Apple Distinguished Educator and Accessibility Expert, Luis Perez, Ph.D., demonstrates the use of 2 Apps (Book Creator and iBooks Author) to create and publish ebook accessible to all learners in both iOS and Android platforms. Participants learned to make images accessible for those using a screen reader, use closed captioned videos to make content accessible to students with hearing loss, and use dictation to facilitate the writing process for students with motor challenges.
- [Voiceover] Alright, welcome everyone this afternoon. We're happy to have you here for the Center on Technology and Disability Cafe webinar. We are happy to present Luis Perez, he will be talking to us about creating accessible educational materials with iBooks Author and Book Creator, and I will go ahead and pass this off to Luis. Thank you everyone for attending.
- [Luis] Thank you so much, I'm going to share my screen, and then we'll go ahead and get started. Alright, can everybody see my presentation? Can I get a heads up? Just make sure you can see the presentation on the screen. Okay well, it sounds like there is some feedback, maybe somebody has their line open. Welcome everybody, I'm glad you could join us this afternoon and I thank CTD for this opportunity to share with you. We'll be discussing Book Creator and iBook Author with a focus on how you can use these tools to create accessible educational materials. Before I get started I wanted to share with you that I am on Twitter, and if you have any feedback for me or if you have any outstanding questions after this session, please feel free to reach out to me on Twitter. I am @_luisfperez, and that underscore is important because Luis Perez is very common in Latin America. So again that's _luisfperez. I also have a website, it's luisperezonline.com. That's not just my website it's also my blog, it's where I share a lot of the resources that I create including some of the books I'm gonna mention today.
And just last week I posted something about the Apple Watch, and some apps that you can use to provide access to diverse learners. So go to my website at luisperezonline.com, check that out. So before we get into the "how" of creating accessible educational materials with iBooks Author and Book Creator, it's important to stop for a second and think about the "why". Why do we wanna do this? And for me it comes down to these two things here. With these tools we can create digital materials that have a great deal of flexibility and transformability. If we have a student that comes into our classroom who needs the text to be enlarged because they have low vision, with a traditional book, the format is fixed, and we would have to go out and get an alternative version, such as large print or a braille book if they are completely blind, and that can take some time and it can also be expensive.
With digital materials, we can just create one resource and then the student can go in and with just a few taps they can adjust the text size to fit their needs. So there's a great deal of flexibility. And as I mentioned, also transformability. And so if the student's completely blind and they need the information in another format, maybe they need it in audio or in braille, again we can take the same book and they can use text to speech, or if they're completely blind they can use the screen reader that's built into most mobile devices nowadays, to hear that information in another format that makes sense for them or that works for them. And if they have a braille display connected to their device then they can get the same book in braille.
So again, it's that flexibility, that transformability that makes these materials so powerful. And on a personal note, I'm very passionate about educational materials that are accessible, because I myself had benefited greatly from them. As a former student, I just finished my doctorate a couple of years ago, and I had to access a lot of information in digital format and that really made it easier for me, because whenever my eyes get tired I could use text to speech. I have low vision, and so the ability to go in and adjust the text size or use text to speech, it was just really, really valuable to me. So, flexibility and transformability is the major reason why. Now today I'm gonna focus on three best practices for making your materials more accessible when you create them with the tools we're gonna discuss. The first is the proper use of headings. And by "heading" I don't just mean taking the text, selecting it, and then making it larger, and making it bold. I mean going into your word processing program and actually applying a style of heading to that text. And headings are important because they break up the content into more manageable chunks of information, and they are more manageable for all readers, not just those who have disabilities. Headings also provide an idea about the structure of the information.
For example, if you're blind, on most screen readers you can press a keyboard shortcut or you can use a gesture to bring up a list of headings, and so if those headings are descriptive they kinda give you an indication of how the information's organized. And so it's important for headings to be descriptive so that when they're accessed out context in the list, that they actually make sense. And descriptive links is another best practice. This is something that I see all the time in books. What I mean by this is if you put in a long URL into a book and the person is listening to the book with a screen reader, then they're gonna hear that long URL read out loud. And as the web has grown, URLs have become more confusing. They often include a lot of numbers, a lot of special symbols, so we wanna make sure that instead of putting the entire URL into the book, we wanna select some text that's descriptive and make that into the hyperlink instead. And then the final thing that I'm gonna cover is accessibility descriptions. So whenever we have visual content in our books such as images, charts, tables, things like that, we need to make sure that that information is described to somebody who can't see it. And so that's what an accessibility description is.
If you're familiar with web design, another way you may know this as alt text. So in webpages we have alt text to describe images. Here we can do the same thing with accessibility descriptions. In terms of the workflow that I'm gonna mention today, we're gonna focus on Book Creator in the first half of this presentation, and iBooks Author in the second half. And I see these two tools as being very much complementary to each other. Book Creator, you can actually try it out for free. It's a fully functional demo and allows you to create one book. And then if you want to create unlimited books it's a $4.99 app. It's available for iPad, Android, and Windows. Recently available for Windows. So this is a great option if you want a tool that's cross-platform and that allows you to create these books right on your mobile device. And iBooks software, unfortunately, is only available for the Mac. There are other tools out there, one of them is Adobe InDesign, but that's a tool that's really aimed at the professional publishing market, so it does cost some money whereas iBooks Author is free. And Adobe InDesign also has a steep learning curve. iBooks Author, as you will see a little bit later, is fairly simple, very easy to learn, very intuitive. And it comes with a number of pamphlets from Apple that allows you to get started very quickly with something that looks really nice.
