Voting on a proposed merger of the IDPF with the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) by IDPF members is underway. On October 13, 2016, IDPF Board of Directors approved the proposed plan for submission to the members, with a recommendation that members vote to approve. The transactions are expected to be completed by early 2017 (subject to the member vote as well as to final approvals by IDPF Board and the W3C Director).
All IDPF member organizations in good standing are entitled to vote in this election via their designated Primary Representative. Voting will be open through November 4, 2016.
“We believe that the proposed combination of IDPF with W3C represents the best path forward to pursue our chosen mission to foster an open accessible digital publishing ecosystem by promoting adoption of EPUB and advancing the Open Web Platform across all fields of publishing,” said IDPF Executive Director Bill McCoy. “We are excited about the prospect of giving our members a unique opportunity to be part of an expanded publishing engagement in W3C, as Web technologies are clearly the universal enabling platform for content creators and distributors of all kinds.”
Since the initial announcement six months ago, IDPF has engaged in a variety of information sharing and outreach efforts with its members and the industry. More information is provided on the EPUBZone website.
Learn how to use the Orton-Gillingham approach to help your students dive deeper into the writing process! Both reading and writing involve constructing or composing meaning. Academy of Orton-Gillingham Fellow David Katz has put together an informative session to give you hands-on strategies that can easily be recreated into the elementary, middle school, and high school curriculum.
Note: This course is not a certification course in Orton-Gillingham. It is a writing course helping you use the OG approach in the classroom.
More information including Course Syllabus and registration are provided on the Learning Ally website.
The Marrakesh Treaty obliges those who ratify it to create copyright exceptions to allow visually impaired people or authorized entities (libraries and other organizations) to make accessible copies of copyrighted works without asking permission from the rightsholder.
As of October 19th, twenty-five countries have ratified the Treaty, and many others will be looking to amend national copyright law to bring the Treaty into force domestically. A key focus of the Treaty is to enable the cross-border exchange of accessible files for use by those with print disabilities.
The one-hour event "What Does the Marrakesh Treaty Mean for Publishers?" at Frankfurt Book Fair on October 21st at 3 pm will explain the Treaty and what this means for the publishing community. Attendees will hear from experts about the Treaty and from the Accessible Books Consortium about the TIGAR service which was established for publishers and authorized entities to facilitate the cross-border exchange of accessible files.
- Carlo Scollo Lavizzari, International Publishers Association
- Richard Orme, DAISY Consortium
- Jim Russell, Accessible Books Consortium
Entry is free, but registration is essential.
The IDPF Board recently approved working group recommendations to advance the EPUB 3.1 specifications to Proposed Specification status. A public review and comment period will be open through November 7th. The final step according to IDPF policies is a member vote to approve as Recommended Specifications.
The EPUB 3.1 revision also introduces a new accessibility specification and techniques document. Both also apply to older versions of the EPUB specification. Developed as part of EPUB 3.1, the goal is to provide guidance on making conforming EPUB publications accessible.
IDPF members and non-members are welcome to submit comments via the IDPF GitHub Issue List.
More information is provided on the IDPF website.
The Web Content Accessibility Guidelines Working Group announced a plan to develop WCAG 2.1, which builds on but does not supersede WCAG 2.0. The group would like input from stakeholders on this plan.
Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.0 became a W3C Recommendation on December 11th, 2008. It has been one of the major resources for making web content accessible to users with disabilities. WCAG has been referenced by accessibility policies of many countries and organizations, translated into twenty languages, and it has become an ISO standard (ISO/IEC 40500:2012).
WCAG 2.0 was structured to be a stable resource. Technology-specific implementation guidance was provided separately (in the Techniques and Understanding supporting documents) and updated as web technologies evolve.
In 2015, the WCAG Working Group had chosen to develop extensions to WCAG 2.0, in order to provide targeted guidance quickly, without changing the meaning of conformance to WCAG 2.0 itself or disturbing policies that reference WCAG 2.0. In review of the Requirements for WCAG 2.0 Extensions, however, it became apparent that the interrelationship of extensions could be complicated, and accessibility for some user groups could vary if organizations chose to meet some extensions but not others.
