On June 7, Mélissa Haquenne, our Knowledge Manager, presented our new accessibility metadata extraction tool to publisher members of the Association nationale des éditeurs de livres du Québec (ANEL). This tool, which we unveiled just a few weeks ago, was developed in close collaboration with Quebec’s network of independent booksellers, thanks to a grant from the Canada Book Fund.
De Marque has always been eager to develop its solutions with key partners in the book community, such examples ranging from our distribution warehouse, created in collaboration with ANEL, to our lending solutions for public libraries and schools, set up in close collaboration with Bibliopresto.
Accessibility to ebooks is no exception: from the outset, we have involved the ANEL in our efforts to increase its understanding among Quebec publishers, and we are now placing particular emphasis on working with booksellers, as they have an equally important role to play in making accessible content available.
A shared responsibility
Publishers bear the primary responsibility for producing accessible ebooks. Yet it’s also vital that the rest of the book chain – booksellers, e-lending solutions and reading tools – contribute to the discoverability of these ebooks, and our role as a distributor enables us to be the link that connects content creators to everybody else.
We recognized that the transition to fully accessible production was already a major change for publishers, which is why we explored ways of simplifying the process for our publishing partners. While we cannot automate the creation of content, we have instead decided to automate the documentation of accessibility metadata, in order to make their workload much easier to handle.
Alongside the development of this tool, we’re carrying out in-depth work with the rest of the industry to ensure that best practices regarding accessibility are consistent across the world.
Cooperation is key
Bookstores and e-lending solutions alike grapple with the challenge of clearly conveying to readers an ebook’s level of accessibility, while seeking to strike a balance between overly complex technical terms or overly simplified explanations. The aim is to make it easy for readers to find books that meet their specific accessibility needs.
With this in mind, we helped Leslibraires.ca display accessibility metadata on their e-commerce site. This is a major step forward for the province of Quebec, where Leslibraires.ca accounts for a significant proportion of book sales.
It is through such cooperation and the involvement of publishers that we are able to make significant advances in ebook accessibility. We are delighted to see that our work is having a tangible impact, and we are determined to continue our efforts to make reading accessible for all.
Our work on accessibility has only just begun, however, and De Marque intends to continue sharing its expertise and encouraging open discussion on an international scale to ensure that the solutions adopted meet the needs of as many people as possible.