The Value of Certification

This article discusses the benefits of certification. For example, publishers might opt for certification to increase both their knowledge of accessibility and the support they receive in the process, as well as to show their commitment to accessibility.

  • Subject(s):

    Ebook Production

  • Resource Type(s):

    Foundations and Rationale

  • Audience:


Suggested Prerequisite

Before reading this, you might want to review:


With so much information available on web accessibility and few published specifications to rely on, starting a manual check on any of your EPUB files can be a little daunting. This is where the Global Certified Accessible (GCA) Certification program can help you adjust your workflow to produce born-accessible books.

GCA Certification is an independent third-party accessibility program, developed by Benetech, which aims to help publishers create born accessible content that meets the needs of all readers. 

According to Benetech, the program is based on three recognized standards and guidelines:

  1. EPUB Accessibility 1.0 Specification
  2. World Wide Web Consortium’s (W3C) Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.0 AA
  3. Accessibility metadata to promote conformance and discoverability once a publisher becomes certified accessible

In this program, you will be paired with a trained certifier who will offer recommendations based on the above accessibility standards to update two to three of your existing EPUBs. Recommendations will be presented based on the existing code taken from your books, offering a practical approach to understanding the standards and guidelines. All recommendations should be applied directly to your production workflow so that all EPUB files going forward will have the same accessibility features. By working on more than one book, you will have the opportunity to practice your understanding of the requirements and apply these to your existing workflow. All the while, your certifier will be available to answer any questions that come up along the way.

What About Ace by DAISY?

As a publisher, you may already have added the Ace tool to your production workflow to catch accessibility issues in your EPUB files. This is a great and important step to take. But the tool only catches 20-30% of accessibility issues, and for a book to be considered WCAG compliant, a manual review of the book must be performed in addition to the Ace tool. 

Your certifier will perform a manual check, along with the Ace automated test, and share the findings with you once completed. These manual checks include, but are not limited to, a review of:

  • Long descriptions for images and math, which both do not currently have published specifications
  • Structured navigation
  • Colour contrast for images, links, and secondary book content
  • Language, including shifts between language (example: an English text that includes an occasional exchange of French dialogue between characters)

What is the Value?

Having one-on-one support in incorporating a complete list of accessibility standards to your existing workflow is invaluable, but there is more that can be considered a plus to becoming GCA certified: 

  • You get to work with your own books. You already know the process the book went through, which can make it easier to picture how accessibility processes will be adapted by all team members involved.
  • A structured and simplified presentation of accessibility standards. Evaluation reports are presented clearly and organized into required changes, strongly suggested changes, and best practice recommendations.
  • Working directly with a trained certifier during the process. If or when questions or complications come up, your certifier will be available to help.
  • Additional accessibility metadata can be added to your EPUBs. Once you have been granted certification, you will be able to add accessibility metadata to your EPUBs that indicates their certification. This increases the discoverability of your books, and therefore increases the number of readers accessing your books.
  • Ongoing support one certification is granted. Updates on evolving standards an accessibility checking tools will be communicated through quarterly newsletters. An annual certification spot check will be performed by a certifier to ensure your workflow is staying up to date with GCA requirements.

The most valuable part of becoming certified is in the long-term commitment to creating accessible content. By taking the time to establish a Born Accessible production workflow, your books will not only be the most accessible today but will easily and efficiently adapt to the ever-changing advancement of reading devices and assistive technology in the future. 

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

The Certification Process

How the Certification Process Works

If a publisher is confident in their workflow, they might consider getting certified accessible. This post explains how that process works.

Subject(s): Ebook Production
Resource Type(s): Standards and Best Practices

The SMART Tool

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
Resource Type(s): Tools

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