Marking the 10th anniversary of the adoption of the Plan of Action of the World Summit on the Information Society, UNESCO, in cooperation with ITU, UNDP and UNCTAD, hosts the first WSIS+10 Review meeting in February 2013, in which world leaders, along with participants from governments, the private sector, NGOs and other groups assess progress made and predict future ICT trends, which will impact all spheres of societies. More information is provided on the UNESCO website.
A recently adopted report by the Foreign Affairs Committee of the European Parliament calls for accessibility to become a major criterion in EU supported investments under the new 7 year EU budgetary framework.
In the context of the current negotiations on a new 7 year EU budgetary framework (2014-2020), the European Parliament and the EU Member States are negotiating both the size as well as the implementing modalities of that framework. More detailed information can be found on the CBM website.
CBM and Human Rights Watch invite you to an interactive panel discussion on the right to political participation of persons with disabilities in developing countries. The event will be held at the European Parliament on Tuesday, December 4th from 6:00 pm to - 8:00 pm. More information is provided on the CBM website. CBM Australia is an Associate Member of the DAISY Consortium.
The World Blind Union members meet every 4 years and hold a General Assembly in order to review the work and accomplishments of the past 4 years and to set the new plans and directions for the next four years. This year the general assembly is taking place in Bangkok, Thailand, hosted by the Thailand Association of the Blind. The General Assembly is streamed on the internet thanks to the American Council of the Blind. The link to listen to the proceedings is: http://acbradio.org/world. This broadcast is running live ICT (Indo China time) which is GMT +7 hours. Replays of the proceedings will also be available.
Shinano Kenshi Europe today introduced the PLEXTALK Linio Pocket, the world’s first portable DAISY online player and recorder, designed for the visually impaired and dyslexic to stream or download talking newspapers, magazines and books online.
PLEXTALK Linio Pocket is the smartest talking book player that we’ve ever developed in our long experience as a patent company and contributor to the global DAISY standard.” said Marc Van der Aa, the sales manager of the assistive technology sales division. “We’ve designed a device with various advanced capabilities, thin and light weight with 8GB internal memory. You can immediately access any materials of your interest online wherever you have an Internet connection to a DAISY online service. It’s not necessary any more to wait for a CD to be delivered or need a computer. We believe it will significantly help customers to reinvent their independent and brilliant life.” More information about this player is provided on the PLEXTALK website.
This year the Accessing Higher Ground Accessible Media, Web and Technology Conference (AHG) will stream sessions from all 5 days of the conference, one track during the pre-conference and two tracks during the main conference. Register by November 7th on the AHG website to receive a discount.
Learning-related issues such as dyslexia, dysgraphia, and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) often lead to difficulties in traditional classrooms and on standardized tests; if scholarship applications look foremost at test scores and GPAs, it can mean that LD students lose out. Fortunately, there are resources and scholarships out there that can help. Please read a very informative article recently published on the Yahoo News website.
The IDPF announced that Benetech, the DAISY Consortium member based in Palo Alto, California, has become a Readium contributor and is adopting Readium technology for its Bookshare service. The Readium project, sponsored by the IDPF, is developing an open source EPUB 3 reading system. Benetech's Bookshare service will be utilizing Readium components in a new web reader that will work in conjunction with a cloud-based bookshelf, allowing qualified users with print disabilities to access their books and read online, directly in a browser, from school, home, and mobile devices. Benetech is also contributing accessibility features including screen reader integration back to the project.
The Bookshare web-based reader based on Readium is expected to be released in Q1 2013 and is currently in limited beta. Accessibility capabilities include support for text to speech, variable font and colors, as well as synchronized word-by-word highlighting (initially only supported in Chrome).
Benetech's new reader is designed to present fully accessible EPUB 3 materials, which are those that follow the guidelines outlined in the IDPF and DAISY supported O'Reilly book Accessible EPUB 3, by Matt Garrish, and will support accessible images that follow the Content Model specified by the DIAGRAM Center.
