Making Content Accessible: How Can Publishers and Libraries Better Satisfy the Obligation?

Virtual Conference

Institutions of higher education (IHEs) have a legal and moral obligation to support the information needs of those in their community -- whether student or faculty -- to provide access to content regardless of individual ability or need for accommodation. They are required to provide access to information resources that are as close as possible to those resources provided to individuals who do not experience those impairments. But what goes into making an ebook, a textbook, or other course materials fully accessible? This event will bring together stakeholders to discuss current efforts made to ensure that all content is accessible and the challenges still to be overcome.

Confirmed speakers include:

  • Jamie Axelrod, Director, Disability Resources, Northern Arizona University
  • Rachel Comerford, Senior Director of Content Standards and Accessibility, Macmillan Learning
  • Violaine Iglesias, CEO & Co-founder, Cadmore Media
  • Michael Johnson, Director, Content Partnerships, Benetech
  • George Kerscher, Chief Innovations Officer, DAISY Consortium
  • Kara Kroes Li, Director of Product Management, EBSCO

Event Sessions

12:00 Noon - 12:15pm Welcome


External Resource:

Introduction to Accessibility

12:15 - 12:45pm Accessibility in a Nutshell: What Every Publisher, Educator, and Librarian should know


George Kerscher

Chief Innovations Officer, DAISY Consortium
Senior Officer, Global Literacy, Benetech

Over the past five years we have seen revolutionary change in digital publishing and reading in the mainstream, which finally integrates requirements of persons with disabilities of all kinds. This session will cover specific print-disability   characteristics that impact reading, and look at the important standards, software, metadata, and Inclusive Publishing initiatives that every librarian, publisher, educator, or reading system developer should know. In 30 minutes, you will get the Inclusive Publishing big picture, and hopefully get ideas on directions your organization should be considering.

External Resources:

Reading Systems Accessibility Support Roundup

Crosswalk for and ONIX

User Experience Guide for Displaying Accessibility metadata for EPUB

Inclusive Publishing

12:45 - 1:15pm Case Study: Multimedia Accessibility: Because it’s Worth It!


Legal and commercial pressure for accessible content is mounting for higher education institutions and publishers, as highlighted by recent high‐profile settlements in North America. As with other types of content, accessibility requirements for multimedia can be met by setting realistic, progressive goals and focusing resources on key content. However, multimedia accessibility offers unique benefits, from wider audiences and increased user engagement to greater discoverability and improved search engine optimization. Find out more about those benefits to create the perfect business case for accessible video and audio!

Beyond the mandates: The far‐reaching benefits of multimedia accessibility

1:15 - 1:45pm Case Study: Building an Accessible Digital Learning Environment


Rachel Comerford

Senior Director of Content Standards and Accessibility
Macmillan Learning

Online learning environments bring together the platform that students work on and the content that they learn from. How can we make both the platform and the content accessible? Macmillan Learning developed a new accessibility program from the ground up. What lessons have we learned? How do we support legacy programs as well as brand-new content? How do we employ effective alternative access plans while this program is in development? 

External Resources:

Making Accessibility Personal

Macmillan Learning Accessibility

1:45 - 2:00pm Comfort Break

2:00 - 2:30pm Swimming Upstream: Broadening our Impact Across the Academic Ebook Ecosystem


Making ebooks accessible requires two fundamental things, software compliance (the delivery platform) and content compliance (publishers). As an ebook aggregator, EBSCO’s primary area of focus is the delivery platform – ensuring compliance with WCAG standards, developing accessible research workflows, and supporting students and librarians. But a truly accessible ebook experience relies on both the software that delivers the content to the user and the attributes of the content itself. This presentation relates our story on both fronts: ongoing efforts to support users of our platform, as well as new initiatives EBSCO is undertaking to address inaccessible content at its source. It will also share our efforts to increase transparency to ebook buyers. Given EBSCO’s broad set of partnerships and products, we believe we have the opportunity and responsibility to address as many aspects of the ecosystem as we can.  

External Resources:


GCA Certification

2:30 - 3:00pm The Practicalities of Providing Accessibility in Higher Education


The speaker will provide an overview of the challenges encountered by those tasked within the library with delivering learning materials and information resources to the community in higher education. 

3:00 – 3:30pm Accessible Content Tomorrow and Ever Forward


Moving forward from theory and aspirations, this session will demonstrate fully accessible content being created, sold, bought, and used today. We will cover things you can actually do, tomorrow morning, to bring your organization into the fully accessible world. This is true of publishers, institutions, and technology providers. You will learn about Benetech's Global Certified Accessible (GCA) program which is the world's first 3rd party independent accessibility process. GCA is all about helping publishers create accessible content during their regular creation workflow. 

There is a lot already in place to help make all new content be Born Accessible. By making some modest modifications to the way your organization creates and uses content, you can help move the ball forward towards making every book available for every user, every day. 

3:30 - 4:00pm Roundtable Discussion

Moderated by Jill O'Neill, Director of Content, NISO

Additional Information

  • Registrants will receive detailed instructions about accessing the archived recording within one business day. Due to the widespread use of spam blockers, filters, out of office messages, etc., we ask that you contact the NISO office at if you do not receive these instructions in a timely fashion. This recording access is only to be used by the registrant's organization.

  • Speaker presentation slides are posted to this event webpage following the live broadcast.

For Online Events

  • You will need a computer in order to view the broadcast; audio should feed through your device’s speaker or attached headset.

  • If you have questions or concerns regarding this registration, please contact NISO headquarters via email to We appreciate your interest and hope that you will gain valuable insight from our speakers.