New Models for Creating Accessible Interactive Widgets for STEM Learning
On August 7, 2014, Kyle Keane of Wolfram Research and Madeleine Rothberg of NCAM teamed up to present new DIAGRAM research into current best practices for making dynamic scientific graphics accessible to persons with print disabilities. A walk-through of a working example and its source code was included as well as demos of examples of interactive widgets forthcoming from Pearson. More than 60 publishers, UX designers, accessibility researchers, and developers tuned in, and reactions were enthusiastic to say the least. Here is a sampling of comments that came in via the chat window during the webinar:
“This is fantastic…”
“Thank you for such amazing work! This is fantastic! REALLY great stuff!”
“I am stunned with amazement over this accessible drag-and-drop…”
“I am alerting all my Facebook and Twitter friends to your code…”
“Thanks everyone for making this happen!”
“THIS IS AWESOME!!!!”
Visit the DIAGRAM Center webinars web page to download the PowerPoints and view the closed-captioned recording of the webinar. You can also download a copy of Kyle Keane’s full report and experiment with his working example by visiting the Research page on the DIAGRAM web site.
Outreach Working Group Update
After a break following the DIAGRAM strategic planning meetings in June, the DIAGRAM Outreach Working Group will resume regular meetings next month. Working Group members, please watch your in-box for a note on scheduling for that meeting. Following on outcomes from the Airlie strategic planning meetings, we will be focusing on synthesizing the DIAGRAM tool suite with narrative of our story to show clearly how students can benefit from our work and discussing what we can use to determine metrics for success of DIAGRAM initiatives. If you would like to join this Working Group, please contact Julie Noblitt at <julien [at] benetech [dot] org>. As always, you can access past meeting notes on the Outreach Working Group wiki.
- OSEP Project Director’s Conference – July 21-23, 2014 – Washington, D.C. Betsy Beaumon presented a discussion of the latest research and development at DIAGRAM.
- American Printing House for the Blind (APH) Annual Meeting – October 16-18, 2014 – Louisville, KY. Jim Downs will deliver a DIAGRAM update to Ex-Officio Trustees and special guests.
- Accessing Higher Ground (AHG) – November 17-21, 2014 – Westminster, CO. Sue-Ann Ma and Gaeir Dietrich will present New Developments in Image and Math Content Accessibility
- Assistive Technology Industry Association (ATIA) – January 27-31, 2015 – Orlando, FL. Betsy Beaumon and Karen Erickson will present, “3D Printing: New Educational Opportunities for Students with Disabilities.”
In June 2014 the SETDA (State Educational Technology Directors Association) published a policy brief entitled, “The Accessibility of Learning Content for All Students, Including Students with Disabilities, Must Be Addressed in the Shift to Digital Instructional Material.” The brief includes a recommendation that readers follow DIAGRAM’s “Top Tips for Creating Accessible EPUB 3” (see page 8 of report). Full text of brief is available in PDF. An article about the report is here: http://thejournal.com/articles/2014/06/23/setda-releases-brief-on-accessible-resources.aspx
Content Working Group Update
After a break following the DIAGRAM strategic planning meetings in June, the DIAGRAM Content Working Group will soon resume regular meetings. Working Group members, please watch your in-box for a note on scheduling for that meeting. Following on outcomes from the Airlie strategic planning meetings, the WG will continue to discuss possible updates to Version 1.1 of the Accessible Image Sample Book, and the design of an accessible image registry, as well as work on updates to the image description guidelines. If you would like to join this Working Group, please contact co-chairs Elaine Ober at <elaine [dot] ober [at] pearson [dot] com> and Lucia Hasty at <lucia [at] tactilegraphics [dot] org>. Visit the wiki page to see past meeting notes.
DIAGRAM Resources Cited in New CAST UDL Web Site
As part of CAST’s web-based resource called “UDL On Campus: Universal Design for Learning in Higher Education,” the Accessible Image Sample Book, and DIAGRAM’s Top Tips for Creating Accessible EPUB 3 are cited the section called, “EPUB: Supporting Learner Variability in EPUB Creation.”
