Shortlist Announced for Accessible Books Consortium’s 2016 International Excellence Award

March 10, 2016

The 2016 ABC International Excellence Award for Accessible Publishing shortlist has been announced. Nominees were judged on the criteria of outstanding leadership or achievements in improving the accessibility of commercial e-books or other digital publications for persons who are blind, visually impaired or otherwise print disabled.

The ABC International Excellence Award recognizes two categories: one for publishers and one for project initiatives. The winners in each category will be announced at the awards ceremony to be held at the London Book Fair on the evening of Tuesday, April 12, 2016. The short-listed candidates are:

The publishers:

The initiatives:

Strong competition

The selection panel, comprised of publisher representatives, organizations working in the field of accessibility, and persons who are visually impaired, discussed the applications on Friday, March 4. Mr. José Borghino, Secretary General of the International Publishers Association and a member of the selection panel, commented that “we again had excellent contenders this year and the International Publishers Association is very pleased with the outstanding commitment shown by the short-listed candidates to the accessibility of digital publications for the visually impaired.”

Ms. Kim Charlson, Director of the Perkins School for the Blind Library in the U.S. and President of the American Council of the Blind, who is herself visually impaired, noted that “the selection panel had a particularly lively discussion, given the quality of the nominees. We had some difficulty deciding on the winning application and are delighted that such work is being done globally in the field of accessibility for persons who are print disabled.”

Assessment criteria

The criteria used to evaluate the 2016 applications were as follows:

  • An organization-wide commitment to making content available in accessible formats.
  • Accessibility standards built into production systems to make books accessible on, or close to, publication date.
  • Collaboration with partners in the supply chain to ensure that accessibility is maintained in delivering the product to the print disabled end-user.
  • Innovative practices established to advance the accessibility of e-books and digital publications for persons who are print disabled.

About the Accessible Books Consortium

The Accessible Books Consortium is a multi-stakeholder alliance, comprising the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO); organizations that represent people with print disabilities, including the World Blind Union (WBU); libraries for people with print disabilities; and organizations representing publishers and authors, including the International Publishers Association and the International Authors Forum. The ABC aims to increase the number of books worldwide in accessible formats – such as braille, audio and large print – and to make them available to people who are blind, have low vision or are otherwise print disabled.

ABC carries out activities in three areas to fulfill its mandate, namely:

  • Capacity Building – training in developing countries for local NGOs, government departments, and commercial publishers who want to produce and distribute their books in accessible formats. Projects were completed successfully in Bangladesh, India, Nepal and Sri Lanka during 2015, with 1588 accessible educational materials/books produced in national languages benefitting over 23,500 students.
  • ABC Book Service (i.e., TIGAR) – a global library catalogue of books in accessible formats that enables libraries serving the print disabled to share items in their collections, rather than duplicating the costs of converting them to accessible formats. Over 58,000 people with print disabilities have borrowed accessible books through the 15 participating libraries in the ABC Book Service. Participating libraries saved USD 8.4 million in production costs by being able to download 4,208 electronic books into their collections.
  • Inclusive Publishing – activities to promote accessible book production techniques within the commercial publishing industry so that e-books are usable by both sighted people and those with print disabilities. Two international coordination meetings were held in 2015, a set of guidelines for self-publishing authors has been produced, and six national publishing associations have endorsed the ABC Charter for Accessible Publishing. The first ABC accessibility excellence awards were presented at the London Book Fair in April 2015 to Cambridge University Press and the Young Power in Social Action in Bangladesh.