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This resource is in active development as of October 2019.
- Does EPUB support page navigation?
- There are two dependencies for page navigation to work with EPUBs. The publishers must add the appropriate page information markup, and the reading App must use that markup. Formally, EPUB 3 supports direct page navigation provided the publisher adds the proper markup. If a print version of an EPUB 3 exists, in order to conform to the EPUB Accessibility specification, the publisher must insert a page list in the navigation table of contents and the target in the chapters where the page break is located. The Reading App can then take advantage of this page list by going directly to a page in the title either from the Table of Contents or through a “Go To Page” function.For more information, see the Accessible Publishing Knowledge Base on page navigation at: http://kb.daisy.org/publishing/docs/navigation/pagelist.html
- Where can I find information about EPUB Readers?
- There is a wide range of EPUB reading Apps available on all platforms. Many of the readers are associated with products, such as Apple Books, Google Play, VitalSource etc. Other Reading Apps are designed for general use and have accessibility features, such as Dolphin EasyReader and Voice Dream Reader. These Apps are continuously being evaluated for conformance and accessibility. You can find the latest results at: http://www.inclusivepublishing.org/read
- Why are publishers using EPUB instead of PDF?
- The EPUB Standard evolved from a need to produce digitally published materials that could be used on a wide range of computers, cell phones, tablets, and dedicated devices. The tech companies, organizations in the disability community, people from the education sector, and publishers were the drivers of the development. PDF was already broadly used, but because PDF was developed for faithful printing, it did not support reflow to fit different size screens, and it did not carry publishing semantics, and PDF is largely inaccessible. Everybody wanted a single file format that could be distribute to all outlets and used anywhere. The EPUB Standard is now maintained at the W3C, the same body that maintains HTML. The EPUB 3 Community group is free to join and all are welcome. New features, testing of best practices, and maintenance is conducted there. Visit: https://www.w3.org/community/epub3/
- Is EPUB accessible to persons with disabilities?
- EPUB has been designed to be fully accessible to persons with disabilities. People with disabilities, including people who are blind, were involved from the very beginning to ensure that published digital books and publications would be accessible right out of the box. There are three things that come together: The EPUB itself, a Reading App, and Assistive Technology. Testing is conducted with a wide range of Reading Apps and Assistive Technology, such as JAWS, NVDA, VoiceOver, refreshable braille devices, and screen magnification, and more. Anybody is welcome to join in the testing process, and you can learn more at: http://www.epubtest.org
- Are there Accessibility Standards for EPUB?
- The EPUB 3 Community Group is maintaining the EPUB Accessibility Conformance and Discovery Specification. This is a formal specification under the W3C. It builds on WCAG and adds additional requirements essential for published materials, such as page navigation. There are a set of principles that do not change too often, and a set of techniques that can change as best practices evolve. Included in the specification is a set of accessibility metadata that is required to be inside any EPUB that conforms to the specification. Publishers can make accessibility conformance claims in this metadata. The Accessibility Checker for EPUB (Ace by DAISY) is designed to report about the EPUB as it relates to the EPUB Accessibility Specification. You can find the specification at: https://www.w3.org/Submission/epub-a11y/
- Is there any software to test that the EPUB is accessible?
- The Accessibility Checker for EPUB (Ace by DAISY) is the open source tool to evaluate EPUB files for their accessibility. It is widely used in the publishing industry. Ace can test many elements in an EPUB 3 automatically. It produces reports that shows the minor to critical errors. It also points to authoritative information in the DAISY accessibility Knowledge Base, which explains the proper way to represent the information. The report also generates information about the items that cannot be checked automatically and needs to be examined by a person. To learn more about Ace by Daisy go to: https://daisy.github.io/ace/
- What is inside an EPUB?
- The EPUB format uses the common zip packaging specification to collect all of the HTML, CSS, image files etc. as the distribution format. You can rename the .epub extension to .zip and then extract the files. Normally there is a collection of folders with css or styles, images, and a text folder. You can browse around to find the files with the extension .xhtml, which contains the chapters that make up the title. You can open the xhtml files in a browser.
- Does Amazon Kindle use EPUB?
