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DIAGRAM Out and About

2016 June 30
  • DIAGRAM at IDPF DigiCon @ BEA – May 10, 2016 – Chicago, IL
    • George Kerscher, Robin Seaman and Bill Kasdorf a trifecta powerhouse enlightened the attendees on “Accessibility is for Everybody—And It’s Never Been More Achievable”.  George laid out the baseline of accessible digital publishing and discussed the Google Stepping up Challenge award which will result in the formation of a accessibility certification and compliance program.  George also shared the website orgas a place to go for your accessibility publishing needs.  Robin eloquently discussed the various tools that is coming out of the DIAGRAM Center to help with accessibility for Digital publishing and Bill discussed the Quick Start Guide to Accessible Publishing.
  • DIAGRAM at the 2016 Accessibility Executive Breakfast – June 9, 2016  – New York, NY
    • Robin Seaman presented the session “Accessibility: Solvable Problem (In A Publishing World Of Unsolvable Problems)” which provided session participants with overview of where the industry is today — how far it has come and what it will need to address challenges of the future.
    • George Kerscher presented EPUB 3 Accessibility Conformance And Discovery– The Lay Of The Land, IDPF, Google Challenge, And Certification as session which gave an overview of accessible digital publishing as well as information about the stepping up challenge award and resulting work towards creating an accessibility certification and compliance program.

What We Are Reading

2016 June 30

A big thank you to all of you who sent us articles to be included in this edition of “What We Are Reading” Please keep them coming! You can send them to info[at]Diagramcenter[org] or to me directly at amayaw[at]benetech[dot]org.

DIAGRAM Technical Advisory Sub-Committee Update

2016 June 30

The Technical Advisory Sub-Committee (TASC) met May 27 with a respectable 19 participants attending.  Some of the hot topics that was discussed were; interactive widgets, simulations, and assessments, haptic learning, accessible charts and emotion detection.  Discussed was the need for reusable design patterns for accessibility widgets, drag & drop inter-actives, and voice based control.  This information was given to the DIAGRAM-developers working group as a starting point.  TASC’s next meeting is scheduled for August 30th.

DIAGRAM Standards Working Group Update

2016 June 30
by George Kerscher

EPUB and W3C updates

The International Digital Publishing Forum (IDPF) developed and maintains the EPUB digital publishing Standards. World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) is the standards setting body for the Internet. Web Accessibility Initiative (WAI is an activity within the W3C. DPUB is a digital publishing interest group within the W3C. Getting these initiatives straight will help to follow what is going on in the industry!

DPUB Accessibility Sub-group Publishes Note

The Digital Publishing Interest Group has published a Group Note about Digital Publishing and Accessibility in W3C Documents. This document describes how W3C guidelines (including but not limited to WCAG20, ATAG20, UAAG20, and WAI-ARIA) and their principles, guidelines, and success criteria can be applied to the needs of Digital Publishing. It provides informative guidance, but does not set requirements. The note can be read at

EPUB 3.1 Editor’s Draft Available

Recall that EPUB is based on HTML5 CSS, and other W3C technologies; EPUB 3.1 is expected to be completed and approved by the IDPF membership before the end of 2016. This will leave a stable, implementable, go-to Standard for the digital publishing community. With this in place, the development of EPUB 4 would take place within the W3C, if the combination of IDPF and W3C moves forward.

DIAGRAM 3D Printing Standards Working Group Update

2016 June 30
by Amaya Webster

The 3D Printing Standards Working Group has been hard at working tackling the best ways to print braille. They have developed a draft with resources and recommendations with regard to “best practice for printing 3D braille” and hope to release it before the year. The group is also testing 3D symbols and lines. Make sure to check back so you can stay updated on their progress!

DIAGRAM Content Working Group Update

2016 June 30

The Content Working Group held their second quarterly meeting on May 25 with a follow up meeting May 31 where several exciting decisions were made.  The group committed to expanding the Accessible Image Sample Book to include even more content and sample types.