After careful consultation, the Working Group has decided not to put the new guidance in extensions, but instead work on an updated version of Web Content Accessibility Guidelines. WCAG 2.1 will build on WCAG 2.0 to provide guidance urgently needed for today’s technologies. Because of the backwards compatibility, sites conforming either to WCAG 2.0 or WCAG 2.1 will share a common base of accessibility conformance. More information is provided on the W3C blog.
The Council and European Union (EU) member states need to accelerate the ratification of the Marrakesh Treaty to facilitate access to published works for persons who are blind, have low vision or are print disabled. The treaty, which entered into force September 30th, was signed by the EU in 2014 but is yet to be implemented by the Council.
“The EU should be in the forefront when it comes to facilitating the lives for people with disabilities. Therefore, I deeply regret that the Marrakesh Treaty will not come into force in Europe today”, said Petitions Committee Chair Cecilia Wikström (ALDE, SE).
“This issue has been of the highest priority for the PETI committee for a long time and we will continue supporting the ratification process and its measures until the treaty is properly implemented in all European Union member states”, she added.
By signing the Marrakesh Treaty in 2014, the EU member states have taken a political commitment to ratify the treaty. More information is available on the Global Accessibility News website.
Australians who are blind or have low vision are the first in the world to benefit from the Marrakesh Treaty to Facilitate Access to Published Works for Persons Who Are Blind, Visually Impaired, or Otherwise Print Disabled through the symbolic exchange of book titles between the DAISY Consortium members Vision Australia and CNIB (Canada).
The Treaty came into force today. It has already been ratified by 22 countries, allowing the free sharing of titles in accessible formats between organisations in ratified countries. People who are blind, have low vision or print disability can now access a wider range of content.
Vision Australia General Manager for Accessible Information Solutions, Mr Michael Simpson stated:
“Today’s exchange is symbolic and marks the first step in expanding the collection of titles for the print disability communities here in Australia. The books included in the exchange are fiction titles, but in time, we expect other content to become available including journals and periodicals, educational materials and sheet music.” More information is provided on the Vision Australia website.
Learning Ally's new educational reading app – Learning Ally LINK, which is fully functional across all devices, makes it easier for schools to train educators and students to access the organization’s learning tools. This includes their library of more than 82,000 human-narrated audiobooks which help struggling readers improve vocabulary, fluency and comprehension.
The LINK software is currently in use on PC, MAC and Chromebooks by more than 250,000 students in over 10,000 US schools. The new app is designed to easily and immediately increase the number of students, teachers, schools and districts who have access to Learning Ally technology, programs and services.
Launch of the new mobile-friendly version of LINK will include continuous improvements and updates. Improvements will be based on educator and student testing and feedback, with students who “learn through listening” in mind. The LINK app is now available for download for various platforms. An updated version is coming soon to the Google Play store. More information is provided in the Learning Ally press release.
Benetech, the leading nonprofit empowering communities in need by creating scalable technology solutions, announced that over 10 million accessible ebooks have been downloaded through its Bookshare initiative. Bookshare is the world's largest online library for people who are blind, visually impaired or have a physical disability that interferes with reading, such as dyslexia.
"Access to information is a basic human right," said Jim Fruchterman, founder, and CEO of Benetech. "Our Bookshare initiative is focused on using technology to make sure individuals who are unable to read standard print can exercise that right. Today's milestone is a celebration of what is possible when technology is used for social good."
Benetech works with over 820 publishers to collect new releases and existing books that are currently unavailable to individuals who cannot read standard print. Bookshare's technology converts the digital files to accessible formats, including braille, audio, highlighted text and large-font text. Over 425,000 Bookshare members in 70 countries access the growing list of 460,000 titles made available by this technology. The Bookshare library is free for all U.S. students with qualifying print disabilities. More information is provided on the Bookshare blog.
The 32nd CSUN Assistive Technology Conference invites submissions of papers for this conference to be held February 27 to March 4, 2017 at the San Diego Manchester Grand Hyatt hotel. The CSUN AT Conference is the world’s longest-running and largest conference of its kind. The conference draws more than 4,500 persons annually who attend sessions, visit the exhibit halls, and participate in affiliate meetings and informal gatherings.
Reviewers will be looking for papers in the general domains of new concepts concerning hardware and software, adaptive devices, access to technology, training programs, results of research, and overall best practices in any area of assistive technology.
