Extended Description Whack-a-Mole

With the publishing of the EPUB Accessibility specification, there’s been a noticeable up-tick in people looking to produce accessible content. Normally, that would be a great thing, but it also means more people are hitting on the limitations of reading systems for accessibility. It’s true, EPUB reading systems aren’t just a headache for designers!

Providing extended descriptions is one of the more problematic areas, as we’ve been searching for years now for solutions that meet publishers’ needs and are also broadly supported enough that they can be reliably used. That headache popped up again this last week, so I thought I’d detail the anatomy of finding a solution.
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Not Quite Ready for Prime Time: aria-describedat

One of the late additions to the EPUB 3.0.1 revision was the very newly minted aria-describedat attribute. As you might guess from the title of this post, while it’s technically available now, using it may not have the desired effect for the obvious reason that it’s going to take time before it finds support in reading systems.
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Taking a stroll back into Z39.98 territory has me thinking about the Digital Image And Graphic Resources for Accessible Materials (DIAGRAM) content model, and, more specifically, whether it could be reformulated now that longdesc appears to have a new lease on life.

Which isn’t to suggest that there’s necessarily anything wrong with the content model we have, or that it’s no longer useful, but working on the A11Y Metadata Project to get accessibility metadata into schema.org, and seeing LRMI already ahead of the game, it seems natural enough that the content model be expressible as native (X)HTML5 for cases when that is necessary. Accommodating more than one way to render information is never a bad thing, after all.Continue Reading DIAGRAM Musings