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Creating accessible books

Ebooks

At this time, only 5% of ebooks are built with accessibility in mind (from Accessible EPUB 3 by Matt Garrish, 2016). What can authors, editors, ebook developers, and publishers do so a broader audience can access their ebooks?

Below are a selection of resources, created by NNELS and our partners, to help you get started. 

  • Accessible Publishing Best Practices: Created by NNELS, this one-pager attempts to distill the main components of a quality ebook. This is the perfect place to start for beginners who have no or minimal knowledge of HTML and who would like to gain a broad understanding of what "an accessible ebook" means.
  • A Crash Course in Ebook Accessibility (coming June 2020!): Created by NNELS with funding from the Government of Canada, this video series covers the basic principles of making accessible ebooks. It's a great introduction for both newbies and those already making ebooks. No technical knowledge required!
  • Accessible Publishing Knowledge Base: Created by the DAISY Consortium, this is the "bible" of accessible ebook publishing. Ebooks are composed of HTML code (the language of the web), so we encourage you to familiarize yourself with it! The Accessible Publishing Knowledge Base explains how all parts of a digital book should be coded (from headings and lists to images and tables); it gives clear explanations for why it's important alongside code techniques and code examples. Its primary focus is on EPUB, but can be used as a reference for any HTML-based format.
  • Word2EPUB tool: Finally, a free tool to convert your Word documents to beautifully clean and accessible EPUB! All you need to know is how to use Microsoft Word, no HTML knowledge is required. Developed by the DAISY Consortium, this plugin works on Microsoft Word for Windows. Documentation on how to use the plugin can be viewed here.

Audiobooks

Unlike for ebooks, where EPUB is the standard format, audiobooks don't have a standard for production and distribution. Currently audiobooks are just a simple compilation of audio files, like MP3, MP4, WAV, etc. That is about to change with the upcoming audiobook specification, which will be the gold standard for quality, accessible audiobooks.

In the meanwhile, when creating conventional audiobooks, we encourage you to follow some simple best practices for the recording and structuring of your content. These guidelines are in development as we continue to consult with users, other accessible format production organizations, Canadian audiobook publishers and distributors.