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August 2014 Standards Update

2014 August 18
by jnoblitt

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 two DIAGRAM-focused meetings were held on July 15 and August 12, 2014.  The next one is scheduled for Tuesday August 26, 2014 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.

Tobi 2.4 Brings Parallel Production Capability for EPUB 3 Projects
Submitted by Varju Luceno

In June 2014, the DAISY Consortium announced the new release of the next generation open source multimedia book production tool, Tobi. Tobi is a unique software tool that can produce publications compliant with both the DAISY 3 and the mainstream EPUB 3 specifications. It includes the unique capability of adding accessibility enhancements, such as image descriptions, to the mainstream EPUB 3 publications. From the Change Log:

DIAGRAM image descriptions: EPUB3 export (XHTML5), including audio and alternative images (like DAISY projects), based on @longdesc, @aria:describedAt, @aria:describedBy / iframe + fixed metadata issue when importing DIAGRAM XML.

This release also addresses reported issues and includes other bug fixes. To download Tobi or to learn more about it, please visit the Tobi project area http://www.daisy.org/tobi/. For more information about what’s new in this release, please visit the change log http://www.daisy.org/tobi/change-log.

DIAGRAM Community Meeting

2014 July 31
by jnoblitt

DIAGRAM Community Group PhotoIn 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!

July 2014 Training & Outreach Update

2014 July 21

Next DIAGRAM Webinar: New Models for Creating Accessible Interactive Widgets for STEM Learning
Are you a publisher, UX designer, accessibility researcher, or developer who has wondered whether it is possible for interactive graphics to become effective learning tools for learners who rely on screenreaders for access, especially in the STEM classroom? Tune in to this webinar to hear the results of new DIAGRAM research into current best practices for making dynamic scientific graphics accessible to persons with print disabilities. Kyle Keane will discuss his framework that describes the information flow in interactive widgets, a set of guidelines for providing this information to users, and a freely available working example to aid content creators in the implementation of guidelines. A walk-through of the working example and its source code will be included. Madeleine Rothberg will discuss exciting developments happening elsewhere in the field, including examples of interactive widgets currently available from Pearson and others. She will also discuss the wide range of widgets being delivered in new K-12 assessments and the accessibility challenges they create.

Title:                New Models for Creating Accessible Interactive Widgets for STEM Learning
Date:                Thursday, August 7, 2014
Time:               11:00 a.m. Pacific (2:00 p.m. Eastern; 19:00 GMT)
Presenters:   Kyle Keane, Wolfram Research and Madeleine Rothberg, National Center for Accessible Media (NCAM, WGBH)
Register:       https://cc.readytalk.com/r/1zkkb25xxt0o&eom

“Describeathon14” for Global Accessibility Awareness Day on May 15

2014 April 30

Our friends at the Smith-Kettlewell Eye Research Institute will be hosting Describeathon14 in recognition of Global Accessibility Awareness Day on May 15, 2014. Volunteers in San Francisco and all over the world will raise their voices on this Day of Description to make the web a safer place for accessible video. Participants will use YouDescribe to describe as many videos as possible in one day and share them with the world. Those who can will describe what they see, while others will contribute by providing feedback and identifying YouTube videos that could really use some description.

Sign up to participate in Describeathon14 at:
http://www.vdrdc.org/describeathon14signup

Learn more about Global Accessibility Awareness Day at:
http://globalaccessibilityawarenessday.org

Twitter hashtags:
#DescribeAthon14
#GAAD
#a11y
#blindRDC
#ViDesc

What We Are Reading

2014 April 30
by jnoblitt

Here are a few items that caught our attention in the last month:

Update to Accessible Image Sample Book

2014 April 30
by jnoblitt

Version 1.1 of the Accessible Image Sample Book posted this month. The first code sample line under “Making These Images Accessible” in “Sample 7: Decorative and Redundant Images” has been updated. The old statement <img src=”image.jpg” alt=”” function=”decorative” /> has been replaced with the new statement in accordance with Image Guidelines for EPUB 3.

April 2014 Content Working Group Update

2014 April 30

The DIAGRAM Content Working Group met on April 28, 2014 to discuss possible updates to Version 1.0 of the Accessible Image Sample Book, and the design of an accessible image registry, for which research and requirements-gathering has begun. Notes from the meeting have been posted. If you have any questions about this Working Group please contact co-chairs Elaine Ober and Lucia Hasty or visit the wiki page to see past meeting notes.

Consumer Usage of Current Devices and Software

2014 April 30
tags:
by jnoblitt

Submitted by Bryan Gould

DIAGRAM Center partner The Carl and Ruth Shapiro Family Foundation National Center for Accessible Media at WGBH (NCAM) has been keeping tabs on research into what types of technology people with print disabilities use to read digital text.

