After creating a special task force to lead the association’s preparations for the European Accessibility Act, the German Booksellers and Publishers Association has been working with Fondazione LIA and the German Central Library for the Blind (DZB Lesen) and in January 2022 published guides on accessibility.
The European Accessibility Act is set to enter into force in June 2025, will require new accessibility standards for books. All products and services offered – including e-books, e-commerce, and web-platforms – from that date onwards should be barrier-free for those with disabilities.
Across Europe, this step towards greater accessibility has meant the publishing sector in different countries is engaging in constructive discussions about how to best address the unique challenges they are facing.
Peter Kraus vom Cleff, CEO of Börsenverein said: “Barrier-free access to literature and knowledge is an important step towards achieving equality for people with disabilities. That is why we endorse plans to improve accessibility and support our members in their implementation. We are glad to work with experienced partners such as dzb lesen and Fondazione LIA.”
Meanwhile, the task force on accessibility has been dedicated to gathering resources and information to help German publishers shift their practices to they are comply with the upcoming legislation. Dana Minnemann (dzb lesen), spokesperson for the task force, said: “The changes we have to carry out affect the entire book supply chain. 2025 still seems a long way off, but important updates are needed in many areas”.
These helpful resources include guides for professionals in the publishing sector, available here, and the German market-oriented version of Fondazione LIA’s whitepaper E-books for all, E-book ohne Barrieren (a document which explores the roles and responsibilities of content producers, aggregators, online stores and reading solutions developpers). The task force has also organized a series of webinars to facilitate Börsenverein member’s engagement with the subject. While the association’s short-term goal is to raise awareness about and promote accessibility in the publishing industry, its long-term goal is to publish born-accessible e-books in Germany by 2025 based on Fondazione LIA’s certification model. To reach this objective, the association affirms that true accessibility is an effort which must integrate all actors along the supply chain.
Cristina Mussinelli, LIA Secretary General said: “To create an accessible digital ecosystem it is necessary to involve not only publishers, but also online libraries, websites, web platforms and reading apps”. LIA, which already has extensive experience working with trade publishers, has therefore chosen to work with educational and academic publishers in order to help them develop platforms to distribute accessible materials to students.