Making eBooks more accessible - latest news

We told you in a previous post about a project to audit and improve the accessibility of eBooks, which has now been completed. Sue Smith and Vicky Dobson from Library Disability Support worked on the eBook Accessibility Audit project as part of a team from across the UK. This also included Jamie Phillips from Leeds Beckett University, and colleagues from the University of Kent, the University of Liverpool, Manchester Metropolitan University and York St John University.

NAGE book award

The project is one of three shortlisted in the Project Initiative Category for the 2017 ABC International Excellence Award for Accessible Publishing with the awards ceremony to be held at the London Book Fair on 14 March. eBooks are digital versions of printed books and the Library has lots of them available. There are many advantages to eBooks. For example they are available both on and off-campus and most titles can be accessed by multiple users at the same time.

The eBook Accessibility Audit looked at how accessible eBooks are for students with print impairments – difficulties accessing printed text, usually due to a visual or physical impairment or a Specific Learning Difficulty such as dyslexia. Although eBooks have the potential to be very accessible and if they are compatible with assistive software they can be adapted to the needs of individual students, unfortunately, due to the design of some eBooks, this is not always the case and they are not all fully accessible.

The eBook audit set out to identify how accessible 44 of the most widely used eBook platforms in UK Higher Education are, including 15 of the platforms we subscribe to at Leeds Beckett University. The results are now available on the eBook Accessibility Audit website. If you would like to know how accessible a particular eBook collection is, the Individual Platform Feedback Reports section of the website has a report for each platform detailing how well it met each of the accessibility criteria.

The table on page 6 of each report gives a useful overview of this. If you’re wondering what makes an eBook accessible, you can find out here: Key elements of eBook accessibility The next steps in the project are to work with providers to achieve improvements in accessibility and increase awareness of the accessibility features of different eBook platforms amongst Library staff to help them support students using eBooks.