5 Questions with George Kerscher, CIO, Daisy Consortium

George Kerscher, dbw, digital book world conferenceGeorge Kerscher is the chief innovations officer of Daisy Consortium, as well as a senior advisor for global literacy at Benetech, and president of the International Digital Publishing Forum (IDPF). George is a recognized international leader in document access, as well as an advocate for semantically rich content which can be used effectively by everybody.

He chairs the DAISY/NISO Standards committee, chairs the Steering Council of the Web Accessibility Initiative, and also serves on the advisory board of the Institute of Museum and Library Services.

George is also a speaker at DBW 2017, where he will review and provide clear guidance on the new EPUB Accessibility guidelines.

We spoke with George about his session at DBW, as well as IDPF’s merger with W3C, and the current state of book publishing.

Accessibility is not an issue that is discussed as much as it should be. Why do you think that is?

Even only a few years ago, content used by persons with disabilities was provided by organizations like Bookshare, that are outside the mainstream of digital publishing. However, now with the “born accessible” movement taking shape, I do think it will become a feature that savvy publishers use to create a market advantage. Sales to schools and libraries will be the first markets to demand born accessible publications.

You’re president of the IDPF. Can you give your take on the merger with W3C?

IDPF is an organization for all of digital publishing, not just the book industry. While our core standard EPUB was designed for all types of publications, it is most widely adopted for ebooks. From specifically the book industry perspective, I’m excited that the combination will give the industry a significant influence over the future of publishing, and conversely taking a leadership role in the development of the web platform for publishing will help the book industry stay in the mainstream of the future of digital content.

In a converging world, staying in a silo doesn’t make a lot of sense. I see that personally of course because I am concerned about accessibility of all types of content, and having horizontal standards for publications and documents is the only sensible way to make all content accessible.

How do you feel about the state of book publishing right now? It seems as though that initial wave of transformation has subsided and now many in the industry have settled into more of a groove. Do you agree with that?

I agree that the initial wave has moved book publishers to a place where their digital products sit alongside the print versions, which is wonderful. However, I believe there is another wave to come where the digital version will have many features, like media, that has no counterpart in the print version.

You’re teaching a master class at DBW 2017. What will you be focusing on?

The EPUB Accessibility specification 1.0 will have been approved by the date of the master class. This is the first time that a clear achievable accessibility specification has been developed that enables testable conformance. This is very important, and I will focus on understanding the implications.

What are you most excited about for DBW 2017?

2017 is going to be an amazing year in publishing. The convergence of IDPF with the W3C, and the importance of the EPUB standard within that arena, will be exciting to participate in. DBW will be the place where we will see that kicked off. The IDPF member meeting on the 18th starting at 12:30 p.m. should be exciting!

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