Digital Design

Publishing Formats
Accessible Library Services

Developing an Understanding

In Canada, there are two organizations that make copies of books available in accessible formats to readers who have print disabilities.

Logo for The National Network for Equitable Library Service (NNELS).

The National Network for Equitable Library Service (NNELS)

The National Network for Equitable Library Service (NNELS) opens in new window is a repository of content owned and sustained by Canadian public libraries. Books in NNELS are available in multiple formats including DAISY, MP3 audio files, EPUB, and accessible PDF’s. As well, audiobooks are available in both human narration (90% of audiobooks) and synthetic voice (10%) (NNELS, n.d.).

 Logo for Centre for Equitable Library Access (CELA).

Centre for Equitable Library Access (CELA)

Centre for Equitable Library Access (CELA) opens in new window is an accessible reading service that provides access to books, newspapers, and magazines in formats that people with print disabilities can read, such as audio, digital text, and braille. CELA supports and assists public libraries in delivering accessible library materials to Canadians with print disabilities (CELA, n.d.).

What are accessible formats?

There are a number of accessible formats for people with print disabilities. Here are some of the formats available from the Centre for Equitable Library Access (CELA) opens in new window.

Digital Accessible Information System consortium logo

Digital Accessible Information System (DAISY)

Digital Accessible Information System (DAISY) opens in new window is an accessible and user-friendly format with two versions, DAISY Audio and DAISY Text.

  • DAISY Audio: You have to listen on a device that supports DAISY audio (with a DAISY player, on a computer with DAISY software or on a smartphone or tablet with a DAISY app). You can listen to a book or magazine from start to finish by just pressing play, but you can also:
    • Skip from section to section
    • Use bookmarks
    • Look things up in the index
    • Adjust the narration speed
    • Add notes (on specific DAISY players, such as the 5 Stream opens in new window
  • DAISY Text: This format can be read as text, on a braille display, or played out loud as computer generated audio. If using a DAISY player, the text will be read out loud and you can also use bookmarks and skip sections if you like.
Microsoft Word logo

Microsoft Word

With Word, you can:

  • View the text
  • Enlarge and change the font
  • Add notes
  • Read on a computer with compatible software
  • Use the built-in Read Aloud opens in new window function to hear the text with computer-generated audio
Voice Dream logo

Voice Dream

If you use an accessible reading app such as Voice Dream opens in new window, you can:

  • Read the words and sentences synchronized with computer-generated audio
  • Enlarge and change the font
  • See the images (if included in the book)
  • Bookmark pages
  • Adjust the speed of reading

You can also listen to books in Word format on compatible DAISY players.

ePub logo.

Electronic Publication (EPUB)

Electronic Publication (EPUB) is an e-book file format. EPUB books can be read in any compatible app or DAISY player. Many EPUB compatible applications allow readers to:

  • View the text
  • Change and enlarge the font
  • Bookmark pages
  • Add notes

When you read an EPUB with a DAISY player or a speech-to-text program, your book will be narrated by a computer-generated voice.

Some books are available in braille (a system of raised dots that can be read by some people who are blind or have low vision). And you can download reader apps to an iPhone, iPad, or Android tablet.

Adapted from Centre for Equitable Library Access (CELA) opens in new window