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“Born accessible” e-books is the grand plan for new e-publishing tool

A free tool to test e-book content for accessibility errors has been launched.

The ‘Ace’ tool has been developed by the DAISY Consortium, a global organisation working to improve and promote accessible publishing and reading. The aim is to improve e-book usability for a wider audience and eliminate the barriers to reading e-books encountered by people with disabilities.

Ace works by assessing content published in the widely used EPUB format. Automated checks are performed and accessibility issues are flagged-up in a report generated by the tool.

The hope is that the tool will assist the publishing industry and authors in creating e-books that conform to the EPUB Accessibility specification. Speaking to e-Access Bulletin, DAISY Consortium’s Chief Operating Officer Avneesh Singh said: “We expect the publishing industry to use Ace widely, integrate it in their production workflows and improve accessibility of all their publications over time, leading to ‘born accessible’ publications.”

However, Ace’s developers are keen to stress the tool’s limitations as well as its benefits. They point out that Ace performs only automated checks and does not provide a complete picture of all possible accessibility violations, and should therefore be used alongside other forms of testing and evaluation.

Singh said: “Automated tools like Ace can help in identifying the accessibility issues and greatly help in reducing human labour involved in manual accessibility testing, but it cannot completely replace the human intervention and judgement. We have provided this statement to make it clear that one cannot claim conformance to standards like WCAG by just using Ace. Ace will definitely provide great help in accessibility inspection, but it will not replace human-driven checks and human judgement.”

An additional manual inspection tool is also being developed by DAISY Consortium, Singh said. This tool uses the accessibility reports generated by Ace and guides the user through the manual inspection process.

Grant money from the ‘Google Impact Challenge: Disabilities’ project helped to fund the development of the Ace tool. DAISY was selected as one of the winners of the project, which awarded $20 million to 29 non-profits developing accessible technology.

Find more information about Ace at the Inclusive Publishing website.

Find out more at the DAISY Consortium website.


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