Currently, only 2-5% of the annually published literature content is made accessible to blind, visually and reading-impaired people. In order to compensate for this enormous disadvantage, the MEDIBUS facilities are continuously working on ways through which the gap can be narrowed. A promising and effective option is to provide content in the accessible and inclusive format EPUB3. The EPUB3 format is the current standard of the popular e-book format EPUB. EPUB3 offers the possibility to display book contents digitally as accessible mulitmedia book, even for complex contents such as found in non-fiction, specialist books and scientific publications. Hence, EPUB3 is also suitable for facilitating accessible school book literature and study materials at colleges, universities and other educational institutions.
The aim of the project is to create the theoretical basis by means of a survey with which the institutions represented in MEDIBUS e.V.
can offer content in an accessible form digitally. For this purpose, it is necessary to deal first with the production tools that enable content in the EPUB3 format to be edited. The technical efficiency of the various tools, usability and suitability for practical use as well as compliance with international standards has to be examined and evaluated. The topic of data protection through soft DRM solutions is also a key aspect to ensure that processed content is only used for the actual purpose and is not misused. Furthermore, it is necessary to check the use and the flexibility of reading software in order to estimate the potentials and limits of, for example, mainstream browsers (Windows Edge) or other available software solutions and to develop application scenarios. In order to offer the existing MEDIBUS database of DAISY titles in EPUB format too and thereby make them accessible to even more users, the project encompasses a concept for converting and synchronizing DAISY titles into EPUB format.
At the same time, it is important to observe and implement aspects of accessibility when producing and publishing new content on the free market. The content provider can structure and enrich the book during the development process by use of information about accessible design ("born accessible content"). This process enables transmission facilities such as the MEDIBUS libraries to convert even complex EPUB3 publications more quickly into a format suitable for reading-impaired users and to make them available promptly. For this purpose, cooperation with publishers is strived for in order to establish the existing testing tools (e.g. BACC tool from DZB or networking with international offers from the DAISY consortium or LIA in Italy) in the publishers' production processes.
As part of the project, the following requirements and subject areas are to be evaluated in a survey:
1. production tools for capturing, editing and testing accessible content in the EPUB3 format
2. possibilities and procedures for archiving, protecting and distributing the e-books
3. reading software for flexible application by users
4. concept for upgrading the DAISY book inventory in MEDIBUS libraries
5. cooperation approaches with publishers to initiate an inclusive publication processes in Germany.
The different production processes, tools and reading options make it difficult to produce uniform, cross-MEDIBUS products of the same quality. In order to create a reliable, pragmatic and goal-oriented fundament, there is an urgent need for a uniform concept that can be used by all MEDIBUS facilities and thus significantly increases the production and distribution of content in an accessible form while reducing disadvantages. The aim of the project is therefore to have a comprehensive concept as a guideline for the MEDIBUS facilities which represents the basis for the individual facilities to change, adapt and optimize their individual digital production and distribution processes. The concept includes an analysis, evaluation and recommendation for 1. production tools, 2. security procedures, 3. reading software. Another sub-goal is the development of a technical process for converting and synchronizing DAISY titles in EPUB format. In addition, the existing online test tool BACC for checking EPUB3 files for accessibility will be further developed and linked with international standards.
The individual objectives within the project serve the primary goal of reducing the existing book shortage for blind, visually and reading-impaired people and thereby sustainably improve their possibility to access information, culture and knowledge.
The results of the project are to be compiled in a uniform implementation recommendation for the MEDIBUS libraries and can be adopted by all of them. Through workshops the project results are conveyed and a homogeneous level of knowledge within the MEDIBUS group will be achieved. Thus, the theoretical base is created for the individual institutions in order to be able to tackle the practical implementation in a goal-oriented and effective manner. After completion of the project, the MEDIBUS facilities have the possibility of independently carrying out and expanding the production and distribution of accessible content in the EPUB3 format. Thereby, the results of the project will be transferred to the daily business operations of the individual facilities while increasing the number of edited and accessible content in EPUB3 format long-term wise. Same applies to the conversion of DAISY data into the EPUB3 format. In the future, the developed conversion processes can be used by the MEDIBUS facilities after the project has been completed in order to transmit further DAISY data. Due to the facilities being spread across German-speaking regions, a sustainable and nationwide application and use of the project results is ensured. From then on, all publishers having adapted their production processes for EPUB3 data because of the cooperation within project and the use of the testing tools will be able to bring a significantly higher percentage of "born accessible" data to the market. Even if these files do not meet all accessibility requirements yet, they will facilitate the takeover and final preparation by MEDIBUS facilities.
The concrete results of the project are summarized as follows:
- a guide with recommendations for production processes, DRM processes, reading software
- workshops for MEDIBUS facilities to convey the contents of the guide
- generation of a technical process for converting and synchronizing DAISY titles into EPUB3 format
- testing tool range for publishers.
The results of the study enable the facilities of MEDIBUS e.V.
to take decisive steps to improve the situation of blind, visually and reading-impaired people in the German-speaking countries by increasing the number and variety of accessible publications in adequate quality and by broadcasting further accessibility into the free economy. Thanks to the experience gained in the field of reading devices and software, the advisory services of the facilities for severely disabled people can also be improved. This leads to a significant improvement in the everyday life of this user group.