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DIAGRAM Office Hours at CSUN

2016 January 31
by Amaya Webster

Thursday, January 24, 5:30-7pm, Location TBD

DIAGRAM Office Hours photo

Geoff Freed, Sina Bahram, and Neil Soiffer at a previous DIAGRAM Office Hours event

We are thrilled to announce that we will once again be holding our DIAGRAM Office Hours! It’s a great time for DIAGRAM community members to have a drink and catch up with friends face to face, make new connections, exchange ideas and share work. We’ll even have tables set up for anyone who feels like doing an impromptu demo! As usual, we’ll be announcing the location just shortly before the day, so we’ll send out a notice to the community then. In the meantime, email us to let at info[at]diagramcenter[dot]org to let us know if you’ll be coming or to add someone to the mailing list that you think should be should also be invited. We are very excited to reconnect with everyone!

DIAGRAM Welcomes Charles LaPierre!

2016 January 31
by Charles LaPierre

A head shot of Charles LaPierre

I’m Charles LaPierre. Many of you may know me all ready, but for those who don’t here’s a little background information. I first joined Benetech back in 1998 when it was Arkenstone and I worked on many accessibility products including Open Book.  In 2006 I left Benetech to become the CTO of Sendero Group where we built a number of accessible GPS solutions used by thousands worldwide. Then in 2014 I returned to Benetech as a Senior Software Engineer taking a number of responsibilities including being Benetech’s representative on W3C, member of the Digital Publishing Interest Group (DPUB), co-chair of the DPUB’s Accessibility Task Force, co-chair of the EPUB 3.1 Accessibility Task Force, and a member of the BISG Accessible Publishing Working Group.

Now, in 2016, I’m thrilled and excited to be joining the DIAGRAM team here at Benetech as the new Technical Lead of DIAGRAM and Born Accessible.  I’ll be working to strengthen and support our technical community, while keeping my finger on the pulse of new technologies and standards. You’ll see me even more active in our technical working groups and at events like code sprints. I’ll also be working directly with content creators and publishers to help them make “born accessible” a reality. I am looking very forward to working with all of you in helping to build the foundation for a fully accessible future for all students!


Community Spotlight

2016 January 30
by Amaya Webster

A big congratulations to our friends at W3C who were honored with a Technology and Engineering Emmy for their Standards Work on Accessible Video Captioning and Subtitles. We applaud the W3C’s pioneering development of Timed Text Markup Language (TTML), and are excited to continue working with the W3C in supporting advancements in strong accessibility standards through our leadership of the accessibility task force of the W3C Digital Publishing Interest Group. So once again, congratulations on this notable and well deserved achievement!  To learn more you can read the press release at

DIAGRAM Out and About

2016 January 30
tags: , , ,
by Amaya Webster
  • ATIA –Orlando, Florida – February 3 – 6, 2016
    • On Thursday, February 4, Lisa Wadors, Carol Stanger, James Leahy, Joseph Lane, Kathleen Hanek, Lisa Dieker and Lori Geist will host an interactive session called Researcher-Industry Collaboration: Establishing and Maintaining Value-Added Partnerships. The session will explore case examples of successful researcher-industry collaborations in all aspects of generating new or improved assistive technology (AT) products, including scientific research, engineering development, and industrial production. For more information visit
    • On Friday, February 5, Lisa Wadors will present on 3D printing for accessible educations in a session entitled Enhancing Educational Opportunities for Tactile Learners Through 3D Printing. Participants will learn about the work DIAGRAM has been doing in this area, the findings from the 2015 3D Printing for Education Technology Forum and how teachers have incorporated this technology into their accessible classrooms for STEM education. For more information visit
  • Montana Accessibility Interest Group – Missoula, Montana- February 5, 2016
    • DIAGRAM community member Bryan Gould will be presenting on research-based techniques for describing complex images such as maps, charts, and info graphics. His talk will also cover considerations that must be made when creating alt text or image descriptions for assessments, and he’ll share links to several free resources from NCAM and the Diagram Center. For more information visit
  • IDPF EPUB Accessibility Meetings– Baltimore, Maryland – February 23-24, 2016
    • George Kerscher, DIAGRAM community member and Secretary-General of the DAISY Consortium will open the meetings which will have a general theme around EPUB Accessibility as a Baseline by giving the keynote address.
    • Charles LaPierre, Technical Lead for DIAGRAM and Born Accessible, will be presenting a technical Note on behalf of the Digital Publishing Interest Group’s (DPUB) Accessibility Task Force. This Note addresses what is missing from WCAG in terms of Digital Publishing. The Note which is currently in draft status currently can be found at

