A substantial number of potential readers of content are prevented from doing so because of the disabilities they possess. Whether they have issues with their vision or disorders that affect their ability in the area of written language, there are millions of people excluded from subject matter simply because some publishers are ill-equipped to handle creating and converting prior or new content that they possess. The technology is available to allow this large market of individuals to access all this content electronically. This means that publishers are now in the position to increase their market share not only with new content but vast libraries of previously created content that can now be converted to meet eBook disability standards. Publishers can no longer consider accessibility as a non-critical or secondary concern; it is something that must be addressed now.
In 2017, The National Federation of the Blind and two blind students filed a suit against the Los Angeles Community College District – one of the largest school districts in the nation. In 2019, the Federal District Court for the Central District of California found that LACCD violated the students’ rights under Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 by failing to provide accessible documents and course materials, failing to provide equal access to library resources, using inaccessible educational technology, and not maintaining an accessible website (nfb.org 2019). The LACCD must now have a dean of educational technology position for Los Angeles Community College. This individual not only has responsibility for enforcing accessibility policies, but they must make sure all LACCD affiliated websites are accessible. Also, any past, present, or future educational technology must be assessed for accessibility issues.
Accessibility non-compliance is not just an issue when it comes to educational institutions. According to the legal firm Seyfarth Shaw, web accessibility federal lawsuits have hit an all-time high, with 11,053 suits filed in federal court, an 8.8% increase from 2018.3 California led the way with 4794 web accessibility lawsuits. Most of the lawsuits are based on Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act violations. Section 508 federal departments and agencies ensure ICT (information and communication technology) they use is accessible (essentialaccessibility.com 2019). Depending on the state, other laws protecting those with disabilities may exist as well.
Unfortunately, many publishers are unprepared for the rigors of making their content accessible, or even worse, they are aware but continue to put off dealing with accessibility issues until it may be too late. There is a growing sense of urgency for publishers of journals, books, and technical material to not only be aware of the current legal landscape regarding accessibility, but they should also be considering the accessibility of their content regardless of what form their electronic materials take. This means building the process of certifying materials as ADA compliant into the process of content creation and distribution from the very beginning of the process.
Most important for publishers today will be partnering with companies that are already working with publishers when it comes to content development, editorial services, composition, online learning, E-book development and conversion, and technology solutions. Their experience and knowledge when it comes to accessibility compliance and development will be invaluable to both large and small publishers. S4Carllisle is a company at the forefront of accessibility for our clients. We have years of experience helping publishers meet the rigorous standards and requirements of the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines 2.0 A & AA, Structure Guidelines for DAISY 3, Epub3 1.0 Accessibility Guidelines, Section 508, and all other regulations promulgated under Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act and Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act As Amended (ADAAA).
Please contact S4Carlisle today to see how we can help you with your accessibility needs!