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Update on Diagrammar, December 2015

2015 December 23
by George Kerscher and Charles LaPierre

We have been working to develop a broadly accepted mechanism for linking out to Diagrammar content, also referred to by the W3C working groups as “extended descriptions.” Given the recent depreciation of the aria-describedAt attribute, we are now looking at new elements in HTML, such as “summary/details” to carry the link, but this has not been decided as of yet.

In the coming weeks, a team of pilot contributors are looking to mock up a sample accessible ePub3 document with “custom elements” based on HTML5 technology that Markku Hakkinen from ETS is developing. This essentially means that an ePub3 file will be able to link out to external Diagrammar objects such as additional text descriptions (e.g. simplified or extended descriptions), tactile graphic resources, and other alternative ways to access images, tables, etc., as non-linear spine items. The next step following creation of a sample ePub3 file will be to support Diagrammar custom elements on Readium including a UI/UX that will allow readers to access these options.

Thanks to Benetech volunteer, Mohit Aggarwal, progress has been made towards readying a pilot version of Readium to support Diagrammar. Mohit’s contributions make it possible for readers to navigate to and from a main document to auxiliary Diagrammar content, without losing their spot in the main document where he/she left from.

For those of us creating documents for distribution directly to persons with disabilities, a simple link will work. However, publishers often need to be more particular about the presentation of their books and require a more robust solution. One that doesn’t alter the visual presentation of the book by attaching unattractive URLs to images. We expect that something will be worked out in 2016, so stay tuned for more information!

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