Submissions are due by Tuesday, October 4, 2016.
More information is provided on the CSUN 2017 conference website.
The Book Industry Study Group (BISG) announced the shortlist finalists for this year’s annual BISG Industry Awards. Awards finalists and BISG Industry members will gather in New York on September 30th at the BISG Annual Meeting of Members to engage with dynamic speakers and key industry executives and reflect on the impact of the 40 years of BISG transforming the book industry.
BISG Most Valuable Volunteer:
- Noah Genner (BookNet Canada)
- Tzviya Siegman (John Wiley & Sons, Inc.)
- Richard Stark (Barnes & Noble)
- Shayna Webb-Dray (Kaplan Publishing)
BISG Industry Champion Award:
- Dave Cramer (Hachette Book Group)
- George Kerscher (DAISY Consortium)
- Maureen McMahon (Kaplan Publishing)
- Tzviya Siegman (John Wiley & Sons, Inc.)
BISG Industry Innovation Award:
- Tom Chalmers (IPR License)
- George Kerscher (DAISY Consortium)
- Dominique Raccah (Sourcebooks, Inc.)
- Chris Sim (Kadaxis)
Congratulations to all finalists! You can register to attend the Annual Meeting on the BISG website.
The EPUB 3.1 revision introduces a new accessibility specification and techniques document. Although developed as part of EPUB 3.1 to provide guidance on making conforming EPUB publications accessible, these new guidelines are designed to be equally applicable to older versions of the specification.
The Working Group is seeking input regarding feasibility. Comments on the draft specification are solicited through September 27, 2016. Those affiliated with IDPF member organizations are encouraged to join the EPUB Working Group email list to participate directly in the development process. Members and non-members can provide feedback via the IDPF GitHub issue tracker.
Sugamaya Pustakalaya is an online platform that makes accessible content available to print-disabled people. The library houses publications across diverse subjects, languages and multiple accessible formats. It has been created by the Department of Empowerment of Persons with Disabilities (Divyangjan), Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment in collaboration with member organizations of DAISY Forum of India. It is powered by TCS Access. Books are available in accessible formats for people with visual impairments and other print disabilities. Sugamaya Pustakalaya integrates libraries across India and the Globe, including the largest international library, Bookshare.
Users can read the publications on any device of their choice - mobile phones, tablets, computers, DAISY players or using refreshable braille displays. More information is provided in the official press release.
The first Editor's Draft of EPUB Accessibility 1.0 is available for your review at http://www.idpf.org/epub/a11y/. Accessibility features have always been a part of EPUB 3 and were refined during the EPUB 3.1 revision process. Now in one document, you can find all the formal requirements for certifying EPUB publications as accessible.
Benetech announced that Dr. George Kerscher has joined the organization as Senior Advisor to the Benetech Global Literacy program.
At Benetech, George's responsibilities will include strategy and planning for higher education and libraries as well as projects for the visually impaired as part of Benetech's Bookshare and Born Accessible initiatives to make all e-books fully accessible when they are first created. Bookshare is the world's largest online library of accessible e-books for people with print disabilities offering over 450,000 books and serving more than 400,000 members.
"I'm proud to join the Benetech and Bookshare team," said Dr. Kerscher. "The global literacy team at Benetech has consistently demonstrated their industry-leading commitment to accessibility and technology leadership for over ten years, and I look forward to helping them continue to scale that mission."
Along with his new role at Benetech, George is Chief Innovations Officer of the DAISY Consortium and President of the International Digital Publishing Forum (IDPF). In addition, he chairs the DAISY/NISO Standards committee, chairs the Steering Council of the Web Accessibility Initiative (WAI), and serves on the Advisory Board of the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS). More information is provided in the official press release.
In May 2016, the International Digital Publishing Forum (IDPF) and World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) announced that they were exploring the potential to combine two organizations to accelerate EPUB adoption and advance publishing technologies for the overall Open Web Platform. Since the announcement, both organizations have received feedback from members and industry stakeholders, which they are in the process of evaluating. IDPF has already organized several webinars and meetings and expects to provide more information to members within the next month.
