Accessibility for Publishers: Practical Tips That Demonstrate it's Well Within Your Reach

a free report from Riverwinds Consulting and Cenveo Publisher Services

Accessibility is an approach to publishing and design that makes content available to all, including those with disabilities who use assistive technologies on the computer. The aim of accessible publishing is to make reading easier for users who have difficulties or disabilities including the blind, partially sighted, and people with learning disabilities. Making content accessible enables readers to experience content in the most efficient format and allows them to absorb the information in a better way. The term “accessibility” is used to address issues of content structure, format, and presentation.

The question of “why make the effort to have content accessible to readers with disabilities” still lingers. Of course, accessibility comes with a cost. However, publishing indeed benefits from embracing this essential initiative. When accessibility is well executed, it can expand readership and provide a higher-quality user experience for everyone. 

Let's look at an example comparing accessible alt text with alt text captured from a figure legend. Visual items such as images that are important to the content should include alternate-text descriptions (alt text), which allows users to understand visual information. Alt text descriptions should capture information that is not included in the caption or surrounding text, and convey meaningful information to the user from the visual item. Descriptive alt text is critical to understand the full meaning of an image for the visually impaired reader. The following image illustrates an example of accessible alt text that provides a more useful description for a visually impaired reader compared with alt text that simply repeats a figure legend.

In our latest report "Accessibility for Publishers: Practical Tips That Demonstrate it's Well Within Your Reach," we provide business cases that can be brought to leadership and stakeholders in a publishing organization. Download this free report and understand

  •    how you can build the business case for accessibility in your publishing organization
  •    emerging and compelling reasons for making content accessible
  •    the key principles of accessibility
 

Smart Suite 2.0 Released - A New Approach to Pre-editing, Copyediting, Production, and Content Delivery

Smart Suite Version 2.0 is a cloud-based ecosystem of publishing tools that streamlines the production of high-quality content. The system has a complete interface (UI) redesign and tighter integration with high-speed production engines to solve the challenges related to multi-channel publishing.

Smart Suite 2.0 is the next generation publishing engine that focuses on a combination of artificial intelligence, including NLP, and system intelligence that eliminates human intervention and achieves the goal of high-speed publishing with editorial excellence. Smart Suite auto generates multiple outputs, including PDF, XML, HTML, EPUB, and MOBI from a manuscript in record-setting time.
— Francis Xavier, VP of Operations at Cenveo Publisher Services

Offering a fresh approach to streamline production, the unified toolset comprises four modules that seamlessly advance content through publishing workflows while validating and maintaining mark-up language behind the scenes.

  • Smart Edit is a pre-edit, copyedit, and conversion tool that incorporates natural language processing (NLP) and artificial intelligence (AI) to benefit publishers not only in terms of editorial quality but also better, faster markup and delivery to output channels.
  • Smart Compose is a fully automated production engine that ingests structured output from Smart Edit and generates page proofs. Designed to work with both 3B2 and InDesign, built-in styles based on publisher specifications guarantee consistent, high-quality layouts.
  • Smart Proof provides authors and editors with a browser-based correction tool that captures changes and allows for valid round tripping of XML.
  • Smart Track brings everything together in one easy UI that logs content transactions. The kanban-styled UI presents a familiar workflow overview with drill-down capabilities that track issues and improve both system and individual performance.

Smart Suite is fully configurable for specific publisher requirements and content types. Customized data such as taxonomic dictionaries, and industry integrations such as FundRef, GenBank, and ORCID, enhance the system based on publisher requirements.

 

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Taylor & Francis Group Awards Full-Service Production for Global Journal Content to Cenveo

Cenveo’s Technological Innovation Aligns With Taylor & Francis’ Journal Publishing Vision

Cenveo announces a major increase in full-service content production for Taylor & Francis’ global journal production program. Taylor & Francis selected Cenveo as a core content service provider to support Taylor & Francis’s continued growth.

