ACB Audio Description Institute

The American Council of the Blind’s (ACB) Audio Description Project announces its

16th Audio Description Institute

February 22-24, 2020

Location

Holiday Inn & Suites – Martin Room
625 First Street
Alexandria, VA 22314

Program Description

Pictogram of Audio Description logo

Audio Description (AD) makes visual images accessible for people who are blind or have low vision.  Using words that are succinct, vivid, and imaginative, media describers convey the visual image from television and film that is not fully accessible to a significant segment of the population (more than 21 million Americans experience significant vision loss).

The implementation of the 21st Century Communications and Video Accessibility Act has spawned a virtual cottage industry for the development of description for broadcast television.

The Program includes: Three full days of intensive, interactive training, Monday luncheon, and each registrant will receive a signed copy of Dr. Joel Snyder’s ACB-published The Visual Made Verbal: A Comprehensive Training Manual and Guide to the History and Applications of Audio Description.

The interactive sessions (limited use of lecture, questions/discussion throughout, generous use of media, and individual and group writing exercises) are designed to provide immediate feedback and “give and take,” allowing for adaptation according to a sense of participants’ grasp of the material.  In addition, experienced users of description are a part of the Institute’s faculty, providing an important perspective throughout the sessions.

This Institute will begin at 9:00 am on Saturday, February 22, 2020 and conclude at 4:00 pm on Monday, February 24, 2020.

Who Should Attend

Anyone interested in:

  • working as freelance description writers for broadcast television
  • working as a describer in a local performing arts program
  • working as a describer for visual art exhibitions
  • experienced audio describers desiring an updated refresher course.

NOTE:  freelance writers for broadcast television projects can often be based anywhere in the world–computer equipment capable of accommodating high-speed downloads is a must.

Institute Director/Staff

Joel Snyder, Ph.D.— One of the first audio describers, Dr. Snyder began describing theater  events and media in 1981; he is the President of  Audio Description Associates, LLC with clients world-wide (see audiodescribe.com for more information) and Director of ACB’s Audio Description Project an initiative he founded in 2009. For six years, he led a staff that produced description for nationally broadcast films and network series including  “Sesame Street” broadcasts and DVDs.  Snyder has worked with description and trained describers in more than 40 states and in over 60 countries.

Faculty

Joyce Adams—Joyce has been producing/writing AD scripts for media and museum tours since 2002. She supervised AD script writers for the Described Media program at the National Captioning Institute, is the author of audio described tours for National Park Service visitor centers throughout the U.S. and regularly pens description for promotional videos produced by Microsoft. Both Ms. Adams and Dr. Snyder serve on the Subject Matter Expert Committee developing a certification program for audio describers.

Tuition

$495.00 – credit card payment accepted by secure on-line registration

Lodging

Holiday Inn & Suites
625 First Street
Alexandria, VA 22314
703-548-6300

Room rates at the Holiday Inn & Suites are $109 per night (king/double). This room rate does not include tax. For telephone reservations, call the Holiday Inn & Suites at (703) 548-6300–group code ANC. The Holiday Inn & Suites website for the Alexandria property is here. Make sure to mention you are with the American Council of the Blind 2020.

Registration

Online registration for the February 2020 Alexandria, VA Audio Description Institute will be open through February 21, 2020.

Use this link for more information and to register

You’ll be asked to create a login for the ACB database and continue to register for the Institute.

 

Text-to-Speech vs. Human Audio Debate

Book with headphonesTime was, if you wanted/needed to have textbooks and other educational materials in “audio” format, you needed to acquire a recording made by a human narrator reading the materials. Indeed, the earliest forms of these recordings were developed in the late 1940 as a service known as, Recordings for the Blind (later renamed Recordings for the Blind and Dyslexic, and now known as Learning Ally), started in New York City.  Learning Ally is currently the largest supplier of human-narrated audio texts and educational materials.

As information technology has advanced greatly in the last 20 years, so too has the quality of “audio” transformations made by text-to-speech software (TTS). One might assume therefore that the need for audio recordings from human narrators would no longer be needed. Perhaps.

A recent blog article from Christine Jones at Bookshare/Benetech (full disclosure – Bookshare is a supplier of digital content that can be read by TTS) notes that the differences between TTS and human narration have become less and may soon “be negligible.”

Perhaps what is more important from Ms. Jones’ article is the emphasis that not only are audio and digital/TTS options essential for many readers with print disabilities, ALL students, even those without disabilities, can benefit from the use of these audio methods when used in conjunction with printed materials.

