Creator: Accessible Publishing
Date Updated: January 18, 2023
The Accessibility Features Checklist by Accessible Publishing provides a comprehensive list of the accessibility features that can and should be present in ebooks to ensure they are accessible. The checklist is broken down into four categories – General ebooks, Children’s ebooks, non-fiction/complex content, and poetry. The main target audience is publishers, but libraries can use this resource when procuring and reviewing digital content to check if it is accessible.
The information on this page is summarized from the Accessibility Features Checklist.
We have provided a summary of the accessibility features that libraries can/should check for in their ebooks to ensure that the are accessible. We have only listed the most applicable options, for example, you may not have the time to review the ebook code, so we left most of those checklist items out of the summary.
General Ebook Accessibility Features
Some of the things you should watch out for in general ebooks like novels include:
- The ebook should have a reflowable layout (though this is not always possible)
- EPUB3 ebooks are accessible and provide rich navigation and accesibility features.
- The images in the ebook should be described and marked up.
- The ebook should use the actual text instead of images of text, which are inaccessible to screen readers.
- The ebook should include headings, in the semantic code, to identify sections of the text (not for style).
- The ebook headings should follow the hierarchy to indicate important sections (cascade headings) and clarify the reading order of the ebook. The highest section should be a level one heading, sections beneath that a level 2, and sections nested beneath the level 2 headings should be level 3 and so on.
- The ebook should have a table of contents and the table of content should link to the applicable sections in the ebook.
- The ebook uses title case and not all caps (for titles, etc.).
- The ebook has accessibility metadata.
Non-fiction & Complex Content
When the ebooks are non-fiction or complex, they should include:
- The notes, like the endnote and footnote numbers, should be links.
- Check to make sure that tables have headings, and if possible, that they are marked up as headings.
- The links in the ebook should be informative and describe where they will take the reader.
- Check to see if the ebook provides page navigation (anchors that allow readers to jump to different pages). This means that the ebook should include a page list.
- Page numbers should also be tagged, so that assistive technologies will read announce them.
- Ask publishers or check it out yourself if the ebooks have smeantic tags (for captions, citations, etc.).
Children’s Ebooks & Images Heavy Books
When ebooks have many images or are children’s books (these commonly use fixed layouts), they should include:
- There shouldn’t be broken words or lengthy pauses in the books. Publisher’s avoid this by setting the position of phrases rather than individual words.
- If the ebook has a fixed layout, check to see if they have navigation points (page lists and/or page breaks).
- Check to see if there is an audio overlay that comes with the ebook, an accessible version for people who use assistive technologies.
If it is a poetry ebook, they should include:
- The ebook should have the above checklist items wherever possible.
- Further research about poetry ebook accessibility best practices is in progress.
Visit the Accessibility Features Checklist.
Brochu, L., & Accessible Publishing. (2020, June 4). Accessibility Features Checklist. AccessiblePublishing.ca. Retrieved January 17, 2023, from https://www.accessiblepublishing.ca/accessibility-features-checklist/