Getting started with EPUB



  • Richard Orme, Mr, DAISY Consortium
  • George Kerscher, Chief Innovation Officer and Senior Officer, Global Literacy, DAISY Consortium and Benetech
  • Rachel Comerford, Senior Director, Accessibility Outreach and Communication, Macmillan Learning
  • Charles LaPierre, Principal, Accessibility Standards, and Technical Lead, Global Certified Accessible, Benetech

Session Details

  • Length of Session: 2-hr
  • Format: Lab
  • Expertise Level: Beginner
  • Type of session: General Conference


EPUB is the file format used globally in digital ebook publishing. It has been rapidly adopted for academic publications, not least for its extensive accessibility features and flexibility to support universal design for learning. This workshop will help library, faculty, and DSO colleagues get up to speed.


Around 80% of new academic titles are published in EPUB. In this workshop, delegates will experience the accessibility features of this digital publishing format. We will show specific benefits for students who are blind, have low vision, or are learning disabled. We will explain how EPUB is a milestone development in accessibility. Attendees will discover where students can access millions of books and journals in this adaptable and highly navigable format. Attendees will learn about the accessibility practices of publishers, and how to tell the difference between a good and excellent EPUB.

We will spend quality, hands-on time with several EPUB publications in different free reading apps. You will leave feeling confident about which reading apps are suitable for learners with specific requirements, and where to turn for more information.

Attendees might like to also consider registering for the companion session “Going Further with EPUB”.


  1. EPUB is the modern format for digital publishing with accessibility features that can benefit all learners.
  2. All library, faculty, and DSO colleagues can quickly learn the essentials of the EPUB format.
  3. Not all digital publications and reading apps are created equal so we should learn how to choose wisely.

Disability Areas

Cognitive/Learning, Vision

Topic Areas

Accessible Course Design, Accessible Educational Materials, Alternate Format, EPUB Track, Uncategorized, Universal Design for Learning

Speaker Bio(s)

Richard Orme

When teaching in a college in rural England more than 30 years ago, Richard encountered his first blind student, beginning a career in what we now refer to as accessibility. He has worked for local, national and international organizations, with young, old, and very old people, with visual, physical, dual sensory and cognitive disabilities. Having identified a critical lack of accessible curriculum materials in the UK, Richard led an initiative for a national database of accessible textbooks, now grown to become the national Education Collection operating as RNIB Bookshare.

Richard is Chief Executive of the DAISY Consortium, the global organization whose mission is to develop standards and solutions for accessible publishing and reading.He volunteers in his community as a home visitor, providing technology support for people with disabilities. Richard’s brother James has a profound learning disability, and his son Jim has dyslexia and is currently studying aerospace engineering at university.

George Kerscher

George Kerscher began his IT innovations in 1987 and coined the term "print disabled." George is dedicated to developing technologies that make information not only accessible, but also fully functional in the hands of persons who are blind or who have a print disability. He believes properly designed digitally published materials and web pages can make information accessible to all people. George is an advocate for semantically rich content which can be used effectively by everybody. As Chief Innovations Officer of the DAISY Consortium, Senior Advisor, Global Literacy to Benetech, and member of Publishing Groups in the W3C, Kerscher is a recognized international leader in document access. In addition, Kerscher chairs the DAISY/NISO Standards committee, Chairs the Steering Council of the Web Accessibility Initiative (WAI, and serves on the Advisory Board of the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS).

Rachel Comerford

Rachel Comerford is the Senior Director of Accessibility Outreach and Communication at Macmillan Learning where she leads cross-functional efforts to ensure students of all abilities have access to their course materials. In 2020, BISG awarded Rachel the Industry Innovator award for her work helping Macmillan Learning to become the first Global Certified Accessible publisher by Benetech. Under her leadership, Macmillan was recognized by WIPO’s Accessible Book Consortium with the International Excellence Award for Accessible Publishing in 2020 for their work towards providing educational materials that any student can use.

Charles LaPierre

??Charles has over 25 years’ accessibility development experience and has been a pioneer in accessible product development since 1993. Charles currently a member of the following W3C Working Groups: Publishing Working Group, MathML Refresh, ARIA, APA / Personalization Task Force, as well as a member of the EPUB3 W3C Community Group, and co-chair of the Accessibility Metadata W3C Community Group.? Charles is the technical architect of the new Global Certified Accessible initiative at Benetech to certify publisher content as conforming to the new EPUB 1.0 Accessibility Specification.? Charles has a bachelor's and master's degree in Electrical Engineering from Carleton University, Ottawa, Canada.