Wiley incorporates alt text to make content more accessible

May 5, 2015 Kimi Sugeno

Starting this month, Wiley will roll out a workflow to include alternative text (alt text) in nearly all of our frontlist books. Wiley is one of the first major publishers to include alt text this broadly.

Alt text is a description that provides contextual meaning to images and illustrations.  Non-visual browsers and screen readers express alt text to readers when images cannot be accessed. This is an important criterion for accessibility compliance.

Why alt text? As one of the major building blocks of accessibility, alt text provides readers with contextual descriptions of images, enhancing comprehension and providing a richer reading experience. By making our products accessible, we ensure as wide an audience as possible can learn from and enjoy them. Alt text also improves the versatility of products for all readers; for instance, it can enable read-aloud for a user who prefers to listen to a book.

Betsy Beaumon, President of Benetech, a non-profit that develops new technologies to improve global literacy, said “Readers accessing content through digital audio simply hear the word ‘image’ when alt text is not provided, depriving them of information critical to understanding the relevance of the image. By ensuring that alt text is provided for all images, Wiley is showing great leadership in the growing movement in the publishing industry to ensure that content that is born digital is also ‘born accessible.’ This is a milestone achievement.”

We developed our alt text guidelines in consultation with industry standards organizations--including Benetech’s DIAGRAM Center, DAISY, International Digital Publishing Forum, and the World Wide Web Consortium--to ensure best practices are current. Going forward, alt text will be included in our upcoming XML, EPUB, Kindle files, and select online courses, and will begin appearing in products later this year. All of this will help ensure we are also better positioned to meet the needs of adoption partners—institutions, both public and private.

When materials are correctly designed, developed, edited and enabled, users of all abilities have equal access to information and functionality.

We’re proud to continue to improve and enrich our products so that they can be enjoyed by as many readers as possible!

About the Author

Associate Director, Digital Book Services, Wiley // Kimi Sugeno is the Associate Director of Digital Book Services. The Digital Book Services team supports initiatives that enrich our digital book products; crafts best practices to improve workflows; researches new technology and encourages innovation; and aids in delivering content to Wiley and external channels.

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