The decision on whether a student should use human-narrated audio content or digital content read with TTS is probably best done on an individual basis. However, it is quite likely that having both options available will continue to be a good thing for some time to come.

Read Christine Jones complete article, Reframing the Text-to-Speech vs. Human Audio Debate: Both Make Reading Easier…

Read Why Audiobooks? from Learning Ally…

 

Photo credit: Image licensed through Creative Commons by Jeff Golden 

Bookshare Offers K-12 Textbooks in Accessible Formats

The following message comes from Bookshare..

Yes, Bookshare DOES Have Many of the Textbooks Your Students Need!

Bookshare logoMany people view Bookshare’s large collection of ebooks primarily as a source of classroom reading or pleasure reading books, such as novels, biographies, and the like. Indeed, Bookshare does offer a rich selection of these materials. However, did you know that our library also includes more than 25,000 textbooks?

The largest single source of Bookshare’s textbooks is the National Instructional Materials Access Center (NIMAC), a federal repository of K-12 textbooks in accessible formats established by the 2004 Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). The NIMAC contains more than 50,000 files supplied by publishers in compliance with IDEA, and Bookshare is one of the largest distributors of NIMAC-sourced titles. In fact, Bookshare already contains nearly 11,000 book files from the NIMAC, and Bookshare members benefited from more than 30,000 downloads of these titles in the past twelve months. To get an idea of the breadth of materials available in the NIMAC, check out these special collections of NIMAC-sourced titles already available in Bookshare.

Generally, NIMAC-sourced textbooks contain images, are of high quality, and offer an excellent user experience. So why doesn’t Bookshare have all 50,000+ files that are in the NIMAC? Because NIMAC-sourced books are added to Bookshare at the request of educators serving qualified students. If a textbook is in the NIMAC but not already available on Bookshare, educators can submit a book request, and the Bookshare Team will work with the NIMAC and/or the appropriate state agency to obtain the title, convert it into a student-ready format, and make the title available in the collection. Any representative of a U.S. K-12 public or charter school with an organizational Bookshare account can share Bookshare’s NIMAC books with their qualified K-12 students — those who both qualify for Bookshare AND have IEPs. (Students do not need an IEP to access most Bookshare books, but they do need one to obtain NIMAC-sourced books. This is because the NIMAC was created by IDEA specifically to serve students served in special education.) These students can then log in to their Bookshare accounts to access and read the books. For more information on how Bookshare and the NIMAC work together, check out this list of frequently asked questions.

Bookshare Has Even More Textbooks for Students with Reading Barriers

In addition to NIMAC-sourced books, Bookshare offers thousands of textbooks that are available to any member. Some of these may be alternative versions of books we obtained from the NIMAC, but we have purchased, chopped, scanned, and proofread them to make them available to students who do not have IEPs. Some may be textbooks we obtained from publishers. In addition, Bookshare offers a selection of “freely available” textbooks, which are available under Creative Commons licenses or are in the public domain and therefore available to anyone, not just Bookshare members. (So in most cases, even non-members will be able to download them or select “Read Now” next to the titles to open them in Bookshare Web Reader.) Many of these “freely available” titles are “open educational resources” (OER) published by organizations interested in making educational content available to all.

Educators Can Access Reading Lists Created by U.S. School Districts

Bookshare’s Collection Development team has collaborated with several large districts around the country to create lists of the textbooks they commonly use – including math, English language arts, and science – to make them easier to assign to their students. These lists are made available on Bookshare so that all educators can access and share them. They can either subscribe to or copy these lists and assign them to their students, or assign specific books from the lists using Bookshare’s new Assign & Read feature. Feel free to mine the lists for textbooks and instructional materials that will benefit your students.

Students Can Read Textbooks on Multiple Devices

Most importantly, Bookshare members can read their textbooks in the ways that work for them, just as they can all other books in the collection. They can read them on computers, Chromebooks, tablets, mobile devices and refreshable Braille displays. They can even download every textbook as a Microsoft Word document, with all of the flexibility that format offers.

At Bookshare, we believe that when students have all the learning materials they need (even their textbooks!) in formats that work for them, they can succeed in school and become more engaged and confident learners.

 

Audio Description in Education Content

Young People Who Are Blind Write Reviews of Film and Video

Pictogram of Audio Description logoOctober 24, 2019 – The American Council of the Blind’s Audio Description Project (ACB-ADP) and the Described and Captioned Media Program (DCMP) are continuing their co-sponsorship of an exciting opportunity for blind and visually impaired young people, in four categories from ages 7 to 21: the Benefits of Audio Description in Education (BADIE) contest.

