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

 

W3C Publishing Summit 2017

Guest blog by Evan Owens

The first-ever W3C Publishing Summit took place in San Francisco, November 9 to 10, to discuss how web technologies are shaping publishing today, tomorrow, and beyond. Publishing and the web interact in innumerable ways. The Open Web Platform and its technologies have become essential to how content is created, developed, enhanced, discovered, disseminated, and consumed online and offline.

Background on IDPF and W3C

During February 2017, the IDPF (International Digital Publishing Forum) merged into the W3C. IDPF members are now joining W3C with new committees formed, including the W3C Publishing Working Group, EPUB Community Group, and others.

Keynote: The Future of Content by Abhay Parasnis – CTO, Adobe

The internet is wide open to all world communications. “Content publication” has expanded to a very broad level via the Internet. Businesses are trying to reach out in personalized fashion. Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning (ML) are important for content location & delivery and personalization. W3C does important standards development, but as technology is moving fast how should we coordinate successfully?

A major goal of the W3C is to define a new Portal Web Publication (PWP) content format that will merge HTML and EPUB and replace PDF. EPUB 4.0 is likely to become a subset of that new PWP standard.

Following are some of my observations from the various presentations and discussions from the conference. Feel free to add your thoughts and takeaways in the comments section!

Content Platforms and Publishers

  • Majority of eBook content is still in EPUB2
  • EPUB3 is big  in Japan and China but not common in English-language publications yet
  • Most failed EPUB content is from USA publishers
  • Publishers tend to overuse fixed layout, especially academic or instructional content
  • Future will be CSS, interactivity, and accessibility

Digital Publishing in Asia, Europe,and Latin America

  • UK the biggest eBook market with 575K new eBooks per year
  • Amazon is leading EU bookseller (90% of UK sales)
  • Japan produces approximately 500K eBooks
  • Japan has been using EPUB 3.0 since 2011; 100% of old files were migrated to the new format
  • The market is growing in Korea and China
  • In Latin America ebooks are primarily EPUB 2.0; 3.0 hasn’t been adopted yet
  • 55% of publishers in Latin America have not yet started digital content production

Accessibility in Publishing and W3C

  • Accessibility in digital publishing is a key issue that was included in EPUB
  • W3C implementation goals include supporting EPUB3 accessibility and collaborating with the W3C WCAG
  • DAISY has built a checking tool called “ACE”; it is now in beta and available for testing
  • Cenveo Publisher Services provides accessibility services and testing

Educational Publishing

  • Personalized learning challenges include the learning platform and the metrics
  • There is now a major move from books to digital e-learning platforms
  • Learning is now subject to data-driven insights: analytics add value by these tools

Creating EPUB Content that Looks and Works Great Everywhere

  • Microsoft added an EPUB reader into Windows 10 MS Edge web browser
  • Almost 90% of ebooks are EPUB2 and recent content in 2017 is only 62% EPUB3
  • Issues for EPUB content creation and rendition include
    • Many different screen sizes and orientations (e.g. phone, table, computer)
    • Reader requirements: mobility, classroom usage, accessibility
    • Pagination works differently in different reading systems
    • Tables and anything with fixed width is risky
    • Captions not staying with images due to page breaks
    • Background images break when flowing across pages
    • CSS layout for colored text failures
    • Supporting audio reader software by language metadata
    • Fixed layout never 100% perfect
    • Don’t use SVG for text layout
    • Test content in several epub reader devices, etc.

Publication Metadata

  • Consumer metadata versus academic metadata remains a key challenge
  • Standards are only slowly adopted; e.g. ONIX 3 published 2009 but by 2017 only about 50% adopted
  • Autotagging versus human tagging; machines more consistent
  • 105 metadata standards

Cenveo Publisher Services is a proud member of the W3C Publishing Working Group. The issues discussed at the W3C Publishing Summit are ones we address everyday with academic, scholarly, and education publishers. We look forward to working with you in 2018 on innovative publishing solutions that improve editorial quality and streamline production while continuously addressing costs. Let us know how we can help.

