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.

 

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…

Free webinar from Texthelp

This free webinar is sponsored by New England chapter of the International Society for Technology in Education (New England ISTE).

Save Time and Streamline Your Writing Instruction Using WriQⓇ

September 17, 2019
7:00 PM ET

Individuals who participate in this webinar will gain knowledge on how WriQ, a writing assessment tool from Texthelp, can enhance student writing during the edit and revision stages of the writing process.

Session participants will explore WriQ and learn how it supplies teachers with instant information regarding a student’s spelling, punctuation, and grammar, and how it supplies new metrics, including a measure of engagement and vocabulary maturity age directly within Google Docs. Teachers can also use the embedded rubrics in WriQ to evaluate knowledge, purpose, voice, meaning, and organization, providing a comprehensive review of the students’ work for teacher evaluation. In addition, teachers can use WriQ to evaluate a students ’final product.

As a whole, the information collected by WriQ helps teachers efficiently dialogue with students, and allows students to gain a better understanding of their writing progress.

Presenters

Mark Schwartz and Gary Rubin

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

The Way Learning Should Be Conference

ACTEM – The Association of Computer Technology Educators of Maine

ACTEM logoACTEM has opened the registration for its annual fall conference taking place

October 10-11, 2019
Augusta Civic Center • Augusta, ME

The 2019 Conference Program includes…

  • Two full days of engaging professional development.
  • Dynamic Keynote Speakers
  • Over 100 workshop sessions
  • Over 40 Exhibitors

Maine CITE will be exhibiting at the Conference and John Brandt and Hillary Goldthwait-Fowles, Ph.D, ATP will be presenting “Innovative Technologies in Special Education.”

Use this link for more information and early bird registration discounts…

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…

Microsoft Studies AT for Education

PowerPoint logoMicrosoft recently commissioned Forrester Consulting to conduct a Total Economic Impact™ Analysis of Microsoft Accessibility And Assistive Technologies For Education to quantify the benefits of Microsoft accessibility tools for students, teachers and schools.

According to the news release from Microsoft, “Forrester conducted numerous interviews across K-12, Higher Education, and an alternative school.  These schools were using the built-in accessibility tools that are offered with our Microsoft 365 platform, including Office 365 and Windows 10.  These schools represent over 90,000 students and 5000 faculty and staff.”

The research showed the following barriers to implementing Assistive Technology in schools:

  • Existing solutions could not be widely deployed and often had a stigma associated with them
  • Learning experiences could be disjointed and distracting
  • Technology costs and effort were too high.

Microsoft reported that “the study revealed that by deploying and using Microsoft Accessibility and assistive technology tool… schools can improve student learning, reduces costs and effort, and save time and be more effective.”

Read the complete news release from Microsoft…

Assistive Technology Re-authorization Act Introduced in Senate

Casey, Collins Introduce Bill to Expand Access to Assistive Technology for Seniors and People with Disabilities

Legislation Would Help Seniors and People With Disabilities Maintain Independence

US Capitol DomeWashington, D.C. – Today, June 13, 2019, U.S. Senators Bob Casey (D-PA) and Susan Collins (R-ME), the Ranking Member and Chairman of the Special Committee on Aging, introduced the 21st Century Assistive Technology Act that would increase access to assistive technology—devices or services that help seniors and people with disabilities to maintain their independence and live where they choose.  The bill, which comes following a May 22nd hearing in the Aging Committee on the topic, would also help reduce the low employment and high poverty rates of older adults and people with disabilities by helping them live independently and maintain employment.

“Assistive technology helps millions of people live independently, remain engaged in their community and improves the quality of life for seniors and people with disabilities,” said Senator Casey.  “It is important that we update this bill to support the advances in assistive technology over the last 15 years, so that those who need it can be full participants in every aspect of their lives.”

“As our population ages, the need for care and support is increasing,” said Senator Collins.  “Advances in technology are working to bridge the ‘care gap,’ improving function in activities of daily living, helping to manage multiple chronic conditions, reducing risk of hazards, and making homes safer for seniors.  The 21st Century Assistive Technology Act would help to ensure that seniors continue to have access to these life-changing technologies to help them maintain their independence.”

The 21st Century Assistive Technology Act (S.1835) Act would update the Assistive Technology Act by clarifying that the program serves all people with disabilities, including veterans and older adults who developed disabilities later in life. The Assistive Technology Act would also increase the funding authorized for programs that serve rural areas. Assistive technology refers to any piece of equipment, product or service that helps someone with a disability or functional limitation accomplish their daily needs such as wheelchair ramps, hearing aids, screen readers and even smart phones.

This bill is supported by the Assistive Technology Act Programs, the Association of University Centers on Disabilities, the Autistic Self Advocacy Network, the American Association of People with Disabilities, The Arc of the United States, the National Center for Special Education in Charter Schools and CAST.

Please contact Senator Collins office to receive an accessible version of the proposed 21st Century Assistive Technology Act.