"Benetech is delighted to be working together with the IDPF, the DAISY Consortium and other Readium supporters to advance content accessibility said Betsy Beaumon, Vice President and General Manager, Benetech Literacy Program. "Fostering and utilizing a comprehensive consistent open source implementation of EPUB 3 via the Readium project is completely consistent with Benetech's belief that individuals with print disabilities should have the same ease of access to books and other publications as people without disabilities". More information is provided in the IDPF press release.
W3C announced a Workshop on Electronic Books and the Open Web Platform that will take place February 11-12, 2013 in New York (USA). The event is hosted by O'Reilly and co-located with the O'Reilly Tools of Change for Publishing Conference (TOC 2013).
Today’s eBook market is dynamic and fast-changing. Nevertheless, publishers face major business and technical challenges in this market, some of which could be reduced or removed by standardization. Participants in this workshop will have the opportunity to share their own perspectives, requirements, and ideas to ensure that emerging global technology standards meet the needs of the eBook industry. Position papers should be submitted by December 10th, 2012.
Kolibre, a Finnish non-profit association founded in the spring of 2012, has published the first components for a system that makes it possible to produce, distribute and consume digital publications using the Internet in an effective manner. More software will be published in the future and the open model makes it possible to use the software components for any purpose, also internationally.
Previous software versions have been developed under the auspices of the Pratsam project since 2003, primarily through the financial support of Finland’s Slot Machine Association (RAY). Thanks to the Pratsam system, over 2000 Finns with print disabilities can easily access talking publications, also with an easy-to-use mobile player. The project has developed support for speech synthesis, which enables cost-effective production of greater numbers of talking publications with natural and human speech. The software being published supports DAISY, the international standard for talking publications and DAISY Online, the international standard for the transmission of talking publications using the Internet.
Kolibre was established by the Pratsam project partners – Norra Österbottens svenska synskadade rf (NÖSS), the Federation of Swedish Speaking Visually Impaired in Finland (FSVIF) and Pratsam Ab – with the purpose to publish the results of the project openly to all and to coordinate future cooperation. The vision for the Kolibre ecosystem is that all individuals should have access to talking publications with a natural voice, regardless of their location, through a customized receiver: whether a smartphone, computer, e-reader or customized player for the visually impaired.
The Finnish Federation of the Visually Impaired (FFVI), the Finnish state-owned special library Celia and the Finnish Centre for Open Systems and Solutions – COSS are part of Kolibre’s cooperative network. The software is published under an open source license and allows all interested parties to use and develop the system for their own needs. Publication occurs in accordance with best practices within open source code publication.
Kolibre on the web: kolibre.org Distribution: github.com/kolibre. For more information please contact: Martin von Willebrand, Kolibre Chairman, tel. +358 40 770 1818 or Daniel Ainasoja, Acting Director, tel. +358 50 527 4174
As classrooms start to incorporate more digital technology, it becomes increasingly important that materials used in the classroom are designed to be usable by all students from the start. This requires adjustments in the way materials are purchased, and that, in turn, will drive the availability of more flexible and accessible learning materials in the marketplace. The PALM Initiative (Purchase Accessible Learning Materials) has been launched to ensure this change happens as soon as possible.
The E-Book Market Brief, available on the National Center on Accessible Instructional Materials website in different formats, highlights some of the problems that have surfaced. The problem extends to purchasing decisions for hardware, software, e-learning platforms, apps, and more. This is a problem worth solving. Publishers will respond when states and local education agencies demand accessible learning materials directly from the source. Resources for making the case, including Your PALM Toolkit are available for downloading and customizing.
In the digital publishing industry, the notion of preflight testing has become a common practice. EPUB-check is the open source utility that kicks off publishers' preflight testing. However, EPUB-check needs improvements. Accessibility testing for persons who are blind or disabled is not included in EPUB-check. There are many tests that can be performed automatically, but many other aspects of a digital publication require human intelligence to evaluate. The DAISY Consortium along with our membership worldwide has endorsed the EPUB 3 Standard for digital publishing. We sponsored the development of the freely available O’Reilly publication Accessible EPUB 3 and we have started developing checklists to assist content creators.
