Cristina Mussinelli is the General Secretary of Fondazione LIA, a prestigious organisation created by AIE to work on the field of accessibility for books. As a partner in the Aldus Up project, Fondazione LIA organised the Accessibility Camp in collaboration with Fundación Germán Sánchez Ruipérez during the Readmagine conference 2023. One of the presentations within the Accessibility Camp was offered by Mussinelli, who focused this speech on the main challenges of this issue and the trends that are emerging for the next years.
The first topic she referred to was the regulatory frame as something evolving from three main important legislation measures, which have been produced in a completely separate way:
- Marrakesh Treaty
- European Accessibility Act
- European Web directive.
Mussinelli considers that «there is a wider and higher awareness on what it’s important for the rights of people with disabilities. There is the UN Convention, but there is also the Agenda 2030 where accessibility and equal rights to everybody is one of the main topics».
The key issue for Mussinelli is the position of beneficiaries, because «As you know, the beneficiary is wider than it was before because it includes for sure blind and visually impaired people, but also people with other print disabilities like dyslexia people or people who have problems in managing physical books. And so the possible audience for accessible content, websites and apps is much much wider than you normally thought. And especially the Accessibility Act not only takes in consideration the people with severe disability, but also considers people with temporary disability. And a lot of what we have seen today and a lot of the previous specialized accessible technology are now embedded in mainstream accessibility. And that means that also me that I want to read on a beach with my smartphone can have the color construct set in black and white instead of white and black. And this could benefit everyone. And also everyone listened to SMS or WhatsApp messages with an automated voice. And this is something that five years ago or ten years ago was not absolutely foreseen in the mainstream world. What ‘s really important is that we have defined this new accessible digital ecosystem because there are a lot of actors that are involved in this new world».
Other of the main trends identified by Mussinelli are the relevant tools link with metadata: «Try not to have exactly the same metadata everywhere, but at least to try to have an idea of what could be, for example, the grouping of the metadata and to help not the publisher, but to help the end user when they have to choose a title in a different catalog in international or national level. What we see is that there is a lot of effort in the publishing industry to produce an accessible publication but sometimes there is no clear view of what it means when the publisher puts the metadata in a platform where there is a reading solution. We are working a lot with educational publishers and the publishers don’t have only the book but they have liquid books on a platform where they have reading solutions that are sometimes very complicated because I feature for Dyslexia students and so on. And so what I think will be important in the next year is to have more collaboration and coordination on these different aspects because the ecosystem cannot be created by only one kind of actor. It could work, yes, because in Italy we have a small but we already have a fully accessible ecosystem because we have more than 30,000 born accessible titles that are sold in the mainstream distribution channel».
Fondazione LIA is now working on new area expansion within the different types of publishing activities and fields: «We started with trade and it was simple but we are now working a lot with academic education publishers working in university. We tried some experiment on fixer layout. We know also that there are a lot of other organizations working on that and this is also an area where I think collaboration and sharing experience to find a common solution will be a very important one. We are now working on website apps and platforms and also DRM because the LPC DRM has been adopted by at least two of the most important aggregators in Italy».
And she added that this type of services also could mean business opportunities: «We know that during the COVID some of the people who work on the accessible pratto have increased the possibility to provide the title to libraries because the library was more able to provide this title also to people with disability. There are some open issues. Yes, one is the impact of the cost of all the production of accessible publication. That may not be a very big issue for trade but for example for academic and professional books or educational books it could be high because if you have to describe 100 or 400 images without having a clue how to do it, it’s quite complicated».
You can follow in this video the presentation by Cristina Mussinelli.
Cristina Mussinelli is General Secretary of Fodazione Lia, Board Member at EDRLab and Member of the Board of Directors at IDPF. She has a good knowledge of the Italian and international publishing market, since has managed many projects both in traditional and digital publishing formats. Cristina has specific know-how in digital publishing, using the emerging technologies for both production workflow and distribution channels. Since 1990 has been involved in the following activities on behalf of major Italian publishing houses and media companies: Market analysis and benchmarking with Italian and International competitors to develop new business ideas; feasibility studies on effective management of editorial content in media independent format in order to reuse them on many different support and delivery platforms (paper, off line, on line, print on demand, mobile); integrated management of editorial projects from the initial idea and market analysis to the final deployment on the market, including the management of all the legal aspects; consultancy aimed to define effective technical solutions in order to manage each single project.