Working Group Updates
The Developers Working Group was primarily engaged in preparing for and participating in the 2018 DIAGRAM Code Sprint in June. The group was instrumental in preparing a number of the components, advising on the recruitment of participants, and establishing clear projects for the event. A number of the projects will end up in our Accessible Code Repository as good examples of how to make educational content accessible.
The Tactile Working Group helped provide feedback on the new Imageshare designs and assembled over seventy accessible 3D models representing popular STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts, and mathematics) concepts. These 3D models were also printed this past quarter and are scheduled to be tested by educators and visually-impaired end users this fall. Following usability testing of the 3D printed models, the related files will be uploaded into the updated Imageshare collection with user feedback notes, ready for broader dissemination. Additionally, members of this growing group have also been experimenting with developing 2D tactile graphics for popular STEAM concepts that might be helpful for learners with non-print disabilities such as Autism, language processing disorders, cognitive disabilities, and learning differences. We look forward to testing all these resources with more educators and students in the coming quarter.
Last month we had our biannual Technical Advisors Subcommittee (TASC) meeting. In this meeting, we took a deep dive into accessible video practices, which ignited discussions about related concerns for virtual and augmented reality. Captioning within virtual reality is a new accessibility challenge due to the dynamic nature of the technology. For example, how do we provide continuous descriptions of the perceived content as a user turns her head? Where and how should captions appear? Are there other ways to make the visual content accessible? These are only a few of the unanswered questions we have begun to explore, but as this technology evolves and begins to enter the classroom, accessibility needs to be considered.
Math in EPUB
This quarter, the work in developing standards to display MathML in EPUB advanced significantly. DIAGRAM staff and the DIAGRAM Math in EPUB Task Force (a subgroup of the DIAGRAM Standards Working Group) continued to work on the sample files reflecting accessible ways of capturing math in EPUB, including different ways to include extended descriptions in digital files. The group incorporated various math samples into sample books that will be used to test how reading systems and assistive technologies behave with the various techniques suggested for implementing extended image descriptions and mathematics. Testing of these books will take place in the coming quarter and the results of these tests will be published on the accessibility pages of http://epubtest.org/. The results will yield new best practices and guidelines on how to make extended image descriptions and mathematics accessible. The Task Force plans to share these recommendations with publishers and these standards will also be incorporated into Benetech’s Global Certified Accessible program, which certifies EPUB books as accessible.
As mentioned under Math in EPUB, the Standards Working Group created two accessibility test books: Math in EPUB Advanced Test Book and Extended Descriptions Sample Book. Testers will use these two EPUB books to document how these books behave with various reading systems, platforms, and assistive technology combinations. These results will be collated and used to determine best practice techniques for publishers to add extended descriptions to images and math in EPUBs to extend reading system support for such content. Testing of these two accessibility EPUBs began on August 22, with testing on multiple reading systems and platforms using various combinations of assistive technology. The results of these tests will initially be published on the accessibility pages of http://epubtest.org/.
The Outreach Working Group has continued to work on the community resources webpage on the main DIAGRAM website. This page provides a list of resources most relevant to each of DIAGRAM’s six main stakeholder groups: educators, parents, students, publishers, developers, and researchers. The group is also collecting success stories from these stakeholders to highlight the impact of the DIAGRAM Center community. Stories will illustrate how tools and resources created under the DIAGRAM Center have provided students with access to materials and enabled independence previously unavailable to them. This work will continue throughout the next two quarters.