Publishing for all: accessibility from boardroom to platform

For our flagship products there can be more than a dozen requirements competing for a release at any given time. But accessibility can be a hard sell when faced with questions like “Why should I care about accessibility, there aren’t any blind doctors.”

This is a story about making that case to managers and product owners, and establishing accessibility as a baked-in part of product development, a hygiene factor. Four years on, we are building WCAG standards into our web products, offering EPUB 3 file formats with ONIX metadata, and developing specialist formats, e.g. for math and chemical reactions. We have people in dedicated roles that champion accessibility. Users with disabilities can contact an accessibility expert in our company and in some cases be provided with accessible formats that fit their needs. This has greatly improved accessibility to information for researchers, engineers and health professionals with disabilities.

Steve Watson
Steve Watson is Head of Open Access and Customer Segmentation for ScienceDirect, Elsevier’s leading information solution for researchers, teachers, students, health care professionals and information professionals. In his 20+ year career in publishing Steve has worked across operations, editorial and product, launching new scientific journals, developing their online capabilities and improving their accessibility. Steve often gets jobs that others don’t like, figuring out options for products where business models and access collide. He loves to get away snowboarding or cycling when he can, plays guitar and is slightly addicted to chess.