Accessible Publishing and Understanding your Readership

goldbashedAI and Robotics

Nov 15, 2013 (4 years and 7 months ago)



Accessible Publishing and U
nderstanding your


Understanding print impairment and increasing your readership.

A joint project between

JISC TechDis


What this is:

This is the first

of a series of half hour

training resources that will help publishers in a range of
different roles to

rstand the accessibility issues

faced by print impaired readers.

ake adjustments to business and workflow processes that will benefit all readers and give
particular benef
its to disabled readers.

These resources complement the accessible publishing guidelines published in 2011 and signpost a
wide range of supporting resources from different agencies.

Who is behind the training?

This training is a joint project between E

the trade standards body for the global book and
serials supply chains

and JISC TechDis, the leading educational advisory service on technologies for
inclusion. EDItEUR is a partner in the WIPO Enabling Technologies Framework project, providing
advice on embedding accessibility into workflows. JISC TechDis manages the Publisher Lookup
website and works with publishers and library services on accessibility issues.




not just about blindness but a
lso dexterity, dyslexia etc.


Who are you missing?

Accessibility is not just about sight loss or being disabled but about many other different needs as

Many people who would not regard themselves as disabled can benefit significantly from
accessibility features. Research by Forrester estimated 60% of working age Americans are likely or
very likely to benefit from accessible technology in their work. Accessibility is not about a small
discrete group but about most of us at some point in our

For many potential readers, however, printed resources can present a barrier. We use the term
"print impairment" to describe people who experience a significant barrier when trying to access
traditional texts.

The sections below

ement, Dyslexia,
Vision and Cognitive

provide further detail on

different access issues that might contribute to print impairment.


Some people find it difficult to manually handle a book. Turning the pages can be difficult with
arthritic hand
s; holding a book steady may be a challenge for people with involuntary muscle
movements. Getting to a bookshop or a library can be a major expedition for somebody in a
wheelchair and even sight loss can result in mobility difficulties. For each of these p
eople, books in
digital format can open up the world of reading.



Involuntary movements can make traditional reading impossible.


There are 400,000 severely dyslexic students in the UK school system. Many will
be reluctant readers
of traditional media but text
speech technologies can transform reading

both for pleasure and
study. For others, text
speech is not necessary but the ability to change font size, type, colour or
contrast might be.




Text may appear different to dyslexic people


Visual impairment covers a broad spectrum from people needing reading glasses to people with no
sight at all. Age
related sight loss explains the demand for e
readers from older

people who wouldn't
count themselves visually impaired but definitely want bigger fonts! RNIB data shows large
projected growth of this population. Traditionally this market has been served by large print and
audio publications but ebooks and ebook platfo
rms designed with accessibility in mind can
transform the availability of texts.


There are approximately 210,000 people with moderate to profound learning difficulties in the UK.
Only a small proportion can handle printed text yet a
significant proportion could enjoy books
beyond their reading ability if they have the option of listening to the content. As many as three
quarters of people with learning disabilities are estimated to have visual impairments as well,
increasing the barri
ers caused by traditional print resources.


Fig 4

uman or synthetic speech makes books accessible to people with learning difficulties.

So what makes a difference?

Making a difference is about:

nderstanding something of the end reader's needs

ecognising how digital publishing can provide accessibility opportunities

ecognising how you can influence accessibility in your role

mplementing good accessibility practice as part of a coherent quality assurance process.

Whilst standards and checkli
sts have a significant role in aiding the end user experience they are not
in themselves a guarantee of usability. Ultimately to create products that are accessible to a wide
range of users you need to understand something of the user's experience in order

to implement
standards in a meaningful way. Improvements you make can impact on a surprisingly large number
of readers

as many as one in 10 people are dyslexic to varying degrees and one in five older people
have sight loss which affects their day to da
y living.

next three


focus upon dexterity, vision and literacy difficulties, they

plore the

digital publishing presents to make content accessible to all end users. We'll
also give some 'reality check' examples of th
e kind of user experiences that can go wrong.


the opportunities

publishing provides tremendous possibilities for people with dexterity difficulties. Dexterity
problems often increase with age and many avid readers can find it increasingly d
ifficult to
manipulate a physical book or get out to buy one. However, people with limited motor control or
dexterity can read e
books and e
magazines using different tools and technologies

either inbuilt or
third party.

