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October 2012 Training Update

2012 October 31

October Webinar a Resounding Success

The second in DIAGRAM’s series of free webinars, “How to Describe Complex Images for Accessibility,” was held on Tuesday, October 30th. Bryan Gould of the WGBH National Center for Accessible Media took participants through concrete examples of the kinds of images you encounter and how to handle them. More than 200 people registered for this event. Given the excellent turnout and fantastic questions and feedback from participants, this webinar clearly filled a need! Topics included:

  • How to write descriptions
  • STEM description guidelines
  • Common types of complex images and how to handle them (including maps)
  • How to handle illustrations and cartoons
  • Adding image description to digital media
  • DIAGRAM tools for making it easy to create image descriptions
  • Alternatives: Recorded, tactile, haptic, and smart images

Special thanks to Advisory Board member Lucia Hasty for being on hand, along with many others from the DIAGRAM community. A recording of the session along with the slides and a recap of the Q & A session will soon be made available on our Webinars page.

Teacher Pilot Program for Poet

[Ed. note: The following item is contributed by Ting Siu.]

Hello DIAGRAM community! My name is Ting Siu, and I have been working on launching the first teacher pilot of the Poet Image Description Tool. This project has been in development since August, and we will begin testing November 3rd. This collaboration is made possible by Lore Schindler from the Los Angeles Unified School District. Three teachers of students with visual impairments (TVIs) will participate in the pilot, and use a combination of live online training and a reference library of short video clips. This mixed methods approach of online learning is a new frontier for me, and i am excited to see how it will work compared to more traditional, face-to-face trainings. Ultimately, we aim to provide information regarding the usability and practicality of TVIs’ use of Poet in describing student-specific images within a DAISY textbook. Please look for updates in a few months!

Image Description Partnerships at Bookshare

DIAGRAM’s sister project at Benetech, Bookshare, is actively using Poet in order to provide image descriptions for books in the Bookshare collection. Much of the image description work has been done by volunteers who have so far created more than 30,000 descriptions. Bookshare continues to seek volunteers with academic subject matter knowledge and great writing skills to help make text books accessible for our blind and visually impaired student members.  Because of their great diversity, Bookshare volunteers also provide an excellent field testing opportunity for Poet, providing feedback and testing, and in some cases they have been inspired to contribute to the development! Some notable examples:

  • BYU students in the Peery Social Entrepreneurship program, who have contributed hundreds of descriptions and developed a facilitator’s guidebook for establishing charters on other college campuses. This fall, their goal has expanded to gain an understanding of the special educational needs of their disabled peers on campus.
  • The Middle College Program at Mission College, which allows high school students to get a head start on college classes (, has recruited 40 high school seniors who have committed to describing images in textbooks for their print disabled peers. Students will spend 2-4 hours per month, working together in class to make textbooks fully accessible for Bookshare students. This is a pilot program that we be used on other campuses.
  • In June this year, Google volunteered to describe images as part of their annual GoogleServe volunteer week. In just four hours, 19 Google volunteers wrote over 1,200 descriptions in four different text books (two of which are now completed and available to students)!

With the great success of events like these, Bookshare is planning more events with local businesses, universities, schools, publishers, and civic groups. To volunteer your group, please contact our Bookshare Volunteer Program Manager, Alisa Moore, at or visit the volunteer page at


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