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Enhanced ‘consumer’ involvement is gaining momentum. Companies and service providers increasingly involve the end user in the inception, development and distribution of their products, while governments and organisations are increasingly looking to users to set standards and monitor progress.
Users who have personal experiences with accessing digital content are ‘experts by experience’. People with disabilities are no exception: they have first-hand familiarity with adaptive strategies and assistive technologies. They can have a direct impact on enhancing the quality of digital products and services. Accessibility use cases can help designers and developers identify specific barriers which compromise the overall usability of various user interfaces. Such user involvement increases the accountability of both public and private organisations and can prove instrumental in promoting political and social change.
While considerable progress has been made in user-led design, there is still room for improvement. Expert-providers and disabled users need to work together to give a louder and collective voice to e-Accessibility. Come to Paris on March 31st, 2014 and join the discussions at the 8th European e-Accessibility Forum, preliminary program is now available at http://eaf2014.braillenet.org.
Omron Group in India, part of Omron Japan, has associated with the National Association for the Blind (NAB), Delhi, to launch "Your Voice, Their World" – a project to create India’s largest Accessible Digital Library for the visually impaired students.
Mr. Takuichi Shimizu, President, Omron Management Centre of India, said, "Less than 1 % of the printed books are available to the blind students in accessible formats in India which has the largest population of blind in the world. Being a technology leader, Omron understands how powerful role technology can play in bridging this digital divide. With the seasoned expertise and widespread network of National Association for the Blind, Delhi, the project aspires to be India’s largest Accessible Digital Library in terms of accessible content and number of beneficiaries. The first phase of the project shall produce 2000 hours of recording by December, 2014.” Books will be produced in DAISY format. More information is provided in the press release.
The DAISY Consortium is pleased to announce the latest release of Obi, the popular open source DAISY 3/2.02 audio production tool. Obi is used by more than 43 DAISY production houses and numerous individuals around the globe. Obi 3.0 includes features most demanded by the Consortium members.
The Obi-Tobi project team initiated a survey in early 2013 to better understand the needs and priorities of the DAISY Consortium members. The Obi-Tobi team is encouraged by the feedback and responses they received. Thanks goes to all members and Obi users.
The current release, Version 3.0, implements the first set of the highly prioritized features that greatly improve efficiency, such as Zoomed Waveform view, Project Merge, and other enhancements that reduce the response time and improve Obi’s usability.
The Zoomed Waveform view magnifies the waveform and empowers users to perform quick and accurate audio editing. It displays a single waveform at one point of time, reducing the response time of the application. It comes with two concise but exhaustive toolbars providing commands for audio editing, phrase navigation, and zoom. Response time can be further reduced by selecting the new option, display phrases without waveforms in Content view.
Project Merge provides the ability to merge several projects into one, enabling users to segregate work among various workstations for parallel book production and then merge them back to obtain a single complete Obi project corresponding to the publication.
Other attractions of this release include the ability to fine tune the boundaries of phrases by dragging the adjoining phrase separator, capability to save the metadata of the current project as default for use across multiple projects, easy access to advanced recording options and many more. Obi now comes with Finnish, French, Hindi and Tamil language packs. Thanks goes to Hannu Tiihonen - Finland, Association Valentin Haüy - France, RSVI - India and Sreeja Param - USA, respectively for translations.
Please visit the Obi project area to check out the full list of features and improvements:
and download Version 3.0 at
Your feedback is always appreciated.
The DAISY Consortium would like to extend a special thanks to all contributors for their valuable feedback and support to the Obi project. Obi continues to fill the gaps and facilitate accessible publication production worldwide to overcome obstacles like language barriers, cost constraints and accessibility.
The 2014 IFLA World Library and Information Congress (WLIC) in Lyon, France will offer great opportunities to both commercial and non-commercial organizations, allowing them to showcase their products and services. IFLA WLIC 2014 will be a continuation of a series of successful annual meetings and is expected to attract more than 4,000 attendees.
IFLA is delighted to announce that online registration is now open and attendees can register on the Congress website.
