Accessibility has often been an afterthought in print publishing. The accessible formats of the print era, such as braille and large print, required additional considerations and separate printings. This meant that, for a long time, readers with print disabilities had a very limited pool of books to choose from. And the books that were available were often very expensive and difficult to find. Fortunately, in the digital world, accessibility looks a lot different.
“Born Accessible” Content
In digital publishing, publishers can create “born accessible” content. The term “born accessible” means that the accessibility features of the content are present from the first publication–instead of being added on later. Publishers of “born accessible” content are able to reach much larger audiences and are often able to provide a better experience for readers who utilize assistive features.
What eBook Accessibility Looks Like Today
Modern accessibility exists inside the metadata of a book. In other words, certain attributes are added behind the scenes so that assistive technologies, such as screen readers or text-to-speech software, can provide an intuitive experience for readers with print disabilities. The digital medium itself also offers some built-in accessibility features, like text scaling and reflow. And features like these can benefit all digital readers because they allow for a more personalized and comfortable reading experience.
Considerations for Publishers
Efficient accessibility practices start early on in the publishing process. It is important to choose a format, like EPUB 3 for example, that is capable of offering modern accessibility features. It is also important to build the set up for these features into your workflow. Many accessibility consulting firms and experts will be able to offer guidance on how to best do this. Taking the time to set your publication up for success in accessibility will help you grow your audience and your business.