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S4Carlisle Webinar: A Publisher’s Guide to Accessibility Was a Success!

Last week, S4Carlisle hosted a well-attended and highly successful webinar on accessibility with speaker Michael Johnson, Director of Content Partnerships at Benetech. In his presentation, Michael discussed several important factors and issues regarding accessibility currently in the publishing world. This could not have been a timelier discussion considering the importance of accessibility in the publishing world. As discussed in previous blog posts, many publishers are still unprepared for the demands of making their content accessible. They face increasing scrutiny for their journals, books, and technical material to be accessible, but they must also be cognizant of the current legal setting regarding accessibility, regardless of what form their traditional or electronic materials take. This means building the process of certifying materials as compliant into the process of content creation and distribution from the very beginning of the process.

In his talk, Michael Johnson discusses the growing demand for accessibility not only in publishing but in the everyday world as well. The explosion of communication devices has triggered new and innovative markets due to accessibility needs. These ultimately benefit everyone. Regarding publishing, he noted that a fully accessible file is simply better than one that provides nothing to accommodate the significant number of those with disabilities in vision, hearing, and learning. These are large markets going unserved if the content is not accessible.

He points out that there are many reasons why accessibility is so important. For example, state and federal government procedural issues are moving to place accessibility at the forefront of policy. Many public and private organizations are now adding accessibility across their infrastructures. Every aspect of content is now becoming transformed such as web design, product features, and even manuals and help screens. Lastly, he focuses on the myriad of legal issues that surround non-compliance with accessibility legal guidelines – especially in the United States.

Mr. Johnson explains that for twenty years, Benetech is a charity organization that focuses on using technology for social good. Among a variety of Social Justice programs as well as having their largest program by far in global literacy. Their goal is to make eBooks available to people with print disabilities through Bookshare with almost one million titles in their repository and fifteen million downloads since its inception. They have over 500,000 users spread across all continents.

The core of their mission is their Benetech Global Certified Accessible™ (GCA) program. It is the world’s first international third-party EPUB certification program to verify eBook accessibility. It was created to help publishers move forward by certifying output from publisher workflow. They have a dozen partners already certified – including S4Carlisle. Benetech’s Global Certified Accessible™ vendor certification program verifies that all approved PUB conversion vendors have demonstrated success in consistently producing files that conform to Benetech’s GCA certification standard. This includes meeting the EPUB Accessibility 1.0 Conformance and Discovery specification and exceeding a publishing standard level of WCAG 2.10 AA. Benetech endorses these vendors as experts in producing fully accessible EPUBs.

Hundreds of titles are already available for sale. One thing that Michael emphasizes is that regardless of what format organizations work with, some form of accessibility is possible. For Benetech, any work organizations and institutions are doing about accessibility is welcomed, but fully accessible EPUB should be the end goal. He points out that if an organization isn’t there yet, it’s okay because each step in the journey is important.

Please see below for a video of the presentation in case you missed it.

This presentation emphasizes why publishers must partner with companies that are already working with other publishers when it comes to accessibility in content development, editorial services, composition, online learning, E-book development and conversion, and technology solutions. Experience and knowledge when it comes to accessibility compliance and development will be invaluable to both large and small publishers. S4Carllisle is a company at the forefront of accessibility for our clients. We have years of experience helping publishers meet the rigorous standards and requirements of the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines 2.0 A & AA, Structure Guidelines for DAISY 3, Epub3 1.0 Accessibility Guidelines, Section 508, and all other regulations promulgated under Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act and Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act as Amended (ADAAA).


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