Accessibility for the disabled

Award to highlight eBook accessibility at London Book Fair (#LBF15)

ABC International Excellence Award shortlists four publishers for making digital content accessible to people with print disabilities

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International text and symbols are used to indicate web-accessibility features. (Source: <a href="">ScienceDirect blog</a>)Reading is becoming increasingly easier for people with print disabilities thanks to the growing field of web accessibility. As digital technology becomes more sophisticated, publishers are working on new ways to make their books, journals and other digital content more user-friendly for those who are visually and cognitively impaired, opening doors for people who might have been excluded even a decade ago.

To recognize leaders in this field, the Accessible Books Consortium (ABC) will grant the International Excellence Award for Accessible Publishing April 14 at the London Book Fair. The award recognizes “outstanding leadership or achievements in advancing the accessibility of commercial e-books or other digital publications to persons with print disabilities.”

Elsevier has been named to the shortlist along with Cambridge University Press, HarperCollins and Sage Publishing.

The importance of supporting web accessibility cannot be underestimated. At Elsevier, much of our focus is on ScienceDirect, a full-text database of more than 2,500 journals and 30,000 books. The team developing ScienceDirect has a high commitment to supporting researcher efficiency, including how the platform is developed to serve researchers with disabilities or impairments, be they auditory, cognitive, physical, speech or visual disabilities.

A person who is visually impaired can use a screen reader to bring up document regions in ScienceDirect to understand the web page composition and skip around more easily.The award submission outlined the cooperative efforts among several Elsevier business units including the ScienceDirect product team, User Centered Design, Technology, Universal Access and Operations. Our submission highlighted the superior accessibility and usability of ScienceDirect, but also the Digital Book Archive’s reputation for fulfilling thousands of eBook file requests each year. In addition, we highlighted our work developing publicly available tools and guidelines as Elsevier moves toward producing accessible EPUB3 books.

Alicia Wise, PhDAccessibility today is a measure of quality for an e-product, indicating it is easy for everyone to use. With each release, we test ScienceDirect with our external collaboration group, which includes industry experts and users with disabilities. We are able to apply the most modern techniques early in the development process, which is crucial to integrating accessibility into an e-product.

Meanwhile, for more than 15 years, our Digital Book Archive has been focusing on delivering alternate file requests the same day we receive them. We understand that students in particular need these materials as quickly as possible to succeed in their classwork. And we love the notes we get from our happy customers.

“What an incredible thing it is to read, and how unimaginably sad to be confronted with books that appeal but cannot be accessed,” said Dr. Alicia Wise, Elsevier’s Director of Access and Policy. “For this reason, we’re delighted to be short-listed for this award. Our company is passionate about accessibility — and thrilled to see that we are not alone. What a terrific range of other publishers have been nominated and shortlisted for this prize. Our engagement and commitment to inclusive publishing is the real win for people of all abilities.”


Elsevier Connect Contributors

Tripp NarupTed GiesAs a Principal User Experience Specialist at Elsevier, Ted Gies leads a companywide initiative around web accessibility. For over 10 years, he has worked to help teams understand how to integrate accessibility into development, messaging, sales materials and user experience. Ted leads the Elsevier Accessibility Collaboration Group, manages the Tiered Accessibility Model for Elsevier, and has helped craft the company’s accessibility policies.

Tripp Narup is the manager of Elsevier’s Global Books Digital Archive, based in St. Louis. His department handles over 4,600 alternate file requests for disability services offices worldwide. Tripp also coordinates the Operations division’s efforts to bring alt text and closed captions to Elsevier products.

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