 

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Mike Groth

Michael Groth is Director of Marketing at Cenveo Publisher Services, where he oversees all aspects of marketing strategy and implementation across digital, social, conference, advertising and PR channels. Mike has spent over 20 years in marketing for scholarly publishing, previously at Emerald, Ingenta, Publishers Communication Group, the New England Journal of Medicine and Wolters Kluwer. He has made the rounds at information industry events, organized conference sessions, presented at SSP, ALA, ER&L and Charleston, and blogged on topics ranging from market trends, library budgets and research impact, to emerging markets and online communities.. Twitter Handle: @mikegroth72

Accessibility: Because the Internet is Blind

Like the visually impaired, the Internet cannot “see” content the way a sighted human being does. It can only discover relevant content via searchable text and metadata. When publishers take the right steps to make content accessible, they also make it more discoverable.

Guest blog by John Parsons

In the past four blogs, we’ve discussed how to make different types of published content accessible to visually and cognitively impaired users. Throughout the series, we’ve covered the reasons why publishers should do so, including the moral argument and its related compliance requirements, such as Section 508, NIMAS, and WCAG 2.0. While digital workflows and service providers have made such compliance affordable and practical, there is another argument for accessibility—one that is a compelling benefit in the age of digital content: discoverability.

The Nature of the Internet

We tend to think of the Internet in general—and Web content in particular—as a visual experience. We view the screen as we would a printed document, albeit with far greater capabilities for interactivity and connection to other information. The tools for searching and discovering content are all visual as well. Typing in a phrase, scanning the results, and choosing what we want, are all familiar, visually-dependent habits.

However, what we are seeing is not the content, but an on-screen rendering. We’re seeing the programmed user interface. It may be highly accurate and functional, but it’s a product of underlying data. The technology itself does not “see” or experience the content as we do. It only handles data and its related metadata.

Discoverability Is the Key

In order to be found on the Internet, a piece of published content must have a logical, and keyword-prioritized structure. It must not only have text strings that a search engine can find, it must also have standardized and commonly used metadata that correspond to what human users expect to find. Well-structured XML serves that purpose for nearly all types of published content.

The good news is that accessibility and discoverability have the same basic solution: well-structured content and metadata. Best practices for one solution are applicable to the other!

Every area of publishing benefits from greater discoverability.

This changes the equation for publishers faced with accessibility compliance issues. If they apply a holistic approach to well-structured XML content, they will improve their overall discoverability, and lay the groundwork for systematic rendering of their content in multiple forms—including HTML and EPUB optimized for accessibility.

Multiple Benefits

Every area of publishing benefits from greater discoverability. For journal and educational publishers, well-structured content can be more easily indexed by institutions and services, leading to higher citation and usage levels. For trade book publishers, discoverability translates to better search results and potentially more sales. For digital products of any kind, it means a better overall user experience, not only for the visually impaired but also for all users.

This is especially the case when it comes to non-text elements of published content. The practice of adding alt text descriptions for images and videos benefits not only the visually impaired reader. It also makes such rich content discoverable to the world.

Best practices for structuring content do not happen automatically. They require forethought by authors, publishers, and service providers. More importantly, they require a robust, standards-based workflow, to include searchable metadata and XML tags—automatically wherever possible, and easily in all other cases.

The issues of accessibility are really only problematic when viewed in isolation. When viewed as a subset of a more compelling use case—discoverability—they become a normal and positive part of the publishing ecosystem.

 


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Mike Groth

Michael Groth is Director of Marketing at Cenveo Publisher Services, where he oversees all aspects of marketing strategy and implementation across digital, social, conference, advertising and PR channels. Mike has spent over 20 years in marketing for scholarly publishing, previously at Emerald, Ingenta, Publishers Communication Group, the New England Journal of Medicine and Wolters Kluwer. He has made the rounds at information industry events, organized conference sessions, presented at SSP, ALA, ER&L and Charleston, and blogged on topics ranging from market trends, library budgets and research impact, to emerging markets and online communities.. Twitter Handle: @mikegroth72

Accessibility for Trade Book Publishers

The venerable world of trade books has had accessibility options since the early 19th Century invention of Braille. However, only in the digital age has it been possible to make all books accessible to the visually impaired.

