Accessible EPUBs

An image of an e-reader on a table. A coffee mug and Iphone appear beside it.

We take the printed word and make it accessible

About Accessible EPUBs

Thanks to advances in technology and the spread of digital content, it is now possible to provide unprecedented access to books for readers worldwide. However, the accessibility of digital materials is often an afterthought.

For print-disabled readers, ebook technology such as the EPUB format makes equitable access to content possible. CNIB has over a century of experience producing materials in alternate formats, therefore the notion of “born accessible”, creating accessible books right from the beginning, is our unique organizational mission.

The evolution of our EPUB production began with the adoption of DAISY standards, which emphasize incorporating accessibility features into publications to offer an enhanced reading experience for people who are blind, partially sighted or have print-disabilities. CNIB Beyond Print helps organizations produces accessible EPUB 3 publications that conform to the latest version of the standard.

Who is it for?

Creating materials in accessible formats are essential for organizations that want to reach wider audiences and ensure equitable access to their content. EPUBs can be used by any producer of digital content, ranging from large publishing houses to independent publishers and authors.

Accessible EPUB Best Practices

The production of accessible EPUBs goes beyond special accessibility needs and should instead focus on creating rich and versatile content that can be used and shared by everyone. Accessible EPUB files ensure that all readers can inclusively access materials.

We adhere to the standards set out for making accessible EPUBs, notably those recommended by the IDPF (International Digital Publishing Forum), the W3C EPUB Accessibility Specification, and the image description guidelines recommended by the DIAGRAM Center. We are also Benetech Certified Accessible, with thanks to the support of eBOUND Canada.

We produce EPUB 3 publications that conform to the latest version of the standard.

Reflowable layout
HTML5 and CSS3:
Semantic markup to structure and identify content to facilitate use by reading systems, user agents and assistive technologies (e.g., properly identified heading levels allow assistive technologies to detect the various levels of headings to understand the related and surrounding content and to navigate to a specific section).
Image descriptions, captions, or alternative text, as necessitated by context.
Complete navigation.
Page numbers.
Ability to add media (video and audio), as well as scripting, and improvements to synthetic speech.
Accessibility metadata can now be embedded, identifying the ebook’s accessible features such as short or full alternative descriptions of images, table of contents and index navigation, reading order and synchronized pre-recorded audio.

All major retailers and aggregators welcome EPUB 3 files. These files are also backwards compatible, meaning most older readers can access them.

Making an accessible EPUB, or remediating an EPUB?

Are you a publisher looking to make an accessible EPUB? Learn about the process and how it works.