Digital Publishing: Are You Getting the Most Out of EPUB 3?
It’s All About Accessibility
To wrap things up, I want to point out that EPUB 3 is designed for accessibility in many more ways than one.
What first comes to mind with the term “accessibility” is making content accessible to those who have an inability to consume the content visually — the blind, seniors and others with low vision, folks with dyslexia, and many others. A fundamental design mandate for EPUB 3 was to accommodate the needs of the print disabled. The DAISY Consortium — the international organization responsible for the primary accessibility standards — was an invaluable contributor to the development of EPUB 3, and EPUB 3.0 has become an official DAISY standard for the provision of accessible content. (O’Reilly has made Matt Garrish’s chapter of EPUB 3 Best Practices devoted to accessibility available as a free eBook.)
But it’s important to realize that the very things that make a publication accessible to the print disabled also make it more accessible to everybody. Think of it this way: Computers are print disabled. They can’t “see” that a footnote is a footnote; you need to tell them that. They don’t know how to navigate the publication unless you guide them. They don’t even know what all the pieces are, and what they’re for, unless you spell it all out.
This is not the place to get into the details of the metadata and packaging in EPUB 3, but in a real sense that’s a big part of what makes an EPUB an EPUB. It is the documentation (the ), the packing list (the ), the guide (the ), along with the well-structured content that make it all work. That, with the semantics that EPUB 3 adds to the mix, makes EPUB 3 fundamentally the best form you can put your publication in, whether you’re going to deliver it to the retail e-reader environment, put the content online, or even create an app. It uses the same technologies that browsers and apps use, but it uses them in a specific, consistent, standard and well-documented way.