The group also committed to linking the Accessible Image Sample Book to the Image Description Guidelines, so users can easily navigate between the two resources as they explore ways to make their content accessible.

The last project on the horizon for the group is the creation of a brand new resource!   The group will be developing a top-tips document to help publishers and content creators produce material that is braille conversion friendly.

The group is also actively working to incorporate the expanded mission of the new DIAGRAM + award into its work. The expanded mission broadens the scope of focus from working exclusively on making images accessible for people with print disabilities, to exploring and developing tools to make a variety of content types accessible for people who have print disabilities, as well as people with disabilities not traditionally associated with print, such as autism or hearing impairments. If you, or someone you know has experience in the area of accessibility needs and tools for people with hearing impairments, intellectual disabilities, cognitive disabilities or emotional disabilities and would be interested in joining the Content Working Group please reach out to the group’s co-chairs  Lucia Hasty at lucia [at]tactilegraphics[dot]org or Elaine Ober.

The “Introducing DIAGRAM Center +” Webinar is Now Available Online

2016 June 30
by Amaya Webster

On March, 23rd, 2016, Anh Bui, Vice President of Benetech Labs, delivered a session at the 2016 CSUN conference to a room so packed it was deemed a fire hazard. The session was titled “Accessible Images and Beyond: DIAGRAM Center +” and gave participants an overview of what to expect from DIAGRAM under the new award. Participants learned how DIAGRAM’s scope and mission was expanded, all about the new five-year initiative for Born Accessible content, upcoming projects, and what DIAGRAM hopes to accomplish in this next phase.

Due to the popularity of the session, Anh Bui gave an encore of her CSUN presentation as part of the DIAGRAM webinar series which, not surprisingly was also quite a hit.

 “Wow!” Said one registrant “I’ve been following Benetech for a long time (used to be at an AT Center in Berkeley) and the work that is being done and is projected is so exciting. Our system has an accessibility initiative and all of your work will help those of us working on promoting accessibility tremendously.”

If you missed the original presentation at CSUN and weren’t one of the 138 webinar registrants, have no fear. The webinar was recorded and has now been posted to the webinar page of our website.  Both a closed caption YouTube video is available, as well as the PowerPoint slides from the original presentation.

Possible Merger between the W3C and the IDPF

2016 June 30
tags: ,
by George Kerscher and Charles LaPierre

At a press conference On May 10 at DigiCon held at Book Expo America in Chicago, the leadership of W3C and IDPF announced the possible merger of the two organizations. The members of both organizations had been informed several weeks earlier, but it was not made public until May 10. To read some facts about this, visit:

In addition, the IDPF is holding Board elections where eight seats are open for nomination and subsequent vote by IDPF members. The DIAGRAM Center has had a long standing relationship with both organizations, and we will make sure to keep our community updated as more information is made available.

The Google Impact Challenge and Accessible Certification

2016 June 30

The Google Impact Challenge grant to the DAISY Consortium is enabling significant developments leading to “born accessible” publications in our inclusive publishing society. The first deliverable is a high level set of principles (based on WAI’s excellent work) that can be applied to all versions of the EPUB Standard. The editor’s draft is available at:

Other deliverables include:

  • Techniques that apply to digital publishing that are not covered in WAI techniques detailed in the DPUB note.
  • EPUB Accessibility Checker, software that can be used to evaluate EPUB publications for their conformance to guidelines. Here too, we will build on tools already developed for checking the accessibility of web pages. Manual evaluation will still be necessary, but this will be extraordinarily helpful in the process.
  • Finally, the Google Impact Challenge Grant will help to build and keep updated, where the industry can go for links to authoritative information.

We hope the above items will help the Diagram community understand developments in a rather complex digital publishing environment.