So, we're gonna begin with Book Creator, and then we're gonna look at iBooks Author. The use of the two tools, even though I believe that they both can be used by students, I tend to think of Book Creator as probably the tool you wanna start with if you want students creating their own books. It has a very simple interface, especially if you're working with younger learners, the interface probably will make more sense to them, so if you're working in elementary school, middle school. And then iBooks Author is a more robust tool, but also has more of a learning curve, and a more complex interface. So that may be appropriate for older learners, or as a tool that the teacher uses to create alternatives to text books. So those are the two tools we're gonna look at today. We're gonna get started with Book Creator first. Before I look at the "how" though, I wanna give you some examples of books that I've created with each of these tools. The first is a book called "I Am More Powerful Than You Think", and it's currently available for free in the iBook Store, and it's a collection of digital stories where people with disabilities speak about the power of technology, and how it makes them, as the title says, more powerful than you think. And then I'm going to demo one of the books that I've created with iBooks Author. I have three available in the iBook Store right now.
The first one "A Touch of Light", it's about adaptive photography, I am visually impaired and I am also a photographer. Great combination, of course. But there's a book on the iBook Store that shows you all about that, how to create photography even if you have a disability. The one that I'm gonna focus on is the one in the middle here, "Handsfree: Mastering Switch Control "on iOS", and that was the collaboration that I did with my good friend in Australia, Christopher Hills. And Christopher Hills has cerebral palsy, and of course I'm visually impaired, and using the power of the internet, the two of us created this book to show other people how they can use Switch Control to have hands free access to their mobile device. And recently, I put out a book called "Zoom In", it focuses on all the low vision supports that are built into iOS devices, the Mac, Apple TV, and even Apple Watch. So check those out in the iBook store, but for today I'm gonna focus on "Handsfree", since it's the latest one that I've put out.
As I show off these books, I'm gonna talk about some of the accessibility features that are supported. I don't have time to show you all of them, but I do wanna show you a few that are important and that I think everybody should have a command of. Specifically, the text to speech, in the form of speak selection and speak screen on iOS devices. I'm kind of a caveat, I am an iOS device user, I'm a Mac user. However, if you're using other platforms, most likely you will have accessibility features that are built into them as well. So I would encourage you to go into your settings and look for those options, and get familiar with them because you can get a lot of benefit out of them even if you don't have a disability. Something like text to speech can really benefit any reader. So with that out of the way, what I'm gonna do now is switch over to my iPad, and then cross my fingers and hope everything works out okay. We tested this, of course, but with technology you never know, especially when you're mirroring from another device.
So I'm gonna exit out of my presentation, and I'm gonna bring up my iPad. Hopefully everybody can see that. And we're gonna go into the iBooks app. On iOS devices, this the free app that you use for reading eBooks. And we're gonna begin here with "I Am More Powerful Than You Think". This is a book that I created with Book Creator. And we're gonna look at Sadie, and Sadie's story. Sadie is a really good friend of mine from North Dakota. She has cerebral palsy, and she's a video editor actually perusing a degree in film studies at Full Sail University. So when you open this book and you go to her page, the first thing you're gonna see is all of her information. These links are live, you can tap on them and go to her website, go to her YouTube channel, and so on. On the next page, there's a little blurb that tells you a little bit more about Sadie. And the first thing we're gonna explore here is text to speech on the iOS devices. So with this text, what I can do is just tap and hold any of these words here. When I let go, I'm going to see these blue handles pop up. I can use those handles to make a selection. And that looks about right, I'm not going to select the whole thing. When I make my selection, once I let go a pop over will come up. That's a little menu up on the screen, and from that menu I can choose "speak", and then let's cross our fingers and hope this comes through the right speaker here. But when I tap on "speak" it's going to basically read the text out loud using synthesized speech.
- [Voiceover] I have cerebral palsy, and I really love assisted technology. Technology has been a huge part of my life for a long time, and it keeps getting better by the second. It gives me access to my world.
- [Luis] And hopefully you could see the highlighting as well, so again, not only are you getting the information in another format, but if you need the highlighting to help you track the words as they're being read out loud, you have that option built in. And I'm gonna show you in just a second where you find the text to speech settings. The other thing is, some people don't like the text to speech, and in Book Creator another thing you can do is you can just record your voice and include it in the book as a recording right on the page where the text appears. So I'm going to tap the little speaker icon that appears at the bottom of the page, and you're gonna hear text to speech again, but this is Sadie, something that she created. Actually, tell you what, I'm gonna go to another page and another story so that you can hear an actual person that recorded it. So here's my friend Daniella. She's from Spain. She is completely blind, and she creates videos.
- [Daniella] Apple technologies expand my creativity. For me, editing a video or formatting a beautiful document is not something strange as it was before, as I am a blind person.