Guest blog by John Parsons

In the 1820s, Charles Barbier and Louis Braille adapted a Napoleonic military code to meet the reading needs of the blind. Today’s familiar system of raised dot characters substitutes touch for vision, and is used widely for signage and of course books and other written material. By the 20th Century, Braille was supplemented with large print books and records. For popular books these tools became synonymous with trade book publishers’ efforts to connect with visually impaired readers.

However, these tools—particularly Braille—has significant drawbacks. Before the advent of digital workflows, producing a Braille or even a large print book involved a separate design and manufacturing process, not to mention subsequent supply chain and distribution issues. But that has changed with the digital publishing revolution.

All Books Are “Born Digital”

With notable exceptions, trade books published since the 1980s started out as digital files on a personal computer. Word processors captured not only the author’s keystrokes but, increasingly, their formatting choices. (In the typewriter era, unless you count backspacing and typing the underline key, italics and boldface were the province of the typographer.)

On the PC, creating a larger size headline or subhead, or a distinct caption, evolved from a manual step in WordStar or MacWrite to a global stylesheet formatting command. When these word processing files made their way to a desktop publishing program, all the 12-point body copy for a regular book could become 18-point type for a large print version—at a single command.

Other benefits of digital-first content included a relatively easy conversion from Roman text characters to Braille, although that did not solve the actual book manufacturing process.

What really made the digital revolution a boon to accessibility was the rise of HTML—and its publishing offspring, eBooks. Web or EPUB text content can be re-sized or fed into screen readers for the visually impaired, but that’s only the start. It can also contain standardized metadata that a publishing workflow can use to create more accessible versions of the book.

Workflow Challenges

Trade books tend to be straightforward when it comes to accessibility challenges, but there are caveats that publishers and their service providers must address. The simplest of course is a book that is almost entirely text, with no illustrations, sidebars, or other visual elements. In those cases, the stylesheet formatting done by the author and/or publisher can be used to create accessibility-related tags for elements like headlines and subheads, as well as manage the correct reading order for Section 508 compliance.

Where things start to get tricky is when a book includes illustrations, or even special typographic elements like footnotes. To be accessible, the former must include descriptive alt text, which is usually best provided by an author, illustrator, or subject matter expert. Increasingly, just as writers became accustomed to adding their own typographic formatting, they may also include formatted captions containing this valuable, alt text-friendly information.

For other visual elements, service providers must fill in the accessibility gaps that authors cannot easily provide. This may include a certain amount of redesign, such as placement of footnotes at the end, to ensure continuity of reading, and defining the logical flow of content and reading order for page elements like sidebars. Service providers also add semantic structuring, alt text image descriptions not included by the author, and simplification of complex elements like tables.

It’s All About Format

Book publishers are already well ahead of the curve when it comes to accessibility. As mentioned in a previous blog, the page-centric PDF format is problematic. Fortunately, except for print workflows, trade publishers do not use it for their end product. In most cases, books are also produced in EPUB format, which is a derivative of HTML. These formats are accessible by default, although they need to be enhanced to meet the requirements of WCAG 2.0 standards. The gap is small, however, and can be easily bridged by focusing on design, content structuring, and web hosting.

Book reading for the visually impaired is no longer restricted to the popular titles, and compensatory technology of past centuries. With the advent of digital publishing, and the workflows that support and enhance it, accessibility for all books is an achievable goal.

