Testing Reading Systems for Accessibility

Original Author(s): Varju Luceno

Collaborative efforts have helped to improve textbook accessibility, but there is still a lot of work ahead. We are witnessing the educational publishing industry undergo a significant transformation.

The shift from print distribution to digital as well as new partnerships with educational technology companies are taking place. Most of the educational content that will be published in the next several years will become available in digital format from day one.

Also, many students are now using electronic devices such as tablets and smartphones to access their educational content on the go. The changes in the production, delivery, and use of digital materials assist in delivering the “Natively Accessible” promise for students with print disabilities. Converting inaccessible publications into accessible materials can be slow, and expensive.

Accessible EPUB 3

Since the Association of American Publishers (AAP) announced their intention to encourage all publishers to adopt the EPUB 3 format for digital books, mainstream publishers have included accessibility in their lists of benefits of their products. Elsevier announced that they would be generating alt text for all images. Pearson has announced Math ML support for all of their textbooks going forward. Publishers are increasingly supporting accessibility features in interactive and graphic content. Top Tips for Creating Accessible EPUB 3 files are available on the DIAGRAM project website [http://diagramcenter.org/54-9-tips-for-creating-accessible-epub-3-files.html].


In July 2014, the EPUBTEST website (sponsored by IDPF, BISG and the DAISY Consortium) launched the accessibility category to the test criteria. With this addition, the eputestest.org test grid now displays test results for both EPUB 3 Feature Conformance Testing as well as Testing of Reading Systems accessibility compliance.

The introduction of accessibility evaluations of reading systems through the EPUBTEST suite provides a comprehensive review of the reading system’s overall functionality for all audiences. The basic assumption of accessibility is that all Reading Systems should support reading with eyes, ears, and fingers. Both, digital content and reading systems need to be accessible to guarantee accessible reading experience.

To make testing and evaluating reading systems easier, the DAISY Consortium and Tech For All developed the Accessibility Screening Guidelines and Checklist. The fundamental test book provides the essential accessibility tests and instructions to the person conducting the test. Advanced texts for testing books will be provided soon.

Well-structured text in a logical reading order is a baseline requirement for accessible EPUB 3 publications. To achieve a high fundamental accessibility score, users should be able to adjust font size and color. Also, the text should be readable with a screen reader or self-voicing text-to-speech application, a refreshable braille display or assistive technologies designed for persons with dyslexia and other learning disabilities. Find the list of tested applications on epubtest.org and recommendations on inclusivepublishing.org.

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This page was last edited by VLuceno on Saturday, January 28, 2017 11:21
Text is available under the terms of the DAISY Consortium Intellectual Property Policy, Licensing, and Working Group Process.