- [Luis] So there you go. So we can have text to speech, but we can also have actual narration that's embedded right on the page as a recording. Now, the other thing we can do is bring this content to life, and we can do that with video. So, not only does Sadie give us a little blurb, but she also created a video that I can tap on here right on the page and it will play. I can pause that video at any time, and hopefully you can see there is a double arrow on the right side, I can tap that and bring it up full screen, but in my testing it kinda caused my iPad to crash because of the mirroring that I'm using. So again, here we can use audio, we can use video. We can present the information in a variety of modalities so that people can access it in the way that makes the most sense for them. So that's "I'm More Powerful Than You Think", I'm gonna tap on the middle of the screen, bring up my toolbar, and then one last example. And that's "Handsfree". And again, this is the book that Christopher and I created. In here, again, I can tap and hold. Use my handles to make a selection, and choose "speak".
- [Voiceover] Description. There are three types of you can use to control an iOS device with Switch Control. B.
- [Luis] And as I move through, again, I have embedded a video. Over here I have embedded a tutorial on how to actually do what I've described in the text. And I want you to notice that there is closed captioning supported in the video. Add the different switch sources that you can use to interact with Switch Control. Go to "settings", then choose "general"... Accept it. And just like before there's a controller, and I can bring up that video full screen and then it's much easier to read the captions. And on iOS devices you can even customize the captions so you can that I have them with a blue background with yellow text on it. And here's an example of a widget on the left side, where it says "tips and tricks". I can tap that icon, and it brings up a little box where I can put in additional content without really breaking the flow of the information.
So basically, I can layer the content so that the more basic content is on the page, and that which is more advanced for people that are interested in kind of following the topic in more detail, they can tap the icon and then access that content through the pop over widget. Last thing I wanna show you here is if I tap the page in the middle again, I get the toolbar, and one of the options in the toolbar all the way at the top in the upper right hand corner, I have an icon that looks like two letter "A"s, a big "A" and a little "a". In here I can turn on what's called a "scrolling view". So instead of flipping the pages left to right, I can now just keep scrolling. The other thing this does is it removes a lot of the interactive content, and it moves it off to the side. So this is basically a reading view, where the text is more important. That's what you wanna focus on. And you can go back and forth between the reading view and the more interactive view where you have the videos that's all on inline.
Now, I talked about flexibility, here's the other thing you can do with a scrolling view. You can go in and you can tap a few times on the letter A, the big A first. And you can resize that text to whatever size you need, and then you can bring it down by tapping on little a. So there's an example of that flexibility that I talk about. This is not a separate book, this is the same book for everybody, it's just that we can go in and we can turn on features as we need them. So this view here is also great if you have a student who might be distracted by having all of the interactive content in the middle of the page, and you want them to focus on the text a little bit more. So I'll go ahead and switch that back. And let me see how I'm doing on time here. I'm doing pretty good. So, there are other accessibility features. I'm not going to have time to demo them all, but just know that on your iOS device, you can go to "settings", you can go to "general", and "accessibility", and there is a whole range of different features here that you can customize or you can use to customize your device. Under "vision", that's where you're gonna find "speech", and the feature that I demoed today is called "speak selection", there is also one called "speak screen" where you don't have to select the text first, you just basically perform a gesture, and as it says there it's just swiping two fingers from the top of the screen. So if I do that right now...
- [Voiceover] Speak Selection on. AC button load here when you select...
- [Luis] The other difference between Speak Selection and Speak Screen is you have a controller on the screen. And so you can control the navigation, you can control the speaking rate, and when you're finished you can tap the X and you can stop the Speak Screen feature. Here you can choose different voices, you can choose to turn on the highlighting, and so on. And if Speak Selection and Speak Screen are not enough, just know that in iOS devices you have a built in screen reader called "Voiceover". And so that's very robust screen reader. I don't have time to go into all of the options there, but that's another option that you have. And the feature that I covered in the book called "Switch Control", and that allows people that have a motor difficulty to use an external device to control the touchscreen, to interact with a touchscreen. So again, lots to check out there. And if we create our materials so that they're accessible then the people that rely on these accessibility features, then they won't be locked out of the content that we create. So let me see, are there any questions so far in the chat? Let's see if I can get some help here, because I can't see the chat.
- [Voiceover] Alright, you've got a couple in here, I think you answered one already. About the controlling the reading speed. The question before that was, "Is there a selection "of voices?"
- [Luis] Yes there is. Absolutely. So, if you're going through your settings, when you go in to your speech options, for these voices, not only do you have different languages that are supported, but if you go into the English voice for example, you actually have an Australian voice, you have a UK voice if you want English, you know, the Queen's English. Irish, South African. It's the same for a lot of the languages, so for example, for Spanish you have Spanish from Latin America, and you have Spanish from Spain if you really love the lisp. And there's a voice called "Alex", and that's what you've been hearing so far, that's an advanced voice. It's a free download from Apple, and it only runs on certain devices, but if you have a fairly recent device like the current ones that are available for sale and maybe the last generation, you'll be able to download Alex and use that. That's the most advanced voice available from Apple. So yes, you can customize that by selecting different voices and by changing the speaking rate as well.
- [Voiceover] Alright, and the next question was, I don't know if you touched on this one, but the question reads, "At some point, could you talk about how "books made in Book Creator or iBooks Author can be "shared not through the iBook Store?"