The Accessible Book Consortium needs our help

2016 January 30

The Accessible Book Consortium (ABC) is compiling an international database of accessible book sources, both online and within countries.  If you know of accessible book services available in your country, please contact Caitlin Reid ( Here is a link to an example of online database of accessible book sources, mainly from the UK:

OITP, Benetech to collaborate at SXSWedu 2016

2016 January 30
by Charlie Wapner

In September, I wrote about the great work that a Silicon Valley-based organization called Benetech is doing to level the playing field for students with disabilities through the use of 3D printing technology. I also mentioned that Benetech had proposed a program for the 2016 SXSWedu conference highlighting their work to this end. I’m happy to report that Benetech’s program has received the imprimatur of the South-by-selectors and will be included in the Conference’s slate of “Playground Talks” – short presentations highlighting discovery-based learning activities.

During the talk, entitled “No More Yoda Heads: 3D printing 4 diverse learners,” Benetech’s Lisa Wadors Verne will highlight her organization’s ongoing efforts to build a coalition between libraries, museums and schools that encourages the use of innovative 3D printed tools to place learners of all abilities on an even keel. It will be my honor to join Dr. Wadors Verne and discuss how the library community can and should participate in such a coalition. As I will be representing ALA’s policy office, I will also underscore the importance of ensuring that decision makers inside the beltway and elsewhere allow for the development and adoption of “leveling” 3D printed learning tools to continue unfettered.

Here’s the program description, as submitted to SXSW:

Research suggests that 3D objects are important for learning and reinforcing complex spatial concepts that are difficult to convey or explore in any other way (e.g., cells and DNA). Although many schools have access to 3D printing technology, many machines are underutilized and used to print novelty items. In this session, learn about new collaborations with libraries and museums to help support teachers in providing multi-modal access to complex STEM topics as well as utilizing student talent to create innovative learning tools.

Props to Benetech…And many thanks for bringing libraries with them to Austin. I invite folks in the library community to provide me with any thoughts or examples that may be used at this session and beyond. Also, ALA and OITP specifically will be otherwise present at SXSW, so stay tuned for further details!

DIAGRAM 2015 Year-End Roundup

2015 December 23

Dear DIAGRAM Community,

As 2015 comes to a close, we are thrilled to be looking back at a year of great strides and forward to a year of new and increased opportunities. We capped the year with news that the DIAGRAM community will continue to thrive and grow as DIAGRAM Center +, thanks to a new 5-year award from the Department of Education’s Office of Special Education Programs. This new award allows us to expand the scope of our work and our community as we continue to tackle the challenges around making STEM educational content accessible.

Other highlights from this productive year include:

We want everyone to know how much we value the time, effort, passion and commitment you’ve put into making education accessible. We are proud to have the opportunity to work with each and every one of you as part of this DIAGRAM community and can’t wait for 2016 and all that we will accomplish together as DIAGRAM Center +!

With thanks and good wishes for a wonderful holiday season and New Year,
Anh and the DIAGRAM team

DIAGRAM Community Spotlight (New!)

2015 December 23
by Amaya Webster

Introducing the new DIAGRAM Community Spotlight section

The DIAGRAM community has so many people accomplishing such great things and doing such tremendous work for accessibility and education, we feel it’s only right to recognize these efforts. If you or someone you know has done something you think should be highlighted in the DIAGRAM blog’s new Community Spotlight section, let us know! Email info[at]Diagram[dot]org.

Congratulations to DIAGRAM community members Volker Sorge and Neil Soiffer for winning Best Paper awards at the Web for All conference!

  • Dr. Volker Sorge is part of the company Progressive Accessibility Solutions which produces software solutions for web accessibility. Their aim is to make content accessible for readers with visual impairments and print disabilities, when standard assistive technologies cannot.  One such example is the work they have done on accessible chemical diagrams. Interactive, fully accessible technology for the study of chemical molecule diagrams that allows the direct translation of images into fully web accessible SVG diagrams. Examples of how it works can be found at

Volker recently wrote a paper expounding on the lack of accessible science diagrams and how his work on      accessible chemical diagrams seeks to addresses this gap. His paper won the Web For All Conference Best Paper  Award and was published in Ability Magazine. Partial text can be found at


  • Dr. Neil Soiffer has long been a leader in accessible math with his work at Design Science Inc., creators of MathPlayer, a tool that can read the math on a webpage to a user, helping to make math more accessible. When Neil joined Design Science, MathPlayer was a free Internet Explorer plug-in, still in its first iteration. Now in its fourth iteration, the beta version of MathPlayer 4 was recently released. Features include the ability to move around different parts of an equation, text highlighting and compatibility with Microsoft Word.

