The Publishers Association is working on several initiatives to help publishers respond to requests on behalf of people with reading impairments, particularly visually impaired people, in order to facilitate access to their material.
Along with other trade associations, the Publishers Licensing Society (PLS) and the Copyright Licensing Agency (CLA), the PA is a backer of the Accessibility Action Group. The AAG produces the Publisher Accessibility Newsletter, which gives an overview of current activities designed to help publishers meet the requirements of those with reading impairments.
Publisher Lookup UK is a collaborative website offered by the PA and the JISC TechDis service. It is designed to help those in education who work with disabled learners to get them an electronic version of published texts as quickly as possible; check to see if your house is included. The PA and JISC TechDis have also devised a Guide to Obtaining Textbooks in Alternative Formats. Research commissioned by TechDis underpins a Report on accessible e-book platforms, and a related good practice guide (available here).
RNIB and The Right to Read Alliance have produced Can everyone read your books? How to reach more readers through ebooks and other formats and Can everyone use your ebook reader? which outlines the features an eBook reader (device or app) should have in order for it to be accessible to someone with a print disability. You can find advice and technical guidance for publishers at http://www.rnib.org.uk/publisheradvice and information about eBooks and accessibility at http://www.rnib.org.uk/ebooks . There's a wonderful short video on YouTube of people with sight problems talking about the joys (and some of the frustrations) of reading eBooks here.
Publishers have contributed source pdf files to the DCSF Accessible Resources Project, whose steering group included RNIB, PLS and Becta. The project tested a model for provision of textbooks and other curriculum materials in electronic files for pupils who struggle to read books in standard format due to problems with sight or reading. 40 pupils aged 11 to 14 in nine schools were given laptops and software to adapt and read the files in a format which best suited them, but if they found ind this difficult they were supplied resources in their preferred format. Formats were audio, including text to speech, Daisy Talking Books, different presentations of text including larger fonts, and hard copy Braille. A final report was submitted to DCSF at the end of 2010. The project's website is at www.mytextbook.org.
An agreement reached in September 2010 between stakeholders to facilitate access to reading materials for the print-disabled resulted in a Memorandum of Understanding endorsed by both publishing and print-disabled communities in the presence of the European Commission. It outlines a system whereby works in accessible formats can be more easily distributed across EU member states through a network of trusted bodies, with a goal of a noticeable increase in cross-border distribution of accessible versions of works within a year of signing. The next phase will focus on establishing a network of Trusted Intermediaries.
The PA, with the endorsement of the Society of Authors and the Association of Authors' Agents, recommends that text to speech is routinely enabled on all e-books across all relevant platforms, at least where there is no audiobook edition commercially available - The Publishers Association Recommendation on Text to Speech is available here. In addition The Association of Authors Agents, The PA, Publishers Licensing Society (PLS), Royal National Institute of Blind People (RNIB), the Right to Read Alliance and the Society of Authors have produced a Briefing Document on Text to Speech and eBooks, outlining the background to the text-to-speech and ebooks debate, the pros and cons of text-to-speech-enabled ebooks and an overview of the issues and potential solutions.
Accessible Publishing, a set of best-practice guidelines to support publishers world-wide as they make books accessible to people with print impairment and advice, was launched by international standards group EDItEUR on 11 April 2011 at the London Book Fair.The guidelines are part of the Enabling Technologies Framework which EDItEUR is delivering with the DAISY Consortium. Funded by the World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO), it is endorsed by the International Publishers Association (IPA), Federation of European Publishers (FEP) and the International Association of Scientific, Technical and Medical Publishers (STM).
The Publishers Association, Dyslexia Action, EDItEUR, Jisc TechDis, RNIB and the Society of Authors are calling on other organisations especially technology providers and e-book retailers to join them in support of a joint statement on accessibility and e-books, launched at London Book Fair in April 2012. The statement outlines how publishers and advocacy organisations for those with print impairment are also looking to work together with developers of ebook devices and platforms, the book supply chain, people with print impairment themselves and learning providers and libraries to enable all readers to access new books are they are published in ebook form.