EPUB 3 Empowers Mobile Learning and Professionals on the Go

Original Author(s): Editors - Becky Gibson, George Kerscher, Rich Schwerdtfeger, Varju Luceno

Abstract: CSUN 2015 presentation EPUB 3 Empowers Professionals on the Go: http://www.slideshare.net/daisyconsortium/epub-empowers-professionals-on-the-go.

The publishing industry has begun to rethink the way it meets the changing needs of education and the mobile workforce. At the same time, it strives to support greater levels of accessibility. The digital document format behind this change is EPUB 3. It is a cornerstone of digital education strategies for many large book publishers. Recently IBM made a fundamental change in how it delivers documentation, choosing EPUB 3 to advance accessibility, facilitate ease of use on mobile devices, and to provide a vehicle for delivering next generation interactive documentation to its customers.

The EPUB 3 specification is a distribution and interchange format for digital publications and documents based heavily on the Open Web Platform. EPUB 3 defines a means of representing, packaging and encoding structured, and semantically enhanced Web content for distribution in a single-file format maintained by IDPF. Enhanced web content includes Hypertext Markup Language 5 (HTML5), Cascading Style Sheets (CSS), Web Accessibility Initiative Accessible Rich Internet Applications (WAI-ARIA), Math Markup Language (MathML), Scalable Vector Graphics (SVG), images, and other resources.

In short, EPUB 3 allows creating engaging, digital content at scale that is cross-platform and connects to the educational ecosystem.

Through the use of Open Web Platform, EPUB will be able to leverage rapid advances in accessible technologies and provide a document format that reflows to fit the size of mobile screens and lend itself to adaptation, embedded dynamic content, bookmarking, annotation and advanced learning analytics to allow the prediction of student aptitude and ways to improve education material.

Mainstream Opportunities for the Enterprise

On February 14, 2014, IBM with the International Digital Publishing Forum (IDPF), announced its move to adopt EPUB 3 for product documentation it provides to customers. This move was motivated by efforts to improve accessibility and also by a mainstream desire to provide documentation that would support digital math, interactive content, and to facilitate an improved user experience on iOS and Android apps that included accessible book readers that already supported the EPUB format as well as integration with assistive technologies.

IBM was able to make this switch as it has centralized all document management around the OASIS Darwin Information Typing Architecture (DITA). IBM is contributing new open source emitters to convert DITA to accessible EPUB documents for others to use.


Readium is an organization created to accelerate the development of standards compliant EPUB reading solutions in the industry. Many companies, like IBM, have joined the Readium foundation to build reusable EPUB readers. These readers can be embedded into learning solutions for desktop and mobile devices as well as cloud-based solutions to enable cross-platform reading tools on the Web.

Today, EPUB 3 supports accessibility features from HTML5 and WAI-ARIA 1.0. This has enabled EPUB 3 to come out of the gate fully accessible by today’s standards. Yet, so much more is on the horizon in the realm of the Open Web Platform to facilitate access to information.

Efforts and extensions underway are as follows:

  • WAI-ARIA for the advanced semantically rich publications that include navigation as well as annotations
  • SVG drawings that are more accessible
  • Advanced access to digital Math
  • New work to facilitate device interaction and context adaptation through W3C IndieUI standards and how this work can be folded into future versions of EPUB

Unlike many technologies EPUB 3 reuses the tremendous advances made in open web browser technology instead of re-inventing the wheel that often leaves people with disabilities behind.

EDUPUB and Opportunities for Education and Online Learning

The widest adoption of EPUB 3 is in the learning and educational publishing space. Large publishers such as Pearson and Elsevier have placed EDUPUB (EPUB 3 with extensions), as the core digital book publishing format for their digital learning offerings.

The EDUPUB profile represents the effort of the IDPF educational community to adapt the functionality of the EPUB 3 format to the unique structural and semantic requirements of educational publishing.

EDUPUB tailors the EPUB 3 specification as follows:

  • It adds semantics for common educational publishing components and structures
  • It defines requirements for the production and inclusion of images and rich media
  • It defines how to include content that may be created external to the narrative text workflow, such as interactives and assessment (e.g., Question and Test Interoperability (QTI))
  • It implements common educational accessibility features for compliance with educational standards
  • EDUPUB also takes advantage of the ability to use schema.org metadata in the EPUB package document
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This page was last edited by VLuceno on Tuesday, August 4, 2015 10:32
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