- [Luis] Absolutely. I will address that as we go into Book Creator, how about that? Which is the next thing that I have planned. Keep those questions coming, I'm gonna move on to the next segment, but we'll have some time towards the end, so make sure to include those questions in the chat area. So now that we've looked at some of the accessibility features and how they work, we've looked at some examples of books and how they interact with the accessibility features. Of course, what you came to this session for is how you create these books. So we're gonna begin with Book Creator. The app is gonna launch, and at the bottom of the screen there's a plus, when you tap that option you'll get the option for a new book. I'm gonna go ahead and tap on "new book". Alright let's try that again, maybe I didn't tap it right. There we go. You have different layouts. And check this out, I definitely wanna make sure that I mention this. A very recent update as of last week, you now have the option of creating comics in Book Creator. And it comes with some layouts already for you.
I'm not going to focus on that too much today, but I wanted to mention that. If you are on the fence about this app, this is a great feature to check out because now you're getting not only a book creator but also a comic creator. For today, what I'm going to do here is tap on "portrait". We're gonna create a portrait book. So it's going to work better in the portrait orientation on my device. As you can see, the interface is really simple, really clean, there's not a lot to distract students there. And the way we add most of the content to the page is by tapping the plus in the upper right hand corner. And here you can see we can take a photo, using the camera built into our devices, we can bring in a photo or video from our camera roll, we can add text, we can add sound. I'm gonna look at examples of each of these. I'm gonna begin by adding a photo for our cover page. So I'll tap on "photos", I'll go into my camera roll, and I'll select the photo that I wanna bring in. And then as I move the photo around, you'll notice there's some guides to help me align it. Make sure that it's nicely aligned. And then I can also resize it using the handles.
So there's a pretty nice cover to our page, our cover page. Next thing I'm gonna do is add some text. So I'm gonna tap the plus again, and select "add text". Now, one of the features that's built in to iOS that's not an accessibility feature, but it can certainly help any student who struggles with typing or with spelling with entering text, is dictation. So to the left of the space bar, there's a small microphone icon. I'm gonna tap that icon and then I'm just gonna enter text using my voice. Lettuce Lake Park. I'll tap "done" when I'm finished. And there it's taken what I spoke into the microphone and converted it into text. I can move that text anywhere I want. And now to customize it a little bit, 'cause we can see it's a little bit small. I can tap the next icon over from the plus which is the eye, and in here I have my formatting options. And so maybe I wanna make that a little bit bigger. So I'm gonna go in here and make it maybe, let's go with 22 or so. And I can make sure that it's centered in that text box. And so, we can customize that text in a variety of ways. And just like that, we have a nice cover page.
So, in case you're wondering, this book that we're creating is a visitor's guide to a park near my house. And the idea is to encourage kids to come out and check out the park and see all the wildlife that is present there and how they can learn about nature at this park. And so I'm gonna be using all of my photos throughout the book. So here's an example of one of the bird's that I've captured at that park. Now, we're ready to go on from the cover page. It's really easy to do, you just tap the arrow on the right side of the screen, on the edge of the screen. And that automatically creates a couple of pages for you. I'm gonna add some more text. I'm gonna tap the plus again, and I'm gonna choose "add text", and this time instead of using my voice, I'm gonna copy and paste some text. And I've done that ahead of time just to save us some time here. I'm gonna tap, let go. There's a little menu that pops up, I'm gonna choose "paste". And there's some text already for me to work with. I'll tap "done". And now it's just a matter of moving that text around until I feel it's aligned the way that I want it to be. And I've noticed that the alignment is off, so again I can tap the eye. Come in here and make sure that text is left aligned. That's much easier to read when it's left aligned. As I said, some people prefer to have voice recording instead of using the text to speech. In Book Creator, I can tap the "plus", go down to the bottom, tap on "add sound", it gives me a nice big icon, I can tap on that icon and start my recording. I'm just gonna record the first sentence here, the first couple of sentence. Lettuce Lake Park opened in 1982. The 240 acre site offers something for everyone.
- [Voiceover] It's four o'clock.
- [Luis] When the recording is finished, I can choose to save it by just tapping on "yes", and that gives me an icon, I can move that to the bottom of the page so that it follows the text. And I can preview it right on the page, so I can tap the icon and it will start playing back what I recorded. Lettuce Lake Park opened in 1982. The 240 acre site offers something for everyone. So there's our recorded speech, or narration. And that's a great thing to add, and just to give people options of how they wanna access the content. Last thing is I can tap the plus one more time, go into my camera roll, and instead of a photo I'm gonna choose a video that I've saved to my camera roll. I can get a preview here. Oh. Sorry about that, it happens sometimes. Give me a second. My iPad crashed, so let me bring it back up. Sit tight, these things happen. Okay. Alright, let's go back into Book Creator. Alright, what I'm gonna do is tap "use", and let's see if it comes back on there. It takes a second to compress a video. Alright, there we are, we're back. It was just confusing my mirroring application. So, once I've added a video, I can again move it anywhere I want on the page. If I move it too close to the edge, it gives me a warning. You'll basically see a red bar. That's letting me know it's too close to the edge, so I'm gonna move it in a little bit and align it with the text.