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As a world-leading academic and professional publisher, Taylor & Francis cultivates knowledge through its commitment to quality. Taylor & Francis identified in Cenveo a shared vision to develop production workflows designed to improve the velocity of research dissemination. This planned strategic initiative enhances customer experience for Taylor & Francis' contributor base, particularly newer generations of researchers and scientists, without alienating its traditional market.

“The critical piece that convinced us Cenveo was the right partner was their technology stack supports our publishing model and provides real-world, expedited publication turnaround times using AI and natural language processing technology,” explains Stewart Gardiner, Global Production Director of Journals at Taylor & Francis Group. “The organizational and operational innovations Cenveo proposed to support a rapid scale-up in production volumes were something we haven’t seen from other providers and were clearly based on lessons learned in previous ramp-ups.”

In February 2018, Cenveo announced a financial restructure and reorganization to strengthen its fiscal health. Mr. Gardiner remarks, “Given the company is currently reorganizing following a Chapter 11 process, our legal and financial people looked at Cenveo closely and came to the view that this is a relatively straightforward debt for equity restructure. Refinancing of this sort is not out of line with what one might expect for a company in Cenveo’s market position, scale, and acquisition history.”

Cenveo and Taylor & Francis have shared a long work history prior to this fivefold increase in volume. The transition process has already begun and onboarding the additional Taylor & Francis work is scheduled to take place in structured phases throughout the remainder of 2018.

Given the company is currently reorganizing following a Chapter 11 process, our legal and financial people looked at Cenveo closely and came to the view that this is a relatively straightforward debt for equity restructure. Refinancing of this sort is not out of line with what one might expect for a company in Cenveo’s market position, scale, and acquisition history.
— Stewart Gardiner, Global Production Director of Journals, Taylor & Francis Group

“This major win is a result of considerable work and effort that we have put into the next generation of Smart Suite combined with a focus on operational excellence,” explains Atul Goel, EVP Global Content Operations and President and COO of India Operations at Cenveo. “We are grateful for the trust placed in Cenveo by Taylor & Francis and heartened that Cenveo’s long-term vision of innovative publishing workflows aligns with a global leader in publishing.”

Cenveo is consistently rated as one of the highest performing content service providers by its customers. Cenveo’s ongoing commitment to publishers and extensive experience with volume ramp-up is further demonstrated by its significant investments in technology and staff.

The Future of EPUB: Facts Regarding the IDPF and W3C Merger

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The IDPF and W3C are working to combine the two organizations. Working together, they will strive to foster the global adoption of an open, accessible, interoperable digital publishing ecosystem that enables innovation.  The primary motivation to combine IDPF with W3C is to ensure that EPUB’s future will be well-integrated with, and in the mainstream of, the overall Open Web Platform.

The primary goal is to ensure that EPUB remains free for all to use by evolving future EPUB major version development to W3C's royalty-free patent policy.

The executive director of the IDPF, Bill McCoy, recently published a thoughtful and informative blog on Digital Book World that details why this merger is important to the book industry:

Why the IDPF-W3C Merger Will Be Great for EPUB and the Book Industry [read here]

A committee called "Save the IDPF. Save EPUB." has formed and the group is publicly stating its dissent against the merger. Bill also responded elegantly to the organization's concern on the IDPF website:

IDPF Combining With W3C: the Facts [read here]

Both of these pieces are required reading for anyone in the publishing industry and especially for book publishers. Cenveo Publisher Services is a member and supporter of the IDPF and believes that the EPUB community will be enhanced by the merger with the W3C.

What are your thoughts on the merger and the future of EPUB?

Good vs Valid XML: Cheap is Dear

For many years I preached the merits of XML-first and XML-early workflows before it was the norm. Now my platform is "good vs valid XML."

Any service provider can provide XML.

Indeed automated XML is pretty much a standard output from most systems that have anything to do with publishing. It's been 13 years since Microsoft Office introduced the XML formats for Excel and Word files.

