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The goal of the project is to obtain an application which allows various organizations to make their library of audiobooks accessible to users equipped with voice assistants such as Amazon Alexa (available on Amazon Echo devices and on iOS / Android phones). We first developed a version for Google Home devices, but Google suddenly decided to sunset this technology.

Association Valentin Haüy (AVH, France) and CELA (Canada) are the two first organizations benefiting from this platform. Other services around the world may be interested in such a solution: the application is easy to customize and localize, and it can be deployed for a low cost.

The platform can be deployed in any country whose national language is supported by Amazon Alexa. The current list is:

  • English. Dialects supported: UK, US, Australia, Canada, India.
  • Spanish. Dialects supported: Spain, Mexico, US
  • French. Dialects supported: Canada and France
  • German.
  • Italian.
  • Hindi.
  • Japanese.
  • Portugues: Brazilian dialect only.

What makes our architecture so special is that a library which possesses DAISY formatted audiobooks does not need to export its content to a third party. It will instead have to maintain a catalog of small json files (one per audiobook) and develop a standard Web API on which we will connect a customized Alexa skill. Access to the mp3 files can be protected using standard Web techniques. User authentication will be the same as the login the organization provides to its users for accessing the online library. And the same API can be used for connecting other client applications, especially a mobile application.

Towards Inclusive publishing in Europe

It is upsetting that to date, persons with reading disabilities have access to no more than 10% of the yearly book production, from specific adaptations made by inclusive associations: the term “book famine” has been coined some years ago to describe this fact.

Our strategy  for a significant increase of the number of books made accessible to people with disabilities is threefold:

  1. Help publishers produce readily accessible ebooks using EPUB 3; people call it “native accessibility” or “inclusive publishing”.
  2. Push associations adapting ebooks for visually disabled people to adopt EPUB 3 in parallel with their DAISY production, thus allowing their members to be able to use generic reading applications rather than specialized devices.
  3. Push makers of “DAISY devices” to adopt EPUB 3 as an alternative format in their software, thus enabling their users to read natively accessible EPUB 3 ebooks.

Since 2016, EDRLab has therefore made the following efforts:

  • We are promoting native accessibility of EPUB 3 publications in Europe with success: publishers are now aware of the benefits of making their content accessible, and the low cost involved for doing so.  
  • We are working  with device makers like Bones, Humanware and Shinano Kenshi, Baum, Vinvision … and and promoting the adoption of EPUB 3 as a complement to the DAISY format in their devices.
  • We are working with multiple associations creating DAISY publications and promote the adoption of EPUB 3 in parallel. 
  • We are working on a study on reading helpers for dyslexia at the European level. 
  • We are developing a new line of EPUB 3 reading software development kit on Android and iOS, with a great attention to accessibility (for navigating in the application and for accessing EPUB content). We call it the Readium Mobile project. 
  • We are also developing a new line of EPUB 3 reading software development kit and an end-user application on Windows, Mac and Linux, also with a great attention to accessibility. We call it the Readium Desktop project and the Thorium Reader application.
  • We are managing Readium LCP, the only accessibility friendly DRM on the market
These efforts are pursued with the full support of our members, including the Association Valentin Haüy (AVH), Braillenet, the Ministère de la Culture and the Fondation des Aveugles de Guerre in France, plus the Italian LIA Foundation.

EDRLab Documents

Lecture et déficience visuelle (pdf, Fernando Pinto da Silva, December 2018, French). Also inline here.

Rapport de mission accessibilité (pdf, Fernando Pinto da Silva, July 2018, French).

Other reference documents

EPUB Accessibility 1.0, published by the IDPF, 2017, W3C version

EPUB Accessibility Techniques 1.0, published by the IDPF, 2017

Techniques d’accessibilité EPUB 1.0, French translation of the previous, published by the SNE, 2017

WAI-ARIA 1.1 (which defines ARIa roles), published by the W3C, 2017

WGAC 2.1, (which adresses the accessibility of XHTML EPUB resources), published by the W3C, 2018

Accessible Publishing Best Practices: Guidelines for Common EPUB Issues in Plain Language, published by, 2019

User Experience Guide for Displaying Accessibility Metadata, published by the W3C as a Draft, 2021

Display Techniques for EPUB Accessibility Metadata, published by the W3C as a Draft, 2021

EPUB Accessibility 1.1, published by the W3C as a Draft, 2021

EPUB Accessibility Techniques 1.1, published by the W3C as a Draft, 2021

Our sponsors for this project:

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