Certified Accessible Ebooks
As part of their Born Accessible initiative, Benetech is launching a new program called Global Certified Accessible. An exciting new program, and the first of it’s kind, it will verify that reviewed content meets rigorous requirements of accessible content. The program has just gone through a six-month beta run with participation from publishers in educational, academic, professional and trade publications.
Global Certified Accessible ensures students unable to read standard print due to blindness, low vision, dyslexia, or a physical disability have equal access to the same content as their peers. The program has a global footprint in order to serve students around the world. Benetech developed the certification standards and serves as the lead certification provider for North America.
The idea behind the program is that certified accessible content will come with specific metadata that makes it easier for users to find it, and for retailers and lenders to market it. So procurement offices and school districts will be able to easily identify and prioritize third-party certified, accessible eTextbooks from publishers who choose to participate. The criteria for certification follows the W3C Accessibility Specification closely.
Certification provides us with confidence that we’re producing quality products and allows our customers to have confidence that the product they’re purchasing is truly accessible for all students.—Rachel Comerford, Macmillan Learning
Rachel Comerford, Director of Content Standards at Macmillan Learning was a participant in the beta program. She said that the program helped her understand the accessibility needs of students with an eye to creating materials that create the best possible learning experience. “Certification provides us with confidence that we’re producing quality products and allows our customers to have confidence that the product they’re purchasing is truly accessible for all students.”
Benetech’s development of the certificate standards brings much needed clarity to the process of creating and procuring accessible content.—Aashish Agarwaal, Amnet Systems
Aashish Agarwaal of Amnet Systems writes that the program is a major milestone for accessibility, making it easier for for developers and consumers of accessible content. Agarwall said, “Benetech’s development of the certificate standards brings much needed clarity to the process of creating and procuring accessible content.”
Every publisher should strive to make their content as accessible as possible. The first step is getting an accurate snapshot of compliance. Benetech’s certification process is invaluable in identifying areas of improvement and helping to prioritize work. We’re proud to be partners in this initiative. —Denis Saulnier, Harvard Business Publishing
Some Technical Detail
The checker follows the EPUB Accessibility 1.0 baseline specification closely, complemented by the W3C’s Web content Accessiblity Guidelines (WCAG 2.0). Images descriptions are closely reviewed and, while there are currently no published specs on extended image descriptions, this checker follows Diagram Center guidelines.
A big part of the good work of this program is encouraging the use of schema.org accessibility metadata and conformance reporting metadata. This package metadata is key to making this certified accessible content discoverable. There is more detail about metadata at the program site. (I hope to have some extended articles about it here soon.)
Benetech is a different kind of tech company. We’re a nonprofit whose mission is to empower communities in need by creating scalable technology solutions. Our work has transformed how over 500,000 people with disabilities read; made it safer for human rights defenders in over fifty countries to document human rights violations; equipped environmental conservationists to protect ecosystems and species all over the world. Our Benetech Labs is working on the next big impact. Visit www.benetech.org.