lunchBOX interview 005
DAISY Consortium + Inclusive Publishing
11 December, 2020
lunchBOX: Hello, good day, and welcome to lunchBOX. On the menu today, we're delighted to welcome Sarah Hilderley from the DAISY Consortium and Inclusive Publishing for a suitably socially distanced lunch, separated as we are by an ocean and several time zones. Sarah has been an inspiration to us for a long time and it's a delight to have her join us to share her insights. We'll find out all about Sarah's work, her favourite people, her reading habits, and, of course, we'll answer the burning question of the day: what's her lunch order? Let's find out. Bon appetit everyone...
1. Who are you and what do you do?
SH: My name is Sarah Hilderley and I work for the DAISY Consortium, managing communications for the Inclusive Publishing website.
2. How did you come to be involved in the world of accessibility?
SH: My background is in publishing and I got involved in accessibility when I took on the role of Project Lead for The Enabling Technologies Framework project at EDItEUR, a WIPO-sponsored project aimed at providing guidance and raising awareness about the need for mainstream e-products to be fully accessible via the use of EPUB.
3. What does accessibility mean to you?
SH: It means everything – as in it affects us all and means that we all can have access to e-content at the same time, at the same price and in the same format as everyone else, regardless of our ability.
4. What has been your biggest challenge in promoting accessibility?
SH: To start with it was difficult to get publishers to take us seriously. Everyone agreed that this was an important issue, but no-one knew what to do about it and it all seemed too difficult for many content providers to even contemplate. Accessibility was an after-thought, a nice bonus, but never a must-have. That’s all changed now, which is so exciting.
5. What’s been your biggest success in relation to accessibility?
SH: I think I have two things that I am particularly proud of: firstly, the guidance that I produced whilst at EDItEUR which is available on the Accessible Books Consortium website. Secondly, the network that we have built at Inclusive Publishing, which I think has had an enormous effect on how seriously the publishing industry now takes accessibility.
6. What is the most enjoyable part of your job?
SH: I love acting as a go-between to enable people to network. Inclusive Publishing describes itself as a “hub” and I enjoy being the busybody that enables that hub to connect with everyone. The accessible publishing world is full of really lovely people and it is a pleasure to be able to connect with so many passionate and impressive individuals.
7. How have you or your organization made a difference?
SH: I’d rather talk about my organization here but, oh gosh….where to start!? The DAISY Consortium has been instrumental in improving the accessibility of books for many, many years, and I am so proud to be part of such an amazing group of people. I encourage everyone to spend some time on our websites (inclusivepublishing.org, daisy.org) to see just how much we have achieved, and if you haven’t heard of it, think about introducing Ace by DAISY into your publishing workflows – it’s a game changer for accessibility.
8. If you could click your heels and make one thing easier for yourself at work, what would it be?
SH: I’ve missed the face-to-face events that we usually attend during the calendar year. Most of us work from home anyway so we are well set up to communicate, meet and work together in remote environments, but this is usually counter-balanced by our presence at multiple events throughout the year and it will be good to get back to normal in this regard.
9. What is the most exciting development you’ve seen this year in the accessibility sector?
SH: Developed awareness and a desire to “get it right” by many organizations has been at the fore-front this year and, I imagine, exacerbated by the pandemic and the need for so much more to be achieved digitally. We are always excited to see accessibility in people’s thoughts, but this year has seen awards being won for a11y achievements, policies and organizational awareness being improved, and webinars and workshops being attended in high numbers. We are reaching many more people and this is exciting for us at Inclusive Publishing.
10. Where do you see accessibility in 10 years? Any new developments you are keeping a close eye on?
SH: I see accessibility as being an integral part of content creation, production and distribution, no longer a “nice to have” but part of the building blocks of digital workflows.
11. How and where do you learn about new accessibility initiatives in the sector?
SH: Inclusive Publishing, of course! I subscribe to crazy amounts of newsletters, follow stories on twitter and linkedin carefully and rely on my general nosiness to keep me informed. Below is a list of sites that I recommend:
#eprdctn on Twitter
12. What or who is your accessibility inspiration?
SH: These are far too many to mention in detail, but I consider myself extremely lucky to have worked with George Kerscher for so long. George is an accessibility rock star and remains the inspiration for many of us in this field.
13. Which single accessibility tool do you use the most?
SH: Ace by DAISY, EPUBCheck and SMART.
14. Tell us your favourite accessibility story.
SH: Not so much a story, as an experience. I always enjoy witnessing people’s reactions when they understand just how life-changing accessibility can be for a print-disabled reader. With this in mind, I would have to say that my favourite experience of this has to be at the annual NNELS Accessibility Summit held in Toronto, when their extraordinary group of in-house testers run demos and presentations for delegates to allow them to properly understand what we are all trying to achieve. Delegates at this event are usually blown-away by how powerful these sessions are.
15. Which lunch would describe your organization and why?
SH: I would say that we are a smorgasbord.
16. What would be your favourite setting for that lunch?
SH: As we are all in lockdown and I live abroad, I would have to say my parent’s kitchen table with all my family around me.
17. Which 10 people from any time or place would you invite to your lunch?
18. What are you reading at the moment?
SH: Warlight by Michael Ondaatje – so beautifully crafted. I am loving it.
19. What are the applications/services that you couldn’t live without at work or personally?
SH: I couldn’t function without WhatsApp – this is how I keep in touch with family and friends back home and I would be lost without it.
Google Maps – as I live in such a huge country I use Google maps all the time. I have no idea where I am half the time!
My local weather station! We are due enormous amounts of snow this week and we have to be prepared!
Netflix -I love my adopted country, but I am not overly fond of the local TV, so my Netflix subscription is one of my most valued services!
20. Anything totally secret to tell us? We’re amongst friends…
SH: I used to love a bit of am-dram…not really a secret, but not many of my professional colleagues know this!
lunchBOX: Heaps of snow and insights, with a side order of drama! Your secret is safe among us. Always a pleasure to catch up with you, Sarah. Keep warm in faraway Canada, and thank you for sharing your lunch with us today. You've created something very special for the publishing industry at Inclusive Publishing. Thank you so much for taking time to join us for lunch today.
Thank you for your patronage. We know that you could choose other luncheon establishments. We'll take care of the bill...
If you'd like to learn more about the amazing work that Sarah and the team are doing at DAISY Consortium and Inclusive Publishing, why not visit the links below as a post-lunch treat?
Sarah's Accessible Publishing Best Practice Guidelines for Publishers are now available in English, French, German, Hindi, Japanese, Italian, and German. Because she's a rock star too.