Yet when I hit the road and speak with publishers about their challenges, a lot comes back to what I put into this bucket of "good vs valid XML." There is a distinction between a valid XML file and a good valid XML file. You can have a file that is valid but doesn’t really achieve the goal of what the content is supposed to be. What happens too often is that budgets demand, or conversion teams choose to do whatever is easiest (i.e., cheapest) instead of doing the right thing to create a good XML file.

Let's look at some examples

Glossary Example

Following is the rendered text and image:


Following are examples of what I call "good" XML and "valid" XML. Take note of the tagging structure used. The <dl> tag itself better defines the content and provides inherent semantic meaning. The valid XML example is missing alternative text. Without alternative text publishers are missing out on improving SEO and, more important, are failing at content accessibility.

Good XML

Definition term with class to differentiate languages

Valid XML

Definition term in paragraph element with strong element.

<dl> <dt class="english"> <strong>amphibian</strong> </dt> <dd>(am fib&#x00B4; &#x0113; &#x0259;n) An animal that lives part of its life in water and part of its life on land. My pet frog is an <strong>amphibian.</strong></dd> <dt class="spanish"> <strong>anfibio</strong> </dt> <dd>Animal que pasa parte de su vida en el agua y parte en tierra. Mi ranita es un <strong>anfibio.</strong> <imggroup> <img id="pEM002-001" src="./images/U99C99/pEM002-001.jpg" alt="A red-eyed tree frog wrapped around a green branch."/> </imggroup> </dd> </dl>
 
<p><strong>amphibian</strong> (am fib&#x00B4; &#x0113; &#x0259;n) An animal that lives part of its life in water and part of its life on land. My pet frog is an <strong>amphibian.</strong></p> <p><strong>anfibio</strong> Animal que pasa parte de su vida en el agua y parte en tierra. Mi ranita es un <strong>anfibio.</strong> <imggroup> <img id="pEM002-001" src="./images/U99C99/pEM002-001.jpg" alt=""/> </imggroup> </p>

Annotated Text Example

Following is the rendered text and image:

The good and valid XML demonstrate an image with annotated text (good) and just an image (valid). Take note of the alternative text in the valid XML example. This description is virtually useless to a visually impaired reader.

Good XML

<sidebar render="required" id="fig_chap03_004"> <hd><strong>Figure 3-4</strong></hd> <br/>A purpose statement explains a website&#8217;s overall goals and the specific objectives that will be used to achieve those goals. <imggroup> <img id="p075-001" src="./images/U00C03/p075-001.jpg" alt="A page from a book that shows a purpose statement example with goals and objectives."/> <caption imgref="p075-001">&#x00A9; 2015 Publisher Name</caption> <prodnote render="required" imgref="p075-001"> <p>primary goal</p> <p>secondary goals</p> <p>objectives</p> <p><strong>Regifting Website</strong></p> <p><span class="underline">Purpose Statement:</span> </p> <p>The goal of the reusable and …</p> <list type="ul" depth="1"> <li>Promote an online …</li> …… </list> </prodnote> <prodnote render="required"/> </imggroup>
 

Valid XML

<sidebar render="required" id="fig_chap03_004"> <hd><strong>Figure 3-4</strong></hd> <br/>A purpose statement explains a website&#8217;s overall goals and the specific objectives that will be used to achieve those goals. <imggroup> <img id="p075-001" src="./images/U00C03/p075-001.jpg" alt="regifting website"/> <caption imgref="p075-001">&#x00A9; 2015 Publisher Name</caption> <prodnote render="required"/> <prodnote render="required"/> </imggroup> </sidebar>

Alt Text Example

 
 

This example demonstrates an image with alt text (good) compared with XML just as an image (valid). Alt text improves discoverability and supports accessibility.

