The Pre-certification Process
Summary of what to expect from the eBound–Benetech pre-certification process.
If a publisher is confident in their workflow, they might consider getting certified accessible. This post explains how that process works.
Standards and Best Practices
Before reading this, you might want to read:
Becoming a Global Certified Accessible (GCA) publisher provides added value to your digital books and a streamlined approach to adapting your production workflow to create born accessible books. In this post we will look at the steps involved in the certification process and the tools that certifiers use to ensure your EPUBs meet the accessibility requirements outlined in Benetech’s GCA Certification requirements.
Once you have been approved to move on from the pre-certification stage, you will be introduced to your assigned Benetech trained certifier, in an introductory email. This email will give a brief outline of what the certification process will include, and a request to provide two (2) EPUBs for certification.
While any two reflowable EPUB files can be submitted for evaluation, it is good to keep the following in mind when selecting your files:
If you are uncertain about which books to submit, ask your certifier for clarification. Once the two books are submitted, your certifier will do a quick review of each book’s contents and complexity. They will then confirm both books have been received and choose one to begin certifying.
The first book selected for evaluation usually contains the more complex structure and elements of the two. This is to ensure you are introduced to as much success criteria as possible. Success criteria for certification is divided into two areas:
GCA Certifiers use a few different manual and automatic testing tools to complete the evaluation process, which are discussed below.
EPUBCheck is the command line tool that is used to validate an EPUB file against the EPUB specifications and maintained by the DAISY Consortium on behalf of the W3C. It is also available as a free application that can be downloaded and used on Windows, Mac, and Linux operating systems. If you work with EPUB development, or are part of a digital publishing workflow, you may already be familiar with this tool.
This is the first tool used by the certifier to ensure no errors or warnings show up in the basic structure of the EPUB file. If outstanding errors come up, your certifier may reach out to confirm if the correct file was submitted.
The best way to avoid issues coming up in this stage of certification is to use the tool in your own workflow and run the EPUB through EPUBCheck before sending it to your certifier. The application is a free download and only requires the user to drag and drop the file into it.
This is another automated tool that is becoming more common in digital publishing workflows. Its purpose is to specifically check for accessibility in an EPUB. Much like EPUBCheck, it is offered as both a free command line tool and a Windows/Mac/Linux OS application.
Your certifier will run the EPUB through Ace by DAISY and generate a report that includes:
This is the starting point for the bulk of the GCA certification evaluation. Since Ace by DAISY only covers 20-30% in its automated testing, the certifier will then conduct a thorough manual review to fill in the blanks. A book cannot be considered WCAG 2.0 compliant by only being tested in Ace – a manual review is also required to ensure all criteria is covered.
True to its name, the Simplified Manual Accessibility Reporting Tool (SMART) is meant to streamline the manual checking process by incorporating all accessibility standards and metadata requirements in the GCA certification. Ace by DAISY generates two (2) files: an HTML report, summarizing the accessibility findings, and a JSON file. This JSON file is dropped into SMART, which brings the information from Ace into the manual testing environment.
SMART organizes the success criteria into the Conformance and Born Accessible pages and generates a report that clearly states where the EPUB has been successful and where it has failed or needs improvement.
For more information on SMART, check out the Next Steps at the bottom of this article.
The Colour Contrast Analyzer does what the name suggests: tests images to meet colour contrast requirements according to WCAG 2.1 standards. Your certifier will use this tool for the following:
The CCA is available for free download and is a great addition to your production workflow, especially if you produce books that are heavily visual and contain elements that depend on colour to convey essential aspects of the book’s content.
Within a couple weeks of submitting your book, the certifier will compile all the testing results and send you a zip folder containing the following files:
At this point, you will be asked to revise the EPUB based on the requirements and recommendations detailed in the three reports listed above. Ideally, the revised file should be sent back within two weeks. If conformance failures remain, or if the born accessible score is not yet over 80%, the same evaluation process will be repeated until the book passes conformance and has a born accessible score over 80%. It is common for a book to require more than one evaluation.
Once the first book passes all required success criteria, it is then time to move on to the second book.
Before starting the evaluation process on the second book, the certifier will request the second book to be revised based on the findings in the first book’s reports. This is an opportunity to:
This is as important a step as the evaluation of the individual EPUB files. And it is not a closed-book test either. Your certifier is available to help clarify any lingering questions from the first book and can offer additional support while you work towards adjusting your workflow to become born accessible.
Once all changes have been applied and you feel confident with the result, the second book is re-submitted and evaluated in the same process as the first book, using the same automatic and manual testing tools. Your certifier will send along a new set of the same three reports outlining the findings of the evaluation.
There will likely be a few new changes that need to be implemented that may not have occurred in the first book. But repeated conformance errors should be avoided completely, and the born accessible score should show a clear improvement over the first book’s results at the end of the second book’s first evaluation.
If at this point the second book’s reports show a similar result to the first book’s reports, or multiple conformance errors have recurred, the certifier may request a third book to be submitted for evaluation to demonstrate your production workflow has made the required adjustments. If this is the case, the third book will follow the same process as the first and second book.
Once the evaluation of the submitted books is completed and the qualifying scores have been achieved, certification is granted to the evaluated workflow. Your certifier will advise of this accomplishment in an email that will also include contacts from Benetech who are available to assist in next steps.
Being granted certification includes:
Approximately one year following certification, you will be required to participate in a spot-check to ensure the books produced in the certified workflow are still compliant. The best way to keep your books compliant is to read the quarterly updates and ensure your workflow has incorporated the required standards before certification is even granted.
Everyone benefits from a born accessible workflow. Although the certification work may seem intensive and maybe even daunting, the result will be a stronger production workflow that will create the most accessible books over the long term.