A cutting-edge image description project is underway at Bookshare. Funded by the Leveraging Impact through Technology (LIT) award from the U.S. Department of Education, Office of Special Education Programs, this pilot project uses Poet, an open-source, crowd-sourcing image description tool developed by the DIAGRAM Center, another OSEP-funded project operated by Benetech and its partners. This innovative pilot project needs volunteers.
Poet makes it easy to create accessible image descriptions and add them to DAISY books. Volunteer describers log into a website, select the book they are working on, see its images, and enter descriptions for the images in the appropriate fields. They save the image descriptions with the images in the book.
Already, volunteers have described 6,500 images, well on the way towards the goal committed to in the LIT award of 15,000 images, primarily in NIMAC STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) textbooks at the junior high and high school level. The books with described images will go back into the Bookshare library for students to use in their coursework in the fall.
However, the project needs more volunteers! With as little as 15 minutes a day, you can apply your subject matter expertise and help someone with a print disability have an equal educational opportunity. Imagine going through school and not being able to see images in your textbooks!
As volunteers, we’d like to find teachers, professors, high school and college students, professionals working in a STEM field, essentially anyone with expertise in the particular field.
It is easy to get started. Just sign up. In the field where it says “Library,” pick Bookshare. You’ll be contacted by the Bookshare volunteer program manager to get started. To learn what to do, you’ll be pointed to an online training video and guidelines.
In addition to solo volunteers, we’re exploring several very innovative, exciting ideas for partnerships. Consider an image description club at a high school or university in which students get together, go through the guidelines, and meet regularly to write descriptions. Or a professor-student partnership. One university bookstore is working on the details of a book credit program–if a student describes all the images in the book, the student can return the book at the end of the semester and get credit for it.
A pilot project is already underway at Brigham Young University. The university has reached out to the English, Engineering, Education, and other programs to seek student volunteers, encouraging them to contribute their time to describe images, so every student has equal access to the content of their textbooks.
Pause for a moment and think not about the 15,000 images in this first pilot, but the millions of images in print that are not accessible. Then think about what you can do to help! Please contact the Volunteer Program Manager and select “Volunteering,” in the ‘My question is about’ dropdown.