More detailed information is pro
vided below.


Keyboard access

What it means

At the simplest level, people with poor mouse control can use the keyboard to control software on
their computer. If user interfaces are well designed this can be swift and effective.

What needs to be

To make a good user experience there should be a logical tabbing order to move around menu
items and links. The use of skip links or nested links helps reduce the number of actions required.
Text selection (for copying / pasting or text to spee
ch) is often problematic for non
mouse users.
Ensure all actions can be accessed by keyboard shortcuts and provide a list of the relevant shortcuts.

Voice Recognition

What it means

For people with limited dexterity but clear diction, voice recognition so
ftware can allow them to
control software interfaces by speech alone.

What needs to be addressed?

The user experience with voice recognition is often better than that of a keyboard only user. If your
product is workable for keyboard access it is likely
to work well with voice recognition.


What it means

Autoscroll slides new text up the screen without the user having to touch anything. The speed can
be adapted to personal preference. This allows maximum reading with minimum physical

What needs to be addressed?

Ensure the ability to switch autoscroll on and off

and to adjust speed

are equally accessible to
mouse users.

Switch users

What it means

People lacking both dexterity and clear speech may need to operate any compu
ter using a push
button switch. In conjunction with scanning software that moves the cursor in a predictable way
across the screen, this can allow them to handle most software

albeit in a frustratingly slow way. It
does, however, give real independence.

What needs to be addressed?

Where keyboard accessibility is good, switch access is likely to be good also.

Touch screen devices

What it means

For some dexterity issues, touch screen devices offer benefits compared to mouse or keyboard
access. For those with more limiting conditions touch access is problematic without further interface
and software options.


What needs to be addressed?

ent placing of navigation buttons and button size / responsiveness are important, particularly
avoiding accidental touches triggering unwanted activities. Where hardware devices can accept
external USB inputs there is enhanced opportunity to develop switch

and keyboard control.

Risk 1

Eternal Tabbing

Research into ebook platforms showed that access was often better for blind users than people
with dexterity problems. Software for blind users allows them to navigate to page sections without
having to tab

through every link

but sighted people depending on keyboard only access could take
up to 20 times more keystrokes to achieve a simple task.
The following graph indicates how many
keystrokes are needed for keyboard only access.
Note the range of values f
r keyboard only users,
shown by the blue line


good design and effective use of tab order makes a big difference.

Fig 5
The graph shows how many keystrokes are needed for keyboard only access

Risk 2

Unquotable text

In our research the voice rec
ognition user found “I cannot extract a quote as I have no means of
accessing text within a PDF to make a selection”. For users in an educational context the ability to
cut and copy quotes into an assignment can be vital. If it is impossible to select tex
t from keyboard
or voice control then the value of the product will plummet for that user.

User Experience


Shirley Evans
from JISC TechDis interviewed

one of the accessibility testers at Shaw Trust about how
his reading habits changed
after a
n industrial accident. The interviewee

now finds traditional books
difficult to read but the availability of e
books in a variety of formats has enabled him to continue to
enjoy reading.

the kinds of functionality he values in an e
book, especi
y in the latter half of the
discussion. The interview

illustrates that accessibility is not just about blind people.


JISC TechDis interviewer

I know you are a big Harry Potter fan. How do you read the Harry Potter books.

Do you get a paper
back from Smith's?

