The Future of Publishing

Accessibility: A Snapshot of Success—Are You in the Picture?

Accessibility: A Snapshot of Success—Are You in the Picture?

About the Author

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 digitally published materials and web pages can make information accessible to all people. George is an advocate for semantically rich content which can be used effectively by everybody.

As Chief Innovations Officer of the DAISY Consortium, Senior Advisor, Global Literacy to Benetech, and member of Publishing Groups in the W3C, Kerscher is a recognized international leader in document access. In addition, Kerscher chairs the DAISY/NISO Standards committee, Chairs the Steering Council of the Web Accessibility Initiative (WAI, and also serves on the Advisory Board of the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS).

When I was asked to write a brief article on accessibility in publishing, I was worried—how to fit it all into 1,000 words? There’s so much to say! I’ve been working in this area for many years and I don’t think I’ve ever had to pack so much into a report as I’m going to try to do today!

We’ve come a long way in a short time, and with so much converging right now, this is a time of opportunity and renewed energy for accessible publishing. Our ultimate goal, Born Accessible publishing via fully conformant EPUB 3 is finally a realistic one. Print-disabled readers can expect the same experience as everyone else—to be able to access content at the same time, at the same cost, and in the same format. Getting the basics right is straightforward, but full conformance requires serious effort. Fortunately, there are tools from DAISY to help.

The entire supply chain’s engagement with our mission and goal is of paramount importance. There’s no point having fully accessible EPUB 3 content if no one can find it, purchase it, or read it on their reading system. Supply chain involvement at every level has been a challenge but good things are happening, and we applaud DAISY’s partners in all sectors who are tirelessly working to make this happen.

We are witnessing much success. Awareness building is often the key to initial understanding and action within an organization. Via our inclusive publishing website and other partner organizations, such as BISG, it is clear that we are creating a community of committed individuals who are passionate about our success and selfless in driving our ultimate goal forward. Accessibility is now a major topic at many industry events and it’s hugely significant that we are witnessing this shift in focus at so many mainstream conferences and fairs. The inclusive publishing events page provides details on these events and you can find out which of our talented DAISY speakers will be showcasing their work.

Crucial to our success is the industrywide adoption of the EPUB 3 format. EPUB 3 offers more opportunities and options for accessibility than any other digital publishing format, and it remains vital that we all continue to support and advocate for EPUB 3. The work of the W3C publishing groups continues to be outstanding and the current draft of EPUB 3.2 reinforces the requirement for accessibility. DAISY is incredibly proud to be a part of this work and our relationship with our friends at the W3C remains as important now as it ever was.

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