The 2016 Accessibility Executive Breakfast and Informing the Development of a DAISY Certification

2016 June 30
by Charles LaPierre and Amaya Webster

DIAGRAM Co-P.I. George Kerscher and Benetech’s Director of Content Acquisition Robin Seaman attended the Accessibility Executive Breakfast in New York. They spoke to a large collection of publishing industry notables about taking concrete steps toward born accessible publishing. Robin gave an overview of how far the publishing industry has come in regards to accessible content, while George provided a high level view of the practical IDPF accessibility work, insight into what conformance means, the metadata that will inform the public on the accessibility features, how the public can discover what accessible publications are available, and finally the software development initiative to help in the process.

One of the big topics covered at the meeting concerned the ongoing work on accessibility certification. The need of which is intensifying due to the increasing demand for accessible content from education spaces. DAISY received a Google impact challenge award to come up with an accessibility EPUB certification program,, and in alignment with one of DIAGRAM’s goals of making “born accessible” a reality, Benetech will be helping with assessment and definition. Stay tuned for updates and opportunities to give feedback as this exciting endeavor unfolds!

DIAGRAM Developers Working Group Update

2016 June 30

The DIAGRAM Developers working group kicked off on June 24th with their very first meeting. The group, which is being Co-chaired by DIAGRAM community members Neil Soiffer and Sina Bahram, discussed the areas of interest they wished to pursue and formalized their charter which can be found at

Writing MathML is currently a problem and needs an accessible open source solution. The group felt this to be an area that should be explored further. Sina proposed looking into reusable design patterns for accessibility widgets and the group agreed that it could be the first accessible widget for writing math.  They felt that the web would make the most sense for rapid prototyping as opposed to specific plugins or applications.

If you, or anyone you know is interested in joining the Developers working group, please let us know. The group is interested in people with experience teaching software development / accessibility or those who have computer engineering students / developers that may want to contribute. But don’t worry if you’re not a teacher, anyone with developer skills is not only welcome, but encouraged to join. For more information please contact Charles LaPierre, the Technical Lead for DIAGRAM at Charlesl[at]benetech[dot]org.

Accessibility Task Force Publishes Accessibility Note

2016 May 3
by Charles LaPierre

As co-chair of the Accessibility Task Force of the W3C’s Digital Publishing Interest Group, I am thrilled to announce that we have officially published an accessibility Note entitled “Digital Publishing and Accessibility in W3C Documents” which can be found at

This Note is intended to help the W3C understand what is missing from WCAG in terms of digital publishing needs, provides guidance on resolving these shortcomings, outlines future work such as assessments, mathematics etc., and points to relevant work outside of the W3C that they should be aware of such as Diagrammar.

3D Printing and SXSW

2016 April 28
by Lisa Wadors

This year has been very exciting for our 3D printing work.  Building on the momentum of the 3D forum last summer, DIAGRAM members spoke about the use of 3D printed tactiles at two very prestigious conferences. Lisa Wadors Verne, Benetech and Charlie Wapner, American Library Association, discussed the need for using 3D objects for learning and reinforcing complex spatial concepts that are difficult to convey or explore using pictures alone. At SXSWedu in Austin Texas, they examined the idea of schools, libraries and museums all collaborating to help support teacher in providing multi-modal access to complex STEM topics as well as utilizing student talent to create innovative learning tools.  Read more here

Tools Working Group Update

2016 April 28
by Charles LaPierre

With our new Diagram Center + award, and after a few internal meetings here at Benetech, it has been decided that this DIAGRAM Tools WG (Working Group) will be disbanded.  In its place will be a new Developers WG which I am in the processes of forming and will be reaching out to all you developers out there for your buy-in to this exciting new opportunity to provide code samples and contribute to an open-source code repository of accessible widgets, tools and so much more! For those interested in joining the new Developers Working Group, please send an email to

We would like to extend a huge thank you to all of the Tools Working Group member who have worked so hard over the past five years and achieved so much, you have been amazing to work with and we can’t wait for all that we will continue to achieve in this new iteration of the group!