Microsoft Press has received inquiries about the accessibility of our book content. The good news is that many Microsoft Press ebooks are available in the Daisy format (Digital Accessible Information System) that includes features that offer accessibility (see www.daisy.org ). You can purchase these as part of the ebook bundles available through http://microsoftpress.oreilly.com where our ebooks are distributed and sold. Of course, this site also offers our ebooks DRM-free in other ebook formats like epub, mobi (for Kindle), and pdf. Many of our books are also available through www.bookshare.org, an organization dedicated to providing content to people with the most severe challenges to accessing printed books.
More good news is on the horizon. I recall seeing George Kerscher, currently the Secretary General of the Daisy Consortium, at the O'Reilly Tools of Change Conference in 2008, in a small room on a panel with some other experts pointing out to a naïve audience (including myself) that Digital Rights Management (used by most commercial ebook distributors—and libraries) effectively breaks accessibility in ebooks. This has always been a fundamental problem for those of us eager to adopt ebooks as a viable way to publish and read. Kerscher is currently President of the Board of Directors of the IDPF (International Digital Publishing Forum) which drafts and approves the epub standard. Microsoft is a member of this organization. At TOC 2011 in February Kerscher was on a panel that announced the public comment period for epub3 (www.idpf.org ), a revised ebook standard that integrates accessibility features into the fabric of the epub standard (due for release in May).
Also at TOC 2011, Jim Fruchterman from Bookshare reinforced the idea that because technology has made major progress in making books accessible, the next step for publishers is to make accessible ebooks widely available for sale to people who do not meet the requirements of his organization (as Microsoft Press is doing through our association with O’Reilly). He also talked about the possibilities for developing accessible versions of ebooks as these new products move toward offering multimedia as an integrated part of ebooks using technologies like HTML5. At the same time he noted that his organization will continue to support the community that qualifies for Bookshare’s service.
We hope you’ll spread the word that many Microsoft Press ebooks are accessible and available now.