And there's my video, and it's just basically a quick slideshow of some of the birds and wildlife that you will find at the park. I can go to "pages", and I can see what we've created so far. Which is just a cover page and the first page of our book. And I can move things around in here, basically just using drag and drop. So I can arrange things any way that I see fit. Let's move this one here back to where it was. When I'm finished, I can go in... Just go into any of these pages. And then if I wanna get a preview, in the upper right hand corner, there's a share icon. That's the last icon there. When I tap that icon, I can send that right into iBooks, and I can get a preview. And I'll do that real quick so that you can see the book that we've created. It'll take a second to process that, and send it over to iBooks. There it is, there's our cover. You're only gonna see the cover for a few seconds, and then it goes to the first couple of pages that we've created. And it's taking a little bit of time to load there, so I'm going to go back into Book Creator. So that's just a way to get a preview to make sure everything is working the way you wanted it.
So to answer one of the question, if I tap on "My Books" in the upper left corner here, I can get a list of all the books that I've created. I can tap the eye at the bottom of the screen and before I share this I wanna go in and make sure I give this book a descriptive title. Lettuce Lake Park Visitor's Guide. And I just used my voice there to put in the text, and I could also make sure that the author information is correct. Gives you a little bit of information about the book, this is also where you go to delete the book if you change your mind and you don't wanna publish it. So, once we've put in that information, we're ready to share the book. That's where the "share" icon, all the way at the bottom of the screen, comes in. So there's a number of ways you can export this. You can export it as an e-pub document. An e-pub is the standard for digital books. So that's a great option. You could then upload this to the iBook Store if you wanna make it available there, or you could just take the book and host it on your website, your blog, anywhere where people could download the file and open it with an application that can read e-pubs.
As a best practice, I always encourage people to also provide a PDF. It's not going to be interactive, but at least people are getting the text content and they can use text to speech with that. And the last option that I really love here in Book Creator, is you can export this as a video, which you could then post on YouTube. And that's great for parents. Maybe they don't have a device, they could play the video, or actually the book, sorry. But maybe they can get to a computer at a library or another location and you could upload the video to YouTube and they could access it that way to see what the student's created. And it will go through and play the narration if you have any recordings inside your book it will play everything in order. The video will play if it's embedded in the book. Animations will be performed. So it's another great way to share the book for those people who don't have a mobile device with an e-reader, but they can get somewhere where they could watch it on YouTube or any other video hosting site, this is a great option. So, that's all I'm gonna cover with Book Creator, let's see if there are any other questions that I haven't addressed. Oh, really important before I go. See sometimes you forget these things, that's why I have a list here. Whenever you put in an image, and this is one of the things that I love about Book Creator, you can select that image, bring up the properties, and there's an accessibility field. And so that's really important because that describes that image to somebody who is blind and can't see it. So in the accessibilities field, I can go in and describe what this bird is. And so that information will now be attached to that photo and it can be read by a screen reader. And when we're describing this photo, we're not focusing on the exact appearance of it, we just wanna tell the person what information this photo portrays. So just knowing that this roseate spoonbill, is enough. So there we go. Now we have an image that's accessible to a screen reader.
- [Voiceover] Questions for you in here.
- [Luis] Shoot.
- [Voiceover] Alright. So first one is, "Which e-book format "is the 'Handsfree' book?
- [Luis] That's in the proprietary iBooks format, which is what I'm gonna look at next.
- [Voiceover] Alright and
- [Luis] So...
- [Voiceover] the next question is. Oh, I'm sorry go ahead.
- [Luis] No, go ahead.
- [Voiceover] I was just reading the next question which was, "Is there an image that you can"... Let me try this again, "Can you add image narration "for a visually impaired student?"
- [Luis] Well that's what that accessibility description is basically. It's not a narration per se, you're just describing the information that the image includes. So whatever you put into that field, when you turn on the screen reader, that's what it's going to read out loud.
- [Voiceover] Okay. Do you have room for one more?
- [Luis] Sure. While I switch over, I'm going to exit out of the iPad so go ahead and do that.
- [Voiceover] Alright, so the last one is, "Is it possible "to make a custom gesture on the iPad for the "two finger swipe down for Speak Page?"
- [Luis] Yes, but even better you can just use Siri. You can't change that gesture, that's kind of baked in to iOS, but if you have a student who can't perform the gesture there are a number of options, one of them is Switch Control. There is a speak screen option within Switch Control. But even easier, you can just activate Siri and say, "Speak screen", and it will read everything that's on the screen, not just the text but all of the interface elements. Alright, so let me move on real quick to iBooks Author. And I'm going to rearrange my windows here a little bit. Okay, iBooks Author, again this is a free tool from Apple, it's only available on the Mac, unfortunately. It's my hope that someday we'll have similar tools on all of the other platforms. But in here I'm going to open a new book, so I'm gonna tap on "file", and choose "new". When you do that, the template chooser will come up, and this is one of the nice things about iBooks Author. You don't get overwhelmed by a blank page. There's already a number of templates here with beautiful placeholder images. Apple's taken care of the typography as well so everything looks really nice on screen. You could even create some e-pub books from in here.