Now we are looking to expand EPUB-check to include accessibility and we need your help. More information on how you can help is provided on the Request for Funding page.
World Standards Day is celebrated each year on October 14th to recognize the efforts of experts worldwide who collaborate to develop International Standards that facilitate trade, spread knowledge and disseminate technological advances. The theme of World Standards Day 2012 is: "Less waste, better results – Standards increase efficiency".
Increased efficiency leads to increased profits and meeting goals, therefore standards are crucial for success in today’s challenging and competitive economic environment. Consumers expect international standards to promote efficiency on issues that matter to them, like accessibility or safety. Happy World Standards Day! The DAISY Consortium would like to thank every person who has contributed to the development of DAISY standards and guidelines!
Microsoft strives to enable people with disabilities to use computers to work, live and play. They are interested in getting feedback from their customers about how they can improve in this regard. We encourage you to provide your accessibility suggestions and feedback.
This survey does not request or collect any personal information from respondents. Your responses to this survey will not be linked to the contact information previously collected by Microsoft. Your answers will be reported in aggregate with those of other respondents. Please fill out the online feedback form.
World Sight Day - October 11th in 2012, is an annual day of awareness held on the second Thursday of October to focus global attention on blindness and vision impairment. On World Sight Day, VISION 2020 members work together to:
- Raise public awareness of blindness & vision impairment as major international public health issues
- Influence Governments/Ministers of Health to participate in and designate funds for national blindness prevention programmes
- Educate target audiences about blindness prevention, about VISION 2020 and to generate support for VISION 2020 programme activities.
International Key Messages:
- Approximately 285 million people worldwide live with low vision and blindness
- Of these, 39 million people are blind and 246 million have moderate or severe visual impairment
- 90% of blind people live in low-income countries
- Yet 80% of visual impairment is avoidable - i.e. readily treatable and/or preventable
- Restorations of sight, and blindness prevention strategies are among the most cost-effective interventions in health care
- The number of people blind from infectious causes has greatly reduced in the past 20 years
- An estimated 19 million children are visually impaired.
Baltimore, Maryland (October 11, 2012): The National Federation of the Blind (NFB) today applauded a decision issued on October 10, 2012, by the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York, which permits the distribution of millions of books to blind and print-disabled people. The ruling in Authors Guild, Inc., et al., v. HathiTrust, et al. (Case number: No. 11-cv-6351-HB) held that providing access for students with print disabilities constitutes a “transformative use” under the fair use provision of the Copyright Act and the Americans with Disabilities Act and that Section 121 of the Copyright Act (the “Chafee Amendment”) permits university libraries to digitize their collections for distribution and use by the blind. As a result, the University of Michigan will now be permitted to make its entire 10 million volume digital collection available to all blind Americans, revolutionizing access to digital books by the blind and print disabled.
The ruling is part of the court’s decision to grant the NFB’s and HathiTrust’s motions for summary judgment in a lawsuit brought by the Authors Guild against the HathiTrust, a repository of several university library collections scanned by Google, and participating universities. The Authors Guild alleged the HathiTrust and universities violated the Copyright Act by engaging in mass digitization of their collections. Because these works represent the largest collection of works accessible to the blind and print disabled, the NFB intervened in the lawsuit.
Dr. Marc Maurer, President of the National Federation of the Blind, said: “Access to the printed word has historically been one of the greatest challenges faced by the blind. The landmark decision by the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York will revolutionize access to books for the blind. For the first time ever, blind students and scholars will have the opportunity to participate equally in library research. The blind, just like the sighted, will have a world of education and information at their fingertips. The National Federation of the Blind commends the court’s decision, which constitutes a significant step toward full and equal access to information by the blind.” Full press release is available on the NFB website.
Over the past 25 years, HumanWare has been offering a complete range of innovative assistive technology solutions that empower students who have visual impairments and learning disabilities. Since the very beginning, our focus has been to ensure that the assistive technologies developed enhanced the learning experience in schools as well as facilitated other areas such as organization, independence, orientation and mobility, as well as leisure and recreation.
