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Oct 19, 2013 (3 years and 8 months ago)

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Vision
Neutral
Publishing

Michael Seadle

Berlin School of Library an Information
Science

June 2013


Reading is hard...

June 2013



Well
-
functioning eyes are a starting point.


But only a starting point.


Reading problems are not limited to eyes.


The brain plays a significant role in vision.

My involvement with the topic

June 2013



Library Hi Tech, which Prof. Dr.
Elke

Greifeneder

and I edit, regularly publishes special theme issues
and scholarly articles about barrier
-
free reading
and publishing, especially Internet
-
publishing.


I am also mildly dyslexic and thus have a personal
interest in the topic.

What is Dyslexia

June 2013



There are many symptoms for dyslexia. Some are
severe and prevent people from reading.


Less severe versions of
dyslexia
involve adding or
deleting letters in speech or spelling, shifting the
order of letters, and handwriting problems.
Many
people have these problems without knowing it
. I
did.

What
helps?

June 2013



Because dyslexia is quite various, it is hard to
define simple solutions. The following factors
matter for me:



Typography


Column width


Text density

Market

June 2013


From the viewpoint of a visually disabled reader,
publishers
cannot
abandon paper too soon.


Actual blindness affects about 39 million people
worldwide and 246 million have low vision
according to the world health organization.
(
source
)


The British Dyslexia Association estimates that
about 10% of the population have dyslexia.
(
source
)


Market 2

June 2013



A key question for publishers is: whether they are
prepared to alter their practices on the basis of
something around 10% of the reading population?


It may be worthwhile. There
is evidence that people
with dyslexia are relatively successful.


Market 3

June 2013



Studies using cognitive testing and functional
M.R.I.’s have demonstrated exceptional three
-
dimensional and spatial reasoning among dyslexic
individuals, which may account for the many
successful dyslexic engineers. Similar studies have
shown increased creativity and big
-
picture thinking
(or “gist
-
detection”) in dyslexics, which correlates
with the surprising number of dyslexic
entrepreneurs, novelists and filmmakers.

(
source)



Age

June 2013



V
i
sion problems are common among older persons
who are not legally blind. In general they need:



Large print


Physically relatively light works


Good contrast that is easy on the eyes.

Solutions

June 2013



People with reading disabilities need to be able to
exercise control over their reading environment.


They also need options that give them choices.


Acceptance is also a key factor.

Control:
Paper 1

June 2013


Paper gives the least control because print on
paper is inflexible.


Large print books
are:



only occasionally available,


t
end to be expensive
, and


t
end to be heavy.

Control:
Paper 2

June 2013




Scanning
,
OCRing
, and computer
-
based reading is
possible, but costly in time for individuals.


Libraries for
the blind
often
lack the financing to do
all the works people want.

Control: PDF

June 2013


A PDF offers more control, if the text has been
digitized and is computer readable.


A PDF page can be made larger, but the print is
generally not changeable.


A PDF can be read on
eReader

devices, but
choices over the number of and width of columns is
usually lacking.

Control: trade
-
offs

June 2013


Publishers
put serious effort into page
-
layout.


Just
as museums would
not let
viewers change the
colors in a
painting
, publishers discourage changes
to their design.


In a print world, publishers had to choose a single
design for all readers. In digital publishing that is
unnecessary.

Options
: all
digital 1

June 2013


Options
are relatively easy to
offer in
the digital
world.


Y
et
we know that even institutions with mandates
for barrier
-
free web
-
page access
often find it
difficult to comply consistently
with their own
guidelines.




Options
: all
digital 2

June 2013


Jonathan Grantham et al. (2012) wrote:



Not one of the 20 largest Australian companies,
nor the Australian 20 Federal Government
portfolios, were found to have produced a legally
accessible website as per Australian standards.”
(
source
)




Options
:
web lessons

June 2013


From web design we have learned a number of
lessons, and have built tools like the venerable
Bobby to test access. Among the lessons are:



n
ot locking formats in place (columns, for
example)


n
o photos that have no text
-
based tags.


a
voiding hard
-
to
-
find links in the middle of text.




Options
:
eJournals

June 2013


Some publishers ignore the basic lessons of web
publishing when it comes to their electronic
journals. ITAL, for example, appears to offer only
PDF versions of articles
.
(
Source
)


Nonetheless the scholarly journal literature fulfills
the minimum requirements for vision
-
neutral
publishing better than most other publications,
simply because it is (with very few exceptions)
already digital.





Options
:
eBooks

June 2013


eBooks are significantly more various in their
formats, some of which are tied to specific
hardware.


eBooks typically also have DRM protection that
may restrict options.


Some open formats such as
ePub

adapt relatively
well to various screen sizes.





Options
:
audio eBooks

June 2013


Some
eReaders

offer an audio function, as long as
publishers do not block the audio with DRM
software.


Persons who are legally blind

have options, but
older persons who are not legally blind may find
their eyes no longer allow them to read for long
periods.


F
or them audio is a very useful option.






Images 1

June 2013


Images are a serious problem for those with
physical vision problems. In general dyslexics have
no problems with images.


Tags are the standard solution, but do not
reproduce the look and feel of an image. Often they
say nothing more than the title or subject.






Images 2

June 2013



Details vanish if
the image is too
small and the
impression of
whole can be lost
if the image is too
large.





Acceptance

June 2013



There are three areas where acceptance is
important:



a
mong individuals with vision / reading
problems;


A
mong educators;


A
mong publishers






Acceptance: individuals

June 2013



Individuals cannot implement vision
-
neutral
publishing, but they can make market choices and
can influence others.


Most importantly, people with disabilities like
dyslexia should not be ashamed or hide the
problem.





Acceptance: Education

June 2013



Teachers at all levels can make choices in favor of
vision
-
neutral products, which today means
ensuring that electronic equivalents are available
for readings.


Teachers can also learn about the range of reading
and vision problems and help students who have
them.





Acceptance: Publishers

June 2013



Publishers are often conservative and want to
retain control over the look and feel of their
products.


Nonetheless more and more publishers are offering
electronic versions with more options. This needs
to be encouraged and expanded.





Conclusion

June 2013


What is needed for a vision
-
neutral publishing?



Paper publishing only in combination with digital
versions.


Options that give the reader control over size and
page structure.


Audio options for people who are not legally blind.


Scalable digital images that let readers have more
control over the relationship between overview and
detail.






Any
questions
?

Contact information


Prof. Dr. Michael Seadle


Room 03 in the Sekretariat

Dorotheenstr 26, Berlin


seadle (at) ibi.hu
-
berlin.de


030 2093 4249








June 2013