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Textbook publisher Macmillan Learning is the first publisher to gain an ebook accessibility certification from Benetech, a nonprofit that develops accessible technology.

Benetech launched the Global Certified Accessible program in 2017. The program evaluates whether ebooks are accessible to people with reading barriers such as blindness, low vision, dyslexia or physical disability.

Publishers can certify individual ebooks as accessible under the program, but Macmillan Learning is the first publisher to have its ebook production process certified. Benetech will be randomly sampling books produced through this process each year to ensure its accessibility standards continue to be met. A news release said that all copyright 2019 Macmillan Learning titles would be certified.

Brad Turner, vice president of education and literacy for Benetech, said that several other publishers are close to having production processes certified. Publishers will be able to display the certification on their website and through retail partners such as VitalSource -- which recently announced plans to make its catalog searchable by accessibility features.

Turner said that several states and community college systems are starting to require independent verification that textbooks are accessible prior to making large orders. All Benetech-certified content meets WCAG 2.0 AA+ web-accessibility standards. The company works with publishers to change their production processes and ensure content is “born accessible,” said Turner.

“Benetech’s mission is to help people get access to information. Rather than play catch-up, we decided to go upstream to the publishers,” he said.