For many readers, engaging with images – including charts, diagrams, and even math formulas – is just another element of reading. Visual presentation of content can be an effective means of conveying different types of information. However, for some people, images present a barrier to learning. The content of the images is not available to people who cannot see the images or have disabilities that make processing of visual information difficult or impossible. While digital reading tools make it possible to read printed text through text-to-speech (TTS) or refreshable braille, the information contained in the images is still largely locked away in a flat digital image file. Unless images are made accessible, people who need such accommodations will miss out on important information, and society will miss out on the full contributions of all its citizens.
The idea for this sample book grew out of a goal-setting retreat that the DIAGRAM Center held in June 2012. The retreat brought together the best experts in the blindness and disability field. This group understood that demonstrating to the publishing community what we mean by accessible images is an effective technique to move us toward an inclusive publishing society.
As more authors, publishers, and content producers work to make their material accessible to people with print disabilities from the start, they face technical as well as pedagogical or editorial challenges. Understanding why accessible images are important is the first step in the process, and real, rich examples are often the best way to convey how to go about the work of accessibility. We hope this sample book will offer some guidance on understanding when and how to produce accessible images.
George Kerscher Secretary General, DAISY Consortium President, IDPF