International Day of People with Disability (IDPwD) is a United Nations sanctioned day that aims to promote an understanding of people with disability and encourage support for their dignity, rights and well-being.
Professor Ron McCallum (Australia): "I would like people on this special International Day to take a number of actions and make a number of resolutions. First and foremost, go out and meet a person with a disability. Find out that they are just the same as you and me. Think about persons with disability in your work place. Do they get the right sort of treatment? Think about persons with disability when you get on a train. Could they access that train? If we all become more aware, we will become a better community.
I want everyone to participate in this International Day for people with disability because we’re part of your community. We all live together, we want to celebrate our achievements, and we want you to celebrate with us. Why not hold a street party, why not hold a celebration at your workplace, community group or sports club. Make sure that we’re an inclusive community. We want to celebrate with you, we want you to be part of our year and our celebration."
Sami Parliament of Norway has chosen Acapela Group to develop North Sami language text-to-speech. Sami is a language spoken in the north of Norway, Finland and Sweden. Sami text-to-speech language creation is much more than just adding another language to a portfolio. This effort is a part of a global project initiated by Sametinget to contribute to keep speaking, teaching and learning this minority language. Keep Sami a living spoken heritage, that’s what Acapela text-to-speech voices will strive to achieve – together with other linguistic and learning resources. More information is provided on the Acapela Group website.
The recently published report presents the results and conclusions from a study on assessing and promoting e-accessibility. The main goals of the study were to review the extent of e-accessibility across the EU27 countries and some third countries, as well as the policy efforts that have emerged in this area. The focus was on e-accessibility in three key domains: web, telecommmunications and TV.
The core objective was to benchmark the current situation regarding e-accessibility using an appropriate set of indicators. In addition to providing evidence that can help to inform about EU policy in this field, the results may be useful for other relevant stakeholders (at pan-European and Member State levels) in their efforts to promote progress in e-accessibility across Europe. The results of the study can contribute to the ongoing efforts to develop effective monitoring systems in the e-accessibility field in Europe.
More information is provided on the Access for All website.
Rep. Tom Petri Introduces “Technology, Education & Accessibility In College and Higher Education Act”
The National Federation of the Blind (NFB), the oldest and largest nationwide organization of blind Americans, and the Association of American Publishers (AAP), the leading trade association of the US publishing industry, applaud Congressman Tom Petri (R-WI) for introducing today the Technology, Education and Accessibility in College and Higher Education Act. The TEACH Act, which is the result of collaboration between the NFB and the AAP has been endorsed by 10 other organizations of and for people with disabilities. It will create accessibility guidelines for electronic instructional materials and related information technologies used by institutions of higher education.
The TEACH Act will provide guidelines for manufacturers of educational technology and clarity for institutions of higher education to ensure that materials are usable by all students.
“Educational technology creates unlimited opportunities for innovative methods of learning, but these new and innovative tools can also pose a challenge for accessibility.” said Rep. Petri. “The TEACH Act will ensure that students with disabilities have equal access to a high-quality education in today’s 21st century classroom. I’m proud to be sponsoring this important legislation and encourage my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to join me in this effort.”
More information is provided on the AAP website.
The U.S. Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor and Statistics estimates that 13 percent of all U.S. Veterans, over 2.8 million individuals, now live with blindness, physical disabilities, or traumatic brain injuries. These print disabilities make it difficult to read a newspaper, study a textbook or enjoy a bestseller.
With the evolution of digital accessible books, disabled Veterans may have a new lifeline to reading through Bookshare, the world’s largest online library of copyrighted books and periodicals for people with qualified print disabilities. More information is provided on the Bookshare blog.
The US Senate needs to fight for 1 billion people with disabilities around the world by supporting ratification of The Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD). Call the Foreign Relations Committee to make your voice heard. A hearing on the CRPD has been scheduled for November 5th at 2:30pm in Dirksen Senate Building Room SD-419.
If you are interested in attending, you can RSVP online.
You can also visit the new citizen action portal at http://www.disabilitytreaty.org to get more information. CALL Senators on the Foreign Relations Committee!