WebAIM surveyIn January 2014, WebAIM conducted a survey of preferences of 1,465 screen reader users. This was a follow-up of similar WebAIM surveys conducted in 2009, 2010 and 2012. The survey points to several intriguing trends.

While JAWS remains the “primary” screen reader for desktops and laptops, many respondents report using multiple screen readers including NVDA, VoiceOver, Window-Eyes and System Access or System Access to Go (from Serotek.) It will be interesting to see how Window-Eyes usage changes now that it is available for free for Microsoft Office users.

The increase in mobile screen reader usage over the past few years has been significant: 82% in 2014, up from 12% in 2009, with Voice Over being the most used mobile screen reader by far. And while 56% use desktop/laptop screen readers more than mobile screen readers, 44% use mobile screen readers more than or about as much as desktop/laptop screen readers.

If these trends continue, Voice Over may draw closer to JAWS and NVDA for the most used screen reader overall (mobile and desktop/laptop combined.)

Dr. Kim T. Zebehazy (University of British Columbia) – Dr. Zebehazy is working on a variety of studies and surveys focused on graphics use in instruction and in assessments for students with visual impairments. The results are expected to be published in a series of articles in the Journal of Visual Impairments. The first article has been published and a portion of the abstract is provided below.

Zebehazy, K. T., & Wilton, A. P. (2014). Quality, Importance, and Instruction: The Perspectives of Teachers of Students with Visual Impairments on Graphics Use by Students. Journal of Visual Impairment & Blindness, 108(1), 5-16.

Results:

In general, teachers valued the use of graphics (both tactile and print) and the need to provide instruction. Fewer than 50% of the respondents felt that graphics were appropriately adapted on large-scale assessments, that there was sufficient instruction in the use of graphics in mainstream classrooms, or that there was an adequate amount of instructional time to teach the use of graphics.

Implications for practitioners: Advocacy for sufficient instruction time for graphics and continued monitoring of the quality and effectiveness of graphics in educational materials are important. Providing feedback to material producers can help to support quality. Increasing student independence and exposure to graphics could support the effective use of graphics on assessments.

Future articles:

Zebehazy, K.T., & Wilton, A.P. (submitted). Straight from the source: Students with visual impairments’ perceptions about graphic use. Journal of Visual Impairment & Blindness.

Zebehazy, K.T., & Wilton, A.P. (in press). Charting success: The experience of teachers of students with visual impairments in promoting graphic use by students. Journal of Visual Impairment & Blindness.

Advisory Board Meeting

2014 April 30
by jnoblitt

The DIAGRAM Center Advisory Board held its last quarterly meeting of the DIAGRAM program year on April 14, 2014. In addition to the reports from each of the Working Group co-chairs, we heard an interim report from Yue-Ting Siu on her DIAGRAM subcontract research on 3D printing in schools. Lively discussion ensued about the importance of 3D printing for accessibility in education. Notes have been posted in the community area of the DIAGRAM blog. You must be registered and logged in as a DIAGRAM Community member to see the notes. If you have any questions, please write to Julie Noblitt, Community Manager, at julien [at] benetech [dot] org.

April 2014 Software Development Update

2014 April 30
by jnoblitt

gh, LLC Updates WAVES Math Tool to Enable Internet-based Use
Submitted by Wunji Lau

The original WAVES software, developed by gh, LLC under a grant from the DIAGRAM Center, is a small Windows application that provides accessible math input and output for blind and visually impaired users. The Web Accessible Virtual Electronic Scratchpad offers a streamlined interface for quick selection of mathematical symbols, voice output for math expressions, and flawless MathML conversion to and from user-inputted math. In early 2014, gh completed work on a major upgrade to WAVES, called JSWAVES (for JavaScript WAVES).

The new JSWAVES update consists of almost entirely new code, duplicating most functions of WAVES, but in a form that doesn’t require anything to be installed on the user’s computer. Instead, JSWAVES can be run in a web browser directly from a website, so any computer with an Internet connection can have access to the tool.

WAVES JSWAVES
Program is installed on local hard drive Program runs on a remote server, and is accessed via the Internet
Limited customization options: toolbar contents, button arrangement Extensive customization options: complete graphical themes, icons, order of character entry (e.g., Reverse Polish notation), and operator precedence (e.g., how complex fractions are displayed)
Voice feature reads math out loud No voicing
Designed for accessible math input/output Designed as a “sandbox” for developers to build from

Website owners can make JSWAVES available to visitors to their site, providing an easy-to-use accessible math reading and input interface for a wide range of applications. JSWAVES is currently tested on Internet Explorer, Chrome, and Firefox browsers.

