The Road to Accessible Publishing – One Publisher’s Story in Mexico

December 3, 2018

Hugo Setzer is President-elect of the International Publishers Association and CEO of Manual Moderno, a Mexico-based publisher of educational texts. In both roles, he is working towards producing ever more books in accessible formats for people who are blind or visually impaired.

Mr. Setzer became interested in accessible publishing due to a personal experience: Laura, Manuel Moderno’s receptionist, is blind, and this got Mr. Setzer thinking about how Laura was able to study in school.  She explained that she managed to graduate from university because family members read to her, since there were not enough titles in braille or audio in her subject areas.

Video on YouTube: In this video produced by the Accessible Books Consortium (ABC), Hugo Setzer, President-elect of the International Publishers Association (IPA), talks about his interest in accessibility, the challenges to be overcome, and IPA’s support of the work of ABC.

A landmark step

Manual Moderno is the first publisher in Latin America to sign the Accessible Books Consortium’s Charter for Accessible Publishing, which promotes the production of "born accessible" publications, that is, books that are produced from the onset in an accessible format. The ABC Charter contains eight aspirational principles that publishers should follow to make their digital publications available to persons with print disabilities. The aim is for the same product to be usable by everybody.

Many fear that a move to accessible publishing means they will have to produce two different versions of the same publication, one for the sighted market and one for people with print disabilities. But this is not the case. A publication that is born accessible can be used by everyone. It simply has a different layout and format.

At Manual Moderno we have been working with our technology partners to solve various technical issues, but in moving to EPUB3, the standard for making books accessible, we are seeing great potential to improve the usability and overall quality of our e-books.

Hugo Setzer, President-elect of the International Publishers Association and CEO of Manual Moderno

Born accessible

For those publishers that have modern production software, workflows can be adapted to take advantage of the accessibility functions already available in the software, so that publications can be “born accessible”.

The WIPO-led Accessible Books Consortium (ABC) sent a trainer to Mexico in December 2017 to provide training in the EPUB3 format to 20 publishers, including Manual Moderno, and 20 NGOs serving people who are blind, visually impaired or otherwise print disabled.

WIPO-ABC then provided funding to Discapacitados Visuales, a non-profit organization serving print-disabled persons, under a 12 month agreement so that it could then immediately utilize this training to produce 200 educational books in Spanish in accessible formats.

About the Accessible Books Consortium

ABC was launched in June 2014 and it seeks to implement the Marrakesh VIP Treaty at an operational level.  ABC is a public – private alliance led by the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) and it includes organizations that represent people with print disabilities, such as the World Blind Union; libraries for people with print disabilities; and organizations representing authors, publishers and collective management organizations, including the International Authors Forum, the International Publishers Association, and the International Federation of Reproduction Rights Organisations.

ABC carries out activities in three areas, namely:

  • Capacity building – training and funding provided by ABC in developing countries for the production of books in accessible formats. Since the start of capacity building, over 5000 accessible educational books have been produced in national languages through training and funding provided by ABC.
  • ABC Global Book Service – a global library catalogue of over 415,000 titles in accessible formats in 76 languages that enables libraries serving the print-disabled to exchange items in their collections.  Currently, 46 libraries for people with print disabilities, known as “authorized entities” have joined the ABC Global Book Service.
  • Accessible publishing – encourages publishers to adopt “born accessible” practices through its promotion of the ABC Charter for Accessible Publishing and the annual ABC International Excellence Award for Accessible Publishing, which recognizes leadership and achievements in advancing the accessibility of digital publications. Hachette Livre, France and the DAISY Forum of India were the winners in 2018.

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