W. W. NORTON SPEAKS ON ACCESSIBILITY

Accessibility has become an important goal when it comes to equal opportunity in content delivery, and it is now governed by federal and international regulations. Amnet is a champion of digital equality, and we are able to provide expertise, implementation, scalability, and compliance with accessibility regulations, and all within your budget.

Being at the forefront of publishing services for 20 years, Amnet has had conversations with many leading publishers and accessibility experts to understand their views, plans, and milestones.

As part of this exercise, Frances Daniele, Amnet’s Director of Accessibility, spoke to Matt Vitale and Evan Yamanishi of well-known and highly regarded publisher W. W. Norton & Company, Inc.

Evan Yamanishi is the Co-Director of the Norton Lab and Accessibility Lead at Norton. He runs Norton’s incubator for the future of digital publishing and leads its strategy and policy for digital accessibility. He is also a member of the ARIA and Publishing Working Groups within the W3C, where his main contributions are to the ARIA Authoring Practices document.

Matt Vitale is the Media Accessibility Specialist at W. W. Norton. His responsibilities include technical and strategic recommendations on how third-party assistive technology and browser/OS-based accessibility features interact with Norton’s current and planned online products. He also conducts both manual and automated accessibility testing of Norton’s digital products and is developing a role-based accessibility model for Media Editors, Digital Design and Development, Production, Sales, and Marketing.

The following is an excerpt of the exclusive interview.

Fran(Amnet): Could you tell us about the values and visions for digital equality at Norton and rate them on a scale from one to ten?

Evan: Digital equality through accessibility is definitely a ten.

Matt: For digital equality, I would definitely agree with Evan and would give it a ten. Our end goal is for all of our products to be easily accessible to our users. Digital equality is especially important for publishers because content is going to individuals in universities and high schools who are trying to educate themselves.

Amnet: Regarding your front-list titles, are all disciplines made accessible or are you excluding some complex subjects such as chemistry?

Evan: We’re not excluding any subjects. It’s just that accessibility isn’t sufficiently solved for some subjects. Musical notation and chemistry, for instance, where the notation and drawings are important to the content but unfortunately accessibility is not yet adequately solved for our standard of user experience.

Amnet: And what about math equations? How are you handling them as far as accessibility goes in your e-books?

Matt: Markup languages like MathML are ideal for equations but the rendering and compatibility between browsers is not quite there yet. Mostly, equation issues are solved through the creation of alt text descriptions that serve as an accommodation.

Amnet: Could you give us a summary of the topic you had discussed at CSUN?

Evan: I described how we revamped our digital publication production workflow and I created a set of tools for creating our ebooks that make it easier to QA our e-books for everything, including accessibility. Mateus (former ebook production manager) talked about what the previous workflow looked like, how e-books were made, and I spoke about tools created to facilitate easier e-book production.

Amnet: What type of source files does the platform accept? 

Evan: It’s built on open web platform technology, so it can accept any kind of format.

Amnet: What difficulties are you encountering getting alt text for your projects?

Matt: The biggest difficulty with alt text is the sheer amount that needs to be created within a stipulated time and finding vendors who can deliver within the schedule along with accurate descriptions. Given how tough internal QA can be, we rely on vendors to provide high quality and accurate alt text descriptions.

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