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February 1, 2017

Ditching the guillotine: An education in accessibility

News Mention in Against the Grain | By Becky Brasington Clark

Last March I joined the Library of Congress as director of publishing.  As home to the National Library Service for the Blind and Physically Handicapped — which provides free braille and talking books for people with visual impairments or physical disabilities — the Library stands alongside several other major institutions in championing literacy through accessibility.  When I was asked to develop a comprehensive eBook publishing strategy for the Library shortly after arriving, I recognized that it was time to get serious about learning how to create accessible digital content.

My education began last June with a day-long seminar hosted by the Association of American University Presses.  Entitled Accessibility is Accessible and organized by Bill Kasdorf of Apex CoVantage, the seminar focused on the convergence of “a new publishing paradigm” built on two fundamental principles:

  1. People who need to use assistive technology should be able to buy and use the same digital books everybody else does, without enduring the delays and expenses that are currently required to provide them the books they need.
  2. By incorporating good accessibility practices into their editorial and production workflows, publishers will make their books better for all users. … making books accessible makes them better, period.

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