So there's two formats supported here, one is e-pub, which is the industry standard, and then the other one is the iBooks format which is more proprietary Apple format. For our exercise today, we're going to choose the photo book template. I'll just double tap that template. It's gonna bring it up. And I am going to resize things a little bit here so that it's easier for us to work in the limited screen real estate that I have in my laptop. So, as a best practice before you start working on your book make sure that you organize all of your assets so if you look at the right side of the screen here you'll notice I have all my images in a folder, I have all my sound files, all of my text, my video, and so on. So everything that I'm going to add into the book I've organized by format, so that it's not only easier for me to find but it just keeps things nice and neat. Other best practice for the text, always work on the text first in a word processing program. That could be Microsoft Word, that could be Pages, but iBooks Author is a great layout application, it's not so great if you're trying to do a lot of text in it. So I always do my text first in my word processing program. The other thing is, and again, this is an accessibility best practice, I'm gonna bring up that text document, this is the text we're gonna import into our e-book.
You'll notice that I've split up sections using headings. And so in my word processing program I went in and for natural history, I didn't just select the text and make it bold and make it bigger, I actually selected the text and then went to the toolbar and chose "heading", and in this case I made it a "heading 2", heading level two. Same thing for educational programs. I went into my application from the toolbar there was an option called "style" and I selected "heading level two". So again, I'm splitting the information into more manageable chunks of content, but also I'm indicating... I'm putting in a descriptor that kind of lets somebody know what's to follow in that section. So once we have our text in our word processing program, what we can do is, this is brought to you by the letter "D", for "drag and drop". I just drag it into my sidebar in iBooks Author, let go and essentially what we're gonna do now is just apply a template to the text we've worked on outside of iBooks Author.
Now, something that's really important, where I'm moving the cursor, we wanna make sure we have this check box selected. That preserves all of the styles that we created in Word or Pages, and it makes sure that they actually are brought in to iBooks Author. So once I do that, I'm gonna choose, or click on "choose". It's gonna take a second, and here is our text. It's been imported, and it has our headings, our headings have been preserved. I'm going to delete the second section here with the placeholder text, we don't need that anymore. So there it is, now the one thing it does when you bring in text from an external application is it's gonna use the file name as the first heading. So I'm gonna change that. You'll also notice that it has a blue outline around this heading, this is the first heading. that's because it's going to create a table of contents for me automatically. So whatever I put into this box that has the blue outline around it, that's going to be my table of contents. That's how it's gonna be shown in the table of contents. So it's doing a lot of work for you in the background.
Now, a couple of things about the accessibility of the text. As I mentioned in my introduction, here's an example that I see a lot in e-books. I have selected a URL at the bottom of the page. This is my reference for where I got this information. If I were to read this with a screen reader, it would be really confusing because it would say "slash", you know, all the little symbols, those numbers that are included here would be read out loud, and that's not really descriptive. So here's what we do to fix that. I'm going to cut the text for the URL. I will then, and I've already done this, I put in some descriptive text, I'll select that text and then the key to iBooks Author is something called "The Inspector". That's the big letter "I" in the toolbar. Basically, I click the "I" for inspector, and then I just leave this up on the screen, and move it somewhere where it doesn't get in the way. You're gonna keep going back and forth to the inspector. So basically you select something on the page, and then you make modifications to it in the inspector.
So now that I've selected the text on the page, one of the sections in the inspector, is my link inspector. And I'm going to make this into a hyperlink by checking the box, and then we wanna make sure that we're linking to the webpage. And then I'll just paste the URL in the field that's available there. Now this is a lot more accessible. When the screen reader reads this, this is actually gonna make sense. It's not gonna have all the little symbols and all those numbers in it. So what we're trying to do basically is make this human friendly, rather than computer friendly. Alright. Now one more thing we can do here, if I find the text for "flood plain", I can select that text, and I can bring up a special tool bar called the "glossary toolbar", and I can tap on "add term", and now if I click on "glossary", it's created a glossary entry for me. So in the book, students are gonna see this is as bold text, and when you tap that bold text you could read the definition. So of course there's a built in dictionary on iOS, but the glossary is for specialized terms that would not be included in the dictionary. That's just one example there, you can see it there, it's in bold.
So those are a few things you can do for the text to make it more accessible. The next thing I'm gonna do here is bring in an image. And so I already have one, again brought to you by the letter "D", drag and drop. I can drag in my image, I can resize it, I have these guides that help me with placing it. So I just follow the guide and make sure everything's aligned nicely. And just as we did with Book Creator, we can select this image, go into the inspector, but now we're going to be in the "widget inspector". And then layout. I'll have to move this up so you can see it. So any time you add an image, if you select it, go to the widget inspector, and then layout, you can put in an accessibility description. Oh nice, I was able to type correctly this time. So there we go, we made this image accessible now, it has a description that's gonna be read out loud for students who are blind. And it's that simple to make it accessible. So now our text is accessible, our image is accessible. Let's bring this book to life, and we're gonna do that with something called "widgets".
So in the toolbar there's a "widgets" option. And the first one that I use quite a bit is the "gallery" widget. And again, I'm going to place that on the page, use my guides to help me with that. And in here, we're gonna create a widget with all of the different birds that you'll find if you were to go to Lettuce Lake Park. I'll select my images that I've saved to a folder on my computer, and d and d, drag and drop. And just like that we've created a photo gallery. Now this one is kind of messed up, but what I can do is double tap on it, and then bring it down and now it looks good. If we go to the inspector, we can add an accessibility description, actually if you just change the title... If you just change the title of the widget it does that for you automatically. It puts in the gallery that it is, "gallery 1.1", and it puts in the accessibility description. You can also go in and you can put in accessibility descriptions for the individual images within the gallery.