Good XML

<sidebar render="required" class="quote"> <q>I bet the folks at home would like to know what we&#8217;re going to do this year!</q> <imggroup> <img id="piii-001" src="./images/U00/piii-001.jpg" alt="A teenage boy in jeans and sneakers smiling with hands folded in front of him."/> <prodnote render="required"/> <prodnote render="required"/> </imggroup> </sidebar>
 

Valid XML

<sidebar render="required"> <imggroup> <img id="piii-001" src="./images/U00/piii-001.jpg" alt=""/> <prodnote render="required"/> <prodnote render="required"/> </imggroup> </sidebar>

Takeaways

Talk to your vendor about the quality of the XML they produce. The proliferation of offshore vendors has brought pricing models down and this has impacted quality. While price is of great importance and low-cost XML is attractive, publishers are finding that thoughtfulness and editorial quality have been slipping away. With so much technology integrated into publishers’ workflows, it is easy to forget that human QA ensures premium editorial and production services.

  • Good XML is critical for accessibility
  • Good XML improves downstream discoverability
  • Good XML involves automation plus human intervention and that equals quality

If you would like to learn more about some of the ways we help publishers improve XML file creation and XML publishing workflows, simply click the link below.

 

The XML sample file was excellent. I went through it tag by tag, attribute by attribute, entity by entity, and I was very impressed by the level of attention to detail shown. You and your team deserve credit. Over the last 20 years or so I have seen sample files from both sides of the fence—-both supplying them and receiving them—-and these were the best I have ever seen!

Learn more about accessibility in our white paper. Click here to download.


MathML: A Sure Sine That X Have Δ'd

The MathML Standard and What it Means for Scholarly and Academic Publishers

Like other human languages, math uses agreed-upon symbols and syntax to represent abstractions, allowing one person to convey meaning to someone else. In the past, publishers have used carefully designed type reproductions of formulas to communicate mathematical concepts. While these were more difficult (and costly) than simple typesetting, they required no special technology to render math as ink on paper. 

However, with the advent of digital publishing, things changed. 

MathML originated in April 1998 by the W3C to provide a markup language for describing mathematical notations and capturing both its structure and content. As with other markup languages, MathML has undergone significant changes and the current version, MathML 3.0, was just finalized June 23, 2015. The latest version is increasingly used by publishers and service providers. It's an elegant solution that ensures math is rendered accurately.

But things get tricky online.

For scholarly and journal publishers, the day-to-day challenge is to render mathematical concepts as accurately on digital devices as they have done in print. Mozilla Firefox and Apple Safari are the only two browsers that officially support MathML. (Though truth be told, I experienced issues on Safari while researching this article.) Google Chrome recently dropped native MathML support, to the chagrin of the math community. But native browser support is not a show-stopper for publishing math online.

The fine folks at the American Mathematical Society and the Society for Industrial and Applied Mathematics provide an open source JavaScript library, MathJax, to render MathML on multiple browsers. However the inherent complexity of juggling MathJax, browsers, mobile devices, end users, and the content itself, makes working with a service provider an obvious solution to the problem of proper math presentation.

We just published a white paper, "Publishing by the Numbers: The MathML Standard and What it Means for Scholarly and Academic Publishers." Download your copy today and learn more about

  • the considerations with presentation and content MathML
  • best practices publishers use today
  • mobile display issues that are critical to understand
  • and more

 

 

MathML White Paper- Publishing by the Numbers

Cenveo Publisher Services provides MathML to publishers
1 Comment

Marianne Calilhanna

Marianne is director of marketing for Cenveo Publisher Services. She started her career in editorial and production, working on STM primary and review journals. During her 28+ year career she's worked as a book editor, SGML (remember that?!) editor, and managing editor in addition to marketing-related positions. Technology, production, and people---these are just a few of her favorite things.

NIMAS: Opportunities With XML-Based Accessibility Specifications for Publishers

Since the early nineteenth century invention of braille, the concept of making written content available to the blind or visually impaired has been a noble aspiration of civilized society. Making that concept a practical reality is another matter. Even as new, more automated, technologies arise, the challenges of accessibility remain formidable. For educational publishers, accessibility is particularly important. In the United States, schools receiving federal funding support are required to provide accessible content to any student or parent who requests it.

