New Standards Program to Ensure E-books Accessibility for People with Vision Disabilities

Americas, ICT, News, June 28 2017

Benetech, a nonprofit firm that develops technology for social good, announced the launch of Global Certified Accessible, a program is the first third-party ebook verification program for accessible content. Global Certified Accessible (GCA) supports publisher efforts to meet or exceed accessibility requirements set by K-12 schools and post-secondary institutions.

person reading kindle e-bookThe GCA Program ensures students unable to read standard print due to blindness, low vision, dyslexia, or a physical disability have equal access to the same content as their peers. The program has a global footprint in order to serve students around the world. Benetech developed the certification standards and serves as the lead certification provider for North America. Dedicon provides certification for mainland Europe, Royal National Institute of Blind People for the United Kingdom, and Vision Australia for Australasia.

The GCA Program is part of Benetech’s Born Accessible initiative, which encourages the education community to request accessible digital content and engages the publishing community to produce content that is accessible from the moment it is created. As a result of the recently released EPUB Accessibility Specification 1.0 and the growing demand for accessible materials, leading publishers and educational institutions are increasing their support for accessibility as a business and a classroom imperative.

Ingram Content Group’s VitalSource and CoreSource will include the accessibility ratings for eTextbooks from publishers participating in the Global Certified Accessible program as a part of their metadata and catalog feeds through Bookshelf, VitalSource’s content-delivery platform. By doing so, procurement offices and school districts will be able to easily identify and prioritize third-party certified, accessible eTextbooks from publishers who choose to participate.

Benetech founder and CEO Jim Fruchterman said the issue the program addresses “continues to grow” as many e-books still “lack core accessibility features that students require, falling short of procurement requirements and student needs,” Fruchterman added that the Global Certified Accessible program “not only gives procurement offices the confidence that comes with third-party certified materials but also allows publishers to serve a larger addressable market.”

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