Assistive technology helps students with visual impairments or learning disabilities increase their access to the general curriculum and improve their academic performance. It’s critical to choose the appropriate technologies and tools that meet students’ specific needs.
It is with those preoccupations in mind that specialists at HumanWare have developed their Assistive Technology Resource Guide. Match your students' individual needs with the learning goals you wish to achieve, download the Assistive Technology Guide in PDF format from the HumanWare website.
Dyslexia Action and the Royal National Institute of Blind People (RNIB) have completed work on a new online resource Load2Learn which promises to improve the school experience for learners who can't read standard print. Load2Learn is funded by the Department for Education (DfE) to help schools better support learners with dyslexia, who are blind or partially sighted, or who have a disability.
Inclusive Technologies for Reading is a 22-week online course for teachers, parents, special needs support staff and anyone supporting students who have difficulties accessing text due to a print impairment (this includes blindness, partial sight, dyslexia and related difficulties as well as a range of physical disabilities). It is also suitable for ICT professionals who have not had specific training in inclusive technologies.
The course will give participants a chance to explore in detail a range of free and inexpensive technologies they can use to improve the reading experience of the students they support. These include accessible document formats, text to speech, DAISY, speech recognition, productivity, and hardware e-readers. The course will also cover the basic difficulties faced by people with print disabilities trying to access reading materials. Participants should expect to spend 5-7 hours a week working on the course.
The course does not require any special technical skills other than the ability to browse the internet. All participants can expect to increase their general computer skills as well as their ability to acquire additional ICT knowledge.
More information is available on the Load2Learn website Course Page.
An outreach program is currently under way in 22 Southwest Georgia counties in the United States, to bring talking books to more and more people. In addition to free books for individual readers, free books and players, called “deposit collections,” are available for hospitals, nursing and alternative care homes, senior centers, schools, all public and university libraries.
All 20,000 digital books in the "deposit collection" are free in addition to the digital player that is free. Funding for the talking books program comes from the Library of Congress and the National Library Service for the Blind and Physically Handicapped. In the 22 counties of Southwest Georgia, this program is administered by the Southwest Georgia Library for Accessible Services in Bainbridge. There are eight other regional libraries in Georgia which administer the program in their designated counties.
Eligible readers throughout the United States may also download digital talking books and magazines through the NLS Braille and Audio Reading Download (BARD) service by logging on to nlsbard.loc.gov.
An informative two hour session at the upcoming Frankfurt Book Fair A New Market: Accessible e-Books in Mainstream Channels on October 10th, 2012 at 10:00 am will explain the new opportunities and advances in Inclusive Publishing. It will be jointly hosted by EDItEUR and Libri Italiani Accessibili (LIA).
- Mark Bide (EDItEUR), Chair
- Cristina Mussinelli (AIE) speaking on the LIA project
- Daniel Weck (DAISY Consortium) speaking on EPUB 3 and accessibility
- Robin Seaman (Benetech) speaking on DIAGRAM
- Graham Bell (EDItEUR) speaking on metadata for accessible products
- Chris Rogers (Penguin) providing publisher's perspective.
On October 11, 2012 at 2:30 pm, IDPF and Frankfurt Academy will host an in-depth technical workshop HTML5 and EPUB 3: Digital Books Beyond Digitized Text featuring practical opportunities and tackling challenges publishers face when creating and delivering complex and enhanced e-books via HTML5 and EPUB 3. The expert speakers will include Hachette Livre Head of Digitization Luc Audrain, DAISY Consortium Software Architect Daniel Weck, and IDPF Executive Director Bill McCoy.
The Center on Disabilities at California State University, Northridge has announced that the Call for Papers for the 28th Annual International Technology and Persons with Disabilities Conference will close Friday, October 12, 2012.
Visit http://www.csunconference.org for more information about the Call for Papers and the 2013 CSUN Conference. Organizers strongly encourage you to review the information carefully as several updates to the submission procedures have been enacted.
