Press Release from Employment and Social Development Canada: Government funds library network service expansion to make more published works available in formats accessible for Canadians with print disabilities
From January to June 2018, NNELS worked on a series of special projects to enhance the production and availability of accessible-format material in Canada. The project was funded in large part by a grant from the Government of Canada’s Social Development Partnerships Program – Disability Component (SDPP-D). In September 2018, the BC Libraries Cooperative received an additional $1 million to carry out a series of new special projects to build on the momentum created from the previous grant work. New projects focus on three main areas: accessible publishing, accessible reading, and braille availability.
Summaries of these projects follow, and this page will be updated as the projects are carried out. For answers to your questions please write to firstname.lastname@example.org.
1. Accessible Publishing
NNELS continues to work with partners to support publishers in creating born accessible material.
a) Accessible Publishing Summit
This invitation-only summit was held in Toronto on January 28th and 29th, 2019. It included stakeholders in the ebook production, distribution, and reading chain. We discussed best practices for accessible EPUB relevant to communities along that chain and came up with a number of working groups for futher collaboration. Related documentation is being added to our Accessible Publishing website.
b) Accessible Publishing Workshops
In February and March, Lisa Snider of Access Changes Everything hosted ten, two-day accessible publishing workshops across Canada. A recorded webinar will also be available at the end of April for anyone who missed these workshops.
c) EPUB Accessibility Reports/Audits
We have been working with Lisa Snider, Farrah Little, and our stellar team of accessibility testers to create accessibility reports for 60 EPUB files from 30 Canadian publishers.
d) DAISY Consortium Partnership
We are working with the DAISY Consortium to develop and enhance their open-source, user-friendly version of the Ace by DAISY accessibility checker. To date, Ace by DAISY has been a command-line tool, but the new release has a graphical user interface. DAISY is also preparing the Accessible Publishing Knowledge Base and EPUBTest.org website for language localization, and translating both Ace by DAISY and EPUBTest.org into French.
e) Plugins for Publishers
Publishers have asked for plugins they can use with their ebook editing software to automate repetitive tasks and improve accessibility. We are working with a developer to create scripts which people can use with any ebook development software.
2. Accessible Reading
We are purchasing Canadian e-books from eBOUND, and we've invited participation from publishers who did not work with us in the spring. We also sent an invitation through Canadian publishers' associations to purchase their material directly from them or through their distributors, and so we are working with a number of publishers that way.
We have agreements in place with two major digital audiobook vendors to purchase jointly with CELA/CNIB.
b) Testing Library Reading Apps
Our team of accessibility testers are exploring the accessibility of library reading applications, including Libby/OverDrive, RB Digital, and Press Reader. The purpose of this project is to give vendors specific feedback about their reading apps so that audiobooks and accessible ebooks are available to all readers through those platforms. NNELS will share the results with the vendors and the Canadian public library community.
c) Partnership with Camp Bowen Society for the Visually Impaired
We are thrilled to continue working with the Camp Bowen Society for the Visually Impaired to further develop the beta version of their Production Tool, a tool that automates and streamlines the EPUB remediation process.
d) National Requests
We accepted requests to produce books that are not currently available in accessible formats, and we are working on producing those requests.
3. Braille Availability
a) Print-Braille Childrens' Books
In partnership with the Vision Impaired Resource Network (VIRN) in Manitoba, we are producing 5 titles in French to be distributed through every provincial and territorial Public Library Authority. Special thank you to staff at BAnQ for helping us select titles! This project builds on previous work done with VIRN to expand the Canadian print-braille collection in public libraries.
b) Hardcopy and Electronic Braille Pilot Project
Our Saskatchewan-based Braille Production Coordinator, Riane LaPaire, is coordinating the production of 50 hardcopy and 50 electronic braille titles for distribution through NNELS and Canadian public libraries. This pilot project will inform future decisions on choosing braille producers, braille quality, and distribution methods. This project is based on recommendations from the “Improving Braille Availability in Canadian Public Library” research study. We are currently producing and purchasing electronic and hardcopy titles from braille printing houses. The hardcopy titles will be distributed to the public libraries that have volunteered to house and share the collection with other public libraries across Canada.