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Re: EPUB 3 and accessibility for ebooks


From: Kevin Chao
Date: Nov 23, 2011 2:21AM

HI Karen,

Please see answers inline.

Sent from my iPhone

On Nov 22, 2011, at 2:50 PM, Karen Mardahl < <EMAIL REMOVED> > wrote:

1. Does anyone know whether EPUB 3 will be *the* format for publishing
accessible ebooks? My impression from a forgotten article is yes -
that this format will render DAISY obsolete. (Or will it?)

EPUB3 will be the standard by which most eBooks/textbooks, whether these be commercial or specialized/accessible will be published. A goal of the IDPF has always been to not have two different formats, EPUB and DAISY, but to have a unified universal design/acccessible format, which EPUB3 is the first step in that direction. EPUB3 will take all the features, especially the accessibility ones, and build it right into EPUB3.

2. How well *is* EPUB 3 doing on accessibility? I get the impression
exciting things will happen with math markup.

EPUB3 spec was finalized around the middle of October. THE specification/standard does have a lot of accessibility. For the past few months, I've been testing a variety of EPUB3 eBooks, reading systems, and screen readers. Unfortunately, even though the EPUB3 specification/standard has accessibility, which is very good, it's all about it being implemented properly. This requires work from the reading system vendors, publishers, assistive technology vendors, etc. For example, EPUB Reader extension for Firefox, NVDA screen reader, and Pearson publishing would all have to work together to make an accessible EPUB eBook. In other words, it's very early on, it's not good at all, and the community needs to come together to build best practices, guidelines, tips, etc.

3. What exactly is the relationship between EPUB 3 and HTML5: is EPUB
3 waiting on HTML5 for anythig or is it just going ahead with what's
available now?

EPUB3 carries over all the HTML5 features, such as MathML and SVG. Math is one that you raised in point 2, but again this goes back to proper implimentation, guidelines, best practices, and the need for the various parts to work together properly to form a unified universal design/access experience.

Of course, even if EPUB 3 is perfect, a manufacturer can implement it
poorly or close down some part. (Here I'm thinking about Amazon
turning off the text-to-speech service on one of the Kindles to please
some publishers.)

Amazon Kindle does *NOT* use EPUB3/2, but it's own Mobi format, which is a wrapper around EPUB, which is very limited, not allowing for any multimedia or interaction, which are two key parts in EPUB3. Unfortunately, these two parts in EPUB3 and accessibility are very challenging and there have been huge struggles in making them accessible.

I don't have an ebook reader. (I can't afford another gadget, and I
have enough paper books and audio books demanding my attention!) I am
also put off by the number of devices available. They give me a
Betamax versus VHS feeling. "What if I buy the version that is a
dinosaur in 1 year?" I have a naive hope that at some point the
manufacturers could agree on a standard, at least.

I would recommend iPad 2, which has over 100,000 apps, such as: iBooks, Kindle, Nook, Kobo, etc. eReader/book apps and a variety of other apps.

I'm curious to hear what other people think and know on this subject.

regards, Karen Mardahl