- The popular Amazon Kindle reading platform ingests reflowable EPUB 3 and their own KF8 format. The ingestion process converts the files into their own proprietary format with the extension .azw. The Amazon Kindle developers highly suggest Born Accessible EPUB 3 as a great format for input to their platform. Publishers can distribute EPUB 3 to Amazon Kindle, and to the many, many other distributers of digital book content.
- What are the accessibility features of EPUB?
- There are many features in a Born Accessible EPUB that makes it the most accessible format ever developed. This includes: Conforms to EPUB 3 at the WCAG Double AA level; Fully navigable table of contents; Fonts can be enlarged for easy viewing, essential for low vision users; Text reflows so there is no zoom or pinch needed; Alt text on images; Tables that are navigable with AT; Extended descriptions; Page navigation when a print version also exists; Accessibility metadata is disclosed and is transparent; Certified as accessible by a third party
EPUB Experience for People with Learning Disabilities
- Does EPUB offer any advantages for individuals with learning disabilities?
- Individuals with learning disabilities benefit from the use of study skills tools, such as highlighting, annotations, bookmarking, and dictionary look up. Many EPUB reading systems provide ways for individuals to use these features once text has been selected on a screen. Another useful reading strategy for people with LD is listening to the text read out loud. There is an increasing number of EPUB reading systems that provide built-in text to speech functionality, which affords readers the ability to track each word that they are reading and confirm their understanding. Finally, for some students with reading-based learning disabilities, it can be very helpful to adjust the line and character spacing as well as changing the font. The EPUB format, in which text can normally be "reflowed" on the screen, makes performing these textual adjustments much easier than other formats.
- Can I use text to speech with an EPUB?
- Many EPUB reading systems provide a way for readers to hear the text read out loud. The "read aloud" feature in an EPUB reading system is typically associated with a play/pause button located somewhere in the reading app's user interface or else available from one of the app's menus. When "read aloud" is available from an app, readers will also be able to adjust the voice and the reading rate. For a list of some of the EPUB reading systems that support "read aloud", please visit the following website: http://epubtest.org/results. If an app does not have built-in text to speech playback, readers can try selecting text on the screen and looking for a "read selection" option from either the right-click pop up menu or a menu.
- Can I look up vocabulary in an EPUB?
- Most EPUB reading systems have a dictionary look-up functionality, which can be helpful for individuals with learning disabilities. The usual method of accessing a definition of a word is to select the word and then choose "Look Up Word" or "Definition" or "Search Dictionary" from the pop-up menu. Reading systems may vary in the name of the dictionary look-up feature in a pop-up menu and some apps may be accessing the the dictionary that is built in to a device's operating system. When a reading system uses a built in dictionary from a device's operating system, you may need to check the settings menu for the device to configure how the dictionary functions from within the reading system.
- Can I open an EPUB in Kurzweil 3000?
- Kurzweil 3000 has varying levels of support for EPUB, depending on which version of Kurzweil you are using. The Kurzweil 3000 for PC version supports the opening of EPUB as well as read aloud, text reflow, and dictionary look up. As of September 2019, the Kurzweil for macOS version does not support EPUB. Individuals with reading disabilities who are wanting to use more of Kurzweil 3000's study skills (highlighting, note-taking, and extracting notes and highlights to a study guide) should consider accessing their EPUBs from Kurzweil's Universal Library, which comes with Kurzweil's web license or cloud version of the program. When opening an EPUB from Kurzweil 3000's Universal Library, individuals will not have to save the EPUB as KES file in order to access the Kurzweil 3000 features such as highlighting and notetaking that they are accustomed to using. When using the Kurzweil 3000 for PC version, however, individuals with reading disabilities currently need to save the EPUB as a KES file before they can use the highlighting and annotation features. Please check back for more information about Kurzweil 3000's ability to support EPUB.
- Can I highlight and annotate text in an EPUB?
- Many EPUB reading systems provide a way for readers to highlight and annotate the text. Typically the highlight and annotation tools are accessed by selecting text in the EPUB and then choosing "highlight" or "make a note" from the pop-up menu. Sometimes, a highlight can be made simply by selecting a color from the pop-up menu. Reading systems may vary in the name and location of the highlighting and annotation features. For a list of some of the EPUB reading systems that support highlighting and annotations, please visit the following website: http://epubtest.org/results.