New DIAGRAM Subcontract with the AMS
Submitted by Sue-Ann Ma
Tools Working Group Update
After a brief summer break following the DIAGRAM strategic planning meetings in June, the Tools Working Group will resume regular meetings next month. Working Group members, please watch your in-box for a note on scheduling for that meeting. We will be working on our refreshed goals from the Airlie strategic planning meetings and hope to have some interesting guest speakers this fall as well. Stay tuned! In the meantime, contact Tools Working Group chair Geoff Freed <geoff [underscore] freed [at] wgbh [dot] org> if you have any questions. And, as always, you can access past meeting notes on the Tools Working Group wiki.
Standards Working Group: New Temporary Meeting Schedule for 2014
Submitted by George Kerscher
Following the strategic planning meetings at Airlie in June, the DIAGRAM Standards Working Group has accelerated its meeting schedule from quarterly to bi-weekly in order to quickly resolve issues related to the DIAGRAM Content Model. Because of the large membership and interest overlap between the DIAGRAM Standards Working Group and the DAISY Transition to Inclusive EPUB 3 Ecosystem (TIES) project, the two groups have converged for the purpose of discussing the Content Model outstanding issues. The weekly meeting agendas will focus alternately on TIES and DIAGRAM topics until the Content Model discussion has concluded, most likely through November or December 2014. The DIAGRAM Standards WG will then resume its previous schedule.
The last meetings were held on July 15, August 12, and August 19, 2014. Meetings are generally held on Tuesdays at 8:00am Pacific, 11:00am Eastern, 3:00pm GMT. Please contact George Kerscher at <kerscher [at] montana [dot] com> if you would like more information. Meeting notes continue to be posted on the DIAGRAM Standards WG wiki.
EPUBTest Now Includes Accessibility Characteristics of E-book Systems
Submitted by Geoff Freed
EPUBTest (http://epubtest.org) now includes the accessibility characteristics of e-book reading systems, thanks to work done by George Kerscher, Marisa DeMeglio and others. If you want to participate by contributing evaluations, please send a note to Marisa at marisa [dot] demeglio [at] gmail [dot] com.
In June 2014, forty members of the DIAGRAM Community met at the beautiful Airlie Center in Warrenton, VA (near Washington, D.C.). We celebrated what we have achieved so far and set our agenda for the final funding year under the current award, which concludes on April 30, 2015. Our strategic planning included ideas for how to extend our work beyond the end of the award. Several important themes emerged from the two days of active discussions:
- Legacy: leaving clear and useful assets, nurturing the community no matter what the future brings
- Impact: making sure our tools and standards are used
- Synthesis: putting all the pieces together to create comprehensive solutions
- More: doing more of what works, more guidelines, more training, more tools, etc.
- Future: Thinking big! Tackling new technologies (3D printing, online math, etc.), getting new funding
We left our meeting a great sense of satisfaction, connection, and excitement about the future as well as refreshed and expanded goals for the remainder of the award. We also emerged with a new understanding of our group’s amazing talents when it comes to things like championship Foosball, impromptu a cappella singing, and skeet shooting. (Sorry, no room to elaborate here, but I encourage you to ask your colleagues for details!) We were glad to see that 100% of respondents to our post-meeting survey agreed or strongly agreed that the meeting was worthwhile, useful, and relevant to future planning. From our point of view here at DIAGRAM, the community input that came from the meeting was an essential part of our planning, and we thank you!
The notes from our breakout discussions and a summary of our Goals and Objectives have been made available in a DIAGRAM-only blog posting entitled, “DIAGRAM Strategic Planning Meeting at the Airlie Center.” Note: you must be a registered user to access this article. Contact Julie Noblitt at <Julien [at] benetech [dot] org> if you need assistance with registering. In addition, a webinar to debrief the event will take place on Wednesday August 6th at 9:00 a.m. Pacific time. All DIAGRAM Advisory Board and Working Group members are welcome to attend. Look for webinar registration details via email.
It is hard to convey in this short article the deep connection we felt as we planned for the future. The DIAGRAM Center truly is the center of creativity and commitment for creating access to images for students with print disabilities. We can’t wait for all that is to come!