Reading Systems Faceoff – How to access EPUB reading systems and how you can know which are the best

Handouts Media

Presented at 12:30pm in Virtual B on Friday, November 13, 2020.



  • Joseph Polizzotto, Alternate Media Supervisor, Wake Technical Community College
  • George Kerscher, Chief Innovations Officer, DAISY Consortium
  • Richard Orme, Chief Executive Officer, DAISY Consortium

Session Details

  • Length of Session: 45 minutes
  • Format: Lecture
  • Expertise Level: All Levels
  • Type of session: Pre-conference


This session will present the evaluation of digital reading systems from retailers, library vendors and publishers. You will learn how the different platforms compare in terms of navigation, visual adjustments, screen reader support and other accommodations.


One of the essential components in an accessible EPUB ecosystem is the EPUB reading system. No matter how well an EPUB conforms to EPUB accessibility criteria, the reading system may not expose the accessibility features embedded in an EPUB, which can present a barrier to readers.

Which EPUB reading systems support the features found in accessible EPUBs and provide the greatest support for users of assistive technology? In this session we will present a systematic method for testing the accessibility of EPUB reading systems and share the results of our tests. In the process, attendees will learn which EPUB reading systems currently offer the best reading experience for learners.

In this presentation, we will discuss the following aspects of an accessible EPUB reading system experience:

Navigation structure & page numbers

Read aloud (text to speech)

Screen reader support

Textual adjustments (foreground & background colors, line spacing, and font changes)

Images and alt text



  1. EPUB reading systems must be tested for their support of features found in accessible EPUBs.
  2. EPUB reading systems can be tested systematically by using the methodology available at epubtest.
  3. There are specific EPUB reading systems that provide a greater amount of access for AT users.

Disability Areas

All Areas

Topic Areas

Accessible Educational Materials, Alternate Format, Assistive Technology, EPUB Track, Uncategorized

Speaker Bio(s)

Joseph Polizzotto

Joseph is the Alternate Media Supervisor at UC Berkeley. He previously was Assistive Technology Specialist Instructor at the High Tech Center Training Unit (HTCTU) of the California Community Colleges, where he trained college faculty and staff on alternate media workflows and assistive technology.

Joseph received a B.A. degree in History from the University of California, Santa Cruz and an M.A. degree in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL) from San José State University. He has over 15 years of teaching experience in ESL and basic skills. His research interests include accessible EPUB 3 and mobile reading systems.

George Kerscher

“Access to information is a fundamental human right.” 2003 to the United Nations 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 also serves on the Advisory Board of the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS).

Read full Vita at:

Richard Orme