Benetech Establishes Global Certified Accessible Program

Benetech, the leading software for social good nonprofit, in conjunction with Dedicon, Royal National Institute of Blind People, and Vision Australia, today announced Global Certified Accessible.

 

This program is the first third-party ebook verification program for accessible content. Global Certified Accessible supports publisher efforts to meet or exceed accessibility requirements set by K-12 schools and post-secondary institutions. Today’s announcement comes on the heels of a six-month beta program with participation from industry leaders spanning educational, academic, professional, and trade publications.

 

Global Certified Accessible ensures students unable to read standard print due to blindness, low vision, dyslexia, or a physical disability have equal access to the same content as their peers.

 

The program has a global footprint in order to serve students around the world. Benetech developed the certification standards and serves as the lead certification provider for North America.

 

Dedicon provides certification for mainland Europe, Royal National Institute of Blind People for the United Kingdom, and Vision Australia for Australasia.

 

“The importance of electronically published books continues to grow, but many ebooks lack core accessibility features that students require, falling short of procurement requirements and student needs,” said Jim Fruchterman, founder and CEO, Benetech. “As the nonprofit operator of Bookshare, the largest online library of accessible books, Benetech is well suited to offer a Global Certified Accessible program that not only gives procurement offices the confidence that comes with third-party certified materials but also allows publishers to serve a larger addressable market.”

 

Global Certified Accessible is part of Benetech’s Born Accessible initiative, which encourages the education community to request accessible digital content and engages the publishing community to produce content that is accessible from the moment it is created. As a result of the recently released EPUB Accessibility Specification 1.0 and the growing demand for accessible materials, leading publishers and educational institutions are increasing their support for accessibility as a business and a classroom imperative.

 

Ingram Content Group’s VitalSource® and CoreSource® will include the accessibility ratings for eTextbooks from publishers participating in the Global Certified Accessible program as a part of their metadata and catalog feeds through Bookshelf®, VitalSource’s content-delivery platform.

 

By doing so, procurement offices and school districts will be able to easily identify and prioritize third-party certified, accessible eTextbooks from publishers who choose to participate. “VitalSource is excited to help accelerate the adoption of accessible publishing,” said Rick Johnson, VP of Product Strategy, VitalSource®. “As a global solutions provider, receiving accessibility certifications from Benetech and their global partners is a logical choice. As publishers increase their ability to produce content that provides access to all students, having a trusted source that can certify their accessibility will provide a welcome level of transparency to all involved.”

 

Education leaders, publishers, and partners champion Global Certified Accessible:

 

Los Angeles Unified School District

 

Kari Tapie, Instructional Technology and Assistive Technology Program: “It’s imperative that educational institutions prioritize accessible content that serves all students equally. Benetech’s Global Certified Accessible program is a critical step in ensuring educators and procurement offices can confidently source ebooks that meet or exceed accessibility mandates.

 

Elsevier

I look forward to the day when all publishers make their books accessible as a first decision and not as an afterthought.” Elsevier Alicia Wise, Senior Vice President Global Strategic Networks: “At Elsevier we’re committed to making sure that all our users get maximum benefit, insight and understanding from our online content. And so we are very pleased to pilot Benetech’s Global Certified Accessible program. Our academic ebooks are born accessible and ready for wide, global dissemination. The program results will help us to continue to refine our accessibility features so that no user is without access. It’s so important for all of us within the information, data, and publishing industries to work together to advance accessibility.”

 

HarperCollins Publishers

 

 

Tracey Menzies, VP Production and Creative Operations “Benetech is providing an invaluable service by formalizing the specifications for accessibility within ebooks.

 

In establishing a set of criteria by which publishers and other partners can create and measure their ebook files, Benetech is spurring the industry forward towards the common goal of providing students with accessible content.”


Harvard Business Publishing


Harvard Business Publishing Denis Saulnier, Managing Director, Product Design & Delivery, Higher Education “Every publisher should strive to make their content as accessible as possible. The first step is getting an accurate snapshot of compliance. Benetech’s certification process is invaluable in identifying areas of improvement and helping to prioritize work. We’re proud to be partners in this initiative.”



Macmillan Learning


Rachel Comerford, Director of Content Standards: “Participating in the certification program has given Macmillan Learning the opportunity to better understand the needs of students in the accessibility community and ensure that the products that we create provide students with the best possible learning experience. Certification provides us with confidence that we’re producing quality products and allows our customers to have confidence that the product they’re purchasing is truly accessible for all students.”

 

Penguin Random House

 

Liisa McCloy-Kelley, VP Director Ebook Product Development & Innovation: “Our goal at Penguin Random House is to bring our authors’ stories and ideas to readers wherever they are and in whatever format they want to read. That includes ensuring that our titles are readily and easily accessible for people with reading disabilities and for classroom use. Together with Benetech, we have identified opportunities to improve our content-development processes and the accessibility of our ebooks, as we continue to better understand and address the needs of this community.”

 

Apex CoVantage

 

Bill Kasdorf, VP and Principal Consultant: “This is a watershed moment for accessibility. Benetech has long been a leader in fostering ‘Born Accessible’ publishing. Its development of the certification standards for the Global Certified Accessible program brings long-needed clarity to the process of creating and procuring properly accessible publications.

 

Our partnership with Benetech in this program enables Apex to guide our many publishing clients to integrate accessibility into their workflows so that their publications can be truly born accessible.”

 

Amnet Systems

 

Aashish Agarwaal, CEO and Founder: “Benetech’s development of the certification standard for the Global Certified Accessible program is a major milestone for accessibility, Benetech and the publishing industry. Certification will assure students, teachers, libraries and others of the work and quality that has gone into these certified books. Benetech’s development of the certificate standards brings much needed clarity to the process of creating and procuring accessible content. Amnet is proud to have partnered with Benetech in this program and looks forward to helping our publishing partners integrate accessibility into their workflows to ensure that over time their publications can be ‘born accessible.’”

 

Dedicon

 

Maarten Verboom, Directeur: “Dedicon welcomes the co-operation with outstanding international partners in the advancement of accessible publishing. As a producer of accessible information of the first hour, Dedicon encourages publishers to adopt accessibility guidelines. We are confident that this program will enable publishers in reaching accessibility. Certification gives publishers recognition of their successful effort to achieve equal access to information for all.

 

And organizations that use information, such as schools, libraries, and local governments, now have a great tool to reach a common goal: equal rights for all through accessible information.”

 

Royal National Institute of Blind People

 

Steven Tyler, Head of Solutions, Strategy & Planning “RNIB is committed to ensuring the fullest access to the written word along with creating a world where blind and partially sighted people, and those with print impairments, can access what they want at the time they want it in a format they can read.

We are working closely with publishers in the UK to establish appropriate business models and standards, in line with Benetech, that secure this future. Working in partnership with the publishing industry, we want to take advantage of the revolution in standards that is finally here and for which we have worked hard to attain – building accessibility into mainstream standards marks the beginning of a new chapter; we now have to ensure that we bring these standards to life in a way that works for the end user and is sustainable for the industry.”

 

Vision Australia

 

Karl Hughes, Production Manager “Vision Australia has a strong commitment to accessibility, working in partnership with Australians who are blind or have low vision to achieve their greatest potential through education, employment and independence. To do this, we work with publishers, educational institutions, government and others to provide printed materials and other information in alternative formats. We are pleased to cooperate with leading organizations from around the world to offer this Global Certified Accessible program. Our aim through this service is to support those publishers and others that are striving to provide accessible materials, and provide feedback and formal recognition of the quality and efforts made to ensure their products are ‘born accessible.’”

More information is posted to the Benetech blog.