As previously announced, IDPF is co-organizing a Publishing Community Meeting on September 22nd during the W3C TPAC week. The preliminary agenda has now been posted, and the advance registration discount is available through September 2nd, 2016. More information is provided on the IDPF website.
The EPUB 3 Working Group announced that the third Editor's Draft of EPUB 3.1 is now available for community review. This draft is feature complete. All open issues in the tracker have been addressed. The Working Group is looking to publish the first formal Public Draft of the EPUB 3.1 specification by early September.
EPUB Accessibility 1.0 Conformance and Discovery Requirements for EPUB Publications are available for review at http://www.idpf.org/epub/a11y/.
Orbit Research and the American Printing House for the Blind (APH) announced the introduction of Graphiti™, the world's first affordable tactile graphics display.
Based on revolutionary Tactuator™ technology from Orbit Research, the Graphiti refreshable tactile graphics display represents a breakthrough in non-visual access to graphical information including charts, drawings, flowcharts, images and photographs, through an array of moving pins.
This technology has the ability to set each pin to different heights, which enables the display of topographical maps and other graphical elements such as gray shades and color represented as varying heights of pins that can be readily sensed by the user’s fingers.
Connectable to computers, tablets, smartphones, or the Orion TI-84 Plus Talking Graphing Calculator via a USB-C port or Bluetooth, its open API allows developers to create apps to work with Graphiti.
Additionally, an HDMI port allows connection to any device with a video display output, identifying the unit as a display monitor. The unit also includes a cursor pad for navigation and an SD-card slot for loading files for reading and editing in a standalone mode. More information is provided in the press release.
Online registration for the Accessible Higher Ground (AHG) 2016 conference (November 14-18) is now open.
AHG is pleased to announce that Tommy Edison, “The Blind Film Critic,” will be the keynote speaker for AHG 2016. More information can be found on the AHG website.
The National Federation of the Blind Jernigan Institute and Google are co-hosting a three-day event for access technology trainers October 4-6, 2016 to learn more about all things Google. Android, Chrome OS, and Google Apps (including Gmail, Calendar, Drive, Docs, etc.) will be the main topics of the training. If you are an access technology trainer and are interested in participating, apply today.
Participation will be free for successful applicants. Space is limited, so be sure to submit your application early. The deadline is Friday, September 2nd. The event will be held at the NFB Jernigan Institute at 200 East Wells Street, at Jernigan Place, Baltimore, Maryland 21230.
For more information, please visit https://nfb.org/googletraining.
Are you struggling to understand which reading systems support various features of EPUB 3?
This year, the EPUB 3 Support Grid website has been improved, making it easier to use and more valuable to the publishing industry and readers than ever. Users are now able to:
- Find support by feature
- Refer to a URL pointing to the results of a specific test and simple urls for referencing pages
- Have a variety of table views, sortable and filterable by headers, in small chunks
- Enjoy a cleaner, more accessible site
- Review accessibility testing scores
During the webinar on July 26th, the benefits and features of the EPUB 3 Support Grid were discussed from the perspectives of a publisher, a reading systems developer, and institutions whose needs for features such as accessibility in reading systems is crucial.
Led by industry expert Bill Kasdorf, and featuring Tzviya Siegman of Wiley, Rick Johnson of VitalSource, and George Kerscher of DAISY, participants learned what the EPUB 3 Test Grid can do to help everyone in the publishing ecosystem improve digital reading for their audiences.
Learning Ally is currently accepting applications for presentations for their December 2nd online conference.
This is a "live conference", and your webinar style session will also be recorded for playback. The purpose of the conference is to increase understanding about dyslexia, educate and engage teachers and parents, and advocate for children with learning disabilities.
Apply by August 1st, with acceptances of presentations on a rolling basis. More information can be found on the Learning Ally website.
The DAISY Consortium announces that Markus Gylling will join IMS Global to lead their accessibility and digital content efforts. He will also serve as the primary executive for IMS Europe effective October 1st, 2016.
Markus Gylling’s appointment will inject substantial accessibility expertise into a global organization developing e-textbooks and other digital learning materials.
Markus is currently the CTO of the International Digital Publishing Forum (IDPF) and the DAISY Consortium. Through his work with DAISY, he also served as the Advisory Committee representative for DAISY at W3C.
