Accessible Digital Book Production

Digital books can open up new opportunities for those who are unable to read printed books due to a disability such as a visual impairment, a cognitive disability or a learning disability such as dyslexia. When correctly structured, users can access digital books according to their own specific needs and preferences, for example by choosing the size and colour of the text, deciding whether to read it in audio or digital Braille or skipping to specific parts of the book.

BrailleNet is accredited by the French Ministry of Culture and Ministry of Social Affairs and Persons with Disabilities to request source files for books published over the past ten years from publishers under France’s copyright exemption law. BrailleNet uses these source files and scans older printed books to produce accessible digital books. This process involves structuring and enriching the original document by marking up titles, linking to footnotes, describing images and graphics, and so on. The time needed to adapt a digital book varies considerably according to the size and the complexity of the book. A short novel can take several minutes to adapt while a complex academic publication may require a great many hours.

BrailleNet is currently France’s primary producer of accessible books, adapting around 4000 new titles each year. Subscribers to the Bibliothèque Numérique Francophone Accessible (BNFA) can suggest titles to be adapted and added to the library.