What goes in to an accessibility label, Part 2

In the last post I reviewed the accessibility information VitalSource includes with some of their products. My understanding is that the publisher has provided the information that is displayed in a pop-up when the accessibility icon is clicked.

While VitalSource is definitely the leader in this area and deserves credit for trying, the information fails to meet their ambitions that “Students can confirm if their assigned course materials will accommodate their needs before they purchase the content.”

The reality is that students with disabilities have many different needs because there are many different types of students. An accessibility label needs to describe the product as best as possible while acknowledging that it still may not be enough.

I have taken a shot a rewriting VitalSource’s label for this book. Here is the text of the VitalSource label:

View Accessibility Property Standards

Accessibility Summary

This publication includes mark-up to enable accessibility and compatibility with assistive technology. Images, audio, and video in the publication are well-described in conformance with WCAG 2.0 AA. Structural navigation may be inconsistent.

Accessibility Features

  • longDescription

  • displayTransformability

  • alternativeText

  • resizeText

Access Mode

  • visual

  • textual

Access Mode Sufficient

  • visual

  • textual

Accessibility Hazard

  • none

Here is the revised version:

Accessibility Statement

VitalSource and the publisher of this title are committed to meeting the needs of students with disabilities. The following information is provided to help students determine if this publication will be accessible to them. Please visit our accessibility page for more information. Your feedback is appreciated so we can continue to improve our products.


  • This publication contains mark-up (also known as tags) to enable navigation by screen-reading software.

  • Page numbers that correspond to the print version of the book are included.


  • Visual material such as pictures, charts, and graphs, are accompanied by textual descriptions.

  • Elements of the display such as font size and color can be adjusted.

Known Issues

  • Not all headings in the book can be navigated to directly and some navigation may be inconsistent.

  • When included with the product, multimedia supplements such as videos and interactive components may not be accessible. Please contact us for more information.

  • This publication can only be opened by Bookshelf, which is compatible with many screen-reading programs. If you use another type of assistive technology please contact us for support.

There is still a ways to go to make this information relevant and useful to students with disabilities. One suggestion for VitalSource is to revamp their accessibility page, which has a lot of good information, to make it more focused on practical information for students (perhaps make a accessibility page in the Bookshelf section).

Another suggestion is to stop using the word “features” when it comes to accessibility. VitalSource is not the only organization to do this (in fact, I may have used that terminology in the past). “Feature” implies something added for the benefit of the customer, when in reality, without accessibility the product is unusable by a person with a disability. It may be a matter of semantics, but words matter. Accessibility should not be a feature - it should be a fact.

Please add your questions and comments on the label.