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In this module, we have talked about accessibility in books and reading and the integration of accessible publishing features into the production and distribution of print, digital, and audiobooks. This open-access module is meant for anyone who makes, reads, or listens to books – accessibility experts and people who have never considered accessibility. It is intended for use by educational institutes, libraries, Canadian book publishers, authors, readers, illustrators, designers, and production managers.

Accessibility matters. Not just in some parts of daily life, but in every aspect. When disabled people are included in the production and consumption of books and reading, they have equal access to information.

We began with Telling Stories which included a short documentary film called What Is a Print Disability?, an overview of the intersecting histories of oral storytelling, accessibility, the book, and publishing technology, and a glossary of terms that pertain to language about accessibility and accessible books. The Role of Libraries and Organizations looked at the role of libraries and organizations in promoting accessible books and technologies.

Print Books, E-books, and Audiobooks reviewed processes and strategies for integrating a “born accessible” approach into design and production and provided downloadable guides to developing practices in accessible print book, e-book, and audiobook publishing. Each section ends with a robust list of resources from organizations around the world explaining how to make books and reading inclusive and accessible. Significant barriers exist for people with disabilities and lived experience. These are barriers that must be acknowledged, addressed, and eliminated since a universal understanding of accessibility is a fundamental human right.

An excerpt of poem by author, poet, and editor Leah Lakshmi Piepzna-Samarasinha written on a chalkboard in front of a bookstore reads:

I want to give you a poem like an adaptive device that will hold you just as good/as your favourite cane/bed sling/accessible toilet seat/rescue ventilator/cigarette/crushed pocket Xanax/blanket weight/mad map sign.

An excerpt from Adaptive Device by Leah Lakshmi Piepzna-Samarasinha

You can read or listen to the full version of Adaptive Device here.

Leah Lakshmi Piepzna-Samarasinha (she/they) is a queer disabled nonbinary femme writer, educator and disability/transformative justice worker of Burgher/Tamil Sri Lankan and Irish/Roma ascent. They are the author and/or co-editor of nine books and a lead artist with the disability justice performance collective Sins Invalid.

Image source: Anne Zbitnew

Downloadable Guides

Summary guides for each section of the modules are available as PDF downloads for quick reference. These guides are designed in large print and are meant as a complement to the module content.

To learn about making media accessible, click here.

Making Accessible Media (MAM) is an open access online course designed to teach how to incorporate accessibility features into media content with the understanding that accessibility should not be an afterthought but part of the initial development process. The course importantly raises awareness of the systemic, attitudinal, physical, information, and technological barriers that interrupt accessibility in current art and media practices.