Services for Canadian Publishers

Accessibility: Standards and Best Practices
A Primer for Publishers 

Since its introduction in 2012, EPUB3 has become a standard for the publishing industry. 

To fully earn the "Accessible' designation, many elements must be added to the file. 
The charts below show how these requirements are met by the desLibris conversion service. 

Questions for Conversion Suppliers

Best Practices

At this link, NNELS provides a summary of best practice guidelines for publishers. 
This table shows how desLibris helps to address them.

*The Alt-text (ATAR) Process 

Descriptions of images are an essential part of the Accessible EPUB3, especially where images are vital to the content. 

Best practice recommends that the alt-text be supplied by someone familiar with the content (editor, publisher or author.) Ideally these descriptions are created and supplied with the source files delivered for conversion. 

If Alt-text image descriptions are not available or supplied with the source file when an order is placed,  the conversion price will include the "ATAR Service."  These are items 2, 4 and 5 on the price list.

These options include the delivery of an Alt-text Assessment Report (ATAR) which is generated as a by-product of the conversion process.  

A placeholder or dummy alt-text marker is inserted in the EPUB file for all tables and images requiring Alt-text. These markers are included in the ATAR Template, which is an Excel file described below.    

The resulting EPUB file, described as "Enhanced," meets all Accessible standards with the exception of the alt-text. content.

This is returned to the publisher accompanied by the ATAR Template. With this delivery, an invoice is issued under standard 30-day payment terms.

The next step (creation of alt-text) is the responsibility of the publisher.   

The Alt-Text Template provides thumbnails of all images and tables in the text in spreadsheet form, with one row per table/image. with fields for "Alt-text - Short" and Alt-text - Long" descriptions. It also provides a complexity rating for each image, the total of which provides a single ATAR Score for the complete title. This can serve as a "complexity rating" for publishers seeking alt-text composition services.  

CEL offers alt-text composition at the price of $1 / point in the ATAR Score.  Or publishers may elect to engage the services of NNELS for Alt-text content creation. Where this option is chosen,  the CEL platform may be used to make the Enhanced file available to NNELS along with the ATAR.

When the ATAR template is returned by the agent or publisher, CEL will incorporate the content provided into the EPUB, producing a finished file fully compliant with Accessible standards. There is no extra charge for this additional step (designated the ATAR Service.) 

ISBN Assignment

Best practice requires that every distinct format for a given title should bear a unique ISBN.  Print, paperback, PDF, EPUB2 and EPUB3 are distinct formats.
While most digital book distributors do not require a format-specific ISBN, it is definitely in the publisher's best interest to assign these to all books in its catalogue so that all supply chain links point only to the source.


Accessible EPUB created by desLibris includes these metadata enhancements:

Onix records are modified to include data from CodeList 196 where applicable to the book. Accessible EPUB also includes an OPF file with these components:

More on Codelist 196
DAISY on Born Accessible
IDPF on Accessible Standards
BookNet on Born Accessible