Building a Culture of Accessibility through Innovation

Handouts Media

Presented at 2:15pm in Westminster I on Wednesday, November 20, 2019.



  • Evan Yamanishi, Accessibility Lead, Director of the Norton Lab, W. W. Norton & Company

Session Details

  • Length of Session: 1-hr
  • Format: Lecture
  • Expertise Level: Intermediate
  • Type of session: General Conference


Accessibility is positioned at the center of innovation in the Norton Lab. This presentation will cover the Lab's born-accessible EPUB platform, a deep look at work into interactive transcripts, and exciting work around automated color contrast and enhanced image descriptions.


Building a culture of accessibility at a 97-year-old publisher can be a daunting task. When Evan Yamanishi joined the company in 2015, "accessibility" simply meant alt text and captions. Since then, accessibility has become a critical part of nearly every aspect of the company, from editorial and sales to design and development.

This presentation will focus primarily on the more technical aspects of accessibility and how they've garnered buy-in across the company and led directly to the formation of the Norton Lab, W. W. Norton's incubator for digital publishing. The bulk of the presentation will chronicle the journey to a culture of accessibility through the lens of various projects: Norton's born-accessible Node.js ebook platform; a component for automating interactive transcripts; and newer work into generating accessible color palettes from images and providing a universally designed interface for image descriptions.


  1. Accessibility should be used to push innovation forward, not hold it back
  2. Building a culture of accessibility is best accomplished through empathy and shared ownership
  3. Standards and best practices in web development can accelerate both accessibility and innovation

Disability Areas

All Areas

Topic Areas

Accessible Educational Materials, Assistive Technology, Uncategorized, Web/Media/App Access

Speaker Bio(s)

Evan Yamanishi

Evan was W. W. Norton's first accessibility specialist in 2015 when he moved to New York from Michigan, where he previously worked in disability support at Lansing Community College. A brief MI-AHEAD board member, Evan brought a very real-world focus on the user to accessibility at Norton. One of his first initiatives was to gain buy-in by presenting universal design as an imperative for Norton's future. A core member of the ARIA Authoring Practices Task Force and member of the Publishing Working Group in the W3C, Evan's focus has shifted in recent years to building systems of scale through standards and best practices. The Norton Lab, an incubator for the future of publishing, was created in response to Evan's push for innovation through accessibility.


2019 AHG - Building a Culture of Accessibility