Simplified Manual Accessibility Reporting Tool (SMART)

SMART is a robust accessibility checking tool that tests content against a number of metrics to support making ebook content.

  • Subject(s):

    Ebook Production

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Suggested Prerequisites

Before reading this, you might want to read:


The best way to test for accessibility in your books is to perform both automated and manual tests. This is because one compliments the other: automated tests are often limited in what they test but are thorough and reliable, while manual tests can be prone to human error but offer a better judge on quality and context. As a result, the GCA certification program uses both automated and manual testing tools. 

The SMART Tool

The Simplified Manual Accessibility Reporting Tool (SMART) is an online accessibility reporting tool that guides a user through the manual testing process. Together with the automated Ace by DAISY tool, it offers the most complete method for accessibility conformance testing, and is the method used in the Global Certified Accessible (GCA) certification program. GCA certifiers have been trained by Benetech to use SMART consistently and completely. 

Once the certifier has run the EPUB through EPUBCheck and Ace by DAISY, they will generate two reports from Ace by DAISY. In addition to generating an automated report in HTML format that summarizes the information from the EPUB, a file in the JSON format is also generated. The certifier will drop the JSON file into SMART, which will read the file and configure the manual testing according to the information provided from Ace.

SMART will then guide the certifier through a series of requirements that are organized into tabbed pages as follows:

  • Pub Info: Information about the publication that is auto populated with the information read from the JSON file. In the SMART report, this information shows up under the “Additional Info” tab.
  • Conformance: Contains all the tests that need to be performed to verify the accessibility of the EPUB. These tests are strictly pass or fail. In the SMART report, all possible Conformance requirements are listed, but the ones marked N/A can be ignored. All applicable tests must pass before an EPUB can be GCA certified. An explanation of each WCAG success criterion can be found by visiting this page on the Accessible Publishing Knowledge Base.
  • Born Accessible: The topics within the Conformance tests are broken down further into more detailed scoring. These are also self-contained tests with numbered criteria (0-4, with 4 being the highest) and explanations for each numerical score. Once all tests have been completed, the scores are added up and presented as a percentage score. GCA certification requires at least 80% Born Accessible score, although it is recommended to try and achieve 100% for the best accessible reading experience. 
  • Discovery: This is where all the accessibility metadata can be found. The fields in this tab will be automatically populated with the information read from the JSON file, but the certifier will review and revise this information upon review of the metadata and contents of the EPUB. In the SMART report, this accessibility metadata can be found on the Overview tab with the Conformance and Born Accessible scoring.
  • Distribution: Like the Discovery tab, this tab displays the ONIX metadata. It is not typically used or modified in the GCA certification process.
  • Result: The testing results will be shown here and indicate whether the EPUB has met the accessibility specification. The certifier cannot modify the results. In the SMART report, the results will be at the top of the Overview tab. 
  • Reporting: A preview of the report, or the report itself, can be generated on the final tab. Any errors must be resolved before creating the report. This is the report that gets sent to you in the form of an html file once a book has been reviewed as part of certification.

The content of the report is customized to the kind of EPUB submitted and the elements it includes. You’ll notice in the SMART report that there are several Conformance success criterion, and if you have any books in your workflow that include the following elements, we strongly recommended to submit at least one to be evaluated in the certification program:

  • Audio
  • Video
  • Media Overlays
  • Scripting

This way you’ll be able to see how the complex elements of the EPUB are presented in the SMART report, have examples to work from in your GCA technical report, and any questions can be worked through with your certifier. 

It is important to review the SMART report alongside the GCA technical report and Ace by DAISY automated report once you’ve received them from your certifier and begin working on resolving the issues found in the EPUB. Seeing the conformance and born accessible scoring can be helpful in identifying the parts of your workflow that may need extra attention and adjustment when creating accessible EPUBs. If you have any questions about the contents or scoring of the SMART report, your certifier will be able to offer further solutions or explanations to the reported findings.  

Updates to SMART occur as best practices improve and standards change. Any changes are communicated in the GCA Technical Bulletin that is sent by email from Benetech’s Born Accessible team on a quarterly basis to all GCA certified members. The Community Hub is a great place to discuss any of these updates and the SMART reports in general. In keeping up with these quarterly updates and ongoing conversations, your production workflow will remain up-to-date, and your ebooks will continue to be accessible to the most readers.

Next Steps


What to expect from pre-certification

The Pre-certification Process

Summary of what to expect from the eBound–Benetech pre-certification process.

Subject(s): Ebook Production
Resource Type(s): Step-by-Step

Ebook QA

Quality Assurance of Completed Ebooks

Once your ebook has been created, it is time to do a quality assurance check for accessibility. This resource contains both simplified and advanced checklists to help you review your ebooks.

Subject(s): Ebook Production
Resource Type(s): Checklist

Accessibility Metadata

Guide for Reviewing Image Descriptions

This guide shares a short checklist of items to review when reading or editing image descriptions. Whether you wrote them yourself, or someone else wrote them, this guide will help ensure the quality of descriptions.

Subject(s): Digital Marketing, Ebook Production, Image Descriptions, Website Accessibility
Resource Type(s): Checklist, Standards and Best Practices

Content Source Acknowledgement

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