Self-publishers: helping to change lives and bring work to a wider audience

Luke Alcott Accessibility, News


Writers can bring their books to millions more readers with the International Authors Forum’s (IAF) new guide for self-published authors on how to make their eBooks accessible for people who are blind or face other challenges to reading books in standard print.

‘Accessible eBook Guidelines for Self-Publishing Authors’ is co-produced with the Accessible Books Consortium (ABC) and written by accessibility expert Dave Gunn. It describes how those with ‘print disabilities’, like sight loss or dyslexia, use technology to read eBooks, and what steps authors can take to ensure their books are compatible with that technology.

The guide offers easy to follow instructions on how to make eBooks more reader friendly for all users. It includes a handy checklist and explains how to avoid common pitfalls which hinder the reader experience by taking a few simple steps when creating and formatting a word processing document.

The guide also contains a section on how to make self-published books accessible using the most popular self-publishing platforms – including Amazon and Apple – and which platforms offer the most accessible end product.

The World Health Organization’s 2014 estimates show that 285 million people worldwide are visually impaired. Opportunities for such readers to access authors’ works are opened up by eBooks beyond the possibilities of physical books, and the eBook market is growing: up by 16% in 2015 from the previous year. The growing self-publishing community – which is also taking advantage of eBooks as an ideal format for their output – should embrace this opportunity to reach a much greater audience, just like many traditional publishers are doing.

The Alliance of Independent Authors (ALLi), the global association for authors who self-publish, supports the launch of the guide. Orna Ross, Founder & Director of ALLi, praised the initiative:

These clear and practical recommendations will make indie authors/author publishers realise how easy it would be to make their eBooks more accessible, greatly increasing the range of books available in appropriate formats for people unable to read standard print and, at the same time, boosting their potential readership substantially. It is a win-win scenario.

Author and motivational speaker Maribel Steel, who is visually impaired, also supports the guide’s aims:

Be a proud link in the chain which enables people like myself to stay connected through our passion for our craft. Together, we can support each other and bring the focus on reaching a whole new audience by designing our manuscripts in an accessible format available for everyone to enjoy.

Notes for editors

About IAF

The International Authors Forum (IAF) is a global network of authors’ organisations. Currently, it has 56 members, between them representing over half a million writers and visual artists worldwide. IAF works to protect and uphold copyright and authors’ rights, which are vital to sustaining authors’ work, and the world’s cultural heritage and creative industries, on local and global levels. Together, IAF’s members – who represent authors in their own countries – can share knowledge, support one another and take action to ensure all authors, no matter where they are, have the tools to meet the challenges and opportunities of the digital age.

About the Accessible Books Consortium

The Accessible Books Consortium is a multi-stakeholder alliance, comprising the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO); organizations that represent people with print disabilities, including the World Blind Union (WBU); libraries for people with print disabilities; and organizations representing publishers and authors, including the International Publishers Association and the International Authors Forum. The ABC aims to increase the number of books worldwide in accessible formats – such as braille, audio and large print – and to make them available to people who are blind, have low vision or are otherwise print disabled.

Some 285 million people worldwide are visually impaired according to the World Health Organization’s 2014 estimates. More than 90% of the 285 million visually impaired people worldwide are resident in developing countries, where the WBU estimates that people who are blind have only a one in ten chance of going to school or getting a job. The lack of accessible books is a very real barrier to getting an education and leading an independent, productive life.


  1. World Health Organization, Visual impairment and blindness, (accessed 3 April 2016)

Contact information

Katie Webb

Facebook: International Authors Forum

Twitter: @AuthorsForum