Neil wrote a paper on how he became involved in MathPlayer, how it has grown and what it is becoming. His paper won the Web For All Conference Best Paper Award and was published in Ability Magazine. Partial text can be found at

What We Are Reading

2015 December 23

Special shout out and a huge thanks to DIAGRAM community members Robert Jaquiss and Laurie Vasquez! Both of them sent us links to several articles that they read and found interesting so that we could share them with everyone.

Have you read anything you think our community would find interesting? Let us know! Email info[at]Diagram[dot]org and we will include it in our next blog post.

DIAGRAM Out and About

2015 December 23
  • CSUN 2016San Diego, CA-March 23-25, 2016

This year has flown by and CSUN 2016 is almost upon us. Many people from DIAGRAM, Benetech staff as well as our non-Benetech community members, have sessions this year and we are really excited about all of them! Here are the ones we already know of:

      • The DIAGRAM Center will be hosting our annual “office hours” event and we will send out more details as it gets closer. The “office hours” are a great time to meet, touch base in person, and of course plan new and ongoing collaborations. So if you’re at CSUN, or just in the area, we really hope you’ll stop by and join us!
      • Lisa Wadors, Gaeir Dietrich and Kaela Parks will host a pre-conference workshop on March 22 called “Tactile Graphics Solutions from 2D to 3D”. In this beginner level workshop, participants will learn how to optimize the usefulness of tactile learning objects in colleges and universities, experience a 3D Printer in action and do some hands-on exploration of 3D model lending libraries.
      • Anh Bui will give one of the early talks of the main conference on March 23 as she introduces DIAGRAM + to CSUN attendees. Her talk “Accessible Images and Beyond: DIAGRAM Center +” will dive into our new five-year initiative for Born Accessible content as well as our expanded mission and scope.
      • Sue-Ann Ma and Sina Bahram will present “Discovering Accessible Math that Works with Your AT: Math Support Finder” on the morning of March 25. Their session will help CSUN attendees learn about the accessible options available for reading math visually, aurally, or tactually and the combination of tools needed to do so.
      • Robin Seaman, George Kerscher, Richard Orme and Elaine Ober will present “New Guides by Publishers, for Publishers: How to Create Accessible EPUB 3”. Also on March 25, this session will explore ways in which publishers can improve the accessibility of their ebooks for all readers.
      • Charles LaPierre, Sue-Ann Ma, Mark Hakkinen and Becky Gibson will hold an afternoon session on March 25 called “Diagrammar Use Cases: A Framework for Making Images & Graphics Accessible”. Participants will learn about the Diagrammar. A content model standard created by the DIAGRAM Center to help make images and graphics accessible to all readers.


Update on DIAGRAM Tools Working Group

2015 December 23
by Amaya Webster

The DIAGRAM Tools Working Group held their last quarterly meeting of 2015 on October 26. The group was walked through the prototype of DIAGRAM’s new Math Support Finder Tool.  The goals and deliverables of the new DIAGRAM + award were also discussed. The group will meet again in the first quarter of 2016. If you have any questions or are interested in joining the group, please contact chair Geoff Freed at geoff[underscore]freed[at]wgbh[dot]org. Past meeting notes can be found on the Tools Working Group wiki.

Update on DIAGRAM Content Working Group

2015 December 23

The DIAGRAM Content Working Group held their last quarterly meeting of 2015 on October 28 to discuss the direction of the group under the new DIAGRAM + award. It was decided that the group would begin work on a resource guiding publishers and content creators through the steps of creating files that are braille conversion friendly. The group is also planning work on the continued expansion of the Accessible Image Sample Book and integration with the Expanded Image Description Guidelines. The group will meet again in January, 2016. If you have any questions about the Working Group, or are interested in joining, please contact co-chairs Elaine Ober <elaine [dot] ober [at] pearson [dot] com> and Lucia Hasty <lucia [at] tactilegraphics [dot] org>.  See the Content Working Group wiki for past meeting notes.

Update on DIAGRAM Advisory Board Q4 Meeting, 2015

2015 December 23

The DIAGRAM Advisory Board held their last quarterly meeting of 2015 on October 26. The focus of the meeting was to discuss the new DIAGRAM + award and how the expanded mandate will shape the Board moving forward. The Board is looking forward to expanding the work of DIAGRAM to include for the first time developing new tools and standards and exploring solutions for students with both print disabilities as well as disabilities not traditionally associated with print disabilities.

The Board also discussed the formation of a technical format review advisory committee, which is part of the new award.  This committee will meet at least twice a year to provide technical guidance and help to inform the work and efforts of the growing DIAGRAM community.

If you have any questions, or are interested in joining a general Advisory Committee or the technical format review advisory committee, please contact info[at]Diagram[dot]org.