The National Federation of the Blind (NFB) and the DAISY Consortium have submitted a response to a Request for Information (RFI) from the U.S. State Department regarding its planned e-reader initiative. The RFI follows the rescission of the State Department’s June 7, 2012 sole source proposal for a program then called the Kindle Mobile Learning Initiative.
The NFB, the DAISY Consortium, and other organizations had filed a formal complaint with the State Department’s Office of Civil Rights regarding that proposal as most Kindle devices are not accessible to people who are blind or who cannot read print. The NFB and the DAISY Consortium believe that the RFI is a positive step in that it requests specific information about accessibility from potential vendors. The comments express concern that the RFI does not actually require accessible e-reader devices and appears to require compatibility with outdated and inaccessible devices and file formats. For further information, please read full comments.
The organisation behind the World Innovation Summit for Education (WISE) has announced that RoboBraille (a conversion service which can convert digital text documents into either Braille, DAISY or audio files) has been selected to receive the prestigious WISE 2012 Award. RoboBraille was selected from 400 international projects. WISE is an initiative of the Qatar Foundation, and as a result of the award, The foundation will also produce a documentary on the service.
RoboBraille has been selected as their service has helped transform education for the visually impaired and those with reading difficulties by:
- making students and teachers self-sufficient
- providing a service that is available 24/7
- protecting the privacy of its users as the service is fully automated
- offering an accessible service that does not require special computer skills.
Above all, it is free of charge for non-commercial individual use which is crucial for users in most parts of the world. More information is provided on the RoboBraille website.
Save the date: The 7th European e-Accessibility Forum will be held March 18th, 2013 in Paris, France.
Most digital content professionals recognize the legal and business case for developing accessible products and services. Nonetheless, campaigns exhorting e-Accessibility tend to ring hollow as the professionals concerned lack the basic training to be able to implement the associated techniques, methodologies and technologies. Accessibility is absent from the curricula of most universities, and companies rarely consider it sufficiently strategic to be the subject of employee training and development.
In the current economic climate, companies are pushed to do more with less. The business and legal consequences of non-compliance are such that a company can no longer afford to relegate e-Accessibility to the periphery. Never before has there been a more marked need for in-house skills to deploy e-Accessibility effectively. The skills of organisations’ employees in implementing accessibilty in-house, or outsourcing to trained professionals, is crucial to the future success of e-Accessibility, and central to organisations’ competitiveness, edge and growth ambitions.
The role of industry specialists and policymakers is paramount in fostering e-Accessibility as a professional skill. Governments and organisations wishing to see increased levels of e-Accessibility will need to act decisively to ensure professionals have access to quality educational resources.
The 7th European Forum on e-Accessibility will address the following topics:
The e-Accessibility profession today
- Existing body of highly specialized, largely self-taught, practitioners
- Courses and modules available to undergraduates and professionals
- Barriers to the wider inclusion of e-Accessibility in university and professional courses
Added value and immediate business relevance of eAccessibility training
- Immediate business needs in terms of e-Accessibility
- Examples of the return on investment.
More information is provided on the 7th European e-Accessibility Forum website.
Registration will open December 10th, 2012.
DAISY Consortium Friend Dolphin Computer Access has announced the release of SuperNova version 13, transforming how people who are blind or partially sighted experience the web. Immediately available in 15 languages, the upgrade is a major step forward and represents the culmination of more than a year's work designing, developing and testing.
"People who are blind need to search, shop and social network online as much as anyone else." explains Dave Williams, SuperNova Product Manager and one of half a dozen people who are blind working for the privately owned company.
"Accessing the same web sites as everyone else is increasingly necessary to maximise education and employment prospects. SuperNova version 13 efficiently speaks, Braille’s, magnifies and highlights standard web pages, ideal for people whose sight is changing, or organisations legally required to accommodate people with a wide range of visual impairments."
The completely re-engineered web support in SuperNova version 13 substantially reduces the time taken for a blind person to browse busy web sites. Additional keystrokes instantly navigate to particular parts of web pages. SuperNova version 13 also implements initial support for Accessible Rich Internet Applications (ARIA) a set of web authoring techniques being developed by the international Web Accessibility Initiative.