As part of the ongoing EPUB 3 Implementation Project the Association for American Publishers (AAP) has made available a white paper that documents the outcomes of the cross-industry initiative, including the top 10 features critical for implementation by participating publishers and reading system developers, as well as the top 13 tips for content publishers to create accessible EPUB 3 publications. For more information and to download the white paper, please visit: http://publishers.org/press/117/.
The 2013 winner of the prestigious ACM Special Interest Group on Multimedia (SIGMM) award for Outstanding Technical Contributions to Multimedia Computing, Communications and Applications is Prof. Dr. Dick Bulterman.
The ACM SIGMM Technical Achievement award is given in recognition of outstanding contributions over a researcher’s career. Prof. Dick Bulterman has been selected for his outstanding technical contributions in multimedia authoring, media annotation, and social sharing from research through standardization to entrepreneurship, and in particular for promoting international Web standards for multimedia authoring and presentation (SMIL) in the W3C Synchronized Multimedia Working Group as well as his dedicated involvement in the SIGMM research community for many years.
Dick has a strong international reputation for the development of the domain-specific temporal language for multimedia (SMIL). Much of this software has been incorporated into the widely used Ambulant Open Source SMIL Player, which has served to encourage development and use of time-based multimedia content. His conference publications and book on SMIL have helped to promote SMIL and its acceptance as a W3C standard.
Dick’s recent work on social sharing of video will likely prove influential in upcoming Interactive TV products. This work has already been recognized in the academic community, earning the ACM SIGMM best paper award at ACM MM 2008 and also at the EUROITV conference.
More information is provided on the ACM SIGMM Records website.
The UK's leading sight loss charity Royal National Institute of Blind People (RNIB), has collaborated with global technology giant Amazon to ensure that people with sight loss can enjoy the features in the latest range of tablet devices.
Blind and partially sighted people will be able to enjoy improved access to the UK's largest source of e-books thanks to new accessibility features which have been incorporated into the new Kindle Fire HD and HDX tablets.
The new range of Kindle Fire tablets will allow people with sight loss in the UK to access Amazon's 2 million titles using increased font size, synthetic audio, and electronic braille and have the opportunity to listen to the 100,000 audio books through Audible UK directly on the device.
RNIB was consulted during the development and testing phase of these new devices. The charity is in a unique position to coordinate expert and user testing, offering technical and consumer recommendations to help Amazon ensure that the new features were accessible to people with a range of sight loss conditions around the world.
The new accessible devices mean that blind and partially sighted people will be able read the full range of Kindle books, newspapers and journals in a variety of ways. The built-in screen reader allows readers to listen to titles whilst the magnification function enlarges the screen view. The device can also be used with an electronic braille display and the audio book player also supports accessibility. More information is provided in the RNIB official announcement.
HumanWare announces a major strategic partnership with Essilor, the world's leading ophthalmic optics company, which becomes the majority shareholder of the company specializing in assistive technologies for people who are blind or have low vision.
This new alliance offers greater global visibility for HumanWare products while promoting access for a larger number of people with visual impairments. The alliance will also accelerate investment in research and development to offer new and innovative high quality products for both blindness and low vision.
For HumanWare, this partnership represents an opportunity to confirm its leadership in assistive technologies for the visually impaired. Along with the recent introduction of the new range of ProdigiTM digital magnifiers, HumanWare will significantly increase its market share in the rehabilitation sector and among eyecare professionals.
"We are very pleased to be partnering with Essilor, whose knowledge in optics and access to optician distribution networks will accelerate innovation to help people with visual impairments. Together, we will contribute to developing the notoriously under-penetrated global market," says Gilles Pepin, CEO of HumanWare. More information is provided on the HumanWare website.
Barnes & Noble, Inc., announced that its digital education team has made significant updates to the open source EPUBCheck tool, creating a new way to evaluate EPUB files to ensure they adhere to industry standards. The updates created by the NOOK Digital Education team make it more manageable and easier to facilitate the tool’s integration into publishing workflows and workflow management systems.
