Accessibility Is the New Innovation: From Compliance to New Opportunities

Sponsored by the PSP Committee for Digital Innovation (CDI)
February 1st
The Grand Hyatt Washington Hotel
Washington, DC

Accessibility tools in the publishing world have often been an afterthought or secondary consideration when delivering content or designing platforms, something required by law but not often enforced. But increasingly, features that make content and information accessible to the disabled are being favored and used by the non-disabled–closed captioning, audio transcription, audio-syncing, voice search and navigation, cognitive assistants–and are emerging as valued and sought-after tools for all users. This seminar will examine the leveraging of technology designed for making content and information for the disabled (as well as the changing legal landscape) and how to create content that opens new opportunities to expand the reach of scholarly publishing beyond the page and the screen.

Day 1 February 1, 2017


Welcome & Introduction

Darrell Gunter, President & CEO, Gunter Media Group, Inc.

John Rennie, Editorial Director, Science, International & Professional Group, McGraw-Hill Education


Opening Keynote

Eve Hill, Deputy Assistant Attorney General, U.S. Department of Justice


Technology Speaker:

There has been a dramatic convergence on and clarification about the requirements and expectations for accessibility recently. Built on the foundation of Web accessibility standards, the 2016 publication of the EPUB Accessibility 1.0 specification and guidelines provides a baseline for accessibility that is clear, achievable, and broadly applicable internationally. It defines different categories of accessibility as well as standard metadata to enable the accessibility of a given publication to be documented by publishers and distributors and discovered by users. All of this is completely aligned with Web accessibility standards. This provides the ability to certify levels of accessibility and document the accessibility features of a publication, and establishes a firm basis on which procurement rules will be written—particularly important in school, library, and university environments. Best of all, most publishers’ current production and distribution workflows get them closer to having accessible content than they realize. It has never been easier to make content accessible—and doing so makes it better for all users, increasing markets and providing competitive advantage to publishers with accessible content.

Bill Kasdorf, VP and Principal Consultant, Apex Content and Media Solutions


Coffee Break


Panel Discussion 1 – The World of Accessibility: Why it is important!

Publishers who regard accessibility requirements as a burden may be missing out on huge opportunities. The same technologies and guidelines that can improve access to scholarly materials for people with visual or hearing impairments, limited mobility, perceptual and cognitive differences, or who face other historical barriers to reading printed materials can also be tremendously useful to the rest of your customers. Digital technologies in particular offer excellent ways for smart publishers to blend expanded access into greater personalization for every reader. In this panel, publishers, government representatives, and innovators will discuss the continuing evolution of legal standards for accessibility and strategies that the publishing industry can adopt to make the most of them. For example, accessible materials are searchable, sortable, transportable, and less expensive to produce per unit than printed materials; they not only provide access to people with disabilities but add benefits for all customers.

George Abbott, Director, AFB Press and Professional Development, American Foundation for the Blind (AFB)

Jamie Axelrod, Director, Disability Resources, ADA Coordinator/504 Compliance Officer, Northern Arizona University, President, Association on Higher Education and Disability

Timothy Creagan, Accessibility Specialist, U.S. Access Board

Robin Seaman , Director of Content, Benetech




Panel Discussion 2 – Accessibility – The Publishers Speak!

While new technologies are advancing the accessibility of scholarly and professional content to not only the disabled, but also the larger market of those with mild disabilities or no disabilities, publishers face challenges in implementing new technologies and workflow to consistently produce widely-accessible content. But the business rewards of facing and conquering those challenges are well worth the effort. This panel of publishing professionals will discuss what those challenges are, how they have been addressed in their own work, and what the market benefits and ROI has been.

Ann Gabriel, Vice President, Academic & Research Relations, Elsevier

Jonathan Thurston, Head of Accessibility, Product Management, Pearson Education

Kevin Ohe, US Academic Publishing Director, Bloomsbury


Closing Keynote

Angie McAllister, SVP Personalized Learning & Analytics, Pearson