Accessible Books Consortium Announces Winners of 2019 ABC International Excellence Award

March 12, 2019

The 2019 winners of the ABC International Excellence Award for Accessible Publishing were announced at the awards ceremony held at the London Book Fair. The awards went to EDITORIAL 5 (ED5) of Brazil who won in the publisher category and eKitabu of Kenya who won in the initiative category.

ED5 and eKitabu were recognized for their achievements to improve the accessibility of e-books and other digital publications for people who are blind, visually impaired or otherwise print disabled.

Left, Picture of ED5 founders Ms. Mika Mistsui, Mr. Roberto Maluhy and Mr. Mauricio Barreto; Right, Picture of learners with visual disabilities accessing digital content from eKitabu
Left: Monica Halil (WIPO), Pedro Milliet, Roberto Maluhy Jr., and Mauricio Barreto of (ED5) | Right: Monica Halil, Matt Utterback (eKitabu) and Lawrence Njagi (Kenya Publishers Association) (Photos: London Book Fair)

This is the fifth year anniversary of the ABC International Excellence Award, which is now a much anticipated annual event in the field of accessibility, with an ever increasing number of diverse nominations from around the world. The winners were selected by an expert jury composed of eleven representatives of authors, publishers, standards bodies, and organizations representing people who are visually impaired, as well as accessibility experts.


According to a 2017 estimate by the World Health Organization, 253 million people worldwide are visually impaired. More than 90% of these are resident in developing countries, where the World Blind Union estimates that people who are blind have only a one in ten chance of going to school or getting a job. The lack of accessible books is a very real barrier to getting an education and leading an independent, productive life. For this reason, the Accessible Book Consortium (ABC) seeks to recognize leadership and achievements in advancing the accessibility of e-books and other digital materials.

Winner in the publisher category

ED5 is a Brazilian publishing house in the educational field and is considered to be at the forefront of accessibility developments in Brazil. ED5 converts print textbooks and other educational content to accessible formats, including EPUB3, audio and Braille (both digital and embossed) for students in Brazil who are print-disabled. ED5 offers both their own and other publishers' content in accessible formats.

ED5 represent all that is good about accessible publishing. Their extensive and exemplary work in EPUB3 and Braille production is commended, as is their creation of the innovative ALBATROZ production software designed to ensure full content accessibility. As the largest accessible book producer in Latin America they have been influential throughout the region and have pioneered access to content for students in Brazil. They are a midwife of the “born accessible” publishing movement and thoroughly deserve this recognition.

Huw Alexander, ABC Selection Jury Member and Co-Founder of textBOX

Students benefit by the production of all titles in accessible versions delivered to schools at the same time as print books for sighted students. Initiatives by ED5 in the field of accessible educational content have had great positive impact; today the number of students with print disabilities enrolled in public schools in Brazil has risen from 10,000 in 2005 to 70,000 in 2018. ED5 correlates this increase in enrollment to the greater number of accessible textbooks that are now available to such students.

Winner in the initiative category

Founded in Kenya in 2012, eKitabu is headquartered in Nairobi (“Kitabu” is Kiswahili for “book,” Kitab or کتاب in Arabic, Kitab or कताब in Hindi) and works with over 60 local publishers in Kenya to bring accessible digital learning materials—in many cases for the first time ever—to learners who are print disabled, as well as training their teachers to use accessible digital content. eKitabu’s accessible books and programs have reached over 375,000 learners and 1,500 schools across 13 countries of Africa.

We are sincerely honored to be recognized by the Accessible Books Consortium International Excellence Award for our work with African publishers to deliver accessible digital content for inclusive and quality education. We look forward to more collaboration with ABC—furthering born accessible publishing practices sustainably to leave no one behind.

Will Clurman, CEO and Co-Founder of eKitabu

eKitabu has developed an open source Accessible EPUB Toolkit to help publishers adopt born accessible practices, not only making their materials more accessible for learners with disabilities, but also growing the sustainability of locally developed educational materials in languages across Africa. eKitabu works in collaboration with African education ministries, publishers and schools to build sustainability and achieve learning outcomes.

About the Accessible Books Consortium (ABC)

The World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO), a United Nations specialized agency, and its partners created the Accessible Books Consortium (ABC) in 2014 to help implement the Marrakesh Treaty at a practical level. ABC is a public – private partnership; 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’s goal is to increase the number of books worldwide in accessible formats - such as Braille, audio, e-text, large print – and to make them available to people who are blind, visually impaired, or otherwise print disabled.

ABC works in three areas, namely:

  • Capacity Building – training and funding is provided by ABC in developing countries for the production of books in accessible formats.
  • ABC Global Book Service - a global library catalogue of over 424,000 titles in accessible formats in 76 languages that enables participating authorized entities from around the world to share items in their collections.
  • Accessible Publishing – the promotion of accessible book production techniques within the publishing industry so that e-books are usable by both sighted people and those with print disabilities.

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