Making Your E-books Accessible
An interesting session was held at the London Book Fair at Earls Court, London, in mid-April. The topic: "Making Your E-books Accessible to More Users. Why and How." I attended the session anticipating a discussion of e-book marketing and making your e-books easy to find. Instead, the session explored accessibility for the visually impaired, something, it seems, of which few, though increasing numbers, are cognizant—or act upon. The main message: E-books provide a great opportunity for providing the visually and otherwise impaired with access to books which they would otherwise not have access. Publishers need to ensure that their books are accessible to this underserved market.
The session was chaired by: Richard Mollet, CEO of The Publishers Association, and featured Alicia Wise, Alistair McNaught, Mark Bide, Pete Osborne and Sarah Hilderley as speakers.
Here's a rundown of what these executives addressed and recommended for publishers.
Right to Read Alliance
Osborne and his organization have one vision: For the "same book to be available to all at the same time, at the same price." The alliance campaigns for people who have sight problems, dyslexia or other disabilities. "Digital publishing offers trememdous opportunities for everybody, he noted, particularly with text-to-speech. My recommendation is that publishers routinely offer text to speech, especially when there is no audio equivalent of the title. Great improvements are being made; many more books have text-to-speech available."
Osborne, who is blind, said, "It used to be the case where it was difficult for me to find a book I wanted. More of than not, I couldn't access it. It used to be that visiting a book shop was an extremely depressing experience. This is equivalent to buying a book only to get home to find all pages glued together."
Osborne gave his presentation using a brail display that was linked to his iPhone. He noted, "I use this to read e-books and to listen to books. What that means to me to be able to find what I want to read and be able to read it. Unfortunately, I do still find books that have text-to-speech diabled."