The entire Benetech team is deeply saddened by the passing of our colleague and friend Robin Seaman. We will remember her for her dedication and vast contribution to ensuring that books and information are accessible to everyone. We all miss her dearly.
The digital revolution and ongoing advances in technology have made it possible to get more content, in more ways, to more people. At the same time, they have also given publishers and content creators a new digital imperative—if content is “born digital,” it can—and should—be “born accessible.” Accessible content must be a priority.
This could truly be a golden age of access to books and information for people with print disabilities—such as people who are blind or are dyslexic. There are millions of readers that can’t access a print book because of blindness or low vision, mobility impairments or learning disabilities such as dyslexia. For them, ebook technology promises a new world of opportunity for accessible content. In fact, for the first time in history, people with print disabilities may be able to purchase and fully utilize an entire world of newly published books, instantly upon publication.
As the nonprofit tech company operating Bookshare, the largest library of accessible ebooks in the world, Benetech believes the time is right for the publishing world to seize this era of opportunity. We believe that all content born digital can—and should—be born accessible.
We understand how to navigate this new world of opportunity—both by identifying the possibilities and working to resolve the challenges. Tremendous progress has been made when it comes to retrofitting books, especially those that are primarily text, but as digital content becomes richer and more complex, such as with STEM materials, the challenge of making it born accessible will require broader partnerships and technological innovation.
The resources we’ve provided below are meant to help publishers and new, digital content creators understand the basics of how to make content born accessible. These resources highlight the accessible content challenges that images, interactivity, math equations and other complex features pose, but also demonstrate how they can be addressed. Working together, we know that accessibility can become a critical component in the creation of all content.