industry presents an unprecedented opportunity for publishers to extend their products to the widest possible audience.
Making sure that your products are accessible makes good business sense, commercially, legally and ethically (see “Guidelines for Senior Executives”). With the right people, processes and practices in place you can increase the size of your market while at the same time enhancing your Corporate Social Responsibility profile at the same time. The aim of this publication is to supply publishers with clear and concise guidance to assist them in these endeavours.
Providing “access” to content for people with print impairments is a challenge that all publishers can and should be tackling; your efforts can make a discernible difference to your readers. Our guidelines encourage publishers to make their mainstream publications as accessible as possible so that full access becomes the norm rather than being “special”. There is no need for accessibility features to be excluding or intrusive – they will assist all of your readers. Ensuring that your publications incorporate accessibility features may also allow readers to customise their own version to maximise their experience while at the same time respecting the copyright holder’s rights. Technology that is adaptive to the individual will allow everyone to access content according to their choice whether they have a print impairment or not – there is no typical “customer”. Today’s mobile environment means that everyone can benefit from the same choices of access.
These guidelines provide guidance, allow you to explore your options and help you to manage many of the issues that you may encounter as you strive to make your products more accessible. There are experts in the field for you to work with and who will assist in the production of accessible content. All of these options are explained to give you a complete understanding of all the routes to accessibility available to you. We recommend that you make use of the glossary at the back which is designed to help you navigate your way though this publication and accessibility issues in general.
A title that is accessible for one person may not be accessible for another; there are many different requirements depending on an individual’s capabilities, skills and preferences. Broadly speaking, a completely “accessible product” is one which offers the maximum flexibility of user experience for all readers and allows the content to be accessed and manipulated with ease by those with or without disabilities.
For some readers their need can be fulfilled very simply, with Large Print or an existing PDF version whereas others find a fully navigable structured file (such as a DAISY file or an HTML based e-book) that they can use with text to speech software essential. Other readers prefer Braille (either using a conventional Braille edition or a digital Braille reader).
For those with print impairment, difficulties can range from issues with font size right through to a complete inability to interact with any part of the page. For many, the inflexibility of print based material has meant that any form of access has been difficult in the past. As a publisher, you are now in a position to change this with your digital content and in some cases you are in a position to offer synchronised perception channels to your readers. An accessible title allows everyone to have “access” to your content in the way that suits them. For a title to be accessible it involves a combination of four interacting strands:
Reading experiences can be improved with some or all of the following options being made available within a file:
Any document can be thought of as a combination of Structure (the sequence of Chapters, Sections, A-heads, B-heads, body paragraphs and so on), Content (the words, spaces and images) and Appearance (the typographical style and geometric layout of the page and its contents).
Traditional print based publishing concentrates on Content and Appearance, and these two items are usually closely linked throughout the publishing process. More modern workflows concentrate initially on Structure and Content, and the Appearance (of text, at least) is determined from the Structure at a relatively late stage in the process. For the purposes of accessibility, all three elements are required but the most accessible files are ones where they can be separated and manipulated individually according to user requirements. For example, by disengaging the appearance from structure and content, and making it malleable, there is greater flexibility in delivery and any number of “designs”, tailored to each individual reader’s needs, can be applied to the text.
A master XML file which has structure and content can be used to feed any number of different delivery formats. An “XML-first” workflow is a challenge for many publishers, but it is increasingly the best way forward for your digital content creation. It will also help you to build in all the “accessibility features” at the beginning of your workflows and it will become second nature during the creation of your products. Correctly implemented, having a production process that provides an accessible document can expand the customer set and enrich the document with additional content with little additional production cost.
There are many different file formats being used in the publishing industry and these vary in the degree to which they can be seen as being “accessible”. For most purposes, the file formats that you are likely to use are:
There is an unprecedented opportunity to be had in this key time for digital publishing to reach the widest possible audience. In reshaping your company and your products to meet the challenges of industry-wide digital change, you can at the same time meet the needs of print-impaired consumers, who make up a significant proportion of the population. Your company could put in place an approach to its digital publishing that benefits all consumers. By making publications available in ways where a print-impaired customer might select a different font size, style or colour, use voice synthesis to read the text aloud, or change the text into Braille, you are allowing your readers the opportunity to maximise their engagement with your content.