The DAISY Consortium congratulates Markus on his new appointment and wishes him the very best for the future. More information is provided in the IMS Global Press Release.
The National Federation of the Blind (NFB) presented $50,000 in cash awards to individuals and organizations that have made outstanding contributions toward achieving the full integration of the blind into society. The ninth annual Dr. Jacob Bolotin Awards honored four innovators who are helping blind people live the lives they want.
A $5,000 award was presented to Audio & Braille Literacy Enhancement, Inc., a transcription service that converts textbooks for school children into Braille, and is able to provide immediate transcription services for other classroom materials. A $10,000 prize was awarded to Oskar & Klaus Publishing, a company that produces children's books detailing the adventures of a blind cat (Oskar) and his feline pal (Klaus), with the message of not allowing blindness to prevent a cat, or person, from embarking upon extraordinary adventures. A $15,000 award was presented to Winston Chen for the Voice Dream Reader application which allows navigable reading of electronic documents using synthetic speech and an accessible user interface. A cash prize of $20,000 went to the Semitic Scholars. This is a group of three blind graduate students who created a Braille code for ancient Biblical languages so that source documents of religious texts can be studied independently by blind students in their original context, a feat that was previously impossible.
Dr. Jacob Bolotin, the namesake of the award program, was a blind physician who lived and practiced in Chicago from 1912 until 1924. Dr. Bolotin was especially recognized for treating diseases of the heart and lungs. Despite his rigorous schedule tending to his patients' needs at all hours of the day and night, Dr. Bolotin also became known as a public speaker and advocate for the employment of the blind and their full integration into society.
More information about NFB is provided on the NFB website.
Canada became the key 20th nation to accede to the Marrakesh Treaty to Facilitate Access to Published Works for Persons Who Are Blind, Visually Impaired or Otherwise Print Disabled, which will bring the Treaty into force by September 30th, 2016. CNIB congratulated the Government of Canada on eagerly-anticipated ratification of the Marrakesh Treaty.
Detailed information on which countries have ratified the Treaty can be found on the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) website.
The World Blind Union (WBU) led the international campaign to achieve the development of an international treaty that would put an end to the global “book famine,” which refers to the less than ten percent of published materials being available in accessible formats and often less than one percent in developing countries. “After many years of hard work by countless people in the blindness community and partners from a range of sectors, we are now at the start of a new phase of our work,” said Maryanne Diamond, WBU Chair of the Right to Read campaign and a leader in the fight for the Marrakesh Treaty.
Several DAISY member organizations have been advocating for the Treaty over the years. The great achievement today offers many reasons for celebration.
The Accessible Books Consortium (ABC) was established two years ago. ABC is delighted to celebrate.
- The ABC’s TIGAR Book Service has so far facilitated the loans of accessible books to 79,000 people through its 19 participating libraries.
- The 2016 ABC International Excellence Award for Accessible Publishing went to Elsevier, the DK Braille Development Team at Penguin Random House, and a Nepalese NGO, ADRAD.
- Six major publishers’ associations have signed the ABC Charter, which promotes the production of “born accessible” works.
- The ABC's capacity-building activities in Bangladesh, India, Nepal and Sri Lanka benefitted over 23,500 students in 2015. The second phase starts in July with funding from the Governments of Australia and the Republic of Korea, the Skoll Foundation and the United Nations Foundation – we hope to benefit some 88,500 students who are print disabled in these four countries.
More information is provided in the ABC snapshots.
Canadians who are visually impaired or otherwise print disabled will have better access to books and other copyrighted materials. The Honourable Navdeep Bains, Minister of Innovation, Science and Economic Development, today announced that the Act to Amend the Copyright Act (access to copyrighted works or other subject-matter for persons with perceptual disabilities) has received royal assent.
By bringing the country's copyright law in line with the Treaty, Canada has shown leadership in ensuring a wider availability of books and other materials for Canadians with visual impairments and print disabilities. More information is provided on the Government of Canada website.
by Karen Keninger, Chair of IFLA's LPD Section
The members of IFLA's Section for Libraries Serving Persons with Print Disabilities, comprising 80 library organizations, also represent the views of many other organizations such as schools, transcribers, software and hardware producers, providers and brokers that distribute accessible reading materials to persons with print disabilities. We acknowledge with appreciation the WIPO (World Intellectual Property Organization) Member States' agreement to create an effective Treaty at the Diplomatic Conference held in Marrakesh in June 2013. This, when ratified, will deliver tangible benefits to more than 285 million visually impaired or otherwise print disabled people who have been deprived for too long from equitable access to reading materials and information.
