[Athen] Pagination issues in Alt Format

Chagnon | PubCom chagnon at pubcom.com
Wed Jan 3 11:14:54 PST 2018

In reading this thread, I think there’s a basic misunderstanding about the nature of EPUBs.

The file format was specifically designed to not have pages at all. Rather, it’s one long scroll of the entire document.

What we see are screenfuls, not pages. Depending upon the reader device (Kobo, kindle, iPad, computer), its orientation (portrait/vertical vs. landscape/horizontal), and the user’s settings (larger or smaller text sizes), different amounts of text will be visible in a screenful.

The whole enchilada is designed to flex and respond to the device and user settings. It’s in constant flux, changing as the user changes the settings.

The problem your students are having is that the original document was most likely designed for print and then converted into an EPUB.

For example, in the original printed layout, Table 9 is permanently nailed down to page 15 and there could be cross-reference text that states “See Table 9 on page 15”. Here are the possible results from this layout:

1. If it is printed, everything is fine for those who can read and operate printed books.

2. If the layout is converted to an accessible PDF, the cross-reference text “See Table 9 on page 15” should have an accessible hyperlink and the PDF becomes accessible to nearly all students. Note: this requires that either the source layout was created correctly with the accessible hyperlink, or the accessible hyperlink was added after the PDF was made.

3. If it is converted to EPUB from the original layout, it’s pretty much the same as with #2 PDF above. When done correctly, it works. When it isn’t done correctly, it doesn’t work.

4. If a scan of the printed book is made (with Kurtzweil or any other technology) and converted to an EPUB, the hyperlink isn’t recognized at all by the converter, so the student gets the wording of the cross reference “See Table 9 on page 15” but not the hyperlink. And because the student’s EPUB doesn’t have a page 15 (remember, all EPUBs are page less), then their only resort is to search for “Table 9” and hope for the best. Searching or navigating for page 15 is useless because there is no page 15 in an EPUB.


1. When possible, create all digital versions of books and educational materials from their source application (Word, PowerPoint, Adobe InDesign, etc.). Create them with accessibility features built in from the start, such as the accessible hyperlinks on cross references. The accessibility should then be there in the HTML, PDF, or EPUB digital version that’s exported from the original source document.

2. If you’re scanning a printed document and converting it to PDF or EPUB, you’ll need to manually add the accessible hyperlinks to each cross reference. I don’t know of any software that can do this for you.

3. It’s a new year so let’s make a resolution to resolve this horrible problem in 2018. Require that all textbook publishers, authors, professors, and other content creators provide your school with a fully accessible digital version, along with the printed hardcopy.

Adding accessibility to an already made PDF, EPUB or any other technology is long, difficult, and expensive, and in this scenario the final file still is not as useful to all users as it should be.

Just my 2 cents’ worth!

--Bevi Chagnon

— — —

Bevi Chagnon

www.PubCom.com | Technologists for Accessible Design and Publishing

print – digital – web – documents – pdfs – epubs

consulting – training – development – design – sec. 508 services

— — —

Bevi Chagnon is a US delegate (ANSI) to the ISO for PDF and PDF/UA standards

From: athen-list [mailto:athen-list-bounces at mailman13.u.washington.edu] On Behalf Of Thompson, Rachel
Sent: Wednesday, January 3, 2018 12:12 PM
To: Access Technology Higher Education Network <athen-list at u.washington.edu>
Subject: Re: [Athen] Pagination issues in Alt Format

Hi, Coco.

I could see this being an issue is cases where instructors refer to page numbers in class or on the syllabus. Examples: “Read pages 24-54 by Tuesday” or “Everyone turn to the map on page 376”. I know I’ve done that a lot of times when teaching. If that is (part of) the issue, perhaps the instructors don’t realize the challenge and could be persuaded to give reading lists or instructions differently?

Happy New Year!


Dr. Rachel S. Thompson
Director, Emerging Technology and Accessibility
The Office of Information Technology
The University of Alabama
A207 Gordon Palmer Hall
Box 870248
Tuscaloosa, AL 35487
Phone 205-348-0216
rsthompson2 at ua.edu <mailto:rsthompson2 at ua.edu> | http://accessibility.ua.edu <http://accessibility.ua.edu/>

From: athen-list [mailto:athen-list-bounces at mailman13.u.washington.edu] On Behalf Of Corazon Napolis
Sent: Wednesday, January 3, 2018 12:04 PM
To: athen-list at u.washington.edu <mailto:athen-list at u.washington.edu>
Subject: [Athen] Pagination issues in Alt Format

We have been making much better use of EPUB files for students requesting alt format of textbooks. For students that prefer to use Kurzweil 3000, we've loaded EPUB files and saved to their Universal Library. Some students have complained that the EUPB pagination does not match the print book. I've communicated that content is the same while pagination may differ and that the bookmark/search features can assist with navigation. The only other alternative to having pagination match exactly would be to scan in the physical textbook which we prefer not to do if accessible versions exist.

Is it common for students to rely so heavily on their print book while also receiving alt format?


Coco (Corazon) Napolis

Accessible Media Coordinator

California State University East Bay

Library Annex; LI 2550

25800 Carlos Bee Blvd
Hayward, CA 94542
Tel | (510)885-3831

Fax | (510)885-7633

"To receive much, Is to give much."

Office Hours | Winter 2018:

Mon-Wed, Fri: 8:30 am 6:00 pm

Thu: 9:00 am - 6:00 pm

Office | Production assistants: alternate.media at csueastbay.edu <mailto:alternate.media at csueastbay.edu>

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