E-books have enormous potential to extend access and now a report shows publishers how to maximise access to e-books.  Providing tools to enable readers to control magnification, colour change, keyboard access and text to speech can give genuine independence to people with reading disabilities

‘Print disabled’ users can for example benefit from a statement by the publisher setting out the accessibility options available to them, from how to magnify the screen to fully personalising the e-book.

The project, funded by JISC TechDis, JISC Collections and the Publishers Licensing Society investigated how to help people navigate e-book resources. Working with a group of international publishers, the project used the test results to make good practice recommendations for the publishing industry.

Key messages from the research
  • The experience of the ‘keyboard-only’ user can be significantly improved through a feature known as ‘skip links’
  • Buttons or unique ‘link text’ descriptions, which allow a user with little or no sight to be able to use the menus, can easily enhance accessibility
  • It is important to maintain a consistent layout between the main page and sub pages. This is also a feature that is welcomed by people with low literacy levels or those who don’t have English as their first language
  • A practical guide “Towards accessible e-book platforms” which highlights recommendations in the report was launched at the Publisher Lookup Awards at the London Book Fair, Earls Court on 21 April 2010.