Digital Publishing – Accessibility Issues in DRM

some books on the table besides a typewriter - Digital Publishing: Accessibility issues in DRM

Accessibility issues with DRM are not new but the issue becomes more noticeable when publishers start using DRM on eBooks. People who are blind or visually impaired will not be able to read an eBook if it has a DRM protection. There is no workaround for them as they depend on screen readers that need to have access to the text in order for them to read it.

The problem with this is that many people cannot afford or don’t have access to a Kindle device and with more products becoming protected by DRM, it’s becoming harder for people who are blind or visually impaired to access eBooks.

Our team at 247 Accessible Documents which include accessibility experts and people with disabilities using various assistive technology, provide quick and high quality standard accessible EPUB3 conversion services for all your contents. The team works closely with publishers and is capable of handling complex layout and content and convert them into accessible EPUB3 that is compliant with IDPF standards.

What is DRM?

DRM is a set of content protection methods that are designed to control how digital media and devices are used. DRM is a type of software designed to protect digital content from being accessed by unauthorized users. This system can be applied to books, music, games, videos and other forms of media.

One of the most well-known DRM systems is the “Content Scrambling System” or “CSS”. It was developed in 1997 by Intel Corporation for use with DVD video discs. DVDs rely on the CSS to encrypt and protect their contents from being illegally copied.

The goal of DRM is to keep unauthorized people from getting access to digital media content without permission, though it has been widely criticized for being an ineffective system.

What’s the hiccup?

The accessibility of different digital publishing systems is constantly an issue. The readability of a website’s text is a major factor in its usability and can be hindered by the lack of contrast between the background and foreground colors, as well as font type. It can also be hindered by the lack of a clear hierarchy in terms of headings and sub-headings, or the failure to use appropriate formatting for images.

Legibility refers to how easy it is to distinguish individual characters or words on a page. Along with legibility, readability is judged based on factors such as sentence structure and paragraph organization. In order to maximize readability, it’s important that users are not distracted by design elements such as heavy graphics and complicated layouts.

Why not DRM?

Accessible DRM have had a huge impact on the publishing world because they allow for the production and distribution of digital media to be accessible to anyone. The future of publishing is a digital one. We are now at a point where, with the development of e-readers and e-books, we can no longer rely on digital rights management (DRM) to protect our books.

Cons of DRM

  • Does not provide protection against piracy and instead it ruins the reading experience for the consumer.
  • Limits the usage to make copies of the electronically published content that has been purchased by the consumer.
  • Some DRM system have an effect over technological advancements restricting the usage and sharing of digital content.

Benefits of DRM-free publishing

  • Offers more flexibility for authors
  • Cost- effective option and lowers costs for publishers.
  • Easier for customers to purchase content.
  • Helps with discoverability in today’s market.
  • No interference with future distribution of content.

Time for publishers to embrace technologies like EPUB instead of relying on DRM. EPUB is a standard open format for electronic books, which means it can be read on any device with an e-reader or web browser without needing any special software


Short for electronic publication, EPUB was named the official standard of the International Digital Publishing Forum (IDPF) in September 2007. It is a digital publishing standard that is built on three W3C technologies:

  • XHTML (XML-based language for web documents),
  • CSS (a style sheet language for web documents),
  • and XSLT (a stylesheet language to transform XML into other XML formats).

EPUB files can store anything from words, images and stylesheets to fonts, metadata details and tables of content. They are considered layout agnostic which means these files can display content on screens as small as 3.5”

Moreover, a PDF file can be converted into an EPUB file by using the Epub or Ultimate Converter. This will help publishers save time and money while converting their files to the newly popular format.

How can we support?

Our EPUB Conversion service provide customizable results that allow publishers the means of organizing their work for electronic usage, be it on Kindle, tablets, smart phones, or online libraries. Don’t wait, reach out to 247 Accessible Documents at to start a discussion on how we can support you in your content delivery strategy.

By Ramya Venkitesh

Head - Accessibility New Initiatives, Actively involved in formulating new ideas to create Innovative Accessible Solutions across all Disabilities.