To achieve this, publishing houses need to consider putting in place a company policy that demands the very best of its employees in its endeavours toward accessible publishing; this represents a benefit for both the company and for society at large. By providing the appropriate lead, you are ensuring that your commitment to the accessibility agenda makes this a top priority for everyone in the company.
Providing your publications in ways that optimise accessibility need not be technically challenging. Recent research has shown that many publishing houses hold all of the technical ingredients but simply lack clear knowledge of the requirements of the accessibility community. With your personal commitment, and for little or no incremental cost, this barrier can be overcome. For many companies the technology is already available but there is a lack of awareness regarding how best to apply it.
You are the lynchpin: the internal advocate for your company’s accessibility policy and you are responsible for ensuring that all departments and individuals within the company collaborate to implement that policy fully. A thorough understanding of the issues surrounding accessibility will be vital, alongside a real passion to see through the necessary changes within your organisation on behalf of the print impaired community.
The key tasks necessary to this role include:
Before you begin, decide on your tone and philosophy. How you present the topic will make a world of difference in the quality of the resulting accessibility. If you make sure that people know that you feel this is important, your accessibility initiative will gain momentum from the enthusiasm that employees show when given the chance to make a difference.
In the first instance you should get to know all of the departments within your company and “make some friends”. It is impossible for everyone to be an “expert” in all of the topics related to accessibility so cultivating key contacts within each area could be a confidence-inspiring place to start. It may be appropriate to hold regular meetings and where no obvious contact appears you can often find someone who takes naturally to the subject.
You should establish your current capabilities as a company. The publishing industry has many types and degrees of capability and it is important for you to gauge where you, as a company, fit in. To make a start you will need to:
There are three routes to accessibility open to you and in most cases you will need to employ at least two to start with. Firstly you may be in a position to supply accessible files yourself when you receive a request from a specific reader (or more likely a support person on behalf of that specific reader). Secondly, you may wish to utilise some out of house help and there are various organisations which can help you. There are a number of intermediary services, particularly in the US, who can help you to produce accessible files from a variety of different media. These organisations support people with print disabilities and many have established accessible publishing programmes themselves. Thirdly, and ideally, your commercial products will increasingly come to have accessibility built in as a matter of course. This third option is the ultimate goal but may not be achievable immediately. Whichever routes you wish to follow, you will need to establish working groups in-house to improve corporate awareness and to resolve any workflow issues. Questions around content structure and file management will need to be discussed and decisions taken to implement the company policy that you are advocating.
You will need to be influential across all levels of seniority within the business. When presenting the topic to more senior members of your executive it would be useful for them to understand how your suggestions may make good business sense. It is quite possible that you may have to acknowledge any costs involved and present these to them as part of the business case. You may have to work hard to persuade them to follow your suggested course of action but if there is a company policy in place you will find it much easier to gain their support. It can also be useful for them to hear about other success stories – much confidence is placed in action that has worked elsewhere.
Many of your colleagues, who do not understand the details of accessibility and cannot perceive the level of accessibility in the products, will be making decisions about accessibility. It falls to you to explain the technology and user experience issues as much as possible. Ultimately, you are not responsible for producing accessible content but you are responsible for ensuring that your company policy is adhered to and for understanding the issues surrounding that policy.
Your company’s success in increasing the accessibility of your products can have a significant effect on growing the potential readership. As the departments responsible for the content and the appearance of that content you have a central role to play in how accessible your titles are.
Research has shown that many publishing companies now consider the potential for digital re-use when commissioning titles and preparing them for publication. A variety of publishing formats and media may be appropriate for a title, rather than just a traditional print based approach – so the content needs to be prepared in a way that makes it simple to create these different formats, rather than treating each as a unique product. Given this requirement and the workflows that are typically used to meet it, there is no reason why accessibility cannot be “built in” from the start of the publishing process – and if it is, in many cases it implies little or no additional effort on your part, just some minimal changes in approach.