Shaw Trust Interviewee

I have all the paperbacks. I have managed to be able to do it over the course of a couple of weeks;
be able to read through thick books. But it is very uncomfortable, and having to move, a
djust myself
with Sciatica and all kinds of things. It takes a long time. I am constantly moving, my arms ache
trying to hold the book at different angles and flip pages. The only solution I found was to go over to
readers. This is an example of the ap
plications that I have downloaded for me to be able to read.
This is what is called the WattPad

it allows you to access e
books from the e
book community and
fan fiction. If I go back to the library, here is my library of all my e
books that I can scan

through. If I
just select one of them...there you go... it allows me to autoscroll at my own pace to be able to read.
I can flick down and it will change pages as I read so there is no page turning involved, which is great
for me. If you tapped down th
e bottom there are accessibility options to speed up or slow down.
There's also scroll settings here for background colour, font size and contrast options. It pretty much
has all the accessibility options I could hope to use.


the opportuniti

There are a range of issues for people with visual difficulties depending on the nature of the
impairment. This is a large group of readers. Age related sight loss impacts on a potentially
important market with time to read and fewer demands on disposa
ble income. Digital texts have
tremendous potential to revolutionise access to reading by visually impaired people; provided the
product has been designed to intelligently optimise user choice
such as colour and contrast,
magnification and reflow, navigat
ion and text to speech. These options are all discussed in more
depth below.

Colour and contrast

What it means

For some readers, being able to alter colours or contrasts between the font and the background can
make the difference between relaxed enjoyabl
e reading and difficult strained reading.

What needs to be addressed?

Always aim to give user choices because even readers without a disability will benefit from adapting
colour/contrast to respond to different lighting conditions.

Magnification and re

What it means

Easy magnification of the text is a key feature attracting older readers to ebooks but text
magnification is only genuinely useful if the text reflows to fit the page.


What needs to be addressed?

Ensure magnification options are genuine
ly useful

for example five zoom levels from 10pt to 30pt
equivalent encompass a wide range of magnification. Ensure text reflows to fit the page. This will
dislocate text and images but that is a small price to pay to avoid left/right/
up/down scrolling.

where menu buttons can be enlarged is very helpful for visually impaired readers.


What it means

People with poor vision can struggle to skim read a page. People with no vision

relying on text to

do not want to listen to
30 pages of audio before they find the bit that interests them.
Digital texts have the potential to allow swift and meaningful navigation for all readers.

What needs to be addressed?

Good structural

is vital to good navigation. Equally important i
s the accessibility of the
navigation on the platform the books are delivered through.

Text to speech

What it means

Text to speech takes the
written text and renders it in synthetic speech. For people with poor (or
absent) vision this can be a highly effe
ctive way of reading.

What needs to be addressed?

Ensure text to speech is enabled in the digital file. To avoid


header and footer

incorporated into the audio stream ensure

the text is marked up for reading order. Ensure significant
t elements like images and tables have meaningful text descriptions.

User Experience


Alistair McNaught from JISC TechDis asked Hugh Huddy from the RNIB about his personal experience
of ebooks. Hugh was brought up in a family of readers and "the
house was full of books" but
deteriorating sight meant he had to giv
e up reading. In this brief interview

he describes his journey
back into reading via e
books and his screenreader software.


I'm Hugh Huddy and I live in London. I use text to speech all the time for reading my books. I
didn't used to be a reader. I used to hate reading because it made me feel so different because I
couldn't read like everybody else. About five years a
go I thought "how
about trying
to read a book
with a screen reader?". So I did and it was a revelation. It was like reading when I used to be able to
read with my eyes.

Literacy difficulties

the opportunities

Dyslexia is an obvious print impairment
that creates literacy difficulties for an estimated 10% of
people with 4% severely affected. Adding value for people with print impairment will add value for a
range of other readers too. People working in a second language

including deaf signers

can h
real value added by

books. People with cognitive difficulties may enjoy listening to

books that are be
yond their reading ability. These opportunities are discussed in further detail


What it means

People with poor lite
racy can struggle to skim articles and chapters to get a sense of the key points.
It can be hard to 'see the big picture'. Digital texts have the potential to display semantic (

meaningful) navigation structures.

What needs to be addressed?

Good structural

is vital to good navigation but good design of the navigation pane is helpful
so it can easily be seen and accessed.

Fig 6

Simple navigation can help all users grasp the "big picture".

Colour and Contrast

What it means

For som
e dyslexic readers, being able to alter colours or contrasts between the text and the
background can make a significant difference to reading speed and comfort.

