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Request for Proposal: Accessible Publishing Consultant for NNELS


NNELS (National Network for Equitable Library Service) under the direction of the BC Libraries Co-op ( is looking to engage a consultant to provide expert service in the area of Accessible Publishing. The main objectives are as follows:

  1. To support the publishing community with the knowledge and tools to produce accessible ebooks
  2. To contribute to the publishing community’s understanding of the accessibility issues facing users with print impairments

The consultant will focus on 3 main areas:

A) Publisher Workshops

Provide ten 2-day workshops in different cities around Canada to teach and share accessible production techniques and tools. The workshop will be streamed online at least once with webcasting software provided by NNELS.

B) Publisher Audits

Conduct accessibility audits/evaluations for 20 Canadian publishers (2 EPUB files per publisher) using accessibility-checking tools such as FlightDeck, ACE, and SMART. NNELS will provide access to the subscription SMART tool.

C) Train-the-Trainer

For both audits and workshops, provide training and assistance to NNELS staff to ensure they are able to carry out accessibility audits and workshops independently.


NNELS (National Network for Equitable Library Service) is a digital public library of books in accessible formats for readers with print disabilities. When people request books that do not yet exist in accessible formats, our job is to produce them. The BC Libraries Co-op, the service provider for NNELS, is headquartered in downtown Vancouver, British Columbia. For more information, please visit and

This consultant opportunity supports a series of special projects funded by the Government of Canada’s Social Development Partnerships Program – Disability Component (SDPP-D). For context, please visit our project summary page -

Project Goals

The Accessible Publishing Project Goals are listed below:

  1. Accessibility audits, including analysis from readers with print disabilities, will be completed for 20 Canadian publishers.
  2. Ten 2-day workshops on accessible publishing are attended by authors, editors, designers, publishers, librarians, and alternate-format producers.
  3. The publishing community will be trained on ebook accessibility issues from both user and technical perspectives, and will understand how to implement changes using accessible production techniques and tools.
  4. NNELS staff will have the expertise to continue to offer accessibility workshops and audits to publishers after the consultant’s work is done.
  5. Publishers will report increased understanding of how to create an accessible ebook with the ultimate goal of bringing more commercially-available accessible ebooks to market.
  6. Move Canadian ebooks towards conformance with EPUB 1.0 Accessibility specification and WCAG Level AA.

NNELS is seeking proposals from qualified consultants to undertake the Scope of Work as outlined below.

Scope of Work


  1. Project Plan
    • Deliver project plan for workshops and audits including timeline, format and outline for each of the activities.
  2. Publisher Workshops
    • Provide ten 2-day workshops in different cities around Canada to teach and share accessible production techniques and tools (travel, accommodation and workshop room rental will be covered by NNELS).
    • The workshops should speak to both beginner and more advanced users and provide hands-on-training.
    • A streaming option for at least one of the workshops will be provided (NNELS will provide webcasting software).
  3. Publisher Audits
    • Conduct 20 audits of publishers' EPUB files from a technical perspective to ensure compliance with the EPUB 1.0 Accessibility specification and WCAG Level AA.
    • Provide concrete, technical feedback and assistance to publishers to help them understand and improve the accessibility of their ebooks.
  4. Train-the-Trainer
    • For both audits and workshops, provide training and assistance to NNELS staff to ensure they are able to carry out accessibility audits and workshops independently.


  • Request for Proposal Distributed - September 18, 2018
  • Proposals are due - October 5, 2018; 4pm PT by email
  • Selection of a successful proponent - Oct 12, 2018 or earlier
  • Start of work - October 2018
  • Deliverable 1: Project Plan for Workshops/Audits Completed - October 31, 2018
  • Deliverable 2: Workshops Completed - February 28, 2019
  • Deliverable 3: Audits Completed - March 15, 2019
  • Deliverable 4: Train-the-Trainer Completed - March 31, 2019

General Requirements

Proposals will be reviewed on the basis of their general quality, relevant experience of the proponent, and stated and verified ability to complete the work within the project timeline and budget.

The successful proponent will demonstrate and/or provide evidence of the following competencies:

  • Expert knowledge of EPUB 3, HTML5, CSS.
  • Expert knowledge of accessibility standards and guidelines including EPUB Accessibility 1.0, WCAG 2.0, and ARIA.
  • Familiarity with one or all of FlightDeck, ACE, and SMART is a definite asset.
  • Excellent writing and communication skills.
  • Excellent presentation and teaching skills.
  • Professional experience as consultant in the information/publishing sector.

Application Process

Interested and qualified candidates may apply by submitting a proposal including:

  • A summary indicating the proponent’s understanding of the project and its stated goals;
  • Experience and qualifications, with reference to similar projects;
  • Proposed budget with details and itemized pricing as appropriate; and
  • Draft project plan for completing all deliverables within the timeline.

Proposals were accepted until October 5, 2018.


The budget is as follows:
Publisher Workshops: $19,000 (CDN)
Publisher Audits: $21,000 (CDN)
Train-the-Trainer: $1,000 (CDN)

Clarifying Questions

The following are clarifying questions that have been asked by responders. We are sharing out the answers with all potential candidates.

1. Does the budget include tax? (Oct. 2, 2018)

The budget includes 5% GST on top of the amounts.
Publisher Workshops: $19,000 (CDN) + 5% GST
Publisher Audits: $21,000 (CDN) + 5% GST
Train-the-Trainer: $1,000 (CDN) + 5% GST

2. Are travel and accommodation covered in the budget listed in the RFP? Is that travel from Vancouver to various places, or can it be from another city in Canada to the workshop sites? (Oct. 2, 2018)

Yes travel and accommodation are covered from the consultant's Canadian origin city.   

3. Can the consultant use outside paid testers on the audits? (Oct. 2, 2018)

It is ok to use paid testers for the audits, as long as it fits within the amounts stated. NNELS has just hired a team of 6 accessibility testers (mainly low vision and blind readers), who will be doing EPUB testing as well though their focus will be on usability and how the files work with various screen readers and other tools, but they may be involved in some aspects of the audits that the consultant will be performing as well.

4. Is it possible just to get a list of cities and possible number of attendees for the workshops? (Oct. 2, 2018)

The locations of the workshops have yet to be decided, but most likely they will be in the major centres distributed across Canada. Actual schedule and timing of each is yet to be determined. Number of attendees for each is probably maximum 15, though some might have fewer.

5. Is it possible to get a list of publishers that will be used in the audits? (Oct. 2, 2018)

For the 20 publishers, they will all be Canadian publishers and we will be looking for a cross section of them. Again, we haven't determined which 20 publishers we will be working with yet, but will be doing that in the next month or so.


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