Tools Working Group Update
The DIAGRAM Tools Working Group held its last quarterly meeting for the program year on April 21, 2014. The main topic of conversation was the idea of using a protocol handler instead of a browser plugin to launch assistive technologies and other applications for mathematics.  Detailed notes of the discussion are on the Tools WG wiki, but please also see Gerardo’s write-up of the proposed approach.  Comments are welcome at the bottom of that page (you don’t need to login, but please sign your name at the end of the comment). Please let co-chairs Gerardo Capiel or Geoff Freed know if you have any questions.

April 2014 Training & Outreach Update

2014 April 30

Webinar: 3D Printing of Accessible Materials in Schools
Yue-Ting Siu, a TVI and doctoral candidate at Berkeley was joined by Mike Cheverie, a TVI at LAUSD, to deliver a fun and information-packed DIAGRAM webinar on April 30, 2014. The topic was research and case studies on the use of 3D printing in schools to create accessible educational materials. The audience of more than 150 participants was augmented by brisk conversation in the Twitterverse started by Sina Bahram, Josh Miele, and others. The slides, handouts, and a closed-captioned recording of the webinar will be freely available at http://diagramcenter.org/webinars.html. It will take about a week to get the recording up, but the handouts and slides are available now.

Our next webinar will be held on August 7, 2014 when Kyle Keane of Wolfram Research and Madeleine Rothberg of the National Center for Accessible Media (WGBH) will be discussing accessible interactive widgets. Not to be missed! Registration will open in July.

Outreach Working Group Update
The DIAGRAM Outreach Working Group held its last quarterly meeting of the program year on April 14, 2014 to discuss ideas for assessing use and impact of the Accessible Image Sample Book, as well as ideas for topics we should focus on during this last program year for DIAGRAM. Contact Outreach Working Group Chair Julie Noblitt at julien [at] benetech [dot] org if you would like more information or have ideas for discussion. See the DIAGRAM Outreach Working Group wiki for past meeting notes.

DIAGRAM Out and About: April 2014 Update

2014 April 30
by jnoblitt

DIAGRAM Community Meeting Set for June
May 1, 2014 marks the first day of the fifth and final year of the DIAGRAM award. The Asilomar meeting in 2012 demonstrated the incredible value of bringing the DIAGRAM community together face-to-face, and so the DIAGRAM Advisory Board and Working Groups will be once again be meeting in person on June 24-25, 2014 to continue and refine the discussion. Everyone’s favorite meeting facilitator, Allen Gunn (or “Gunner”), will be back to expertly shepherd us through the meetings. We are fortunate to have secured a spot at the beautiful Airlie Conference Center, located near Washington, D.C. and 35 miles from Dulles airport. Airlie’s natural setting and mission to provide “a distraction-free and neutral environment to candidly exchange ideas on issues, ignite thought and inspire collective action” is especially aligned with the goals of our meeting. We are looking forward to reporting on the outcomes of what promises to be another productive meeting.

April 2014 Standards Update

2014 April 30

New WCAG Conformance Requirements for @Alt on Images
Submitted by Geoff Freed

There have been lively discussions on various accessibility lists this month regarding new delivery methods for image descriptions.  In what may be a shock for some, WCAG 2.0 has relaxed its conformance requirements around the inclusion of @alt on images.  Authors may now not use @alt if descriptions are included in the <img> element through some other accessible method.  The method for determining what is called an accessible name is discussed in detail at http://www.w3.org/TR/wai-aria/roles#textalternativecomputation.  Accessible names include aria-labelledby, aria-label, @alt and @title; presumably aria-describedat will be added to that list when it becomes part of ARIA 1.1.

Note that this doesn’t mean that authors should stop using @alt on images.  In fact, authors should always use @alt unless there is a good reason not to do so.  DIAGRAM’s recommendations on providing image descriptions (e.g., those found in the Accessible Image Sample Book) are still valid, as are the other recommendations found elsewhere, such as NCAM’s Effective Practices for Description of Science Content Within DTBs or the W3C’s Techniques for Providing Useful Text Alternatives. The loosening of the @alt restriction in WCAG, however, provides authors with conforming alternatives that previously were not accepted as conforming.  There’s a good article from SSB Bart on this topic at https://www.ssbbartgroup.com/blog/2014/04/08/is-the-alt-attribute-dead/.

