New Website Accessibility Technical Assistance Initiative from US-DOE

Website - construction sceneMAY 17, 2018

WASHINGTON — The U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights (OCR) today announced it is launching a new technical assistance initiative to assist schools, districts, state education agencies, libraries, colleges and universities in making their websites and online programs accessible to individuals with disabilities.

Through webinars, OCR will provide information technology professionals with vital information on website accessibility, including tips for making their online programs accessible. The initiative announced today, on Global Accessibility Awareness Day, builds on OCR’s history of providing technical assistance on this issue to hundreds of stakeholders.

“As more educational opportunities are delivered online, we need to ensure those programs, services and activities are accessible to everyone,” said U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos, “OCR’s technical assistance will help us continue to forge important partnerships with schools for the benefit of students and parents with disabilities.”

OCR will offer the first three webinars on the following dates:

Webinar I: May 29, 2018, at 1:00 p.m. EDT
Webinar II: June 5, 2018, at 1:00 p.m. EDT
Webinar III: June 12, 2018, at 1:00 p.m. EDT

If you are interested in participating in any of these webinars, please send your request to OCRWebAccessTA@ed.gov; include your name, preferred webinar and contact information. You are encouraged to invite your vendors to attend these webinars.

Information regarding the scheduling and registration for additional webinars is available on the Department’s website…


Photo credit: Image licensed through Creative Commons by medithIT

Grand plan for new e-publishing tool

From E-Access Bulletin…

“Born accessible” e-books is the grand plan for new e-publishing tool – A free tool to test e-book content for accessibility errors has been launched.

electronic books on various devicesThe ‘Ace’ tool has been developed by the DAISY Consortium, a global organisation working to improve and promote accessible publishing and reading. The aim is to improve e-book usability for a wider audience and eliminate the barriers to reading e-books encountered by people with disabilities.

Ace works by assessing content published in the widely used EPUB format. Automated checks are performed and accessibility issues are flagged-up in a report generated by the tool.

The hope is that the tool will assist the publishing industry and authors in creating e-books that conform to the EPUB Accessibility specification. Speaking to e-Access Bulletin, DAISY Consortium’s Chief Operating Officer Avneesh Singh said: “We expect the publishing industry to use Ace widely, integrate it in their production workflows and improve accessibility of all their publications over time, leading to ‘born accessible’ publications.”

However, Ace’s developers are keen to stress the tool’s limitations as well as its benefits. They point out that Ace performs only automated checks and does not provide a complete picture of all possible accessibility violations, and should therefore be used alongside other forms of testing and evaluation.

Read the entire article on  E-Access Bulletin…

Subscription to e-Access Bulletin is completely free. You will be sent a monthly, text-only email newsletter on the latest developments in digital accessibility and assistive technology. To subscribe please click through to their sign-up page at lists.headstar.com .

 

New Choice in Braille Transcription Software

This new product was recently announced by American Printing House for the Blind…

Person reading BrailleBrailleBlaster™ is a braille transcription program developed by the American Printing House for the Blind to help transcribers provide blind students with braille textbooks on the first day of class.

BrailleBlaster takes advantage of the rich markup contained in NIMAS (National Instructional Materials Accessibility Standard) files to automate basic formatting and gives you tools to make advanced tasks quicker and easier. Designed primarily for editing textbooks that meet the specifications published by the Braille Authority of North America, the purpose of BrailleBlaster is to help braille producers ensure that every student has their hard-copy braille textbooks on the first day of class.

BrailleBlaster relies on Liblouis, a well-known open-source braille translator, for translating text and mathematics to braille.

Features include:

  • Translate braille accurately in UEB or EBAE
  • Format braille
  • Automate line numbered poetry and prose
  • Split books into volumes
  • Add transcriber notes
  • Describe images
  • Automate braille table of contents, glossaries, preliminary pages and special symbols pages
  • Automate a variety of table styles
  • Translate and edit single line math

The development of BrailleBlaster and modifications to Liblouis are part of the REAL Plan (Resources with Enhanced Accessibility for Learning). The REAL Plan is an ongoing initiative of the American Printing House for the Blind to improve the conversion and delivery of braille and other accessible formats to students who are blind.