What needs to be addressed?

Always aim to give a good range of colour and contrast options wh
erever technically possible and
ensure the colour selection is keyboard accessible.

Fig 7

Image of a colour swatch


Text to speech

What it means

Text to speech takes the
written text and renders it in synthetic speech. For people with poor
skills this can transform their understanding and enjoyment of the text.

What needs to be addressed?

Ensure text to speech is enabled in the digital file. To avoid header and footer text being
incorporated into the audio stream ensure the text is marked u
p for reading order. People with poor
literacy skills benefit from word highlighting that synchronises with the speech.

Dictionary/thesaurus functionality

What it means

People with poor literacy skills can struggle with unfamiliar words and this impairs both
understanding and fluency. Digital texts can link to onboard dictionary tools or have technical terms
marked up for instant "definition

What needs to be


Provide dictionary functionality and ensure it is available to readers with other access needs such as
screenreader or keyboard
only users. If feasible, ensure the dictionary element is also capable of
text to speech rendering.

Making a diffe
rence for all

In the UK alone there are s
ome 10 million disabled people (
Family Resources Survey

prevalence estimates 2007/8).

This is an important market to reach. Research by the AIE
(Associazione Italiana Editori

Italian Publishers Assoc
iation) showed that statistically, blind people
read more than sighted people when texts are accessible to them. This makes sense when you
consider that some alternative leisure activities will always be inaccessible so reading


is an att
ractive option.

When you ensure your product is accessible to disabled users you also add significant value to
millions of other users without a d
isability. In this next section, Accessibility in Action,
we look at
some of the generic benefits that all us
ers can gain from an accessible document.

To find out more about adding accessibility to PDFs see the tutorials at
There is currently exciting work focusin
g in progress on providing guidance on optimising
accessibility in EPUB and XML workflows.

Accessibility in action

Semantic structure

People with print impai
rments can find it difficult to

grasp the bigger picture of the contents and
skim reading can be
poor. A semantically structured document with a meaningful heading /

subheading hierarchy allows readers to browse the content rapidly and understand the relationships
between different sections.


For people with visual difficulties the abi
lity to change colours and contrast can make a significant
difference to accessibility. This is also true for some dyslexic readers. If you enable such functionality
it is important to signal it to the reader and not hide it away in obscure menus.


and Reflow

The absolute magnification is more important than the relative magnification. Anything less than
30pt (around 1cm high on a screen) equivalent on the screen is unlikely to benefit visually impaired
readers. It is far better to have a modest num
ber of zoom levels covering a large magnification
range. Magnification is only useful if accompanied by text reflow. Scrolling left and right is a major
barrier to effective reading.


Autoscroll features in some e
reader systems. It has
particular benefits for people with mobility
impairment. It also benefits people reading magnified text, which otherwise requires additional
mouse / keyboard activity to navigate through the enlarged number of screens. Dyslexic readers
have been known to
increase reading speed and comprehension with autoscroll.

UK Case Study Part 1

The UK publishing industry has worked closely with the Right to Read Alliance to help future
accessibility in the emerging digital publishing opportunities. This has inc
luded a joint
recommendation on Text to Speech, joint sessions at the London
Book fair

and jointly badged

Advocacy groups can bring important benefits to publishers in terms of user feedback and assistive
technology expertise, for example
the RNIB Publisher Advice centre or JISC TechDis publisher pages.
By tapping into the expertise of print disabled people you can ensure your products meet their
needs or

in the case of educational publishing

are likely to be purchased by publicly funde
organisations. A number of UK publishers have actively sought the expertise of organisations (such
as RNIB, Dyslexia Action and JISC TechDis) or individual disabled users.

ase Study Part 2

Staff training and development are important parts of this
process and publishers engaging early
with accessibility will find that the attention to
, structure and presentation that helps
accessibility will also help place the product in the emerging mobile markets. Owing to the range of
influences on the e
nd user's experience, accessibility awareness needs to be embedded across a
wide range of roles and functions. This need was formally recognised in the 2011 redraft of the UK's
National Occupat
ional Standards for Publishing.