Kids love movies!

Movies, videos, and other forms of multimedia are, these days, integral to public, private, and special education curriculum. If you’re a young person who can’t see or can’t see well, audio description provides access to all the visual images of the movies that sighted young people enjoy.

Students choose an audio-described film or video from the more than thousands of titles available through the Described and Captioned Media Program (DCMP). Or a young person who is blind can borrow an audio-described video or film from a library, and dozens of audio-described films videos are available for purchase through the ACB-ADP’s website.

Reviews can be submitted in writing, in braille or via an audio recording.

Register for the contest at Listening is Learning’s BADIE website. 

Entries can also be submitted via e-mail or postal mail (submissions from outside the United States are fine) to:

ACB-DCMP Benefits of Audio Description In Education
1703 N. Beauregard St., Suite 420
Alexandria, VA 22311 USA

E-mail: jsnyder@acb.org
Phone: (202) 467-5083

Deadline for Entries: Friday, December 6, 2019

Contest winners in each category will be chosen by January of 2020, and the grand prize winner will receive an iPad Mini! Each first-place winner will receive a $100 iTunes gift card. Second-place winners will receive a $50 iTunes gift card, and third-place winners will receive a $25 iTunes gift card. Each supporting teacher who has a first-place winning student will be awarded a $100 Amazon gift card.

 

AEM Pilot Has Launched

From NC-AEM

The AEM Pilot Has Launched!

We’re excited to announce the launch of the AEM Pilot. If you’re in a school district that has work to do to improve the accessibility of materials and technologies provided to learners with disabilities, enlist a crew and board the AEM Pilot! It’s a secure, interactive, web-based tool aligned with the AEM Quality Indicators with Critical Components for K-12.

The AEM Pilot:

  • Provides guidance on establishing a high-functioning cross-disciplinary district team
  • Scaffolds individual and group knowledge about AEM and related technologies
  • Presents guiding questions for critical self-reflection
  • Offers exemplars of effective practices already in use by states and districts
  • Recommends specific actions for getting started with improving the provision of AEM in your district
  • Guides your district’s team in conducting self-assessments in relation to the AEM Quality Indicators
  • Saves your team’s data for progress monitoring purposes
  • Generates reports that include self-ratings, goals, and action steps.

Let the AEM Pilot navigate a crew of accessibility heroes in your district.

Use this link for more information about the AEM Pilot… 

 

Inclusive Technology Ecosystems Wanted

From NC-AEM

National Center Seeks School Districts to Lead Changes in EdTech and Assistive Technology

The Center on Inclusive Technology & Education Systems (CITES) is teaming up with districts across the country to find out what works in creating and sustaining effective technology systems in schools. Is your district ready and willing to be part of this work?

Many schools across the country have made strides in improving collaboration between assistive technology (AT) and educational technology (EdTech). Coordinating efforts is a first step toward improving access to digital learning opportunities for students with disabilities. But how is interdependence between AT and EdTech achieved in a way that leads to inclusive technology ecosystems?

About CITES

Led by CAST and American Institutes for Research (AIR), CITES is a national technical assistance (TA) center funded by the U.S. Department of Education, Office of Special Education Programs. We’re partnering with select districts to identify practices that support and sustain balanced, inclusive technology ecosystems in schools. The goal is to produce the CITES Framework, which will be built on research and evidence-based practices that can be scaled and used nationally. What we learn in the process will inform our ongoing TA products and services for school district personnel and families.

Partner with Us

CITES will be selecting up to 10 school districts to create a cohort of Framework Development Districts. Will your district be one? If selected, the CITES team will provide TA, resources, and coaching as your district team implements promising and evidence-based practices identified for consideration in the CITES Framework. Practices related to district leadership, instruction, and family support will be selected. Together we’ll find what works in the coordination of AT and edtech and, ultimately, inclusive technology ecosystems in schools.

How It Works

We are looking for districts that will commit to a three-year partnership. As a Framework Development District, you will establish a cross-disciplinary team and implement up to three evidence-based practices per academic year. Practices are broadly defined as tools, guidelines, protocols, or strategies that show evidence of improving technology systems for learners with disabilities. During each implementation, the CITES team will provide training, resources, coaching, and data collection instruments. An annual $1,000 stipend will be provided to support districts with self-selected supplies and materials.

In addition to activities related to implementation of practices, Framework Development Districts will be connected to one another to form a CITES Cohort. The CITES team will facilitate routine opportunities for districts in the cohort to exchange resources, share findings, and solve common problems.