Often your department will be the expected to deal with requests for the supply of accessible content and you need to be able to respond to that enquiry quickly and with the correct information for that title. In order to do this you need to be able to:
In preparing your files you may wish to consider a number of areas which could considerably affect the accessibility of the material you are producing. Whilst it is desirable that any file should be malleable and allow the reader to customise their own version you may wish to ensure that you think about their needs from the outset. The Royal National Institute of Blind People (RNIB) has a number of clear print guidelines (see “Further Resources”) about factors that affect readability by the print-impaired:
Your publications may include images and illustrations and it is beneficial if you are able to supply alternative descriptions for them (often known as ALT Text). In many instances an image provided for sighted people is not the best way to communicate a piece of information for a blind person. A description is a much better option. Make sure that you include the title or reference number of the image if it had one: text can then be cross-referenced to the source image if necessary.
When preparing ALT Text you should need to think about the image that is being described:
The following ALT Text shows how greatly image description can vary and how important it is to include all the necessary information to describe the image within a given context.
The challenge of digital publishing has already compelled many forward-thinking companies to review their internal workflows and create innovative new ways of producing and selling their content. Time-hallowed workflows designed for the efficient creation of print based products are no longer always the answer in today’s digital arena. If your company is not already looking at your editorial and design processes, this is an ideal time to begin looking at the ways you work and whether these suit the many different types of products you may now be taking to market. Traditionally, departments have worked towards arriving at files that are suitable for your printers; now it might be better for you to consider preparing a file from which the printer’s file could be just one of many outputs, alongside those for different digital platforms.
Take a little time to gain a basic understanding of the various different file formats you already work with in-house, those you might support in the future and the level of accessibility that they can provide – see the section entitled “What is an Accessible Product”. It is essential that you have an understanding of the concepts of Content, Structure and Appearance which this section also covers. By disengaging the appearance and making it malleable, there is greater flexibility in delivery and any number of “appearances”, tailored to each individual reader’s needs, can be applied to the text.
This can be achieved by ensuring the Structure of your documents is captured and retained through the publishing process (rather than any initial Structure being replaced by Appearance at an early stage). The section entitled “How to add Structure to your documents” looks at this in more detail. The “XML-first” workflow style described in that section aims to produce a master XML file which has Structure and Content, and can be used to feed any number of different delivery formats, where the Appearance of each format can be created automatically from the Structure. Introducing an “XML-first” workflow is a challenge for many publishers, but it is increasingly the best way forward for your digital content creation – in other words, all your content creation. Almost as a “side-effect”, such a workflow will enable you to build-in features required to maximise the accessibility of those delivery formats.
Some publishers have demonstrated how an XML workflow can empower the editorial department and free up the design departments enormously. For editors, for example, there may no longer be the need to constantly ask the design departments to make small alterations for you; as a result you can be much more in control of the content.
For the purposes of accessibility, a well-structured document produced in an XML workflow can be the first step towards success.
For many people with a visual impairment, a mainstream e-book solves many, if not all, of the challenges they experience. Reading devices allow them to choose font, size, text-to-speech, sometimes even background colour, and the physical nature of a reader or PC may be more suitable than a large book. There will, however, be circumstances when you are asked to supply additional materials and how you do this is largely dependent on the way that you work and the workflows you may have in place.
The type of workflow you have can affect the way you are able to respond to requests for accessible material. Some publishers have changed their workflows to cope with their digital publishing lists and some are working to tried and tested traditional workflows and “retrofitting” their files to suit the digital market.
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Once you have converted to PDF you can run Adobe’s accessibility checker and use Acrobat tools to fix any problems (if your version of Acrobat allows). This won’t check everything and you will still need to check the PDF for ALT text content etc. You can also use the Adobe Read Out Loud function to check the reading order and to get a sense of how the document will appear to those people using screen readers.
Whichever methods you use to produce your e-books you can supply some form of digital material that will allow greater access than the printed page.
The DAISY Consortium (See “What is an Accessible Product” for information on DAISY files) has developed a cross platform, open source framework for document and digital talking books transformations – the DAISY Pipeline. This suite of tools can greatly assist you in your endeavours to produce accessible files that may be required in addition to your mainstream products. See “Further Resources” for details of the tools and services included in the Pipeline and links to installation guides.
