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Accessible e-Books “Tantalisingly Close”

Many of the barriers that currently hinder access to electronic book reading platforms by people with disabilities are easily correctable by altering the implementation of existing technologies, according to a new report.

The best practice guide on e-book accessibility was produced for the publishing industry by the Publishers Licensing Society and JISC TechDis, the disability and technology advisory agency for the education sector. Findings in the guide – which form part of a lengthier full report on the research – are based on the results of accessibility testing of e-book platforms carried out in 2009 by disability charity the Shaw Trust.

Disabled technology users tested a number of platforms for compatibility with screen-readers; voice recognition; keyboard commands; and colour contrast and magnification.

Alistair McNaught, senior advisor at JISC TechDis, told E-Access Bulletin two of the research findings are particularly significant. “The first was how tantalisingly close we are to solutions; there are still barriers on many platforms but most of these are legacies or oversights that could be easily fixed in subsequent developments.

“The second was the positive engagement from the publishers and their responses to the feedback. Good accessibility leads to good products and the opportunity for disability organisations to be ‘expert partners’ can only benefit everyone.”

The best practice guide and full report are available at:
http://www.pls.org.uk/news/Pages/goodpracticegudeebooks.aspx?PageView=Shared .

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