So for example I can say that this is an anhinga, the "snake bird", that's what it's known as. So we can describe each of these images to somebody who is blind, I'm just gonna do one here because we have limited time. For accessibility I also like to show the thumbnails at the bottom for navigation, so now you can basically tap each of these thumbnails and you can go to the next image. That can be helpful if you don't have the fine motor control to find the little arrows on the edge of the widget. Alright, so that really kind of starts to bring the book to life a little bit with more visual content. But again, we're ensuring that we're always making it accessible with these accessibility descriptions. I'm going to add one more page. There's a number of different layouts here that you can choose from. I'm gonna choose the two column layout, really basic. And just like we added a photo gallery, we can also add a video. And as you've probably guessed, we do that again drag and drop. And one more time, I can align it right on the page just to make sure it's right where I want it. It's going to optimize that movie, basically it's compressing it so that it plays correctly on the iPad. While it's doing that, I'm gonna change the title. And if I go to my accessibility description, it's taken that title and made it into the accessibility description. And with a video or any kind of interactive content like that, what you want for the accessibility description is just to tell the person what the video is about, and that way they can choose to either listen to it or they can skip it. But just having that accessibility description provides a great deal of choice for the user.
Alright, so we have a video. I'm gonna show you one more widget, and that's our "review widget". I'm gonna align this on the page. Make sure it's right on the edge there. We can go in again, give it a title. And I'm gonna put in my question. We're gonna say "food", so it's what it eats. Maybe disease, so maybe when they're ill they look pink. Age, and maybe too much Florida sun. And I live in Florida, by the way. And then you just indicate what the correct answer would be. And that's it. Now, we're not limited to just multiple choice, there are some more interactive widgets in here like drag a label to target and so on. Those are a little bit trickier to make accessible, but you can do it. Because they have an image, you can make that image accessible. The trick is to not give away the answer when you put in the accessibility description. So with these widgets, they're not connected to a database or anything, but basically you put them in the book so that the learner can self check. They can check their understanding as they go along. That can be motivating for some learners to just know that they understand the content before they move on to more challenging information. I think everybody likes to be able to check their understanding as they go along.
So again, this is all we have so far. And just like in a cooking show, I'm running low on time, so I'm gonna bring up one that's almost finished. See, I just took it out of the oven. And the last thing I wanna show you is, you can very easily build your cover page. If you don't like the cover image, you can just go in and drop a different one in. There it is. And the last thing is you can add a video at the beginning. And again, I would just drag this video in. That would be my intro video. So a video like the one that I created to preview the session, that fits in a format that's supported and then M4V format I can just drag it in and I can play that. I'll play the first few seconds of this one, this is one that I created on my iOS device using iMovie. So basically the idea behind the intro video is to get students excited about what they're gonna learn, but also give them a preview of how the information is organized, so it's a great organizer for them. There's our table of contents, and here's the glossary, I've already done a little bit of work on it. So there's the definition for "flood plain", and this also panorama image that I brought in from my iOS device. When you're finished, there are two different views you can create.
So you would go in here and you would switch to the scrolling view just to make sure that this book actually works correctly in the scrolling view. And then the last step is to just preview it. You can preview it right on your Mac with the iBooks application. Or if you have an iPad connected, you could sent the book to your iPad so you can try out all the interactions. What I recommend is while you're working on the look of the book, it's okay to preview it on your computer, but as you get closer to the end make sure you do take a few times or a few opportunities to preview it on the iPad just to try out all those different interactions to make sure they work right. So if I tap on "preview", it's gonna take a second, do all the compression, make sure everything's in the right format, and it will open that up. And we're not gonna do that right now. But here's my intro movie. I can choose "done", here's our book, here's the table of contents. Let's go to the first page, scroll through. Our image is in here, it's accessible. Here is our gallery. I didn't put in a caption, but I could put in a different caption for each image with additional content.
Here's our inline video. And then the last thing is we could check our understanding, and that could be a number of questions including multiple choice, but also some more interactive ones. I just put in a multiple choice in here. The correct response of course is "food", they eat a lot of different shellfish that's found in the water. So when we check our answer it will let us know that. So that's just a quick exercise in using iBook Author. If you wanna learn more, so I'm gonna bring back my presentation here. I know that's a lot of information to be thrown at you at once, but that's why I have these tutorials. So on my YouTube channel, you can access a long list of iBooks Author tutorials. The address is bit.ly, b-i-t-.-l-y /iba for iBooks Author vid, v-i-d, tour. So basically it's a video tour of iBooks Author from beginning to end. But you'll learn how to add all this interactive content, and of course, how to make them accessible. So let's see if there are any remaining questions, once again, you can go to my website luisperezonline.com, you'll find links to all of the books that I mentioned, including "I Am More Powerful Than You Think", "Handsfree", "Touch of Light", and then "Zoom In", which is about low vision support. And if you have any feedback for me, if you wanna share the things you've learned in this session, or you just wanna connect with me you can find me on Twitter @_luisfperez. So let's see, what questions do we have?
- [Voiceover] Alright, next question was, "Is this app "essentially a tool for creating e-p-u-b three fixed "layout books?"