Whichever workflow you are operating there are ways to improve the accessibility of your e-books. The more accessible your mainstream e-books, the greater the number of print-impaired people will find that your products meet their needs, and fewer people will have to request specific accessible files. These action points should be applied by whoever is putting together your e-book package. This may indeed be someone from production or IT but it may also be an out of house supplier and it is your responsibility to make sure that this is part of their brief. An in-house commercial decision may be required in the first instance as some of these action points may affect any DRM.
Thorough archiving is good practice: in all likelihood, your organisation cares for its digital assets, and tries to ensure that they are stored safely and are easy to find for future repurposing. A good digital archiving strategy is increasingly vital as your products themselves become increasingly digital.
Good archiving and consistent communication with the relevant departments will assist you in your endeavours to supply all of your content in the most accessible manner possible.
An essential preliminary to success in improving accessibility is to gain a full understanding of where you are as a company and how capable you are as a team in supplying the needs of those who have some form of print impairment. Find ways in which you can measure the effectiveness of your current approach to accessibility in a systematic and reproducible way, so that the audit can regularly be re-visited (perhaps annually), giving you the opportunity to observe progress and to set targets for improvement in future year – and to design the specific actions necessary to achieve these improvements.
Test the practical experience of a print-impaired reader using your files. Just how accessible are your files? Even the most “accessible” of formats can be used in ways that create text that is partly or wholly inaccessible. The potential for accessibility may be built into a format, but it must be implemented to produce an accessible product.
You will need to do your own evaluation of the product to ensure its quality. You may wish to enlist the help of your IT department to conduct this more technical audit, and it might also be helpful to ask for assistance from members of staff who have print impairments. Or look for third party assistance – especially if this is provided by people who themselves are print impaired. When assessing the capability of your digital files you should think about the following points:
Once you have conducted this assessment you can publish the results in-house, cross referenced to your newly-minted company policy on accessibility. No doubt, you will find you have a number of action points from this audit which will help you establish your priorities and your longer range actions. In this way, the process begins.
Set a plan, regularly visit it and your products and so the process continues.
Without inbuilt structure it can be very difficult for anyone to navigate content (whether or not they have a print impairment). It can be harder for readers to get an overview of the content and it can be difficult to render digital content on smaller screens. Well structured content brings benefits to all readers and disproportionate benefits to print impaired readers. This includes:
Structured information is the first step in the accessible information process (see “What is an Accessible Product”).
When thinking about the structure of your books take care to think about the following areas. The level of structure will greatly depend upon the type of publishing you are involved in. Clear navigational structure should include:
The earlier you can include structure, the easier it will be for you to transfer that structure across formats.
Wherever in your workflow you are including structure it is good practice to maintain and archive your source documents.
Structure is not necessarily all about XML. You can add a level of structure to your files without using an XML workflow. However, XML DTDs and schemas used in book publishing (whether proprietary to your company, or standards such as DocBook, DTBook, or even XHTML) do provide a standard way to identify various types of information and content hierarchies in a document. XML allows identification of various components in a structured document and tags are used to identify elements and attributes within the structure.
As long as the various tag rules are followed, then an XML document is said to be “well-formed”. Whilst being well-formed is good, it isn’t enough, as a reading system such as a screen reader would not know what each tag meant. In order to be truly meaningful, an XML document should be “valid”. A valid document follows not only the XML tag rules, but also follows the rules established in a specific Document Type Definition (DTD) or schema. A DTD or schema defines the rules for the document and describes the structural elements and attributes to be used for that document. To be valid, you need a DTD or schema and a well formed XML document. This is content (the XML doc) and structure (the XML doc plus the DTD) being used to generate the appearance. It is recommended that you include a validation step in your XML workflow which you can set up with validation software.
This is structure in its “ideal form” and if you are working within an “XML-first” environment you will already be experiencing the flexibility that this type of workflow can offer you. By implementing an XML first-workflow, you are able to create and supply a variety of different file formats from your valid and well formed XML documents. This may include files conforming to the new EPUB 3 standard which would include many accessibility features. (See “What is an Accessible Product”).