- Which EPUB apps are best for individuals with learning disabilities?
- There are many different EPUB reading apps and some may have features that are especially important for you. Use the summary of reading apps on Inclusive Publishing for an overview (https://inclusivepublishing.org/rs-accessibility), and the results grid at epubtest.org for detailed information. Most EPUB reading apps will allow you to look up words in the dictionary and highlight the text, but people with learning disabilities will be especially interested in other features such as extracting notes/ highlights and read aloud.
- Can individuals with learning disabilities hear mathematics read out loud in an EPUB?
- The EPUB 3 specfication supports MathML (math markup language), which makes it possible for students using assistive technology to hear math read out loud. Currently there is a shortage of EPUB reading apps whose "read aloud" tools can read out loud the mathematical content in books containing MathML. Another possibility exists however when the mathematical formulas are rendered as an image in the EPUB book and there is an alternative text description of the math. At this time of writing (September 2019), only a few apps that support this method of hearing math read out loud are Dolphin Easy Reader for PC and Vital Source Bookshelf.
- How do I make bookmarks in an EPUB?
- Bookmarking is a popular study skills tool for individuals with learning learning disabilities. Thankfully, most EPUB reading systems support bookmarking. We recommend checking http://epubtest.org/ to confirm whether the EPUB reading system supports bookmarking. Also, you may check iTunes or the Google Play store to read more about a reading system's features.
- What makes EPUB better than other formats for individuals with learning disabilities?
- EPUB is the recognized standard in the global publishing industry. Compared to other formats, a book that has been created in the EPUB format has the potential to contain a much richer set of information about the book than do any other formats. These features include the book's metadata (title, author, date of publication), its table of contents, its pagination, and other structural data (footnotes, learning objectives, glossary etc.). Individuals with learning disabilities thus have the potential to navigate directly to a desired item in the book. What's more, since EPUB is based on HTML, there is a lot more potential for publishers to include more dynamic content in an EPUB, such as audio, video, and media overlays. Lastly, individuals with learning disabilities often benefit from making adjustments to the size and appearance of the text, which is easier to do with EPUB formats compared to other formtats which are designed for print.
- Where can individuals with learning disabilities purchase their textbooks in the EPUB format?
- As knowledge of the accessibility features of EPUB 3 increases within the global publishing industry, there will be an corresponding growth in the number of outlets where individuals with learning disabilities can purchase EPUB books. We recommend visiting https://inclusivepublishing.org/ to learn about recent trends in the publishing world and where EPUB3 titles can be purchased. A few popular places where individuals with learning disabilities can purchase accesible EPUB titles are Apple Books, Google Play, Bookshare, VitalSource, eBooks.com, and Kobo eBooks. When purchasing EPUBs from an online retailer, the buyer should first inquire into what reading system and which operating system may be required to access the EPUB. Unless the book is available for free, the EPUB will most likely be protected and only usable from within a specific EPUB reading system. Therefore, individuals purchasing an EPUB from one of these locations will want to consult the reading system's level of support for the features that they need the most (e.g., Read aloud, highlighting, annotation, bookmarking, page navigation etc.).
EPUB Experience for People with Low-Vision
- How can EPUBs be used by people with low vision?
- If you have low vision, then EPUBs offer you a great reading experience. In terms of adjusting the display of your books, the text can be enlarged, you can choose colors, fonts and screen brightness that suit your needs. You may find increasing the line spacing is helpful, and some people prefer a shorter line length, which you can achieve by increasing the margins. Some reading apps also offer read aloud, so you can give your eyes a break. On a phone, look out for the option to put your device in your pocket, then play and pause your book with your headphone controls, just like your music.
- Can I change the text size in an EPUB?
- The text in an EPUB title can be enlarged, making it easier to read on smaller screens, or to suit your vision. The exact way you do this will depend on the reading app, but a common approach is by selecting a button labeled "Aa". Unlike other reading formats, when you increase the size, the text in an EPUB will dynamically adjust, reflowing the text so that it does not go off the edge of the display. This means you do not need to pan left and right to read a sentence. This is one of the killer features of EPUB, the format designed for digital reading, on all kinds of screens, enabling people to personalize according to their individual preferences.
