Metadata, discoverability and accessibility in publishing

1 September 2016 | Ted Page

The commercial drivers of accessibility metadata

Today the Digital Book World blog published a post entitled Why Discoverability Should Be Publishers’ Biggest Priority. It quite rightly sets out the advantages of a well thought-out metadata strategy for driving sales.

Screenshot of the Kindle app on an iPad
The author, Daniel Berkowitz, provides a list of metadata types that publishers should be supplying. These include author, title, ISBN, publisher, genre, language, and so on. Of course there are thousands of book metadata types that could be included. But one category conspicuous by its absence from the blog post’s list is accessibility metadata

ONIX Code List 196 category types

With the appropriate use of accessibility metadata, principally in this case, ONIX Code List 196,  you can inform people with disabilities that your book will be suitable for their needs. This may include information on WGAG compliance and any testing undertaken with various assistive technologies. It may also provide more specific information on the inclusion of, for example: 

  • accessible navigation 
  • an interactive index
  • appropriate reading order 
  • long and short text descriptions for images 
  • accessible video
  • accessible maths content 
  • print equivalent page numbering (page lists)

Market size

According to the World Bank and the World Health Organisation’s World Report on Disability, 2011, (PDF 10.44 MB) some 15% of the world’s population (over a billion people) have some form of disability, a figure that is expected to rise in the coming decades.

Given the size of the market, irrespective of the legal/regulatory requirements or the reputational risk drivers, can publishers really afford not to exploit the significant revenue streams that accessibility metadata offer?