Global Certified Accessible

Global Certified Accessible (GCA) is the first-ever program to certify the accessibility of ebooks, which is particularly critical in today’s education market. Benetech’s GCA has an ambitious goal – to help publishers build “born accessible” content to ensure that everyone has equal access to materials critical for education. Benetech’s economical two-stage approach to certification involves accrediting a publisher’s workflow to ensure that all titles produced through that process are accessible from the start.

Once a publisher is accredited, Benetech issues the publisher an annual subscription license to auto-certify its content, subject to periodic reviews by Benetech. With a trusted third-party validation of publisher content, everyone with a stake in providing accessible materials – procurement offices, textbook purchasing committees, students, professors, teachers, distributors, and retailers – can ensure all students have equal access to the information they need to succeed.

Importantly, Benetech will now make this critical education content that has been certified as accessible available through its new retail store hosted by Ingram’s VitalSource. Involving vendors in GCA is a critical component of the program. Benetech invites vendors to work with us to become a “Benetech Approved Vendor” by submitting files for review based on the same criteria Benetech applies to publishers. “Benetech Approved Vendors” are listed on our website and in our marketing materials.

Accessibility Requirements

GCA assesses titles for the full range of accessibility features currently detailed in the EPUB Accessibility 1.0 Specification (also known as the “Baseline”) and Web Content Accessibility Guidelines 2.0 (WCAG 2.0) for levels A, AA, and AAA. Additional features specific to ebooks are also included. Benetech works with a publisher to extensively evaluate their production process for creating accessible books. Benetech certifies that the publisher has demonstrated their conformance to the accessible EPUB creation guidelines set forth by the Global Certified Accessible Consortium and which are based on standards put in place by the W3C and the international publishing community. While Benetech certification denotes confidence that the publisher has demonstrated its ability to regularly produce accessible books, any books that do not fully conform to the Global Accessible Certification standard remain the responsibility of the publisher.

The GCA Process

Benetech’s accessibility certification team evaluates files in depth and provides a detailed report on compliance that provides an evaluation of over a hundred accessibility features, recommending remediation strategies when appropriate. Individual features are scored and the file is given an overall accessibility score and a pass/fail notification. It also provides a narrative summary of how the file performed along with an “at-a-glance” snapshot of how each feature reviewed met or did not meet accessibility certification criteria. Once accredited, a publisher is granted an annual subscription license to auto-certify titles produced by that workflow. Benetech’s goal is to make accessibility certification a rich, collaborative experience so that publishers learn from the review process what steps must be taken either in practical techniques or workflow processes to make their files accessible.  The publisher will then be entitled to use Benetech’s GCA seal on all promotional materials and to specify in its metadata that its e-book title is certified by Benetech.

For more information on Global Certified Accessible, visit our FAQ.