If you are supplying files to an organisation for assistance in conversion to an accessible format then the following points may help you to supply structured information in the correct way:
Some intermediary organisations can supply Content Submission Guides – a very useful tool for the publisher if you need further assistance.
Your company may already have a policy in place covering how you should respond to enquiries from people with a print impairment (or more likely those supporting them in an institutional context like a school or university). You may already have a specific person or team responsible for handling these enquiries; if not, it is a good idea to locate this responsibility very clearly and to make sure everyone in the company who might find themselves answering a call knows who has that responsibility and how to contact them. Clarity of responsibility will ensure that the person dealing with the enquiry has the necessary skills and knowledge. Consistency of response will enable you to provide an efficient and reliable service to your readers.
This section is aimed primarily at that person who has the frontline responsibility. You need to be able to:
You need to liaise carefully with the person who has overall responsibility in-house for accessibility (if it isn’t you!) and make sure that you are fully aware of the various options that you are allowed to offer under company policy. See “What is an Accessible Product” to understand the differences between the various file formats that you may be working with and how exactly your files might be able to fulfil the various requirements of the enquiry you are dealing with.
You need to understand what you are mandated to supply by the legal framework of your markets including, for example, exactly what exceptions are allowed for people with disabilities and for those individuals and institutions serving their needs. There may be specific legislation covering single copies for personal use and multiple copies for collective use in different ways.
You should make sure that you are aware of the licensing issues that are involved. For example, the enquiry may come from an organisation that is in possession of a Print Disability Licence which gives them a wide set of permissions to make copies of a title for use by those with print impairment. This is a licence they would have obtained from a licensing agency recognised within your markets.
There may be a collective licence which would offer security to rightsholders and ease the administrative burden that individual licensing can entail. The Copyright Licensing Agency in the UK, for instance, issues collective licenses on behalf of rightsholders and has agreements with Reproduction Rights Organisations (RROs) for similar rights in 30 other countries.
You may also be applying Digital Rights Management (DRM) to your files which will control the access to your digital content. This can greatly decrease the accessibility of your material and you need to consider its effects. If you are supplying files without any DRM attached you can still ensure the security of your material by applying password protection or by including a simple licence.
Once you have established exactly what is required, you may find that there is some difficulty in supplying all of it to the specification requested. With heavily illustrated material or a title involving a large volume of graphic or numeric information it can be very difficult sometimes to supply all of it in a fully accessible format. However, it is still worth exploring how much can be supplied and what you might be able to do to help.
This kind of pro-active approach can be extremely helpful to people trying to access your titles and demonstrates that you, as a publisher, have a positive commitment to the issue of accessibility.
The UK based Accessibility Action Group publishes the Publisher’s Accessibility Newsletter which gives an overview of UK and international developments. To access the newsletter visit: http://www.pls.org.uk/services/accessibility1/default.aspx?PageView=Shared
BS8878 web accessibility – this code of practice is the first British Standard to address the growing challenge of digital inclusion and is available from: http://shop.bsigroup.com/en/ProductDetail/?pid=000000000030180388
NIMAS – a standard developed in the United States to assist with the production of accessible content in the Higher Education sector. The NIMAS standard is based on the DAISY standard and is available at http://nimas.cast.org/
Section 508 of the US Rehabilitation Act requires Federal agencies to make their electronic and information technology (EIT) accessible to people with disabilities. To view this standard, see http://www.section508.gov/index.cfm?fuseAction=stds
The American Foundation for the Blind’s technical centre – AFB TECH – publishes AccessWorld, a journal that tests and provides comment on assistive technology in the marketplace – see http://www.afb.org/aw/main.asp for more information.
For information on this taskforce and other work conducted by the Employer’s Forum on Disability see www.btat.org. In particular, you can view the taskforce’s charter which may provide you with some guidance on putting together your own charter or company policy on accessibility.
www.cnib.ca provides services and information for blind people in Canada and also offers consultancy services to businesses in their endeavours to provide accessible digital content. See http://www.accesscontent.ca for further information.
The tools and services available within the DAISY Pipeline are:
For full installation guides and download instructions please visit http://www.daisy.org/pipeline/download
Based in the US, the IDA is dedicated to the study and treatment of dyslexia as well as related language-based learning difficulties. See www.interdys.org/GlobalPartnersList.htm for a list of global partners and organisations around the world.