Finally, CITES will rely on our Framework Development Districts to help in the dissemination of our findings about what works in creating balanced, sustainable inclusive technology ecosystems. If you’re interested in being in the national spotlight as a change agent, being a Framework Development District can make that happen! Consider telling your story in a video, over a webinar, or co-presenting at a national conference with us.

Use this link for more information and to sign-up…

Vacancy Notice: Administrative Specialist

The University of Maine at Augusta (UMA) is seeking applicants for the part-time position of Administrative Specialist Career Level 2 (CL2) to perform clerical support work at the Maine CITE Coordinating Center.  The position is currently open and is located in Augusta, but not on the UMA campus.

Maine CITE Coordinating Center logo

Duties include, but are not limited to:

  • opening and closing the office;
  • serving as the initial point of contact for the Center;
  • providing complex administrative support;
  • screening calls, visitors, and mail;
  • answering inquiries via telephone, in-person, and through various other technology;
  • monitoring and maintaining Assistive Technology and office inventory and equipment;
  • assisting with meetings, conferences, webinars, and other events;
  • attending conferences, meetings, and events as necessary;
  • preparing and editing correspondence and documents, assisting with reports;
  • making travel and hotel arrangements;
  • making purchases, issuing purchase orders, making credit card payments;
  • processing invoices and other expenses;
  • assist with the production of at least ten webinars each year;
  • maintaining and coordinating multiple calendars.

This is a part-time, twenty-hour per week position.  Specific hours to be determined upon hiring. This is a soft-money funded position. Continuation is contingent upon continued funding and the needs of the University.

Please use this link for more information and to apply for this position…

AEM for Language Arts and Math

The following free webinar comes from edWeb

Quality Instructional Materials for Language Arts and Math: New SETDA K12 Database

Wednesday, July 17, 2019 @ 12:00 pm – 1:00 pm EDT

Presented by Christine Fox, Deputy Executive Director, SETDA; and Alan Griffin, Curriculum Content Specialist, Utah State Board of Education

Program Description

Looking for vetted instructional materials? This edWebinar will launch SETDA’s latest resource, the State K12 Instructional Materials Database, an online tool to access state-reviewed, full course instructional materials for secondary language arts and math.

Multiple states provide a formal review process to review instructional materials and publish the reviewed materials, now you can access all of those published materials via one online database and access the state review processes. Plus, hear how Utah will leverage this tool and learn how the state engages stakeholders in the instructional materials review process to support district decision making. The edWebinar will include the opportunity for dialogue and sharing.

This presentation will be of interest to administrators, instructional material coordinators, policy makers, curriculum directors, IT staff, and instructional coaches. There will be time to get your questions answered after the presentation.

Use this link for more information and to register for this event…

 

Microsoft Inclusive Classroom Offerings

Microsoft logoA recently blog article from Microsoft describes several application and new features to their MS-Office 365 package that may assist students with disabilities. The list includes information about:

  • Immersive Reader
  • Microsoft Forms
  • Microsoft Whiteboard
  • Minecraft: Educational Edition

Information about Inclusive Math, Writing and Communications are also included.

Use this link to read Inclusive Classroom round up for Microsoft Education…

Free e-book info

The following information comes from Jennifer Maurer, School Library Consultant for the State Library of Oregon. Jen posted this on the edWeb.net School Library Network discussion board. Great information, thank you Jen!

electronic books on various devicesMost free eBooks that come with no restrictions are those that are available in the public domain, which means they are no longer under copyright or they never were. If they never were under copyright, they are often self published. Most new to new-ish and copyrighted materials are not available for free, or they come with some restrictions. Even with digital versions of books, the authors, illustrators, and publishers need to get paid by someone in order to make a living or profit.

As … noted, Epic! offers free eBooks to elementary students. The catch is that to access the books at home, parents have to pay to subscribe.

You can check what your local public library offers. In that case, the public library subscribes on behalf of its patrons. Popular platforms include OverDrive (with the Libby app), Cloud Library, and for kids only, some offer Tumblebooks

International Children’s Digital Library  is a grant-funded project that makes children’s books in many languages available online at no cost.

Book Bub is a site that tracks temporary deals for free or inexpensive ebooks. You can sign up to receive a daily email. I’m pretty sure there’s a category for children’s books.

And for classics and other public domain offerings, there are many sites, including Project Gutenberg and Open Library (which has some copyrighted material; not sure how that is okay). This article lists other sites…

By the way, Sync offers 2 free audiobooks per week to download during the summer. The books are aimed at ages 13 and over.