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 email@example.com.
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 will be held in Toronto on January 28th and 29th, 2019, and will include stakeholders in the ebook production, distribution, and reading chain. We will create and distribute a set of best practices for accessible EPUB relevant to communities along that chain; related documentation will be publicly available online. We are working with Laura Brady to organize this event.
b) Accessible Publishing Workshops
In February, Lisa Snider of Access Changes Everything will host ten, two-day accessible publishing workshops across Canada. We have invited publishers and publishers' associations to contact us if they would like to host a workshop in their city. The two-day workshops will allow the first day to offer a theoretical grounding for hands-on, practical experience on the second day.
c) EPUB Accessibility Reports/Audits
We will be 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. In the first week of November, we sent an invitation to publishers and have received a great response, especially from Ontario publishers. We hope to have all 60 files by December 1st. Publishers can sign up here.
d) DAISY Consortium Partnership
We are funding 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.
On November 6th, we were invited by DAISY to a conference call to review their latest version of a test book used at EPUBtest.org to test different reading applications. One of our accessibility testers was able to attend and wrote afterward, "It was so much fun to just talk our lingo for an hour with them. I learned a lot, too. I'm able to present more refined recommendations to cover images in my reports now, and I've finally figured out how page navigation is supposed to work! I couldn't believe it when people started signing off. I almost said, "Hey wait a minute, this was supposed to last an hour," then I checked the time and was astonished to see that it indeed had."
DAISY is actively including our team in their work: we are learning so much from them and so grateful for this opportunity!
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 posted an RFP for a plugin developer which closed on November 2nd, and we are working on next steps.
2. Accessible Reading
We have approached eBOUND to inquire about purchasing titles published since our last round of funding, and to invite 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.
We have agreements in place with two major digital audiobook vendors to purchase jointly with CELA/CNIB. Purchasing is beginning mid-November.
We have budgeted a total of $100,000 for new content.
b) Testing Library Reading Apps
Our team of accessibility testers are exploring the accessibility of library reading applications, with input from DAISY and CELA. 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. The team is currently testing the OverDrive app on a variety of 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. As part of this process, Camp Bowen will create 18 accessible-format titles for the NNELS repository.
d) National Requests
We are once again accepting nation-wide requests to produce books that are not currently available in accessible formats. A link to submit requests will be distributed and posted here soon.
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.