JISC TechDis is the UK's leading advisory service on technology and inclusion. The service specialises in supporting organisations within the education sectors and has numerous resources and a wealth of expertise that can be transferred immediately to the business and community sectors. For access to guidelines produced by JISC TechDis please visit: http://www.jisctechdis.ac.uk
The largest and most influential membership organisation of blind people in the United States. See www.nfb.org for further information.
This new piece of software is free to users and would provide you with a useful screen reader tool that can enable user testing. This is open source, Windows-based software that is available in over twenty languages. See http://www.nvda-project.org/ for download details and further information
By making your details available on Publisher Lookup you provide a way to give easy access information to your customers. Visit http://www.publisherlookup.org.uk to add your details in the UK and http://www.publisherlookup.com/ in the US.
The Publishers Association in the UK provides guidelines for publishers on meeting the permissions needs of people with disabilties. For this and other accessibility advice please visit http://www.publishers.org.
This UK based Institute provides many guidelines on accessibility. In particular their new publication on e-book creation (www.rnib.org.uk/ebookguidance) is a useful tool. RNIB also publish a comprehensive set of clear print guidelines. For this and other accessibility advice: http://www.rnib.org.uk/professionals/accessibleinformation
For information on work and services offered in South Africa please visit www.sancb.org.za
Vision Australia is the leading organisation for Australians who are blind or have low vision. For more information on the work and services offered visit www.visionaustralia.org.au
WIPO is the sponsor of the Enabling Technologies Framework project and further details about this and other WIPO projects can be found at http://www.wipo.int/portal/index.html.en
The WBU is the internationally recognised umbrella organisation, representing blind and partially sighted persons in 190 member countries. Speaking with a universal voice on a global level, WBU brings together major national and international organisations of blind persons and those providing services to them. www.worldblindunion.org
General term for large print, Braille editions, e-books and audio books that can be used by the blind, partially-sighted, dyslexics or others who cannot use a conventional physical book.
The brand name of proprietary e-book reader software from Adobe Systems. It is used for reading e-books, digital newspapers, and other digital publications on desktop PCs and Macs. The software, which supports PDF, XHTML (through the EPUB file type specification), and Flash-based content, implements a scheme of DRM known as ‘ACS4’ or ADEPT.
A description of the content of an image that is not normally visible to a user. It is usually accessed through text-to-speech applications or with other specialist Assistive Technologies that allow the user to choose to have it displayed. It is helpful both to blind users who cannot see the image at all and to those who are partially sighted who may be able to read large type but find images hard to interpret.
Technological devices that have been developed with features that are specifically helpful for people with disabilities. Publishers may be asked to supply file formats that are compatible with particular types of assistive technology.
A type of Assistive Technology, a hardware device which can be attached to a computer or mobile device which interprets text into Braille in real time. It contains sets of pins which can be raised and lowered to construct the Braille encoding which can be read by touch.
The specialist standard format developed by the DAISY Consortium for use in the creation of accessible versions for the print impaired; the DAISY Consortium is a not-for-profit organisation which represents libraries for people with print disabilities. The DAISY format allows the digital distribution of both text and audio formats and has much more sophisticated Navigational Information than has been typical in commercial e-books or audiobooks. Although effective use of the DAISY format has required specific reader software (which may be implemented either on a PC or on a specialist audio device), the new version of the EPUB specification, EPUB 3.0, represents a complete convergence with the DAISY delivery format. Any platform which is fully compliant with EPUB 3.0 should also be compliant with DAISY.
An open suite of validation tools designed to assist in the format conversion to DAISY files, available from the DAISY Consortium.
Access control technologies (also known as Technical Protection Measures) that may be applied to a digital file to automate control over access and use of the file. The content itself is encrypted, and certain types of use may be controlled – for example the number of devices onto which a file can be copied, or the number of pages of a file that can be printed. DRM can hinder interoperability between platforms, and prevent many assistive technologies from working.
