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Following the announcement of the shortlist for the Accessible Books Consortium Excellence Awards, Following our first interview with Ediciones Godot, IPA spoke to a second shortlisted publisher, Kogan Page, to find out more about what they do and why accessibility is important to them. Read our interview with Martin Klopstock and Arthur Thompson from Kogan Page below. Those attending London Book Fair can also hear the pair talk at the Publishers Association event: Accessible Publishing and the Marrakesh Treaty – Are You Ready?

IPA : Tell us a little about Kogan Page

Kogan Page: Kogan Page is a leading independent global publisher of business books and content with over 1,000 titles in print. Founded in 1967, our award-winning publishing from the world’s leading business experts offers books and digital solutions for professional practice and academic achievement.

We create opportunities for authors, professionals, academics, students, organizations and professional associations by offering a range of products and services, from books and ebooks to interactive online courses and subscription access to our books.

Our author experts come from the most prestigious academic institutions, international commercial organizations and professional associations - they deliver accessible, professional content to our readers in our key subject areas:

  • Accounting, Finance & Banking
  • Business & Management
  • Digital & Technology
  • Human Resources, Learning & Development 
  • Marketing & Communications
  • Risk & Compliance
  • Skills, Careers & Employability
  • Logistics, Supply Chain & Operations 

In addition to working with the world’s leading business experts, we collaborate with a strong network of partner organizations, from prestigious member associations to major news outlets, to develop content for professionals. Visit our publishing partners page to learn more.

The Accessibility Statement on our website can be found here.

IPA: What does it mean to you to be shortlisted for the Accessible Books Consortium Excellence Award?

KP: To be shortlisted for the ABC Excellence Award is very important to us. It is testament to our company objective to reach the widest possible audience for our authors’ content and to provide opportunities to all readers to further their careers or studies. It also underlines a commitment to quality and excellence in all aspects of our publishing. As such our place on the shortlist constitutes public recognition of what we have achieved in this regard so far. Until now we would have had to rely on vendor confirmation as to the accessibility of our digital content. We now have robust processes in place which enforce best practice and achieve a consistently high-quality and predictable result in terms of the accessibility features and accessibility standards to which we are now committed to working. This provides independent validation of the quality of our products that builds confidence in our brand.

IPA: What made you decide to tackle accessibility issues?

KP: Primarily two things: 1. It is simply the right thing to do. Nobody willing to learn and further their career should be excluded from opportunities of doing so – inclusivity is an important value in an era that values diversity in all its forms. 2. We have developed an XHTML schema which now provides very granular accurate structural semantics for all our content. The existence of a well-documented schema allowed us to map accessibility features to schema elements, which made it significantly easier to have a consistent and transparent approach to accessibility.

IPA: What have you done to make your books more accessible?

We decided to implement the EPUB Accessibility 1.0 and WCAG 2.0 AA standards, and focused in particular on ARIA Roles, Alt Text, Long Descriptions, Accessibility Metadata and an approach to Table Data that would work for both sighted and print impaired readers. Our accessibility features are well documented, test files were reviewed by industry experts like Bill Kasdorf, and we engaged with accessibility organisations like Benetech and the RNIB. That engagement continues. In addition, we researched the extensive online information available for anyone attempting to formulate an accessible content strategy for their organisations. We also ensured that all staff knew of this project and it has now become the new ‘normal.’

IPA: Were there, or are there still, misconceptions about tackling accessibility issues?

KP: We believe that many organisations still see accessibility as something they ‘have to’ address. We believe this is not a helpful perspective. Fully accessible digital products have benefits for all readers, not only those with print impairments. That is also why the combination of an XHTML schema and EPUB Accessibility 1.0 is such a powerful predictor of technical excellence.

IPA: Do you have any accessibility related plans for the future?

KP: We have been producing accessible files since December last year. This process is continuing and we are now engaging with the RNIB to have more feedback on how our files score in the context of assistive technologies. We hope to become a ‘certified accessible’ publisher in the future.

IPA: Are there any particular experiences you would like to share or do you have any messages for other publishers?

KP: Here are a few of things we learnt on our journey:

  • Accessibility is not simply a burden on your resources and time.
  • You need an accessibility evangelist in-house, and you need to give this person time and space to get their head around your accessibility goals and potential pain points. This person does not need to be a programming/EPUB expert. But they need to be able to have well-informed conversations with experts and vendors.
  • To start, read the specifications and guide available and plug your EPUB into Ace, by Daisy, to see where your files are at – the tool will give a list of issues that you can focus on correcting.
  • 80 per cent of accessibility requirements for EPUBs can probably be baked into your workflow (Aria attributes, EPUB types, accessibility metadata) if you have a schema. But some aspects will be specific to your business and your content (e.g. handling tables, who writes/proofreads the alternative text, how much you can afford to spend on non-automated tasks, etc) and will therefore require serious thought.
  • Think about scalability and sustainability. Knowing what you need to add or change in your ebooks is one thing. But you need to work out how you are going to improve all of your ebooks without draining resources (time and money). Our automation of simple tasks and validation scripts helped with this. So did training for our production editors to parse alt text and long descriptions, and check that they have been inserted in our XHTML files.
  • There are two aspects to ebook accessibility. Content: that is, markup and structure, navigation, and the requirements essential for assistive technologies. And Interface: The platforms and e-readers that offer various levels of support for accessibility such as keyboard support, screen reader support, adjustable font size and contrast, etc. Realistically, publishers can only focus on the former. But you should understand how it might impact the latter.
  • Talk to the experts! The community is very friendly and eager to help those who are willing.
  • Go to talks, seminars, symposiums, sign up to webinars, speak to colleagues and users of assistive technologies.

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