Accessible publishing is an approach to publishing and book design whereby books and other texts are made available in alternative formats designed to aid or replace the reading process. Alternative formats that have been developed to aid different people to read include varieties of larger fonts, specialised fonts for certain kinds of reading disabilities, Braille, e-books, and automated Audiobooks and DAISY digital talking books.
The aim of accessible publishing is to make reading easier for those who have difficulties doing such. This group includes people who are blind or visually impaired, people with learning disabilities, and people who are learning a second language. Accessible publishing also aims to allow people to read whichever format allows them to read fastest or allows them to absorb the information in a better way.
In the twenty-first century, the accessible publishing aim is to make every book available in all formats so that every reader can read with ease and proficiency.
Guidelines and techniques for publishing in accessible formats have been made available by several organisations and authors, including:
- EDItEUR: "Accessible Publishing - Best Practice Guidelines for Publishers".
- Matt Garrish: "Accessible EPUB 3" (freely available chapter from EPUB 3 Best Practices by Matt Garrish and Markus Gylling, O'Reilly, 2013).
- "Accessible Digital Media Guidelines" by the National Center for Accessible Media (NCAM).
- "Making PDF files accessible: guidelines for the DTP creation phase" by AcceDe PDF.
Prior to the twenty-first century the publishing industry focused on the production of printed books. The predominant publishing theory was based around increasing the economy of scale of the books by only having one format available. In this way books could be mass-produced and made available for the general public. This model did not allow for any other format to be widely available, however.
There were a number of developments in technology that increased the accessibility of books. The first of these was the development of the Braille language by Louis Braille in 1821. After this there was the development of audiobooks which originated from the United States Congress in 1931 and became popularised by advances in recording and the use of voice actors.
In 1980, Thorndike Press came into existence as a republisher of large print books. Thorndike bought the rights for large print versions of books from publishers and then republished them in a larger and more accessible format for people with reading difficulties.
New portable readers, such as the VictorReader Stream and the Plextalk Pocket handle talking books in a wide variety of formats including DAISY Digital Talking Book, MP3, text only, and many others.
New technology, such as the Sony Reader and Amazon’s Kindle, has the ability to alter the size of the font automatically. For example, the reader can choose from six different font size settings on the Kindle. The large font sizes available allow for easier reading for the visually impaired.
ReadHowYouWant is another leader in developing this technology. It works in partnership with publishers to make books available in all formats all across the world. This includes specially designed fonts for dyslexia, macular degeneration and line tracking problems.
- DAISY Digital Talking Book
- Braille translator
- Tactile alphabets for the blind
- Web accessibility
- Computer accessibility
- EDItEUR: "Accessible Publishing - Best Practice Guidelines for Publishers. Version 3 September 2012
- Matt Garrish: "Accessible EPUB 3", in: Matt Garrish and Markus Gylling: EPUB 3 Best Practices. Sebasopol, CA: O'Reilly, 2013. ISBN 978-1-4493-2914-3 (print) / ISBN 978-1-4493-2529-9 (e-book) / ISBN 978-1-4493-2803-0 (chapter as e-book).
- Geoff Freed and Madeleine Rothberg: "Accessible Digital Media Guidelines". The Carl and Ruth Shapiro Family National Center for Accessible Media (NCAM).
- AcceDe PDF: ""Making PDF files accessible: guidelines for the DTP creation phase".
- Enabling Technologies: How Braille Began.
- Audiobook Quest: The History of Audiobooks.
- Thorndike Press: About Thorndike Press
- Thorndike Press: Public Libraries.
- HumanWare USA: Victor Reader Digital Talking Book Players.
- Plextalk: Plextalk Pocket
- Sony: Reader Digital Book.
- Amazon: Kindle: Amazon's Original Wireless Reading Device (1st generation).
- DAISY Consortium: Member Detail: ReadHowYouWant Pty Ltd.
- ReadHowYouWant: Publishers.
- National Library Service for the Blind and Physically Handicapped (U.S. Library of Congress) distributes Braille materials and Talking Books (custom analog and digital formats) free to visually impaired users in the United States.
- BookShare (non-profit) offers books, newspapers, and magazines (in DAISY format) free to visually impaired users who pay an annual membership fee.
- Recording for the Blind & Dyslexic offers recorded books in custom digital formats free to visually impaired users.
- Project Gutenberg is a library of public domain books in text format free for download.
- NFB-Newsline (National Federation of the Blind) offers a wide variety of newspapers and magazines free to visually impaired users. Materials can be received by telephone, email, or downloaded from BookShare.
- HumanWare offers a large list of additional resources available for download.
- Accessible Digital Office Document (ADOD) Project: techniques for creating accessible documents using various office suites such as Microsoft Office, Apache OpenOffice, LibreOffice and iWork.