Learn more about Braille Blaster…

AIM to AEM

The Maine Accessible Instructional Materials (AIM) Program is now the Maine Accessible Educational Materials (AEM) Program.

Accessible Educational Materials logoAlthough the Program’s mission is essentially the same, we have broadened our work to include a wider view. In the initial stages of the program, we focused on AIM, specifically the “specialized formats (Braille, large print, digital audio and electronic text)” identified in the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA04). Over the years, the Program has expanded to provide training and technical assistance on materials and communications used in schools including accessible digital documents and web sites. We have also expanded to provide assistance to colleges and universities and those offering services to people with disabilities in the workplace.

In summer of 2017, the Maine Department of Education revised section 3D (Considerations – Including Special Factors) of the official Individualized Education Program (IEP) form replacing AIM with AEM. While not changing IEP Teams’ obligations to consider Assistive Technology and AEM when developing the IEP, the terminology on the form is now consistent with this broadened view.

As we move forward, the Maine AEM Program will continue to provide training and technical assistance on issues related to the selection, acquisition and use of specialized formatted educational materials.

 

AIM Under 5: AIM for Student Transition

AIM Under 5 - videos about AIMThe latest in our series of “under 5” minute videos regarding all thing AIM has been posted to our YouTube Channel.

Produced and edited by Cynthia Curry, this AIM Under 5 discusses issues related to Transition – the activities associated with the students with IEP’s moving from high school to a post-secondary educational experience.

Check out the new video and share the news with your friends and colleagues!

>>View AIM Under 5: Transition on YouTube

14 Million Digital Books Available To Print Disabled Users

electronic books on various devicesMore than 14 million digital books will soon be made available to blind and print-disabled users, thanks to a new collaboration involving the National Federation of the Blind and the HathiTrust Digital Library, a digital repository hosted at the University of Michigan.

When launched, the program will dramatically increase the availability of books for users who are blind or print-disabled. According to the NFB, currently less than 5 percent of all published works are estimated to be available to the blind, most of which are popular titles.

Over the coming year, NFB and HathiTrust will collaborate to plan and implement these services. User eligibility will be determined by criteria used by the National Library Service for the Blind and Physically Handicapped and similar services authorized under U.S. law.

According to Furlough, HathiTrust currently provides a similar service to qualified print-disabled students at its member schools. The new program will expand this service to allow similarly qualified users not affiliated with HathiTrust schools access to full-text works in the HathiTrust collection.

NFB and HathiTrust, like the federally operated National Library Service, will lawfully and securely make books available to qualified people in the U.S. who have print disabilities.

Read the entire press release to learn more about this announcement…

Transition to Work: Program Activity Guide

Man walking through mall with a guide dogThe American Foundation for the Blind CareerConnect® program is proud to announce a new guide to help professionals implement the Workforce Innovation & Opportunity Act (WIOA) and improve employment outcomes for teens and young adults who are blind or visually impaired.

The Transition to Work: Program Activity Guide includes 19 free lesson plans and assignments designed to facilitate workplace readiness and work-based learning experiences for youth. Activities include researching and applying for jobs; filling out job applications; preparing an elevator speech and a marketing message; handling on the job assignments; a work performance appraisal; and other related activities.

The guide is available online on the CareerConnect website. Each activity has a corresponding electronic braille file in the Unified English Braille Code ready to be downloaded and embossed.

The Transition to Work: Program Activity Guide in tandem with the CareerConnect Job Seeker’s Toolkit and the Maintaining Employment and Advancing Your Career course is the ultimate resource to enhance a student’s employability skills.

To access the materials or for additional information, visit CareerConnect or e-mail Katy Lewis at klewis@afb.net.


Photo credit: Image licensed through Creative Commons by Cobaka