Joint statement on accessibility & e-books
Steve Noble, Accessibility Research Consultant (Guest Writer)
Last week at the London Book Fair, the UK Publishers Association (PA) launched a Joint statement on accessibility & e-books, pledging support of the publishing industry to foster greater accessibility of e-books. The PA--a leading trade organization of publishers in the UK-- was joined in support of this statement by other key organizations, including the Royal National Institute of Blind People (RNIB) and EDItEUR, the international standards organization for the book industry
The joint statement advances the premise that "œpublishers can work towards ensuring that all their ebooks have easily added features that assist accessibility (like enhanced navigation); and equally that their ebooks do not have accessibility features unnecessarily disabled." It further promotes that the PA intends on working together with the developers of ebook devices and platforms, the actors in the supply chain for ebooks, people with print impairments, and learning providers and libraries to ensure accessible ebooks to all.
The PA is certainly to be applauded for their stance. Although the joint statement does not specifically address access to mathematics content, we all need to remember that using accessible math in all forms of digital content is vital to ensuring that people with disabilities will have the same level of accessibility to ebooks containing math as they do to standard literary text.
Those of us in the USA can learn a few things from the Brits. Wouldn't it be great to see the Association of American Publishers and the Author's Guild come out with a similar stance encouraging its members not to disable text to speech capabilities and supporting full accessibility to ebook content? Take a moment to contact these organizations and urge them to adopt a similar pledge:
As the joint statement points out, accessibility depends upon all the parts of the supply chain. So also be sure to make your voice known to ebook vendors, ebook reader developers, and your school and libraryâ€¦all the parts of the ebook chain. Everyone needs to know about the importance of making math accessible.
For some more ideas about what you can do to make math accessible in your community, see What can you do to help promote math accessibility?
Steve Noble is a research consultant with a core focus in mathematics accessibility and assistive technology. Currently he serves on grant-funded research projects with both the University of Kentucky and Bridge Multimedia, and previously served as Director of Accessibility Policy for Design Science.