Note: This blog is reposted from Benetech’s Blog.
By Robin Seaman, Director, Content Acquisition
Today, May 21, in recognition of Global Accessibility Awareness Day (GAAD), we are happy to share that the global publishing company John Wiley & Sons has announced that, starting this month, it will begin including alternative text (alt text) in nearly all of its frontlist books. By incorporating alt text into its workflow, Wiley makes its content accessible to users of all abilities. The company developed its alt text guidelines in consultation with Benetech’s DIAGRAM Center and other industry standards organizations. Wiley is one of the first major publishers to include alt text this broadly. Our team is honored to have contributed to this important win on the path towards accessibility in mainstream publishing.
Alt text is a description that provides contextual meaning to images and illustrations. A building block of accessibility, alt text offers an alternative way to perceive images and illustrations for readers with disabilities, such as those who are blind or have visual impairments. Non-visual browsers and screen readers express alt text, thus enhancing comprehension and providing a richer reading experience for these readers. As an element of universal design, alt text improves not only the accessibility of digital images but also the versatility of digital content for all readers’ benefit: for instance, it can enable read-aloud for a user who prefers to listen to a book.
Benetech established the DIAGRAM Center—a research and development center and an initiative of our Global Literacy Program—in order to make it easier, cheaper, and faster to create and use accessible digital images. The DIAGRAM team and partners are exploring and developing cutting-edge image accessibility technology solutions for text alternatives as well as different learning modalities, such as tactile graphics, sonification, haptic interfaces and 3D printed images.
In its announcement, Wiley quotes Benetech President, Betsy Beaumon, who says: “Readers accessing content through digital audio simply hear the word ‘image’ when alt text is not provided, depriving them of information critical to understanding the relevance of the image. By ensuring that alt text is provided for all images, Wiley is showing great leadership in the growing movement in the publishing industry to ensure that content that is born digital is also ‘born accessible.’ This is a milestone achievement.”
Thank you, Wiley, for your partnership and leadership in making accessibility a critical and integral component in the creation of all content!
Are you ready to turn it up?
Get ready to have a blast with the Bookshare reading challenge! This summer, we invite you to Turn It Up and Tell the World what to read.
Who knows what’s cool better than you? No one – that’s why we want you to read and share your favorite summer books. You’ll help other members discover awesome new titles, and you’ll get tons of thanks and kudos from the Bookshare community on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and the Bookshare website!
How Does It Work?
- Read – find cool titles on Bookshare and read them
- Share – using Facebook, Twitter and the Bookshare website, share what’s cool about the books you read
- Get Thanks and Kudos – get recognized by the community, join discussions on Facebook and Twitter, and have your books featured on Bookshare
Your favorite books will become popular, and you’ll get the kudos you deserve!
The Turn It Up and Tell the World reading challenge starts on June 22nd. Make sure you’re ready by following these steps:
- Visit our Reading Challenge page for details, staff book picks, and the latest updates
- Sign up to get important challenge email updates
- Make sure your membership is active
- Find books (Teachers: get your students ready by adding titles to a Reading List.)
Don’t miss this challenge! Make sure you get all the important news and updates. Good luck!
Sam Myers, a senior psychology student at the University of Wyoming, was looking for assistive technology software that would read his textbooks aloud. Because of a visual impairment in one of his eyes, Sam could not read for long periods of time without straining his vision, and large amounts of reading became very tedious and time consuming.
As an audio-learner, Sam thought audio textbooks could possibly assist with his college reading and help to improve his performance as a student. He already had an iPad and tried to use the built-in screen reader feature, called VoiceOver, however, VoiceOver was not compatible with the e-textbooks for his courses. That’s when Sam turned to Wyoming Institute for Disabilities (WIND) for troubleshooting and assistance through the Wyoming Clearinghouse for Accessible Educational Materials and Wyoming Assistive Technology Resources (WATR).
By working with WIND staff, Sam learned of a resource called Bookshare, the world’s largest accessible online library for people with print disabilities that provides free memberships to qualifying U.S. students and schools. With the assistance of WIND and verification from his doctor, Sam was able to gain free access to Bookshare for all his textbooks for the semester.
“I have a lot more time now that I am reading my books through audio,” said Sam. “It is much less strain on my eyes and I am even able to study while I am doing my physical therapy exercises. Learning about Bookshare is going to be a great tool for graduate school. Assistive technology solutions are not transparent to everyone, so it is good to have a program like WIND and people who are so willing to help.”
Special thanks to Sam Myers, the University of Wyoming and the Wyoming Institute for Disabilities for allowing us to republish this post.
Bookshare enriches the lives of people with print disabilities well beyond school into their adult lives. Often members tell us they now enjoy exploring new interests and hobbies and finding resources to help them with their careers. Members stay connected to the world through local and national news. They catch up on the hottest books their friends are reading, and they pursue lifelong learning.
Our staff is catching up with college students about how they plan to use Bookshare after school, and today’s blog features Amber Steet, a Bookshare member since the ninth grade.
Meet Amber Steet
Amber has a full course load at the University of Texas at San Antonio and will graduate next year with honors and a bachelor’s degree in multidisciplinary studies in education and anthropology. After college, she plans to work as a teacher of the visually impaired.
When we caught up with her, Amber was gearing up to participate in a National Student Exchange Program and receive one of the highest individual honors given to college students: “Who’s Who among Students in American Universities and Colleges.”
Amber has an impressive track record of academic achievement, leadership, and extracurricular activities. She is an officer in the Honor’s Society, mentors elementary students, and plans to continue to volunteer after college, most likely in a hospital. We congratulate Amber on all of her accomplishments and pursuits!
Is Bookshare in Amber’s Future?
“Yes, I’m positively going to continue my membership to Bookshare, even after school,” she says. “The library gives me free reign to read and gain knowledge.”
When asked how she plans to tap into Bookshare as a teacher, Amber said, “Hopefully to read what I enjoy and find career resources and stories that will benefit me as a teacher and for my students.”
We ask all current and future Bookshare members, what’s next for you? Are you signed up to enjoy lifelong learning?
We hope so!
Watch Amber’s Summer Video About Reading Bookshare Books on a BrailleNote.