- Can I change the font in an EPUB?
- For some people with low vision, certain fonts are much easier to read than others. You can change the font when reading an EPUB to suit your needs. The exact way you do this will depend on the reading app, but a common approach is by selecting a button labeled "Aa". Unlike most other formats, EPUB is designed to enable you to personalize the way books are displayed, including different fonts. Most reading apps provide a choice of several typefaces, including plain and serif fonts. Some even offer fonts that are intended to be easier for some people with dyslexia.
- Can I change the colors in an EPUB?
- For some people with low vision, certain colors are much easier to read than others. You can change the colors when reading an EPUB to suit your needs. The exact way you do this will depend on the reading app, but a common approach is by selecting a button labeled "Aa" or "Text options". Unlike most other formats, EPUB is designed to enable you to personalize the way books are displayed, including choosing different colors. Most reading apps provide a choice of combinations, including black on white, white on black and a lower contrast 'sepia' theme. Some apps offer a wider range of backgrounds, and specialist reading apps allow you to choose from the entire pallet. If you are reading through a browser, then you may use a browser extension for even more background choices.
- Can I adjust the line spacing in an EPUB?
- For some people with low vision, adjusting the spacing can make it easier to read the text. The exact way you do this in an EPUB will depend on the reading app, but a common approach is by selecting a button labeled "Aa" or "Text options". Unlike most other formats, EPUB is designed to enable you to personalize the way books are displayed, including adjusting the line spacing or margin width. Justified text can sometimes introduce unwelcome spacing, so choosing 'left justified' may be useful. Some apps even offer the option to adjust word and letter spacing.
- Can I use my magnification program with EPUBs?
- If you use screen magnification to read the screen, then you can use this for the menus, choosing books, etc. However, many people use the features of the reading app (rather than the screen magnifier program) to make the text larger. Even better, in an EPUB the text is adjusted to fit the screen width, which means you don't need to constantly pan left and right. This means reading speeds can be much higher, according to some research. Give it a go and see if it works for you!
- Can I enlarge the images in an EPUB?
- It is possible to increase the size of images in an EPUB title, including pictures and charts. Even better, if the publisher has included the images using the SVG format, then images will zoom without any degradation in quality. The exact features for increasing image sizes will depend on the reading app you are using. Some EPUBs helpfully offer quick navigation from a list of figures.
- Which platform should people with low vision use for reading ebooks?
- There are many different EPUB reading apps and some may have features that are especially important for you. Use the summary of reading apps on Inclusive Publishing for an overview (https://inclusivepublishing.org/rs-accessibility), and the results grid at epubtest.org for detailed information. All EPUB reading apps will allow you to zoom the text, but people with low vision will be especially interested in other features such as fonts, colors, spacing and read aloud.
How to Discover Accessible Titles
- How do I know what accessibility features are present in an EPUB?
- Contained within the .OPF file inside the EPUB should be multiple "accessibilityFeature" metadata properties one for each accessibility feature present in this EPUB. Some of the more popular accessibility features are: "alternativeText: (ie. images have an alt text description), "captions" figures and tables have captions, "describedMath" any visual math equation has a text description available, "displayTransformability" text size, color, spacing etc can be customized, "longDescription" complex images or tables have a textual long description available, "MathML" there is MathML in this EPUB, "printPageNumbers" there are page numbers available matching the hardcopy book, "readingOrder" the book can be read in sequential order with a screen reader, "structuralNavigation" there are correct headings and sections of paragraphs lists etc which will help in navigating this EPUB with assistive technology, and "tableOfContents" there is an accessible table of contents available. For a complete list of accessibility features available see https://www.w3.org/wiki/WebSchemas/Accessibility#accessibilityFeature_in_detail
- How do I know what accessibility hazards may be present in an EPUB?
