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Effective Influencing: Accessibility & the Publishing Industry. Alicia Wise, Director of Universal Access. Elsevier’s Accessibility Journey. About Us Accessibility Working Group About our Accessibility Policy Challenges and Solutions Working in Partnership. Accessibility Working Group.

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Effective influencing accessibility the publishing industry

Effective Influencing: Accessibility & the Publishing Industry

Alicia Wise, Director of Universal Access

Elsevier s accessibility journey
Elsevier’s Accessibility Journey Industry

  • About Us

  • Accessibility Working Group

  • About our Accessibility Policy

  • Challenges and Solutions

  • Working in Partnership

Accessibility working group
Accessibility Working Group Industry

  • Began by bringing together those engaged and interested

  • User Centered Design – supports 130 web products

  • Digital Book Archive fulfills c. 4,000 requests to worldwide services that support people with disabilities each year

  • Universal Access – special team in strategy

  • Operations w/ experts in EPUB2, EPUB3, MathML, and tagged PDFs

  • Internal news and webinars

  • Accessibility Matters

Opportunistic within a strategic framework
Opportunistic within a strategic framework Industry

  • The terrific tale of Tripp Narup

  • Creation of Accessibility Policy Task Force

  • Email invite to nominate a task force representatives

  • Delegates from across business and operations helped design policy

    • Product Management

    • Book Publishing

    • Journal Publishing

    • Legal

    • Operations

    • User Centered Design

    • Finance

Policy development
Policy Development Industry

  • Divided into sub working groups

    • Industry accessibility best practices

    • Physical accessibility* laws and best practices

    • Print disability law, non-US laws, and HR practices

    • Partners and third party supplier standards

    • Web accessibility

    • Inventory of our sites

  • Several rounds of review and iteration using web conferencing

  • Final approval by Upper Management Committee in Jan 2012

  • Final polish by Corporate Communications then published to web

*Physical accessibility was excluded from the policy since each international location each had hardened laws and felt that would dilute focus of policy and expand complexity

What s in the policy
What’s in the Policy? Industry

  • Main Idea: All products should be accessible to people with disabilities and comply with Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG 2.0).

  • Scope: Print Products, internal and external websites and tools, eBooks, partners and suppliers

  • Benchmark: WCAG 2.0 (A)

  • Outreach: We partner with the industry experts

  • UCD: Apply user centered design best practices

  • Timeline: Policy will be implemented from 2013 onwards

View Elsevier’s Accessibility Policy:


Challenge 1 demonstrating business case
Challenge 1: Demonstrating Business Case Industry

“Why should I care about accessibility, there aren’t any blind doctors”

For our flagship products there can be more than a dozen requirements competing for a release at any given time. We have to prove that there is a business case for addressing accessibility


  • Show that our customers are asking for and pulling for accessible products

  • Put a revenue number on numbers of customers with accessibility requirements

  • Team up with an executive level champion

  • Create an educational program to interest product teams

Challenge 2 where does the budget come from
Challenge 2: Where does the budget come from? Industry

“Wait a minute you are going to charge me to comply with the company accessibility policy? How much is this going to cost?”

Product managers need to account for accessibility in their bottom line and in budget planning.


  • Accessibility and Usability are twins. Invest to enhance the User Experience and you can get twin brother accessibility too!

  • Tackle accessibility going forward, feature by feature

  • Fly under the radar

Challenge 3 large company with diverse dev practices
Challenge 3: Large company with diverse dev practices Industry

“We use the agile methodology, so you better not hand me 10 pages of accessibility documentation to follow”

There is not a one size fits all solution for tackling accessibility across diverse product and development teams. Elsevier produces over 130 web products.


  • Be adaptable: (some teams will want a UI spec, some will want a live tutorial, some will want a best practices wiki, some will want training)

  • Create a central accessibility center of expertise

  • Re-Use: (best practice documents, WCAG 2.0 review template, recommended code snippets)

Challenge 4 motivation
Challenge 4: Motivation Industry

“If I’m not going to be fired, then should I care about following the accessibility policy?”

Having a well written policy is a good start, but how can we provide some incentives to get it implemented in practice?


  • High-level champions

  • Create a (highly visible!) product scorecard

  • Demonstrate the appeal of accessibility as a feature with glossy marketing

  • Use positive reinforcement, not the policing mentality

Where are we at
Where are we at? Industry

  • Policy went live in January

  • Key products have already had WCAG reviews; at planning/requirements stage for other products

  • WCAG 2.0, Section 508 requirements in our RFPs

  • Specific funding and budget allocated to tackle accessibility and usability

Sciencedirect going above and beyond
ScienceDirect - going above and beyond Industry

  • Partnered with University of Illinois, Indiana Univ, and Michigan State to help test features before releases

  • Developed best practices guideline to be used across Elsevier

  • Development team expects accessibility in each release

    • ARIA landmarks

    • ARIA labels

    • Good structure (headings, lists)

    • Keyboard Operability

    • Management of keyboard focus

    • Logical tab order

  • Incorporated MathJax & MathML

One organization part of a wider world
One organization; part of a wider world Industry

  • So much for how we are influencing internally to stimulate a change toward more inclusive publishing, how do we extend this beyond our organization?

  • Build relationships: help participants see and experience the power of interconnectedness by understanding how actions contribute to a greater collective impact. Multiple entry points: make it easy for people to get involved and discover opportunities to contribute.Convening and Process:  active facilitation to encourage the above = great leadershipLearning by doing: support others to take risks and reflect and learn together; groups can try many things and fail/learn quickly

Thank you for listening any questions
Thank you for listening! Any questions? Industry

  • Elsevier is committed to access, quality, and sustainability!

Thank you! @wisealic [email protected]