National Center for Accessible Educational Materials (AEM)

According to the National Center for Accessible Educational Materials (AEM), there are four major specialized output formats for adapting printed instructional material to the diverse needs of the visually impaired:

  1. braille
  2. large print
  3. audio
  4. digital text

While the first three are self-explanatory, "digital text" is a general category, encompassing any text and image descriptions that can be rendered by specialized or general-purpose digital devices. Each of these four output categories follow predictable rules and logic, there is a definable way to use a structured “master file” approach—creating the content once, and outputting as needed to as many formats as the market requires.

Let's Talk About Text

Of course when we talk about text, we must talk about structure. And when we talk about structure, we must talk about XML. In the context of accessibility, NIMAS is the XML-based specification that is the gateway (and the federal mandate) for K-12 and higher education content (i.e., textbooks and ancillaries). In a significant step forward for students with disabilities, the U.S. Congress adopted NIMAS as part of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Improvement Act of 2004, a reauthorization of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act.

While some may view NIMAS as a costly regulatory barrier that must be overcome simply to maintain existing business, it is also possible to view NIMAS as providing an opportunity to assume a leadership position while retooling internal workflows to leverage the benefits of XML. Done right, these benefits include improved quality, enhanced flexibility, and increased speed to market.

Good vs Valid XML

Cenveo’s Senior Vice President of Content Solutions, Kevin Burns, reiterated the importance of creating “great” NIMAS compliant files instead of “good enough” files. “There is a distinction between a valid NIMAS compliant file and a great one,” he said. “You can have a NIMAS compliant file that is valid but doesn’t really achieve the spirit or the goal of what the content is supposed to be. What happens too often is that budgets demand, or conversion teams choose to do whatever is easiest (i.e., cheapest) instead of doing the right thing to create a good NIMAS compliant file.”

You can have a NIMAS compliant file that is valid but doesn’t really achieve the spirit or the goal of what the content is supposed to be. What happens too often is that budgets demand, or conversion teams choose to do whatever is easiest (i.e., cheapest) instead of doing the right thing to create a good NIMAS compliant file.

A common example is the long description for images—a NIMAS requirement for any visual element in a book. If the published caption or call-outs in the main text (words meant to enhance a sighted person’s understanding of an image) is simply copied and pasted into the long description field, it isn’t truly meaningful for someone visually impaired. Although this certainly saves on costs, and the resulting file will be NIMAS compliant because there is something in that field, but in some cases words could have little or no utility to someone who cannot see the image clearly, or at all.

Automation + Human Intervention = Quality

Yogesh Jedhe, Business Manager at Cenveo Publisher Services, outlines the basic process of creating NIMAS file sets---“The input is often a combination of Word files, hard copy, PDFs, application files, or XML—depending on the publisher.  We also receive existing metadata for the publication. Our teams leverage robust transformation technology tools to extract data from the source files, apply and edit XML as needed, and process and tag images. Finally, a team of content analysts at Cenveo spend time to make sure that the elements that require human judgment, like image descriptions, are created in a way that aligns with the true intent of the NIMAS standard. The team then uses tools to validate the resulting XML against the NIMAS schema, as well as against a series of business rules, which are designed to check the file beyond simple compliance with the NIMAS standard."

The team also works with subject matter experts to make sure that image description fields are populated with alternate text that truly help a visually impaired student. Other elements, such as math equations in MathML, are captured in such a way that they accurately and effectively convey information to the visually impaired.

NIMAS compliant files created by Jedhe’s group are rigorously tested and refined using a Cenveo-developed tool. However, the object is not simply to create technically valid files, but to ensure that the resulting content will communicate information to a visually impaired student as effectively as its core counterpart does to other students.

 

NIMAS White Paper

Read more by downloading our white paper on this topic. By the way, we made it accessible!