WIPO’s ABC Launches an Online Course on Accessible Publishing Concepts for Publishers

September 30, 2022

WIPO’s Accessible Books Consortium (ABC) has launched an online course covering key accessibility topics to consider in the field of publishing. This new course is designed for publishers, but also targets a broader audience that wishes to understand high-level concepts related to accessible publishing.

It is clear that adopting best practices for accessibility today can serve to improve ebooks and other digital publications, open doors to new markets, strengthen company reputation, and ensure the publisher is in line with future regulatory obligations. But what exactly does accessible publishing mean on a practical level and how can it be implemented in an optimized way to minimize cost and maximize impact?

ABC partnered with accessibility expert the DAISY Consortium to address these and more questions through a new module now available among ABC’s online course offerings.  The resulting ABC Course on Accessible Publishing Concepts is a high-level self-study course that covers topics including best practices, accessibility standards and accessibility metadata. It is offered free of charge as a self-contained module that takes approximately two to three hours to complete.

Enroll for the ABC Course on Accessible Publishing Concepts in English:

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Headshot portrait photo of Ms. Maureen Masamba.
Photo courtesy of Ms. Masamba

The course was an eye opener for me, coming from a Malawian market where digital publishing is a new phenomenon, let alone accessible publishing. It was intriguing to learn about the 'born accessible' publishing work flow as opposed to the traditional thinking of publishing. I am definitely hooked to learn more and get practical and technical.

Ms. Maureen Masamba, Publishing Director at Pro Publishing, Malawi.

The course is currently available in English on the DAISY Learning platform. ABC plans to release the course in French and Spanish and is working with the WIPO Academy with a view to make the course available, in all three languages, on WIPO’s Distance Learning platform.

The Africa Publishing Innovation Fund (APIF), a joint venture between the International Publishers Association (IPA) and UAE-based organization Dubai Cares, is the first initiative to leverage the course. APIF and the DAISY Consortium are offering training in accessible publishing to African publishers using the ABC Accessible Publishing Concepts course as their basis. It is expected that more than 40 African publishers will benefit from the course by the end of 2022.

An accessible publication is one that is very well structured, offers effective navigation options, is readable by text-to-speech engines and includes textual descriptions for images. These essential accessibility features not only ensure that all persons, regardless of their abilities, can read the content: they also contribute to creating a fundamentally better product, which leads to higher customer satisfaction.

The ethical responsibility to produce accessible books is also at the forefront of this topic—and an inclusive approach to publishing has reputational implications that can greatly benefit publishers.  From a legal perspective as well, accessible publishing is becoming a central requirement in the publishing ecosystem; publishers are increasingly subject to legislation such as the European Accessibility Act and other similar laws that are starting to appear around the world and that are establishing new accessibility standards.

Background

According to a 2017 study published in The Lancet, approximately 253 million people are blind or visually impaired world-wide. Nearly 90% of these are resident in developing countries, where the World Blind Union (WBU) estimates that people who are blind have only a one in ten chance of going to school or getting a job. A lack of accessible books remains a very real barrier to getting an education and leading an independent, productive life.

About ABC

The Accessible Books Consortium (ABC) is a public–private partnership led by the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) that brings together all of the key players – organizations representing people who are blind, visually impaired or otherwise print-disabled, authors, publishers, collective management organizations, libraries and other authorized entities, as well as standards bodies. ABC was established in June 2014 to implement the goals of the Marrakesh Treaty. Through an effective international alliance of relevant state and non-state actors, ABC seeks to increase, and distribute, the number of books worldwide in accessible formats - such as braille, audio, e-text and large print.

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About WIPO

The World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) is the global forum for intellectual property policy, services, information and cooperation. A specialized agency of the United Nations, WIPO assists its 193 member states in developing a balanced international IP legal framework to meet society's evolving needs. It provides business services for obtaining IP rights in multiple countries and resolving disputes. It delivers capacity-building programs to help developing countries benefit from using IP. And it provides free access to unique knowledge banks of IP information.