New features of the tool also include tests for content accessibility markup, CSS issues that might affect presentation quality, and tests for specific script usage patterns that require security consideration that will help publishers create exceptional, accessible, EPUB 3 content. In addition, an output option was added to EPUBCheck that makes all of the program’s output available as data which can be easily consumed by other programs, making the tool more easily integrated into automated document processing workflows. The updated EPUBCheck tool is available at http://validator.idpf.org/.
More information is provided in the official press release.
Learning Ally is proud to host Dr. Georges Benjamin, President of the American Public Health Association on Wednesday, October 9th at 2 pm EST to share his expertise on the benefits and importance of making health information accessible to the elderly and individuals who are blind, visually impaired or have a learning disability. There is still time to register for this informative webinar.
The detailed program agenda for EDUPUB, an IDPF workshop on digital publishing for education, is now available at http://idpf.org/edupub-2013-agenda. The invitation-only event, taking place October 29-30, 2013 in Boston (USA), will cover four topics: the educational interoperability landscape, rich and interactive content, accessibility, and production workflows.
Keynote speakers include Jeff Jaffe (CEO, W3C) and Dan Cooper (SVP of Content Management Solutions, Pearson North America). Other presenters at the workshop represent a wide range of leading organizations and institutions involved in educational publishing including IMS Global Learning, SIF, Sophia University (Japan), Ingram VitalSource, CourseSmart, Inkling, Carson-Dellosa, O'Reilly Media, Imagineering, Google, Benetech, Metrodigi, CETIS, NCAM, LRMI, AMAC, Wolfram, DAISY Consortium, ETS, Nook Media, Adobe, VersaPub, Harvard Business Publishing, and Evident Point.
EDUPUB is hosted by Pearson Education, with organizational co-sponsors W3C and IMS Global Learning, and additional corporate sponsors including Aptara, CourseSmart, Ingram Content Group, Metrodigi, and SPi Global. The agenda was developed by the program co-chairs Markus Gylling (IDPF and DAISY) and Paul Belfanti (Pearson), and a blue-ribbon program committee of leaders from across the industry. For more information about EDUPUB visit: http://idpf.org/edupub-2013.
Webinar: “Office Hours” with the Image Description Experts
Date: Thursday October 24, 2013
Time: 2:30pm Eastern (1:30pm Central, 12:30pm Mountain, 11:30am Pacific)
Presenters: Bryan Gould and Geoff Freed, WGBH National Center for Accessible Media (NCAM)
Are you a volunteer or professional image description specialist? Have you ever run into a complex image that you just weren’t sure how to handle? If so, this session is for you! Accessible-image experts Bryan Gould and Geoff Freed of WGBH’s National Center at Accessible Media (NCAM) will be holding this special session to answer all your toughest questions about how to handle complex image descriptions such as scientific textbook images, maps, cartoons, mathematical equations, and graphs.
In order to optimize the usefulness of this session to participants, Bryan and Geoff would like to collect your questions and examples in advance. Please visit this simple survey and send in your questions and images.
Register for the webinar by visiting this link.
The webinar is free and open to all. You need not submit a question in advance in order to participate, and you may also submit more than one question. The more questions we receive, the richer the session will be! Please feel free to forward this information to anyone who may be interested. You can see the webinar description and the registration link at the blog posting here: http://blog.diagramcenter.org/?p=1293
This year’s historic high level meeting on disabilities at the UN General Assembly on September 23rd demanded international action to invest in children with disabilities and to include people with disabilities in the global development agenda. The UN meeting attracted diverse participants: those with and without disabilities.
Stevie Wonder made a plea for technology to be made available to all people with disabilities: “I am really going to push everyone to join our world of inclusion,” said Mr. Wonder who is a UN Messenger of Peace focusing on Persons with Disabilities. “The more people who are doing things that make a difference and are part of this world of inclusion, the smaller the world gets of people who are not committed and ultimately we will end up with a world of inclusion."
More information is provided on the Look to the Stars website.
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