Skillset actively invited a na
tional advisory service (JISC TechDis) to the steering group to ensure the
new standards were future proofed and fit for purpose in terms of helping publishers create and
distribute accessibl
e digital content. The next section
, National Occupational Standa

the embedding of accessibility into the standards.

National Occupational Standards

The National Occupational Standards for publishing were redrafted in 2011 and the new standards
have accessibility competencies embedded through a wide ra
nge of publishing functions and roles.

Below is a

summary of the relevant standards where accessibility is mentioned.

Key accessibility hotspots in occupational standards

2.1 Working effectively ...

Function: 2.1 Working effectively with colleagues and s

NOS title: PUB2 Work effectively with colleagues, publishing partners and suppliers.


pecifying accessibility requirements or user testing.

2.2 Building effective relationships

Function: 2.2 Building effective relationships

NOS title:

PUB3 Build productive relationships with external contacts


tandards organisations p
romoting accessible publishing



pecialist format publishers.

9.2 Checking structural design, functionality and accessibility

n: 9.2 checking structural design, functionality and accessibility

NOS title: PUB15 Commission and check the structural design, functionality and accessibility of
digital publications.


unctionality and accessibility testing and fixing any issues

that arise.

10.2 Creating content

Function: 10.2 creating content.

NOS title: PUB18 Create content.


ecognising that good practices such as tagging heading levels and reading order can have a
positive impact on accessibility.

11.1 Copy
editing publications

Function: 11.1 Copy editing publications.


NOS title: PUB19 Edit content.


nderstanding accessibility issues and current best practice in presenting complex

15.1 Developing digital products and solutions

Function: 15.1 Developing digital products and solutions.

NOS title: Cross reference to IT & Telecoms Standards and Interactive Media 5.

Includes (IT and telecoms):

4.3 Human Needs Analysis

4.6 Human computer interaction / interface (HCI) design

s (Interactive media) ...ensure that user interfaces are fully accessible to all users.

16.1 Developing work specifications

Function: 16.1 Developing work specifications.

NOS title: PUB22 Produce a specification of work.


tructural design for d
igital products including accessibility requirements.

16.2 Developing technical specifications for digital products

Function: 16.2 Developing technical specifications for digital products.

NOS title: PUB23 Define technical and project specifications for
digital products.



you interpret the structural requirements of a brief and translate then into an
achievable and accessible form.

37.1 Ensure effective distribution...

Function: 37.1 Ensure effective distribution of publishing products
including digital assets.

NOS title: Signpost to Signpost to MKT341 Develop a distribution strategy for products and services.



sure the distribution system meets appropriate web standards and
best practice in

Italian case s

The LIA Project (L
ibri Italiani Accessibili) is a
collaboration between publishers, advocacy groups and
the Italian Ministry of Culture. The project involves researching current practices in order to provide
practical advice to publishers on how to a
dapt mainstream processes to maximise the accessibility of
their end products. It will als
o explore the accessibility of
online bookstores and the means visually
impaired readers might use to obtain books. The aim is to create a service delivering online
ccessible editorial products (fiction and

books) for visually impaired people. More than
the 55% of the Italian book market are collaborating with the project.


Phase 1

Users’ requirements

In collaboration with partners a survey took place to
better understand the
actual reading behaviours of disabled users.

Technological infrastructure



the actual distribution channels to identify the best
solutions to implement the service.

Standard identifier and metadata schema


In collaborati
on with Medra define the best ones
focusing on already existing ones (ISBN/ISBN

Phase 2



upport/implement the conversion of the files working in collaboration with
publishers and their prepress suppliers



he accessible
books’ catalogue

Advise on


m technological infrastructure
based on already existing platforms or

Develop and test


nline distribution service for accessible books by the end of 2012. Test the
service with people with reading

Reality Check

the ebook platform survey

In 2010 JISC TechDis published the results of research sponsored by JISC TechDis, Publishers
Licensing Society and JISC Collections. The research looked at the accessibili
ty of ebooks to different

with different disabilities.