- [Luis] Yes. But in the background it does create the e-pub version of it as well. So that's basically when you switch over to the scrolling view, it behaves in a lot of ways like a standard e-pub in that the content can reflow a little bit. But it is a proprietary, the book you're creating is in a proprietary iBooks format. And so that's basically what it is. You can upload it to the iBook Store as I have done, but if you're not selling it you can post it anywhere else you would like. You can post it on your website, you can post it on your blog where it could be downloaded by anybody who you give access to.
- [Voiceover] Alright, the next question is, "How much information should one include on "a picture, how descriptive should one be? "I know alt text for sight is not supposed to be "too long, but not sure how... "How descriptive it should be."
- [Luis] So, there are certain things in the world of technology that are arts rather than sciences, and this is one of them. Basically, you don't wanna go over say around a hundred characters or so. You don't want the person to kind of get stuck there listening to that description. When I work with people in creating descriptions, I tell them to follow the "Three Cs", "concise, content, and context". So basically content is you wanna make sure you're not describing the appearance of the image, because that's not going to be helpful to somebody who can't see it. What you wanna include in the accessibility description is the concept, or the idea that's represented by the image. And you definitely wanna be concise because you want the person to be able to get back to the rest of the content as soon as possible. And by context what I mean is, sometimes if it's described already in the text, then you can be more concise with your description. So maybe in the text you say, "Refer to image one", and then you include an accessibility description that's "Image One", and then a very brief description of what it is.
- [Voiceover] Alright, the next question is, "Does it allow "for multiple authors to work on it simultaneously, "as if in a Wiki?"
- [Luis] Not in iBooks Author, but what you could do is you could email each other the files, and that's how Christopher and I worked. You could also post it on Dropbox. And in fact, in Dropbox you can both open it and work on it, and so that's how we did it. We just posted the iBooks Author project file in Dropbox, I could open it, work on it, and I would send him an email saying, "I'm done. "You can go ahead and open it from there, "work on your section", or whatever comes next and so on. With the Book Creator app on the iPad that I showed earlier, there is an ability to import a book, and I've seen that used quite a bit where students create a page. In fact that's how I created the "I'm More Powerful" book. People can create the page and then they can send it to you and you can compile them on one device. So it does have that ability to import different books into one. Basically combine them into one.
- [Voiceover] Alright, the next question is, "If you use "a quiz type widget, is there a way to collect "data from students?"
- [Luis] Not with the default review widget that Apple gives you. That's basically just for the student's ability to check their understanding. There are some third party widgets where you can for example insert a Google Form. And so there of course it would behave just like any Google Form, you fill it in, you submit it, and that information goes into a related spreadsheet. I would be careful though with some of the third party widgets. Their accessibility varies depending on how committed the widget developer is to accessibility. With the ones from Apple you can be pretty certain that they've tested them for accessibility and they work pretty well with Voiceover, and the other accessibility features.
- [Voiceover] Alright, "Should you specify in the "accessibility description that it's a slideshow "or a video?"
- [Luis] Yes. Well, it's gonna do that for you. iBooks Author automatically puts in a little tag in front of it. In fact, it keeps track for you whenever you insert a widget that's a gallery, it will put in the word "gallery" by default, and then the number that it is. So really all you need to do is give it a title, and if you do that that's gonna fill in the accessibility description for you automatically. And so that kind of gives you a head start. But again with videos, anything like that, what you wanna do is basically say "What is this about? "Is this about something I should spend some time "playing it back?"
- [Voiceover] Alright, "When you add videos to a book "do you provide a transcript and/or closed captioning?"
- [Luis] I provide right now the closed captioning. So, that's beyond the scope of this presentation obviously, but it doesn't closed caption it for you, you have to do that as a separate step. But if you put in the captions then when the video is played back on an iOS device or on the Mac, those captions can be shown in the video. They can be turned on and off, that's basically the definition of closed captioning is that it's not burnt into the file per se, you can turn them on and off. And on the Mac and on iOS devices, you could even as a user when you're watching the video, you can go in and adjust the text size, the background and other qualities. I could recommend a tool, it's very easy to use, very inexpensive, it's called "Movie Captioner". It's available for both the Mac and Windows, and what that lets you do is bring in some video and play short segments of it so that you can caption it.
- [Voiceover] Alright, I got one person typing.
- [Luis] No problem.
- [Voiceover] Alright, and the question is, "But do you have any suggestions for PC users "or is there another software?" She missed a little bit of the presentation. I'm sorry.
- [Luis] Yeah, there's always InDesign. That's a very powerful tool, but again, it does have a learning curve to it. There are online options as well where you can create e-pub books. Again, your accessibility mileage may vary with those tools. Some of them use Flash even still. Flash sometimes can be inaccessible. Again, when you go to these sites that allow you to create e-books online, make sure you check their accessibility. Somewhere they should say the books they create are accessible. Alright, is that about it for the questions? I know we've gone over just a little bit.
- [Voiceover] Yeah, I think that's everything. A lot of "thank you's".
- [Luis] Alright. Well, I wanna thank everybody for joining us today. If there are any additional question, again, you can join me on Twitter, just follow me on Twitter @_luisfperez, or just go to my website at luisperezonline. I wanna thank CTD, and the staff there for all of the support today, and I wanna thank you all for allowing me to come to you and share information about Book Creator and iBooks Author.