Academic Innovation | Diversity, Equity & Inclusion
Born-accessible Publishing is Good Book-making for Everyone
Michigan Publishing is committed to leading on accessibility and disability issues. When readers with visual impairments couldn’t effectively read Press ebooks, comprehensive work to address the ongoing needs of our readers began.
The University of Michigan Press has become the national leader in assuring scholarly publications can be accessed by the disabled. But they’ve also taken a second more dynamic step. They’ve imagined publications beyond mere accessibility by pioneering descriptive techniques to make illustrations and technical materials available to readers with disabilities.
As a leading advocate for the blind and partially-sighted, Syracuse University professor Stephen Kuusisto notes, “The University of Michigan Press has become the national leader in assuring scholarly publications can be accessed by the disabled….They’ve imagined publications beyond mere accessibility by pioneering descriptive techniques to make illustrations and technical materials available to readers with disabilities.”
Making digital publications and media available to the broadest audience is a core value of the Michigan Library. Since Fall 2015, the Michigan Publishing Accessibility Group has helped the organization update its workflows, implement accessible technologies and systems, and spurred the publication of an open access book by Stephanie Rosen, Accessibility Specialist, called Accessibility and Publishing.
"Whoa, that is awesome. Okay, let's do that again, because that just described what the illustration was. Awesome, good job... Holy crap, I'm getting distracted, but I'm very happy right now because all of these are described and a blind person can follow exactly what's going on in this ebook, which is amazing. I don't know who's describing these pictures, but they need to go and describe my math books... I'm very impressed with the image description quality."
The Press's disability studies list has also been a catalyst. Since 2015, Michigan Publishing has offered the Tobin Siebers Prize for Disability Studies in the Humanities, awarded in memory of disability studies pioneer Tobin Siebers, Professor of English at the University of Michigan. This prestigious annual prize for the best disabilities studies manuscript raises awareness about the field and ensures the growth of a highly regarded list of more than 50 titles covering topics from literary and cultural depictions of disability to representation on the stage, or even in the classroom.
Tobin Siebers Prize Winners:
Vitality Politics Health, Debility, and the Limits of Black Emancipation By Stephen Knadler
Monstrous Kinds Body, Space, and Narrative in Renaissance Representations of Disability
By Elizabeth B. Bearden
Foucault and Feminist Philosophy of Disability
By Shelley L. Tremain
War on Autism: On the Cultural Logic of Normative Violence
By Anne McGuire
As of January 2019, University of Michigan Press’s Ebook collection on Fulcrum has basic textual descriptions for every image and transcripts and captioning for associated video.
One Michigan State University graduate student from an accessibility testing group was pleased with that work. “A blind person can follow exactly what's going on in this ebook, which is amazing. I'm very impressed with the image description quality."
Michigan Publishing remains committed to leading on accessibility as a publisher and a community partner for authors, publishers, and readers in the arts and humanities.