The findings were illuminating. If you took the best features of each of the platforms tested and
created an 'ideal' platform from these subsets then the ideal platform would have a very high degree
of accessibility howev
er each platform had some accessibility barriers.

Predictably, publishers who
had been proactive about
accessibility had the most accessible

he main f
indings are explored below

Signposting 1

All of the platforms had functionality that offere
d accessibility benefits

even if only magnification of

yet none of the platforms signalled their accessibility benefits to users. Whether such guidance
is in the form of an accessibility statement, a personal preferences menu or anything between t
two it is easy to inform users as to how they can personalise their reading experience.


Signposting 2

Signposting can be built into personal preferences or on a separate accessibility statement .... or
both as in this case. What matters is letting read
ers know the personalisation options you are able to
give them. This will benefit many more users than just those with disabilities.

Fig 8

Image showing a preferences screen and link to accessibility statement.

Keyboard access

Some of the platforms tested had a high level of keyboard accessibility, but there were huge
variations ( >2000%) in the number of keystrokes required to accomplish a task. Even if something is
technically accessible ("Yes, you can do that with the keyboar
d") it may not be usable ("I can't face
tabbing 50 times to move to the next page").

Keyboard access 2

The table shows the variations we found in the number of actions required on different platforms to
achieve a task. A system requiring a disproportionat
ely large number of user actions is poorly
designed. User testing could have highlighted this before public release, allowing pre

Fig 9

Keyboard clicks for the same task vary from 11 to 170 actions depending on which platform you


The best platforms tested allowed screenreader users to perform basic actions (opening a book,
reading a few pages) very effectively but nearly one third of the platforms were not

to a
screenreader. Screenreaders have a functi
on that allows you to rapidly skim through the links on a
page. Several platforms had search results that contained hundreds of links labelled "More". A label
like "More on The Origin of the Species" is much more accessible to a screenreader user.



The importance of user testing cannot be overstressed. Some platforms had page layouts that
altered entirely depending on which part of the system you were in. A sighted reader can generally
cope with that but people with short term memory issues and
people who cannot see the screen can
get very confused by inconsistent layouts.

There were also instances where a single vital but unlabelled button rendered an otherwise very
accessible system completely inaccessible because the screenreader user had no

idea where the
button was or what it did.

What does an accessible ebook look like?

Edited by Sue Polanka, the supplement
"No Shelf Required 2: Use and M
anagement of Electronic
covers "Accessibility Issues in E
Books and E
Readers” includi

• Functional criteria for e
book accessibility

what attributes an e
book reader platform needs to
be accessible to users with disabilities.

• An overview of common e
book reader accessibility

a limited and partial glance at the landscape
of e

readers, installed, web
based, and integrated with a device.

Please note that the second part (reviewing devices) can only be regarded as a snapshot of the
technology in late 2011.


to this text

can be found at: <>

Find out more

The links


take you to further modules in this training resource as well as useful
background for understanding the issues and making a difference to your readers.



<insert link>
Best practice guidance for creating books in EPUB3

Dealing with images

insert link>
uidelines for creating ALT texts and Long Descriptions

<insert link>
uidelines how to conduct an accessibility audit


<insert link>

Guidelines to aid discoverability of accessible ebooks

Accessible formats

<insert link>

for understanding the accessibility of various file

Legal and licensing
<insert link>
Guidance on legal and licensing issues in your market

Summary and Credits

Publishers who understand the importance of accessibility create for themselves new opp

1) G
aining a potentially significant customer base. This can include sales to individuals as well as
being preferred suppliers in certain sectors. Publicly funded institutions are obliged to make
accessibility a procurement criterion

2) C
reating new product opportunities; the factors that make something good for accessibility
almost invariably result in it being good for mobile platforms or new flexible delivery models.

With good training and a professional approach it is possible t
o create products that are as enjoyable
to use for print impaired users as for any reader.


training resources

are available from <>

This module was created by Alistair McNaught (JISC TechDis) with support from Sarah Hilderley