The full text of the Marrakesh Treaty in print, audio, DAISY, and Braille formats is available on the WIPO website.
It is only through access to reading that people can participate in education, work, culture and civic activity, and so improve the quality and well-being of their lives. The Book Famine, which has been caused in large part by international copyright constraints, has the result that print disabled people are deprived of the opportunity to read the same book, at the same price, and at the same time as the rest of the world. Libraries and other voluntary sector providers of books in accessible formats around the world waste scarce resources because they have had to duplicate transcription and production efforts.
At long last there is a real chance to overcome the shortage of accessible reading and information by using internet delivery and increasing ways of reading the growing quantity of digital content.
By strengthening the international copyright framework, this Treaty provides a unique and truly historic opportunity for the Member States and involved parties to attack the book famine and to dramatically improve the life opportunities of more than 285 million print disabled people.
Some concrete examples of benefits that will be delivered with the help of the Treaty are as follows. The Treaty will:
- Meet increasing demand for accessible works to be made available between countries/communities that share a language, e.g. Spanish, French, Arabic, Chinese, English to name but a few
- Support developing economies which cannot afford to produce resources but could particularly benefit from greater access to resources made elsewhere in the world
- Help print-disabled refugees, immigrants and another diaspora who need to access content made elsewhere, in the context of greater mobility around the world
- Protect the interests of rights holders by having a clear framework in place
- Increase the overall amount of accessible books and information and the timeliness of publication
- Empower people individually to become more effective members of society together with the result of reducing poverty, unemployment and crime
These benefits transcend the technicalities and subtleties of judicial debate.
The urgent needs of all the world’s print disabled people are at risk because of undue focus on legislative details.
We also refer to the Guide for libraries of EIFL (Electronic Information for Libraries, a not-for-profit organization), who is supporting ratification of the treaty and implementation into national copyright law.
We call upon the Member States and the involved parties to stay focused on the necessary benefits and outcomes.
As Government, Ministers, Parliamentarians, educationalists, leaders of business and of local communities, please campaign for the early ratification by your Government of this effective Treaty that will improve the lives of all the visually impaired and print disabled people in your country, leading to a more equitable and non-discriminatory society.
The LPD statement in support of the Marrakesh Treaty ratification is also available on the LPD section website.
During the first half of this event organizers focused on information that publishers must know in order to comply with Section 508 and other federal regulations on accessibility, including laws, regulations, Department of Justice actions, etc. The second half of the morning offered practical information that helps publishers deal with implementation challenges in their own businesses. George Kerscher, Chief Innovations Officer for the DAISY Consortium, was one of the speakers. More information is provided on the event website.
The Swedish government has appointed Magnus Larsson as Director General for the Swedish Agency for Accessible Media, MTM. He takes up his duties on September 1st.
Magnus Larsson is currently the Director General of the Swedish Agency for Press, Radio, and TV. Before that he was the Director of the Review Board for Radio and Television, as well as acting Director General of the Radio and TV Authority. He has a law degree from Uppsala University and has served as associate judge of appeal among other things at the National Court of Appeal.
The current Director General Roland Esaiasson retires from office on August 31.
The Swedish Agency for Accessible Media, MTM, is under the administration of the Ministry of Culture. MTM's mandate is to ensure that all persons with reading impairments can access literature and daily newspapers through media appropriate to them. Important responsibilities include the production and distribution of audio books, Braille books, easy read literature and accessible newspapers.
MTM's mission is to be a national knowledge centre for accessible media. A large and important part of that is the research and development of new technologies for production and reading.
MTM is one of the Full Members of the DAISY Consortium.
For further information please contact:
- Renée Jardland, deputy Director General, Swedish Agency for Accessible Media, Phone: +46 8-580 02 716, e-mail: renee.jardland(at)mtm.se
- Camilla Batal, Director of Communications, Swedish Agency for Accessible Media, Phone: +46 8-580 02 824, e-mail: camilla.batal(at)mtm.se