Thursday, January 24, 5:30-7pm, Location TBD
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!
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!
- 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 http://goo.gl/qE16Sk.
- 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 http://goo.gl/6cH86H.
- 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 http://www.umt.edu/accessibility_group/default.php.
- 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 http://w3c.github.io/dpub-accessibility/.
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!
- Article originally posted at http://www.districtdispatch.org/2015/12/oitp-benetech-to-collaborate-at-sxswedu-2016/
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:
- Debut of the Accessible Image Sample Book Second Edition with new samples and modalities
- DIAGRAM participation in the National Forum on 3D Printing and Accessible Education (convened by Benetech and sponsored by IMLS), resulting in the launch of a new 3D printing working group and the debut of the 3D Printing in Education Quick Start Guide
- Publishers such as Pearson and Wiley adopting DIAGRAM practices and training materials to improve accessibility of their content
- Release of MathML Cloud 1.0 in beta
- Senior leaders from the U.S. Department of Education participating in an image slam in Washington DC. Read more at http://goo.gl/PRtlBm
- Release of the Extended Image Description Guidelines
- A fruitful math design sprint and subsequent beta release of the Math Support Finder
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
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 http://progressiveaccess.com/chemistry/index.php.
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 http://www.abilitymagazine.com/W4A-winners-Neil-Soiffer-Dr-Volker-Sorge-Ather-Sharif.html.
- 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 http://www.abilitymagazine.com/W4A-winners-Neil-Soiffer-Dr-Volker-Sorge-Ather-Sharif.html
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.
- Learning Disabilities Awareness Month: Beyond The Dys In Dyslexia Benetech’s own McKenzie Erickson wrote this post on her experiences with Dyslexia for the Department of Education’s Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services Blog.
- $20 Million Grant Powers Game-Changing Internet Access Effort The federal government awarded the University of Wisconsin-Madison a grant to develop and pilot a prototype for an infrastructure that would recognize the type of technology a person was using and automatically apply needed accommodations to make it accessible. This article explains the vision and goals of the pilot.
- IBM Research, Carnegie Mellon Create Open Platform To Help The Blind Navigate Surroundings Scientists from IBM Research and Carnegie Mellon University introduced an open source platform designed to support the creation of smartphone apps that can enable the blind to better navigate their surroundings. This article talks about how they used the platform and how it works.
- At Some Museums, Blind Visitors Can Touch The Art This past July was the 25th anniversary of the Americans With Disabilities Act and because of this, museum programming for the blind has gained greater emphasis. This article talks about what museums are doing to make art more accessible for people with visual impairments.
- Federal Enforcement Activity Focusing On Accessible Technologies The issue of accessible technology and the use of inaccessible technologies in higher education has been termed an area of “great public importance” by the Department of Justice (DOJ). This short article reviews ways in which the DOJ and the Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights (OCR) are enforcing the ADA, and its sister law, Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act.
- 2015 ELI Content Anchors Survey Results Since 2011, ELI has conducted a yearly survey of the teaching and learning communities to determine key themes and opportunities in post-secondary education. This article is the result of their 2015 survey.
- Facebook’s AI Can Caption Photos For The Blind On Its Own Facebook’s Accessibility Team is working to make social networking more useable for people with disabilities. This article talks about how.
- Visiting Russian Libraries For The Blind & Observations About The Emerging Russian Maker Culture Several people sent us this article about visiting Russian libraries for the blind so we knew we had to include it. The article talks about the U.S. Speaker Program in Russia, the writer’s experience with the Russian Maker Movements and visiting Russian libraries for the blind to present work on 3d picture books.
- Fishing For Recognizable 3D Printed Textures In this article, high school student Lindsey Welch recounts her experience participating in a REM summer research project where she worked on accurately replicating textures using 3D printing.
- Ouch: Disability Talks A series of podcasts produced by BBC radio that explore topics related to disability through interviews, discussions and guest presenters. Episodes are available for download at http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p02r6yqw/episodes/player.
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.
- CSUN 2016–San 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.
- IAAP (International Association of Accessibility Professionals)–November 3, 2015 (webinar)
- Sue-Ann Ma and Charles LaPierre along with DIAGRAM community member Neil Soiffer presented a webinar for the International Association of Accessibility Professionals (IAAP) entitled, “Latest Developments in Accessible Math in Browsers and EBooks”. It focused on tools publishers and other content creators can use to make their digital math content accessible. A recording of the webinar can be purchased at http://www.accessibilityassociation.org/content.asp?contentid=161.
- Inclusive Publishing Ecosystem: A Roadmap for Born Accessible Content –Milan, Italy-November 13, 2015
- Betsy Beaumon presented “The DIAGRAM Center: Accessible Images & Math” at the Inclusive Publishing Ecosystem: A Roadmap for Born Accessible Content. Her talk focused on the work DIAGRAM is doing to help publishers and content creators make images and math born accessible through the creation of resources, tools and standards. For an overview of the conference and summary of the presentations given visit http://www.smartbook-tisp.eu/resources/raising-the-bar-for-an-inclusive-publishing-ecosystem.
- Accessing Higher Ground–Denver, Colorado –November 16-20, 2015
- Lisa Wadors of Benetech and Gaeir Dietrich of the High Tech Center Training Unit (HTCTU) hosted a pre-conference session on 3D printing titled “Tactile Graphics Go 3-D”. Their session examined how 3-D printing can be used effectively in the creation of accessible education materials. For more information visit http://accessinghigherground.org/wp/show1prop4grid2015.php?vpropid=2691&vday=Tuesday.
- Sue-Ann Ma and DIAGRAM Content Working Group Co-chair Lucia Hasty joined forces to present “New Developments in Image and Math Content Accessibility 2.0 “. A session exploring the use of 3D printed objects in education, the latest developments in creating accessible math using Math ML Cloud and additions to the recently released second edition of the Accessible Image Sample Book. For more details on their presentation visit http://accessinghigherground.org/wp/show1prop4grid2015.php?vpropid=2684&vday=Thursday&vdis=grid
- The 3rd International Workshop on Digitization and E-Inclusion in Mathematics and Science 2016 (DEIMS2016)–Kanagawa, Japan-February 4 – 6, 2016
- Experts from all over the world will come together to discuss and present new technologies, strategies and future perspectives dealing with the digitization of STEM content in ways that are accessible. DIAGRAM partner MathJax will be there and so will DIAGRAM community member Volker Sorge. Dr. Sorge will be giving a keynote lecture entitled “Assistive Technologies for STEM Subjects – From Bitmap Graphics to Fully Accessible Chemical Diagrams” about his work to make chemical diagrams web accessible. For more information and to register visit http://workshop.sciaccess.net/DEIMS2016/index.html.
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.
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.
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.