Join the discussion in progress concerning this Accessibility Metadata proposal

There’s nothing like a return from summer and a Dublin Core metadata conference, where people are face to face in the same location, to get people reading and paying attention to our specification.

Once people read the specification, and avail themselves of the more detailed resources section and other content on the website, their comments come to mind. And many people have kept their comments to themselves. No longer! The email traffic on our Google group spiked yesterday, as well as the W3C public vocabs list. It began with an email from George Kerscher of DAISY and IDPF, which sparked emails by Charles McCathie Nevile, which became public on the list in a reply from Gerardo Capiel. Notes of support from CEDS and ISO helped increase interest as well. You can join the thread from there.

Get involved now. If you’ve been dozing on the sidelines over the summer, or had an opinion and said “I don’t know if anyone cares,” this is the time to be heard. Here are some suggestions for things you can do:

Your critical skills and support are appreciated in advance. If you want to tell others about this, use the shortlink

Erlend Øverby of ISO/IEC JTC 1/SC 36 sends support of Accessibility Metadata to

image of the letter from ISO/IEC, including logo and signatureAs work on the accessibility metadata vocabulary finalizes and our submission to receives more attention, notable individuals, companies and standards groups are expressing their support. This paper letter from the chair of the technical committee for Information technology for learning, education and training at ISO/IEC was sent to one of our working group members, Jutta Treviranus to forward to the appropriate W3C mailing list. This blog gives a place for this information to be held and to be referenced in the email to the public vocabs list on behalf of Mr. Øverby. The letter follows.

Dear W3C members,

As Chair of ISO/IEC JTC 1/SC 36 I wish to express my strong support for the proposal to include accessibility metadata based on the AccessForAll or ISO/IEC 24751 standard within This highly successful multi-part standard is currently undergoing its first revision. The metadata expressed in the standard fills a critical gap for resource discovery and identification by anyone requiring alternative access systems or alternative resource presentations. The fact that the proposal is based on an established international standard supports interoperability and avoids fragmentation. We look forward to working with W3C to ensure that the proposal is successful and that the proposed additions meet their important goal.

Erlend Øverby
Chair ISO/IEC JTC 1/SC 36

The scanned copy of this letter, as we received it, is available in PDF format.
The ISO/IEC 24751 standard can be found at the Fluid project website.

This letter can be seen in the W3C public vocabs list as well.

Bookshare tags over 195,000 titles with accessibility metadata

Bookshare, the world’s largest online library of accessible eBooks for people with print disabilities, has just added accessibility metadata to its full library of over 195,000 titles. “We’ve had the information on content type, age ranges and available media forms locked away in our database, only useful to the most skilled internet searchers or through the search via our website or API.

Now, with the draft accessibility metadata semantic tags added, powered by microdata and, we can make this available in a manner that search engines can more easily find this information,” said Gerardo Capiel, VP of Engineering at Benetech. For example, the proof of concept Google Custom Search query below for history textbooks can be constrained to titles whose images have enhanced with rich descriptions by Bookshare volunteers:

Screen Shot of Google Custom Search Engine
You can do this yourself with two searches. The first is to search Bookshare for any titles involving history: that will return over 7,000 hits. The second, with just the titles that have alternative text for images or, better yet, long descriptions, is a search constrained by these mediafeatures: it returns just 14 items that are the higher value.

It was easy to scale this metadata conversion across all of Bookshare’s titles. Rather than requiring editorial work on each web page, these were database-generated web pages. The task was one of adding a few more tags or attributes around existing content. For example, for “World History Ancient Civilizations” above, elements like the title went from

<h1>World History: Ancient Civilizations</h1>


<h1 itemprop="name">World History: Ancient Civilizations</h1>

Other tags, such as

<meta itemprop="accessMode" content="textual"/>
<meta itemprop="mediaFeature" content="structuralNavigation"/>
<meta itemprop="mediaFeature" content="alternativeText"/>

were also added to tell the specific accessibility features of the book. More information on how to add accessibility metadata to your accessible content can be found on the resources page.

Accessibility Metadata Best Practices Guide draft available

A few major milestones have been achieved in the past week. Our best practices guide, weighing in at 33 pages in it’s v.5 version, is now available on the Resources page. If you have a question on markup methods for the accessibility metadata, this is the definitive resource. Questions or requests for clarification should go to our Google Group list, available on the Discuss page. I’ll note that the document is quite complete and extensive, but is in draft mode primarily because the specification to is still in draft.

As we get closer to our first real implementations and available data, we do have some live examples coming online. The first example, from Bookshare, can be seen on the live examples page.

Accessibility Metadata draft v.5 has been submitted to the W3C for the process

The AccessibilitY Metadata proposal was officially submitted to the W3C process on Monday, April 15, 2013. Details of the submission can be seen in the email to the W3C public vocabs list. The detailed proposal can be seen at the site.

These added metadata items will enable alternate representations of content to be easily discoverable, as well as finding the best-fit alternate for your needs within web searches.

A significant number of changes have taken place and new content has been made available since our first post two months ago. Highlights of this are:

Subscribe to the the RSS feed or join our mailing list to stay abreast of our developments and news. We do expect to be at a few conferences in May and June, and these will be announced here and through those channels as well.