Textbook Publishers

Questions to Ask Publishers

Are the videos captioned and audio recordings transcribed?
There should be transcripts for audio recordings and captions or subtitles for video.

Can all of the text that is displayed on the screen be read aloud by text-to-speech software?
Screen readers (assistive technology used by people who are blind) read real text. They cannot read images of text or text embedded in Flash animations/movies/simulations.

How accessible are the E-books?
E-books that use flash-based technology are typically not readable by a screen reader. Ask the publisher if they have a list of their E-books that are accessible.

Can all interactivity (media players, quizzes, flashcards, etc.) be completed by keyboard alone (no mouse required)?
People who are blind or people who have upper mobility disabilities cannot use a mouse. They use the keyboard to navigate and interact with the Web. Regulations require that any interactive elements on the publisher’s website (or on a DVD included with the book) be operable by a keyboard alone if they are used in your course. For example: An interactive exercise that requires dragging and dropping is not keyboard accessible, so unless there is a keyboard option to dragging and dropping, that sort of exercise should not be used in your course.

Is there any documentation available (VPAT or White Paper for example) that confirms accessibility or usability testing results?
A VPAT is a Voluntary Product Accessibility Template. It is used by many organizations to report the level of accessibility of their software products. If the publisher doesn’t have a VPAT or any research that confirms the accessibility of their product(s), don’t just take their word for how accessible they are. Ask them the questions above and if any of these answers are “No”, you might want to consider a different publisher.

Source: Modified with permission from Karen Sorensen at Portland Community College
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