 


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Mike Groth

Michael Groth is Director of Marketing at Cenveo Publisher Services, where he oversees all aspects of marketing strategy and implementation across digital, social, conference, advertising and PR channels. Mike has spent over 20 years in marketing for scholarly publishing, previously at Emerald, Ingenta, Publishers Communication Group, the New England Journal of Medicine and Wolters Kluwer. He has made the rounds at information industry events, organized conference sessions, presented at SSP, ALA, ER&L and Charleston, and blogged on topics ranging from market trends, library budgets and research impact, to emerging markets and online communities.. Twitter Handle: @mikegroth72

Digital Solutions in India 2017 | A Special Report From Publishers Weekly

The annual report from Publishers Weekly (PW) that details service providers in India and the depth of solutions they offer in the global publishing market is now available. We are proud to take part in this special report that also captures a short list of accomplishments that Cenveo has experienced over the past year.

Recent Customer Success Stories

Cenveo Publisher Services recently worked with a global education publisher to develop an HTML5-based flashcard engine that offers flip card-styled content. “The end product combines terms and definitions with all types of media support to enhance user interaction and engagement,” explains marketing director Marianne Calilhanna, adding that the engine also “has complex assessment content built into the application to test knowledge about those terms and definitions learned.”

The entire application, which is WCAG 2.0 AA-compatible, was tested on three different browsers on three operating systems (iOS, OSX, and Windows). “It was also tested by an accessibility certification authority to ensure that the product is easily accessible by differently-abled users. The WCAG 2.0 AA compliance guidelines were thoroughly applied to the engine, including the colors used, color contrast, and settings panel. Then there was the use of large and well-spaced interactive elements or virtual controls, and the reinforcement of texts and visuals to ensure that no essential information was conveyed by audio alone,” says Calilhanna.

The next project from a major educational publisher was about creating and developing core content and supporting materials without hiring authors. “At first glance, it sounded like a cost-saving approach but it was actually more complex than that. Anyone involved with publishing educational content understands the deep and often hidden costs related to publishing and production,” Calilhanna says. “Our client, by partnering with Cenveo to develop and author higher-ed curriculum content, effectively bypassed ongoing royalties and permissions. This has resulted in lower costs and a positive P&L for the publisher, with savings passed on to students.”

Check out the full report:

Interesting to note the following observation, from PW

 
During PW’s trip to India to visit participants in this report early in the year, some digital solutions vendors—and their main U.S. clients in some cases—were already rethinking their business collaboration with plans of forming partnerships or joint ventures to sidestep the IT outsourcing/immigration issues. Some are looking into setting up branches in the U.S. to offer onshore and hybrid services, while a few more are checking out companies to take over and therefore have immediate U.S. representation.
— Publishers Weekly
 

At Cenveo Publisher Services, onshore and hybrid solutions have long been an option available from our portfolio of services. Whether it's full-service production management or peer review management services, we work with publishers to implement a workflow that best fits their content and their budget---offshore, onshore, hybrid.


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Mike Groth

Michael Groth is Director of Marketing at Cenveo Publisher Services, where he oversees all aspects of marketing strategy and implementation across digital, social, conference, advertising and PR channels. Mike has spent over 20 years in marketing for scholarly publishing, previously at Emerald, Ingenta, Publishers Communication Group, the New England Journal of Medicine and Wolters Kluwer. He has made the rounds at information industry events, organized conference sessions, presented at SSP, ALA, ER&L and Charleston, and blogged on topics ranging from market trends, library budgets and research impact, to emerging markets and online communities.. Twitter Handle: @mikegroth72

Accessibility 101: What Does "Accessibility" Mean for Publishers?

Cenveo Publisher Services is a champion of digital equality. Over the coming weeks, we'll dive into some details about what accessibility means for publishers and review how to get started (or continue) with "born accessible" publishing initiatives.

Let's begin.

 
 

Making content accessible involves a number of services depending on the content type and markets your publishing program reaches. What is consistent across all content and markets, is well structured and tagged content. 

Stay tuned as we dive into the details for

  • documents
  • EPUB
  • games
  • websites
  • elearning courses

Feel free to share your questions and thoughts in the comments box below.