The release also features new meaningful speech announcements in office applications, advising when the cursor is at the start or end of documents, when leaving lists, or which text styles are being applied to email or spreadsheets.
Existing SuperNova customers can upgrade by contacting the local Dolphin office or dealer. Alternatively download a free 30-day trial of SuperNova version 13 from the Dolphin Computer Access website.
The Round Table on Accessibility and Technology took place September 12, 2012 at the Fifth Session of the Conference of States Parties to the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities at the UN Headquarters in New York. The discussion was chaired by Sirithon Wairatpanij (Thailand). Speakers included: Mr. Hiroshi Kawamura (DAISY Japan), Ms. Frances West (IBM), Ms. Inmaculada Placencia-Porrero (European Commission) and Mr. Sean Cruse (United Nations Global Compact).
Mr. Kawamura made two presentations that illustrated DAISY (Digital Accessible Information System) technologies (e.g. enlarging font size, adjusting reading speed, highlighting the text as the screen reader reads, etc.). DAISY was described as useful in the educational context; synchronized multimedia components assist all types of learners. DAISY can also be used for disaster risk reduction for people who cannot read printed materials or materials that are written in a foreign language. More information is provided on the UN website.
The Sloan-C Journal of Asynchronous Learning Networks (JALN) Special Interest Group on Integrating Accessibility in Online Higher Education is soliciting articles on accessibility and increasing engagement, retention, and graduation rates of students with disabilities in online learning for a special issue to be edited by Kristen Betts and Mark Riccobono. Full first drafts of proposed papers should be submitted to JALN on or before December 14, 2012. Final revised copies of papers will be due by February 1, 2013). To submit a paper, please follow the directions.
The American Printing House for the Blind (APH) has announced the newest addition to the Book Port family, the Book Port DT™. Loaded with many of the same features as their hand-held Book Port Plus, the Book Port DT is a desktop-style Digital Talking Book player and recorder. This device comes with a large speaker and easy-to-use controls. In addition to the features of the Book Port Plus, the Book Port DT offers several enhancements including NLS Cartridge slot/USB port. The BookPort DT has Wi-Fi and wired internet connection capabilities, separate buttons for tone, speed, next and previous title. Comes with new built-in high-quality text-to-speech engine. Additional recording capabilities: Record as DAISY 2.02 or 3, then edit using insert and delete functions. Note: The unit must be authorized through Learning Ally or NLS to play recordings from these organizations. Users also need to have an account to use Bookshare collection. More information is provided on the APH website.
Conference attendees will be exploring the advances in digital technology and its potential to reach everyone. Stephen King, President of the DAISY Consortium and George Kerscher, Secretary General are among speakers providing international perspective. The conference will:
- highlight strategies and approaches towards social inclusion through digital engagement
- feature cutting edge applications and developments in the fields of telehealthcare and independent living
- feature practical ways in which people with sensory impairments are taking full advantage of recent advances in technology
- include a range of exciting fringe events.
Insight Radio, the radio station of the RNIB, will broadcast live from the event. All presentations will be recorded and made available to download online. More information, including the conference program, can be found on the RNIB website.
The Center on Disabilities at California State University, Northridge announced that the Call for Papers for the 28th Annual International Technology and Persons with Disabilities Conference opens on Tuesday, September 4, 2012 and will close on Friday, October 12, 2012.
Please Note: The Call for Papers will be open for 6 weeks to provide presenters ample time to prepare and submit proposals by the deadline. This will allow the Program Committee to review submissions continuously throughout the Call for Papers and acceptance notifications can be sent out on the same basis. Your support of this request will help us prepare once again for this year’s early event dates. Additionally, if the Program Committee receives submissions on a timely basis it would not only alleviate the workload of reviewing last-minute submissions, but would benefit speakers as they would receive notifications sooner and could begin coordinating their arrangements for travel and registration.
Visit http://www.csunconference.org for more information about the Call for Papers and the 2013 CSUN Conference. We strongly encourage you to review the information carefully as several updates to the submission procedures have been enacted.