The Accessibility Initiative Working Party (AIWP) continues to work towards its goals of researching and creating editorial standards, information resources and training on publishing practices that address the needs of readers with print disability.
In conjunction with the University of Sydney, we have drafted two surveys for readers with print disability, one for adults and one for children. The surveys ask participants about how they read and the barriers they face. These surveys have been widely distributed, and Agata Mrva-Montoya will begin analysing the results next month.
We have also created a short questionnaire for alternative format providers, such as braille transcribers. The questionnaire asks them about the issues they face so we can explore what creates unnecessary work for them and consider possible editorial solutions.
Both sets of surveys will both then serve as primary sources for the free guide that the AIWP is developing for editors, writers and publishers. As well as providing general advice on best practice in accessibility, the guide will focus on areas of accessibility for the book industry that are not covered well in other guidelines. These include children’s picture books and storybooks, maths and science textbooks, and advice for publishers on embedding accessibility throughout the publishing workflow, from freelancer briefs and author contracts to options for digital output. We are currently trying to source funding for the guide, and hope to publish in the first half of next year under a Creative Commons licence.
We also continue to work with the Round Table on Information Access for People with Print Disabilities, a forum for alternative format providers and others working in the disability sector. The Round Table’s annual conference will be held on 16 and 17 May, with the theme, Inclusion and Access to Information in Our Changing World.
The conference features a range of topics that may be of interest to IPEd members, including sessions on interactive multisensory science books, audio description, Web Content Accessibility Guideline updates, the future of accessible formats and born-accessible ebooks. Agata Mrva-Montoya will also be presenting her findings from the University of Sydney reader surveys. I am delivering a presentation on behalf of IPEd to outline what editors do, discuss IPEd’s work on accessibility and encourage Round Table members to participate in the AIWP’s research.
Agata and Kayt Duncan have also been invited to join a panel on Accessibility Matters at the Brisbane Writers Festival on 5 May. Agata is a lecturer and degree director of the Masters in Publishing at Sydney University, and Kayt is a children’s author, illustrator and entertainer who has a history of volunteering at Braille House. It will be a lively discussion, so do watch out for it if you are planning to attend the festival.
By Julie Ganner AE, Chair, Accessibility Initiative Working Party