 

Learn More

Champion Digital Equality

Click here to learn more


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Mike Groth

Michael Groth is Director of Marketing at Cenveo Publisher Services, where he oversees all aspects of marketing strategy and implementation across digital, social, conference, advertising and PR channels. Mike has spent over 20 years in marketing for scholarly publishing, previously at Emerald, Ingenta, Publishers Communication Group, the New England Journal of Medicine and Wolters Kluwer. He has made the rounds at information industry events, organized conference sessions, presented at SSP, ALA, ER&L and Charleston, and blogged on topics ranging from market trends, library budgets and research impact, to emerging markets and online communities.. Twitter Handle: @mikegroth72

A Simple Lesson From Walt Disney

Everyone Has a Story to Tell

Videos aid learning. Videos and animation are at the top of the elearning food chain. Whether it's within a traditional elearning course or as an independent asset, animated videos help learners visualize and understand complex concepts.

Increasingly, across all the markets we serve---journal publishers, K12 educational publishers, higher ed publishers, elearning providers, magazine publishers---all are interested in transforming complex content into animated video shorts.

Editorial credit: Alex Millauer / Shutterstock.com

Animation offers a medium of storytelling and visual entertainment, which can bring pleasure and information to people of all ages everywhere in the world.
— Walt Disney

Conceptualization and Production

Cenveo Publisher Services provides a blended team of creatives, editors, and technologists who transform a fuzzy vision into distinct products for use in digital publications, websites, and elearning courses. Our specialists comprise

  • instructional designers
  • subject matter experts
  • multimedia specialists
  • graphic visualizers

We work with our customers to provide the full-range of services around animation or à la carte options, including

  1. conceptualization
  2. content creation
  3. visual storyboarding
  4. art creation
  5. photo/video research and procurement
  6. permissions management
  7. audio recording
  8. animation
  9. live action shoots
  10. video editing and packaging
  11. accessibility--WCAG and Section 508 compliance

Animation Sample: SWOT Analysis

Have a look at an animated short we created to explain what a SWOT analysis is and why it's beneficial.

 
 


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

future-of-epub_cenveo-publisher-services

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?

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Mike Groth

Michael Groth is Director of Marketing at Cenveo Publisher Services, where he oversees all aspects of marketing strategy and implementation across digital, social, conference, advertising and PR channels. Mike has spent over 20 years in marketing for scholarly publishing, previously at Emerald, Ingenta, Publishers Communication Group, the New England Journal of Medicine and Wolters Kluwer. He has made the rounds at information industry events, organized conference sessions, presented at SSP, ALA, ER&L and Charleston, and blogged on topics ranging from market trends, library budgets and research impact, to emerging markets and online communities.. Twitter Handle: @mikegroth72

Sacrificing Print for Digital Search | Harvard Law Library Launches "Free the Law"

ipad-digitization.gif

Last week the Harvard Law School Library announced the launch of its "Free the Law" initiative, a massive project that involves digitizing approximately 40 million pages of court decisions from the Harvard Law Library to create a searchable repository. The Harvard librarians are scanning all the pages from its vast collection in order to create a searchable database of American case law. With the exception of the Library of Congress, no other collection contains nearly every state, federal, territorial and tribal judicial decision since colonial times! 

Recognizing the power of content digitization, once complete the library's content will be discovered and presented in ways simply not possible with the single dimension print provides.  The legal text will be searchable and results will be presented both graphically and text-based in a way that details relationships across statues and key decisions.

For more information and to see a video of this fascinating project, visit the Harvard Library Portal.

 

 
Driving this effort is a shared belief that the law should be free and open to all. Using technology to create broad access to legal information will help create a more transparent and more just legal system.
— Dean Martha Minow, Harvard Law School
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Mike Groth

Michael Groth is Director of Marketing at Cenveo Publisher Services, where he oversees all aspects of marketing strategy and implementation across digital, social, conference, advertising and PR channels. Mike has spent over 20 years in marketing for scholarly publishing, previously at Emerald, Ingenta, Publishers Communication Group, the New England Journal of Medicine and Wolters Kluwer. He has made the rounds at information industry events, organized conference sessions, presented at SSP, ALA, ER&L and Charleston, and blogged on topics ranging from market trends, library budgets and research impact, to emerging markets and online communities.. Twitter Handle: @mikegroth72