W3C Publishing: New Standards and Recommendations on the Horizon – EPUB 3.3, Accessibility, and Reading Systems


Presented at 11:45am in Matchless on Friday, November 18, 2022.



  • Charles LaPierre, Principal, Accessibility and Content Quality Architect, Benetech
  • George Kerscher, Chief Innovation Officer and Senior Officer, Global Literacy, DAISY Consortium and Benetech

Session Details

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


Three new publishing recommendations are currently making their way through the W3C process, on their way to becoming a new set of standards which educators need to be aware of. It’s been over three years since the release of EPUB 3.2 and over five since the EPUB Accessibility 1.0 specification was introduced. To improve the readability of the EPUB specification has been simplified from six separate specifications down to just three: core, reading systems, and accessibility.


EPUB has been widely adopted as the format for digital books (ebooks), the switch from a static PDF to a customizable reflowable EPUB has taken the education system by storm. This latest revision continues to increase the format's capabilities to better support a wider range of publication requirements, including complex layouts, rich media and interactivity, and global typography features. The goal being that publishers will utilize the EPUB 3 format for a broad range of content, including books, magazines, and educational, professional, and scientific publications.

EPUB 3.3 is the core specification and includes the conformance requirements for EPUB publications.

EPUB Reading Systems 3.3 defines the processing requirements for EPUB reading systems — the applications that takes EPUB publications and present their content to users.

EPUB Accessibility 1.1 defines accessibility conformance and discovery requirements for EPUB publications.

We will go over the important changes in the EPUB 3.3 core specification which focuses on how EPUBs are authored as well as changes to the Accessibility 1.1 Conformance and Discovery specification that are noteworthy. There is also a new Reading System 3.3 specification which focuses on the rendering and user interaction of EPUBs will also be covered along with a review of the most accessible reading systems. New Reading System tests will show what EPUB features are supported by which reading systems. With these new tests in combination with EPUBTest.org results we can get a more accurate picture of what reading system will offer the best reading experience no matter the students needs.


  1. EPUB 3.3 makes it easier for content creators to understand and produce accessible EPUBs
  2. New guidance for EPUB Reading System developers to produce fully functioning and accessible reading experience
  3. Increased accessibility requirements for compliant EPUBs with the new Accessibility 1.1 Specification

Disability Areas


Topic Areas

Accessible Educational Materials, EPUB Track, Uncategorized

Speaker Bio(s)

Charles LaPierre

Charles LaPierre, Benetech: Principal, Accessibility Standards, and Technical Lead, Global Certified Accessible. 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.

George Kerscher

George Kerscher Ph.D. “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 serves on the Advisory Board of the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS).


AHG-2022-W3C Publishing Update