- Contained within the .OPF file inside the EPUB should be the ""accessibilityHazard"" metadata property. If this property has a value of ""unknown"" or is missing this implies that the author makes no claims to any accessibility hazards within this book. The possible hazards are: ""flashing"", ""motionSimulation"", or ""sound"". Authors can also claim there are specifically none of these hazards by saying ""none"" or by individually stating there are: ""noFlashingHazard"", ""noMotionSimulationHazard"", or ""noSoundHazard"". Bookstores and Libraries should expose this metadata to customers so that the purchaser can make an informed decision. https://github.com/benetech/UX-Guide-EPUB-A11y-Metadata/blob/master/UXGuideForMetadata.md#hazards
- How do I know if this EPUB is "Screen Reader Friendly"?
- Contained within the .OPF file inside the EPUB should be the property "accessModeSufficient" and if it declares "textual" by itself as one of its values then this EPUB can be completely read by a screen reader. Having accessModeSufficient = "textual" means that information is in text and any audio or visual components of the book has a text equivalent representation. Bookstores and Libraries should expose this metadata to customers so that purchasers can make an informed decision. https://github.com/benetech/UX-Guide-EPUB-A11y-Metadata/blob/master/UXGuideForMetadata.md#screen-reader-friendly
- How can a get a general overview of how accessible is this EPUB?
- Contained within the .OPF file inside the EPUB should be the property "accessibilitySummary". This is the only metadata that is meant to be human readable. This property will contain any accessibility features as well as any accessiblity issues contained within this EPUB. Bookstores and Libraries should expose this metadata to customers so that the purchaser can make an informed decision. https://github.com/benetech/UX-Guide-EPUB-A11y-Metadata/blob/master/UXGuideForMetadata.md#accessibility-summary
- How do I know the WCAG conformance level of this book?
- Contained within the .OPF file inside the EPUB should be the property "conformsTo" this if present will have a URL pointing to what level of WCAG this EPUB reaches as defined in the Accessibility 1.0 specification. Bookstores and Libraries should expose this metadata to customers so that the purchaser can make an informed decision. https://github.com/benetech/UX-Guide-EPUB-A11y-Metadata/blob/master/UXGuideForMetadata.md#epub-accessibility-conformance
- Who certified this EPUB as being accessible?
- Contained within the .OPF file inside the EPUB should be the property "certifiedBy", whose value will be the name or organization of the party that has made the conformance claims as stated in the "conformsTo" metadata property. The certifier can either be the publisher who is self certifying their EPUB as being accessible or ideally a third party accessibility expert that has reviewed this EPUB or the production pipeline of a publisher to ensure the EPUB is accessible.
- Can a publisher certify their own EPUB as being conformant?
- Yes a publisher can claim their EPUB as being WCAG A/AA conformant as defined by the accessiblity 1.0 specification. However it is recommended that 3rd party certification by trained accessibility experts review and make these claims to ensure the most accurate reported accessibility claims. If a publisher self-certifies the EPUB contained withing the .OPF file will have the metadata property "certifiedBy" containing the publishers name.
- How do I know if the certifiedBy party is authorized to make such statements about the accessibility conformance of this EPUB?
- Contained within the .OPF file inside the EPUB should be the property "certifiersCredential" which links to the certifiers credential page if they have one.
- Is there any 3rd party certification program available?
- Benetech's ""Global Certified Accessible"" (GCA) program is the world's leading certification program that is ensuring that publishers EPUBs surpasses the accessibility 1.0 specification. GCA goes above the WCAG single A recomendation as outlined in the Accessibility 1.0 Specification. GCA requires WCAG-AA and an over all Born Accessible score of 80% or better, thus raising the bar on Born Accessible EPUBs and an improved reading experience for all users. For more information on GCA https://benetech.org/our-work/born-accessible/certification/
Publishers and EPUB
- How do I contact publishers about accessibility questions?
- Email addresses to contact the big five higher education publishers in the U.S. regarding accessibility questions are as follows: Pearson - firstname.lastname@example.org; Macmillan Learning - email@example.com; Cengage - firstname.lastname@example.org; McGraw-Hill - email@example.com; Wiley - firstname.lastname@example.org. Other contact information may be found at www.publisherlookup.org.
- Are Wiley ebooks accessible?
- "Wiley is working with Benetech to have their workflow Global Certified Accessible. Wiley ebooks contain alt text, conform to color contrast guidelines, and include page mapping.
More information about Wiley's accessibility efforts can be found here: https://www.wiley.com/en-us/accessibility"