The new W3C standards for e-books: EPUB 3.3 and EPUB Accessibility 1.1
Research and development
Starting from June 2025, as required by the European Accessibility Act, the book industry will have to offer people with disabilities barrier-free access to its products and services, such as e-books, e-commerce, and web platforms.
In Europe each country is facing this new challenge with different strategies and plans taking into account the peculiarities of its national publishing market.
In Germany Börsenverein, the trade association of German publishers and booksellers, has created a Task Force on accessibility and has started collaborations with specialized organizations such as the German Center for Accessible Reading (dzb lesen) and Fondazione LIA.
In this regard, Peter Kraus vom Cleff, Börsenverein CEO, said: “Barrier-free access to literature and knowledge is an important step towards achieving equality for people with disabilities. That is why we endorse plans to improve accessibility and support our members in their implementation. We are glad to work with experienced partners such as dzb lesen and Fondazione LIA.”
Over the past year, the Accessibility Task Force has been committed to gathering information and materials to guide German publishers on the way to comply with European legislation. “The changes we have to carry out affect the entire book supply chain” said Dana Minnemann (dzb lesen), spokesperson for the Task Force. “2025 still seems a long way off, but important updates are needed in many areas”.
Börsenverein’s first result is the publication of guides for professionals in the sector, which are now available at: www.boersenverein.de/beratung-service/barrierefreiheit/
In this page, you can also find the German translation of Fondazione LIA’s whitepaper E-books for all (E-Books ohne Barrieren), updated and expanded with specific insights into the German market.
In order to clearly present the most important passages and to facilitate the exchange with its members, the Acessibility Task Force also organized a series of specific webinars on the topic.
The current goal is to raise awareness and promote the accessibility issue in the publishing field. But the ultimate goal is to publish born-accessible ebooks in Germany by 2025, taking inspiration from Fondazione LIA’s certification model.
It is fundamental the role of publishers in making their catalog accessible, but accessibility is an all-round job that must necessarily involve all the actors of the supply chain.
Cristina Mussinelli, LIA Secretary General pointed out: “To create an accessible digital ecosystem it is necessary to involve not only publishers, but also online libraries, websites, web platforms and reading apps”. That’s why LIA, which has been collaborating with fiction and non-fiction publishers for years, is now working alongside educational and academic publishers to help them develop accessible platforms to distribute ebooks to students.
This document provides useful information to all companies interested in being part of an accessible digital publishing ecosystem and it examines the roles and responsibilities of content producers, aggregators, online stores and reading solutions developers.
E-books for all is the result of the international experience of Fondazione LIA, which has matured over the years being an active part of the working groups focused on accessibility and developing, in collaboration with 76 italian publishing imprints, the LIA catalog that now includes more than 28,000 accessible ebooks.