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Publishers, Industry Moguls, and Disability Advocates Gather to Discuss Access

Saturday, June 9, 2012 wrapped up the first Inclusive Publishing conference hosted by the National Federation of the Blind (NFB) at Jernigan Institute in Baltimore, MD, and the DAISY Consortium. NFB and DAISY teamed up with representatives from 20 countries, including Benetech/Bookshare, U.S. K–12 and higher education publishers (Pearson, Cengage, and SAS), and industry moguls (Apple, Google, and Adobe) to collaborate on issues of access affecting millions who cannot read print. Participants met to:

  • Discuss current levels of accessibility in global and U.S. markets
  • Share the landscape of today’s eBook evolution in publishing and education
  • Collaborate and exchange ideas on further best practices when retrofitting, developing new products, and/or delivering materials
  • Learn more about browser-based reading systems
  • Advance accessible digital content in the K–12 and higher education areas of STEM (Science, Technology, English, and Mathematics)
  • Evolve attitudes and commit to future equal access for all

Betsy Beaumon, VP and General Manager of Literacy Programs at Benetech, which

Betsy Beaumon speaking
Betsy Beaumon

includes the Bookshare online library, Route 66, and the DIAGRAM Center (Digital Image and Graphics Resources for Accessible Materials), spoke about the work of the DIAGRAM Center.

In her talk, she discussed research and development efforts and progress in making graphic images in digital content accessible and standardized. She shared news of Poet, Benetech’s new open source web application tool, which leverages crowdsourcing to create and edit image descriptions in books used by K–12 and postsecondary students with print disabilities. She praised DIAGRAM partner organizations, including WGBH National Center for Accessible Media (NCAM) and the DAISY Consortium, as well as disability advocates and publishers who are now working together to evolve image and graphic content for accessible education materials (AEM).

Betsy was introduced by Dr. George Kerscher, Secretary General for the DAISY Consortium and President of the International Digital Publishing Forum, who recently won the 2012 AFB Migel Medal award from the American Foundation of the Blind (AFB).

Dr. Kerscher’s legacy includes the successful implementation of the DAISY standard (Digital Accessible Information SYstem), now adopted worldwide for the production of accessible eBooks. He encouraged participants to continue a shift in attitude from a baseline publishing development perspective toward the new access movement characterized by the term “Born Digital.” The goal of this movement is to make books, textbooks, and digital materials accessible and high quality from the start. In her talk, Betsy said she hopes “Born Digital” will also mean “Born Accessible.”

Ms. Beaumon will continue to share new technologies and the latest DIAGRAM developments in tools, content, and accessibility standards as they affect publishing, K–12, and higher education. View a short excerpt from her presentation on YouTube. For speaking engagement inquiries, please email Valerie Chernek.

National Federation of the Blind

DAISY Consortium



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