Toronto’s Annick Press: ‘Global Certified Accessible’ in Canadian Ebooks

In News by Porter Anderson

Among the first children’s publishers to achieve Benetech’s accreditation, Annick Press stresses that ‘diversity’ includes access.

Pandemic-era dance classes in a Toronto park, November 18, 2020. Image – Getty iStockphoto: Bob Hilscher

By Porter Anderson, Editor-in-Chief | @Porter_Anderson

‘Born Accessible’ Publishing Products
Our regular readers are familiar with the Benetech “Global Certified Accessible” (GCA) accreditation program, of course.

The Benetech team works with a publisher to evaluate whether the house’s ebooks are designed to be accessible for learners with reading barriers such as blindness, low vision, dyslexia, or a physical disability. Books called “born accessible” are developed to make it possible for students of any ability to have equal access to information.

Benetech is based in Palo Alto, California, and is a not-for-profit company engaged in what it calls “software for social good.” Its ventures, for example, include Bookshare, an international ebook library for people with reading barriers.

Brendan Ouelette

Today (November 5), the Toronto-based Annick Press has reached Benetech’s accreditation for its ebooks.

“Since the company’s founding,” says Brendan Ouellette, Annick’s digital project manager, “Annick has been at the forefront of publishing books that  reflect the world of the contemporary child.

“We’re committed to inclusivity, diversity, and authenticity in our publishing, and that applies to our digital program.

“We’re proud to be among the first children’s publishers in the industry to make our ebooks accessible.”

The publishing house’s first book to be “born accessible,” meaning fully accessible at its initial publication is Harvey and the Extraordinary by Eliza Martin with illustrations by Anna Bron.

In a prepared comment, Brad Turner, who is Benetech’s vice-president and general manager of global education and literacy, is quoted, saying, “All digital content can and should be born accessible.”

Benetech’s program is the first third-party ePub certification program to verify ebook accessibility, and a company called eBoundCanada, a GCA international partner, completed the evaluation. 

Annick Press therefore took the GCA certification through eBound, a nonprofit that supports independent Canadian publishers in the digital marketplace.

Deborah Nelson

Deborah Nelson is CEO of eBound, and is quoted, saying, “eBound believes that all content born digital should be born accessible, so that all people can have access to all content.

“As such, eBound is delighted to have formed a partnership with Benetech to support our Canadian independent publisher clients as they go through the important process of having all content born accessible.

“eBound’s goal is to have 80 percent or more of our publishing clients producing accessible content by 2024, supporting the goal of Canadian Heritage, whose generous support has made this work possible.”

More from Publishing Perspectives on digital publishing is here, more on Benetech is here, more on ebooks is here, and more on accessibility in book publishing is here.

More from us on the coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic and its impact on international book publishing is here.

About the Author

Porter Anderson

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Porter Anderson has been named International Trade Press Journalist of the Year in London Book Fair's International Excellence Awards. He is Editor-in-Chief of Publishing Perspectives. He formerly was Associate Editor for The FutureBook at London's The Bookseller. Anderson was for more than a decade a senior producer and anchor with, CNN International, and CNN USA. As an arts critic (Fellow, National Critics Institute), he was with The Village Voice, the Dallas Times Herald, and the Tampa Tribune, now the Tampa Bay Times. He co-founded The Hot Sheet, a newsletter for authors, which now is owned and operated by Jane Friedman.