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DIAGRAM Asilomar Meeting, June 13-14 2012

2012 June 30
by Amaya Webster

Two days. No WiFi. No PowerPoints. Instead more than 40 members of the DIAGRAM Center community and its partners sat together in a circle, talked, collaborated, shared, and brainstormed, working together on our mission to improve how accessible images are made and used so that students with print disabilities have timely access to the information they need.

Although raw notes from the meeting at the Asilomar Conference Grounds near Monterey, CA, have been distributed to DIAGRAM members, what the notes can’t convey is the incredibly energy and urgency in the room, the passion and commitment that was evident, and the productive way multi-threaded conversations converged into action plans. Allen Gunner of Aspiration Tech facilitated the conversation and helped ensure that the many different voices were all heard, that we talked about what attendees wanted to cover, that the many small group discussions could be forged into shared group understanding. Broad themes emerged around:

·      training and outreach: getting the word out about DIAGRAM developments, progress and goals

·      content: compiling sample content and a content library so that people understand what all the development facilitates; asking questions about efficacy and quality of content

·      standards: which standards should we be focusing on, including LRMI, EPUB3, etc., so we have the biggest impact on the tools that content creators and consumers are and will be using

·      tools: new authoring and reading tools, widgets for smart images, math tools, and enabling federated image search

In addition to the group discussions, a round of speedgeeking (2-minute demos to small groups that rotate from demo to demo) gave attendees a peek at tactiles from Lucia Hasty, a demo from Geoff Freed on how image descriptions are accessed on a reader, a Poet demo by Shajey Rumi, a Tobi demo by George Kerscher, cutting-edge math tools from Gerardo Capiel, and explorable touchscreen diagrams from Ed Summers. Robert Jaquiss also provided a table full of 3D printing samples for everyone to explore.

We also were able to welcome several attendees who have not previously been involved directly with DIAGRAM, but provided insights and pathways for possible new collaborations. A special thank you goes to Dave Gunn from RNIB, Doug Klein from Barnes & Noble, Gerry Davis from the Benetech Board, Donna McNear from the Bookshare Advisory Board, and Mark Hakkinen from ETS.

We’ll be holding a webinar in early August to recap the meeting, distill the highlights, gather any additional feedback, and provide more clarity about where we go from here. Improved DIAGRAM communications with better interactive community spaces and information sharing are also in the works, in response to the great feedback heard at the meeting. (Good-bye, Central Desktop!) In the meantime, thanks again to all the attendees for their tremendous contribution.

You can check out photos from the event courtesy of Jim Fruchterman at this link:

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