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9th European e-Accessibility Forum
e-Accessible Knowledge

8/06/2015, 9:00-18:00
Cité des sciences et de l'industrie - Universcience - Paris

  Version française
Printable version

Implementing the Legislative Strategy: Accessible Digital Publishing within and beyond the legal threshold

George KERSCHER (Montana, USA)
DAISY Consortium

Speaker's information

George Kerscher

George Kerscher began his IT innovations in 1987 and coined the term "print disabled." George is dedicated to developing technologies that make information not only accessible, but also fully functional in the hands of persons who are blind or who have a print disability. He believes properly designed information systems can make information accessible to all people. George is an advocate for semantically rich content which can be used effectively by everybody. As Secretary General of the DAISY Consortium and President of the International Digital Publishing Forum (IDPF), Kerscher is a recognised international leader in document access. In addition, Kerscher is the Senior Officer of Accessible Technology at Learning Ally in the USA. He chairs the DAISY/NISO Standards committee, serves on the USA National Instructional Materials Accessibility Standard (NIMAS) Board, and also serves on the Advisory Board of the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS).



The Daisy consortium has been working to make published material accessible for almost 20 years now. The Daisy standard grew up in the libraries, serving people who are blind and disabled. Now, the Consortium is moving away from a separate standard used only in the disability community towards a fully inclusive mainstream solution in the form of EPUB. All the great things that were in Daisy are now also in EPUB 3.

Publishers are often heard saying “Tell me what to do to make my digital book accessible.” This is a complex question, which involves many systems, but everybody wants clarity, certainty, and an easy to reference mechanism.

The digital publishing Industry - which includes trade and educational publishers, the journal, magazine and comics and Manga industry, disability-focused organizations, educational institutions, governmental organizations, tech companies, and standards organizations - are being encouraged to come together to agree on the baseline minimum requirements for a digitally published work to be termed “Born Accessible.”

The baseline for Born Accessible EPUB 3 includes the following:

Many of the features of EPUB 3 are effective for persons with disabilities without additional work from the publisher. The native semantics of HTML5, for example, which enable logical reading order, effective navigation, skipping, and escaping content, is the very foundation of digital publishing, but also the starting point of accessible content.

There are, however, specific accessibility requirements that need attention outside of the traditional publisher workflow, such as:

  • ALT text and additional enhancements for graphical content (images, charts, diagrams, maps, infographics, artwork, etc), especially in educational materials
  • Metadata which identifies the accessibility features of publications that conform to the baseline
  • While the vast majority of baseline Born Accessible publications will be accessible to a broad range of persons with disabilities, mechanisms to address special requirements will need to remain in place, and new relationships will need to be created between publishers and organizations that can enhance publications. The issue of tools for evaluation, certification approaches, approved guidelines and training and support will be topics for discussion.

    Educational digital publications using EPUB 3 are anticipated to use the EDUPUB profile, which provides additional semantics and features needed in education.

    The biggest problem educational institutions face is that teachers and faculty lack access to authoring tools to create EPUB 3 documents and instructional materials. Having EPUB 3 authoring tools broadly available would be extremely important for those who are creating course-level content for students.

    Watch George Kerscher's presentation on YouTube


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