A specialised handheld device with a small screen that displays the text of an e-book. Most are able to display EPUB files and PDFs, but some use proprietary formats tied to a specific retailer. Some devices provide control over type size, font, or provide text-to-speech facilities that make them suitable for use by some print-impaired readers.
A special application that enables a general-purpose device such as a mobile phone or tablet to act like a specialised e-book reader.
E-book content format standard published by the International Digital Publishing Forum (IDPF). EPUB is based on HTML/XHTML and is the native format used by many common commercial e-book platforms; it is rapidly becoming the standard format for e-books. It has a very good range of accessible features, and is probably the best format for mainstream accessible publishing. See also DAISY.
The markup language for web pages, HTML provides the basic building blocks of web pages. XHTML is a set of XML specifications that extend the rather limited capabilities of HTML and make it more disciplined. Both HTML 5.0 and XHTML 5.0 are currently under development by the World Wide Web Consortium.
The elements of markup which are designed to assist a user to move around the content of a digital file. A detailed table of contents, for example, can enable a reader to navigate to a specific chapter or a subsection within a chapter; they may use a bookmark to find a previously marked location; or use a “Find” facility to locate a particular word or phrase.
A standard developed in the United States to assist with the production of accessible content in the Higher Education sector. The NIMAS standard is based on the DAISY standard.
A file format which enables a document to be used on many different computer platforms but always to maintain the same visual appearance and page layout. Originally developed by Adobe in the early 1990s, PDF is now an ISO standard and is widely used throughout the publishing industry both as part of its process for producing printed products and for some types of electronic product. The specifications of PDF files may vary depending on their intended use; some forms of PDF (particularly those specifically aimed at printing applications) are far from ideal for use in the production of accessible editions.
See Synthetic Speech
A collaborative database providing publisher contact information to educationalists who are trying to source electronic versions of titles for print impaired learners. This type of service has been implemented in both the United States and the UK.
A software application that runs at the same time as other computer programs and reads aloud whatever is displayed on the computer screen, enabling a blind person to use a computer or mobile device such as a phone to navigate menus and read within applications.
An approach to protecting content that can include the use of usernames and passwords or other approaches such as “watermarking” that embeds information about the purchaser (licensee) into an electronic publication, to encourage compliance with the terms of a licence. In contrast to other forms of DRM, social DRM does not enforce the licence terms, though it may enable detection of breaches of the licensed rights and tracing of those accountable. The content of the publication is not encrypted (though the embedded information might be), and, as a result, social DRM does not interfere with assistive technology in the way that other DRMs do.
Artificial speech generated by a computer. Sounds are based on a dictionary of pronunciation and/or phonetic knowledge. Many different synthetic “voices” are available to cover different languages and frequently offer both male and female voices. Widely used in both mainstream and Assistive Technologies. Many audio books use “performed speech” which can be the accessible preference for some.
The short elements enclosed in “pointy brackets” < > that are used in an HTML or XML document to identify elements and attributes. For example a second-level heading may be surrounded by tags like this: <h2>Here is the heading</h2>. Each element has a start tag identifying the beginning of an element and an end tag (or an implicit end) identifying the end of that element. Tagging has several benefits: it provides a standard structure, giving clear meaning to each element and allows sharing of data from one system to another.
The capability, available on many e-book reading devices, to render digital text as Synthetic Speech, allowing someone who cannot see the text to listen to it instead (see also Screen Readers). This capability may be built into the reading device but may need to be enabled specifically for each product as it can be disabled on some platforms by DRMs.
Provides a set of rules for encoding structured information. XML can be shared across many different audiences/organisations. XML is a standard way to describe different types of information. The different types of information are called document types:
The specific set of XML markup rules that are used to define a particular sort of document. May be standard (such as DocBook for example) or proprietary; DTDs are costly to develop and manage, and are normally used for many different documents of the same type. In order for an XML document to be valid, you need a DTD and a well formed XML document.
An XML DTD used for structuring book texts. The text of the book contains XML markup that divides it up into parts, chapters, paragraphs, tables, lists, footnotes and so on. The markup is structural and semantic, rather than having anything to do with how the text content should be presented, and the docbook can be processed automatically to create e-books, large print, conventional print or synthetic audio versions of the book.