OverDrive is working on a project that could ultimately enable the company to convert PDFs and other file formats into the industry-standard EPUB format for ebooks, without significant loss of formatting and functionality, CEO Steve Potash said during his “Crystal Ball” presentation, which concluded the company’s biennial Digipalooza user group conference in Cleveland, OH earlier this month.
During a visit to Egypt two years ago, George Kerscher, Secretary General of the Digital Accessible Information System (DAISY) Consortium, found that the country’s major libraries had only a very small collection of books available for print-disabled patrons. And while staff and volunteers were working to make more books accessible, output was limited to only a handful of titles each year.
Discerning this as an outsider, Kerscher (who is blind himself) realized that it was very much a microcosm of how the process of producing accessible books has traditionally functioned in the United States.
The new EPUB 3 distribution and interchange format standard for digital publications will include a wealth of features that can be used to enhance ebook accessibility. But, publishers need to begin incorporating those features into production workflows during the digital publication process, rather than expecting other organizations to retrofit accessibility features, Matt Garrish, chief editor of the EPUB 3 specification and author of Accessible EPUB 3, said during the “Ebooks for Everyone: LIA Project, Accessible Publishing Guidelines, EpubCheck and More” session at BookExpo America held this week in New York City.