Update on DIAGRAM Standards Working Group
There are two centers of standards development in the digital publishing landscape. The International Digital Publishing Forum (IDPF) with EPUB 3.1 developments, and the W3C with the Digital Publishing (DPUB) Interest Group. Both the DPUB and EPUB 3.1 developments are jointly chaired by Markus Gylling CTO for the IDPF and DAISY Consortium, and Tzviya Siegman, Digital Book Standards & Capabilities Lead with the publisher John Wiley & Sons.
EPUB 3.01 is the current approved standard for digital Publishing. In talking to many large publishers, I believe we have reached the point, at least in the USA, where publishers are solidly behind EPUB! What is even more interesting is that there is a call for a “baseline” for born accessible EPUB, even to the extent where publishers want their content certified.
EPUB 3.1 developments kicked off in October with meetings in New York. The meetings were very well attended and there is great enthusiasm surrounding this development. An item of keen interest is in creating a server-side manifestation, which would essentially allow the EPUB document to be stored uncompressed on a website. This would allow browsers and reading systems much easier access to the EPUB, i.e. the EPUB would be unzipped on the server. Another primary objective of this specification is to “tighten” up the EPUB spec and to provide more required accessibility, e.g. EPUB 3.1 should be by default accessible.
In this development, there are many sub-groups dividing up the work that comes back to the whole group. One sub-group is an accessibility sub group chaired by Charles LaPierre from Benetech and Avneesh Singh from DAISY. As this evolves, I expect that this group will have more responsibilities in defining what “must” be included for accessibility in EPUB 3.1.
Metadata is one interesting area of focus in the accessibility sub-group. Fortunately we have Madeleine Rothberg, Senior Subject Matter Expert from WGBH working on this with us along with Charles LaPierre of Benetech. One metadata term that is fascinating is “accessModeSufficient”. This term, if accepted, can identify a particular mode, e.g. auditory, as being complete for accessing all of the (substantive) information in the publication, as in an audio book. Another example would be accessModeSufficient text, where all of the document can be accessed through text using TTS or refreshable braille. This is very interesting stuff and for those who want more, visit: https://github.com/daisy/epub-revision-a11y/wiki/Accessibility-Metadata
In addition, this sub-group will make recommendations on identifying the braille within an EPUB publication. There are many considerations in this metadata, such as the type of braille, if it is contracted, if it includes Nemeth, music notation, etc. Also, we expect to affirm the existing mechanism for linking to a braille style sheet.
The W3C’s DPUB Interest Group is not chartered to develop specifications, but there are many supporting specifications that this group is working on. For example DPUB-ARIA is expected to deliver a set of aria-role values that will add needed semantics to EPUB 3.1 publications. There are also developments of concepts such as, Portable Web Publications for the Open Web Platform, (PWP)”.
If you have not yet read this document, I highly recommend you do. It is at: http://w3c.github.io/dpub-pwp/ This (PWP) Portable Web Publication’s document helps to provide the overview to better understand the current landscape and the direction digital publishing standards are expected to take.
DPUB also has an accessibility group chaired by Charles LaPierre and Deborah Kaplan from Safari Books Online. One deliverable, expected in 2016 will be W3C Note that looks at WCAG 2.0 AA and maps what applies to digital publishing and what is missing.
The Book Industry Study Group, while not a standards organization, publishes and involves themselves in the digital publishing space. Robin Seaman, from Benetech/Bookshare, leads the accessibility sub group. Currently this group is putting the finishing touches on a “Quick Start Guide” for accessibility using EPUB 3.01. We can expect this to be published in early 2016.
Finally, as we close in on the end of 2015, I believe we are looking at a heck of an exciting year in 2016. Stay involved and hang on to your hats!
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