Elsevier Announces EPUB 3 Standard
“Book Business,” a mainstream publishing industry magazine, posted a press release announcing Elsevier’s decision to adopt EPUB3 as their standard format for books and journals going forward. Elsevier is one of the world’s largest publishers of academic journals and books. Notable in the press release is the mention of MathML and better accessibility as two of the main benefits of the move.  Many of you in the DIAGRAM community helped shape the conversations in the AAP working groups last year to make sure that accessibility was part of the conversation. Thank you for all your efforts to make sure that accessibility is incorporated into publishing standards for all.

Standards Working Group Update
The DIAGRAM Standards Working Group held its last quarterly meeting of the program year on April 14, 2014. Refer to the notes from this meeting on the Standards Working Group wiki for updates on EPUB 3.01 and EDUPUB. Please contact co-chairs George Kerscher and Mark Hakkinen if you would like more information.

March 2014 Training & Outreach Update

2014 March 31
by jnoblitt

Next DIAGRAM Webinar: 3D Printing of Accessible Educational Materials
How are teachers using 3D printing to create accessible materials for students with visual impairments? Hear the results of newly completed research exploring this question, and the challenges of using this technology for creating accessible materials. Examples of how 3D printing can create better learning and teaching experiences will be discussed for classroom implementation.

Title:                3D Printing of Accessible Educational Materials
Date:                Wednesday, April 30, 2014
Time:               11:00 a.m. Pacific (2:00 p.m. Eastern; 19:00 GMT)
Presenter:        Yue-Ting Siu is a Teacher of Students with Visual Impairments (TVI), Bay Area Unified School Districts; NLCSD Fellowship recipient and doctoral student at the University of California, Berkeley
Register:          https://cc.readytalk.com/r/mphepsbx86xy&eom

Outreach Working Group Update
The DIAGRAM Outreach Working Group will hold its last quarterly meeting of the program year on April 14, 2014 at 11:00 am. Pacific Time. Contact Outreach Working Group Chair Julie Noblitt at julien [at] benetech [dot] org if you would like more information or have ideas for discussion. See the DIAGRAM Outreach Working Group wiki for past meeting notes.

What We Are Reading

2014 March 31
by jnoblitt

Here are a few items that caught our attention in the last month:

Interview with DIAGRAM Center Director, Anh Bui

2014 March 31
by jnoblitt
Anh Bui

Anh Bui, DIAGRAM Center Director

This month Benetech’s Communications Manager, Noa Ronkin, sat down with DIAGRAM Center Director, Anh Bui for an a conversation about math and image accessibility, global literacy innovation, women in technology, and of course our work here in the DIAGRAM Center. Don’t miss this article on Benetech’s Blog for the big picture of what Benetech is doing in Global Literacy.

March 2014 Standards Update

2014 March 31
by jnoblitt

ARIA Now a Full W3C Recommendation
Submitted by Geoff Freed

The W3C announced in March that ARIA 1.0 was finally released as a full W3C recommendation.  For those who like to read specifications, go directly to ARIA 1.0The ARIA Implementation Guide is also of great interest for Web site authors and application developers.  The Implementation Guide provides advice on how user agents should support and respond to various ARIA states and properties.  On the other hand, if none of this makes sense, go read the ARIA Overview.

Next up will be ARIA 1.1, now in FPWD (first public working draft) status. A primary new feature of this recommendation will be a new description property, aria-describedat, which will be the long-awaited and eventual replacement for HTML’s longdesc attribute.

Standards Working Group Update
The DIAGRAM Standards Working Group will hold its last quarterly meeting of the program year in April 2014 on a date TBD. Please contact co-chairs George Kerscher and Mark Hakkinen if you have ideas to add to the next meeting agenda. See the Standards Working Group wiki for past meeting notes.

March 2014 Software Development Update

2014 March 31
by jnoblitt

Tools Working Group Update 
The DIAGRAM Tools Working Group will hold its last quarterly meeting for the program year in April 2014 on a date TBD. Please let co-chairs Gerardo Capiel or Geoff Freed know if you have ideas to contribute. Past meeting notes are available on the Tools WG wiki.

March 2014 Content Working Group Update

2014 March 31
by jnoblitt

The DIAGRAM Content Working Group next meets on April 28, 2014 at 11 a.m. Pacific time to discuss possible updates to Version 1.0 of the Accessible Image Sample Book, and the design of an accessible image registry, for which research and requirements-gathering has begun. If you have any questions about this Working Group please contact co-chairs Elaine Ober and Lucia Hasty or visit the wiki page to see past meeting notes.

http://blog.diagramcenter.org/wp-content/plugins/wp-accessibility/toolbar/css/a11y-contrast.css