The IDPF and W3C Merger: Understanding the future of accessible ebook standards

Handouts Media

Scheduled at 8:00am in WB III on Thursday, November 16 (2017).



  • Rachel Comerford, Senior Director of Content Standards and Accessibility, Macmillan Learning
  • Amy Salmon, Senior Accessibility Consultant, TFA Consulting, Inc.
  • Rick Johnson, VP of Product Strategy, VitalSource Technologies

Session Details

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


Direct from the Nov World Wide Web Consortium (w3c) TPAC meeting, hear from epub committee member about activities planned for the future of digital publishing. Learn more about the org and its goals for epub, accessible epub, and epub for education and how this work can impact accessibility services offices and students that rely on them.


This year, the International Digital Publishing Forum (IDPF) and the w3c merged. Formally epub, accessible epub, and epub for education standards lived independent of the general web accessibility standard–WCAG 2.0. This merger brings the publishing and digital content communities closer and will help shed more light on a11y needs in the education world. Learn about the standards orgs that are changing the way ebooks are made and find out how you can participate in this work to help ensure better products are getting to your students. The EPUB Accessibility Conformance and Discovery spec 1.0 is having an impact on the way that publishers produce content. Following this change at the publishers level, DAISY hopes to release by the end of 2017 the Accessibility Checker for EPUB (ACE). It goes beyond traditional HTML a11y checking and gets at the components of digital books. Also in the works is an ePUB “certification” program that will assure that the publications meet WCAG 2.0 AA.


  1. Who are the IDPF and the w3c and how does this merger impact accessibility and ebooks?
  2. What is the accessible ePUB standard and the ePUB for Education standard? Where can they be found?
  3. What is the w3c epub community group tackling next. How can member of the a11y services community join?

Disability Areas

Cognitive/Learning, Deaf/Hard of Hearing, Mobility, Vision

Topic Areas

Accessible Course Design, Administrative/Campus Policy, Alternate Format, Teaching about Accessibility in Curriculum, Uncategorized, Web/Media Access

Speaker Bio(s)

Rachel Comerford

Rachel Comerford is the Senior Director of Content Standards and Accessibility at Macmillan Learning where she spearheads cross-functional efforts to ensure customer satisfaction and access for all. Recent projects include the implementation of a company-wide accessibility training initiative, accessibility authoring and quality assurance guidelines, and a new customer outreach and response plan.

She has over a decade of experience in the print and digital publishing world. Prior to coming to Macmillan as an editor, she held a variety of editorial and sales positions at WW Norton and Pearson.

Amy Salmon

Since 2001, Amy has been providing reviews of technology products and websites, ensuring compliance with accessibility standards and best practices for people with disabilities. As a user of screen reader technology she has been a major contributor to several clients’ projects such as California State University, VitalSource Technology, United Airlines, and Verizon Wireless. Amy has published and presented several papers at the International Technology and Persons with Disabilities and the Accessing Higher Ground conferences, created and presented numerous accessibility training courses for TFA clients. Amy has a Master’s of Science degree in Rehabilitation for the Visually Impaired from Northern Illinois University where she graduated Summa Cum Laude.

Rick Johnson

"My three passions are technology, publishing, and education. VitalSource is a leader in all of these areas, and I'm proud that we work hard every day to improve our products and make education more attainable for all."

Rick Johnson is the Vice President of Product Development and Sales Engineering, and one of the founders of VitalSource. Rick manages the strategic direction of VitalSource's Bookshelf ® platform, guiding the architecture, and implementation of its clients and systems. Prior to his tenure at VitalSource, Rick spent more than 12 years with Apple Computer, Inc. where he was instrumental in the implementation of complex solutions for many higher education and corporate customers, and received numerous national and international awards. He is a frequent speaker on electronic textbooks, their integration into an institutional environment, and how the accessibility needs of individual students can best be accommodated in their delivery. He has served on multiple committees addressing the needs around delivering accessible content to students, was a member of the working groups responsible for version 2 and version 3 of the EPUB standard. Rick currently serves on the board of directors for IMSGlobal (opens in new tab) and the IDPF (opens in new tab), and is the co-inventor of three domestic and international patents dealing with electronic books and their distribution. He is a graduate of the communication and business departments of Biola University.


The IDPF and W3C Merger (1)