Rationale for Creating Accessible Content

Accessible content should be the norm. This resource makes the case for accessibility and inclusion, including the betterment of society and good business.

  • Subject(s):

    Strategic Planning

  • Resource Type(s):

    Foundations and Rationale

  • Audience:


The Importance of Inclusive Publishing

Social Benefits

When books are accessible, society becomes more equitable and balanced. Many people with print disabilities are unable to read most published books simply because the books have not been produced in formats they can use. And while the number of digital publications increases every day, many of these still cannot be accessed by the assistive technologies used by people with print disabilities.

Ensuring that your digital content — from books, to websites, to newsletters and catalogues — is accessible means that you are doing all you can to work toward a more inclusive society.

As outlined in the Australian Inclusive Publishing Initiative’s introductory guide to inclusive publishing, the World Intellectual Property Organization anticipates significant benefits for the countries in which books and other print materials are made universally accessible, including:

Business Benefits

Accessibility is integral to well-made digital content: the more accessible your digital products, the better they are for the whole market. Even if we focus solely on the segment of the book-buying market with print disabilities, we find a sizeable readership. In fact, preliminary statistics point to that group of readers as being more voracious than the average reader. Fondazione LIA, an accessibility organization based in Italy, points out that where texts are accessible to them, readers with print disabilities consume more than three times the number of books than the non-print-disabled population. And, in the 2019 “How Do You Read?” study (conducted by NNELS on behalf of eBOUND and the Association of Canadian Publishers), it was found that around 53% people with print disabilities read 4 or more books per month.

Improving the accessibility of digital content will result in a better end product that can be used by everyone.

Next Steps


Prioritizing Accessibility

Introduction to Born-Accessible Ebook Production

Creating born-accessible books in-house requires a commitment to accessibility, and an eagerness to learn. This brief Introduction discusses how a publisher can begin strategizing and planning for this goal.

Subject(s): Ebook Production, Strategic Planning
Resource Type(s): Foundations and Rationale

Understanding the Importance of Image Descriptions

Introduction to Image Descriptions

Including image descriptions in your ebooks and digital content hugely increases accessibility because it ensures that all readers have access to the same content. This Introduction discusses the importance of image descriptions – to your…

Subject(s): Image Descriptions
Resource Type(s): Foundations and Rationale

Getting Started with Accessible Audiobooks

Introduction to Accessible Audiobook Production

Audiobooks are one of the most popular formats for readers with print disabilities, and may seem like they are fully accessible due to their format. But, there are many factors to consider, and accessibility can…

Subject(s): Audiobook Production
Resource Type(s): Foundations and Rationale

Adding Accessibility Metadata to an Ebook

Introduction to Accessibility Metadata for Ebooks

Accessibility metadata should be included with every ebook, as it lets the reader know about what accessibility features have been included! This introduction discusses the importance of accessibility metadata, and shares examples of each type.

Subject(s): Metadata
Resource Type(s): Standards and Best Practices

Adding Accessibility Metadata to an Audiobook

Introduction to Audiobook Metadata

This brief introduction discusses the metadata that can be included with audiobooks: a set of ID3 tags for each file, and an ONIX record. There is no specific accessibility metadata for audiobooks, but having robust…

Subject(s): Audiobook Production, Metadata
Resource Type(s): Foundations and Rationale

Enhancing the Accessibility of a Website

Introduction to Website Accessibility

There is a lot of in-depth information available about how to make websites and digital content accessible. This resource discusses 8 recommendations which serve as a great start!

Subject(s): Strategic Planning, Website Accessibility
Resource Type(s): Foundations and Rationale, Standards and Best Practices

Making More Accessible Social Media

Introduction to Accessible Social Media Content

Ebooks are not the only digital content that benefit from accessibility! All digital content, from webpages to Facebook posts, can be inclusive and accessible. This resource provides general recommendations which apply to most of the most…

Subject(s): Digital Marketing
Resource Type(s): Checklist, Foundations and Rationale

Marketing Accessibility

Introduction to Accessible Digital Marketing

Accessibility should be an organization-wide undertaking, and should inform plans at the outset; this brief introduction offers some discussion around the big picture, and looks at how it can be incorporated into marketing.

Subject(s): Digital Marketing, Strategic Planning
Resource Type(s): Foundations and Rationale

External Links to More Information

Accessible Books Consortium: Books for All

This guide provides information on how accessible books can be produced and shared on a wider scale, particularly in developing and least developed countries. It outlines the needs of readers with print disabilities. It then discusses the advantages and disadvantages of several formats and what to consider when trying to make books as accessible as possible. Publishers can take steps to help make books more accessible and provide text in a way that makes it easier to produce accessible formats.

It’s Time to Use the Modern Digital Publishing Format for Your Organization’s Documents

This white paper from the DAISY Consortium makes the case for using EPUB3 as a document format. EPUB3 is already a file export option supported by commonly used word processors, and its functionality supports readers with disabilities. This is in contrast to the PDF format, which is designed to have a fixed appearance and is less flexible.

Accessible Publishing in Action

This article discusses the need to incorporate accessibility into publisher workflows and, encouragingly, mentions the work that is currently happening in ebooks accessibility.

Producing “Born Accessible” Books

This blog post argues that books should support accessibility features, and explains why accessible books should be created. It then discusses discoverability and metadata, with a particular focus on guidelines for providing accessibility metadata in ONIX. Links to organizations working with book accessibility are provided for further reading.

Diversity and Inclusion: Disability in the Publishing Industry

On behalf of the International Publishers Association, Michiel Kolman interviews Simon Holt and Kirsty Bone, two people with disabilities who work in the publishing industry. They discuss the experiences of disabled people and what the publishing industry could do to further its efforts toward supporting disabled employees. They stress the importance of being open to learning about ways to accommodate people living with disabilities.

Content Source Acknowledgement

Australian Inclusive Publishing Initiative: Inclusive Publishing in Australia

Inclusive Publishing: Accessible Ebook Publishing – The Business Case

eBOUND & Association of Canadian Publishers: Accessible Publishing Research Project