UK: e-book accessibility audit

Project seeks to introduce a benchmark for accessibility in e-book platforms.

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The data from the 2016 e-book accessibility audit is now available for review and use.

The e-book audit is the result of ongoing collaborative work between Jisc, representatives of the book supply industry and disability and library service specialists in several UK HE institutions.

The audit focused on ‘non-technical’ accessibility features that could be tested and checked by non-specialists.  Five suppliers and 33 universities participated and nearly 280 e-books and 44 platforms were tested, covering 65 publishers.

Why accessibility matters

Because of its flexibility, digital text should be particularly helpful for learners with a print impairment. Users should be able to change font colours, magnify text, navigate easily and use assistive technologies.  But this doesn’t always happen and the reading experience can vary depending on the aggregator, the software, the publisher or the platform.

For institutions, funders expect them to make accessibility a key element of their strategy.

And for publishers, working in an increasingly competitive market, good accessibility is another way to differentiate in a crowded field.

Auditing the e-books

The e-books were audited using a range of criteria including format (HTML; PDF etc); appearance (including font size; colour contrast; font style); navigation (searchability; skip links etc); access and control (including can the book be downloaded); and access to useful help and support information.

How to use the data

When using the data, it is possible to change the weightings for any combination of accessibility features. This will help if for example you want to see which platforms or publishers best deliver on those features.

Scoring is colour coded.  For scores lower than 33% the cell is red; for scores over 66% the cells are green.  Other scores are coloured amber.

It is hoped the findings will help library staff review the performance of any platforms they use against others and learn about the accessibility performance of the publishers on university reading lists.

For more information on the project and for access to the data go to this website.