The U.S. Department of Education, Office of
Programs (OSEP), awarded $5 million to Benetech, in
collaboration with The Carl and Ruth Shapiro Family National Center for
Accessible Media (NCAM) at WGBH and the U.S. Fund for DAISY (USFDAISY),
create a research and development center that will greatly improve the
and availability of accessible images for students with disabilities.
The new Digital Image and Graphic Resources for Accessible Materials
(DIAGRAM) will develop tools and best practices that will make it easier
more cost-effective to create and use accessible images across a range
"Together, we are committed to creating tools and best practices that
can use to make graphical content more accessible and widely available,"
Jim Fruchterman, CEO of Benetech, the nonprofit organization that
Bookshare. "Educators and students with print disabilities will have
unprecedented opportunities to use devices and software to make access
and graphical content a reality in educational materials."
The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act 2004 (IDEA) calls for
access to educational materials; through projects such as Benetech's
for Education, access to text has greatly increased. Yet, educational
include a wide array of other types of content. The burden of accessible
preparation typically falls on educators, who have limited time and
create useful descriptions or accessible graphics for students. Too
students using text-based accessible instructional materials (AIM) are
with only the words "image" or "graphic" when the devices they use to
digital text encounter illustrations, equations, graphics, photos or
"With such a wide array of media becoming more popular, it's more
than ever to foster collaboration and innovation by encouraging
commercial enterprises to work together to solve this problem," said
Kerscher, Secretary General of the DAISY Consortium and head of the U.S.
Through rigorous research and testing, over the five year period of
award, the DIAGRAM center will help create a set of tools for producers
accessible instructional materials, such as publishers and state and
education agencies, to expand the field of image description and
exploration of graphical content.
"As an early pioneer with years of experience in the challenges of
media accessibility, NCAM believes the collaboration of these three
will have a profound impact on the education of students with print
disabilities," said Larry Goldberg, WGBH's Director of Media Access, who
Each of the DIAGRAM center partners has led technology initiatives
fundamentally changed how people with visual and other print
experience and interact with all forms of media, from the DAISY standard
Bookshare library to NCAM's work on image descriptions. Bookshare is an
initiative of Benetech, a Palo Alto, CA-based nonprofit that creates
technology to solve pressing social needs.
Benetech (www.benetech.org) is a
nonprofit technology development organization based on Silicon Valley.
specifically pursues endeavors with a strong social, rather than
of return on investment, bringing open source technology and private
management techniques to bear in creating innovative, non-traditional
to challenging social issues. One of Benetech's initiatives is
world's largest accessible online library for people with print
Through its technology initiatives and partnerships, Bookshare seeks to
the floor on accessibility so that individuals with print disabilities
same ease of access to print materials as people without disabilities.
Bookshare received a $32 million five-year award from the U.S.
Education, Office of Special Education Programs (OSEP), to provide free
for all U.S. students with a qualified print disability. The Bookshare
now has over 70,000 books and serves more than 80,000 members.
About NCAM and WGBH
The Carl and Ruth Shapiro Family National Center for Accessible Media
is a research, development and advocacy entity that works to make
emerging technologies accessible to all audiences. NCAM is part of the
Access Group at WGBH, which also includes The Caption Center (est.
Descriptive Video Service (est. 1990). For more information, visit The
Access Group at WGBH
About the U.S. Fund for DAISY
The US Fund for DAISY
established in 2005 to provide financial support and administer U.S.
projects and grants for the DAISY Consortium in accordance with the
vision and values of the DAISY Consortium. The DAISY Consortium was
May 1996 by talking book libraries to lead the worldwide transition from
to Digital Talking Books. DAISY denotes the Digital Accessible
System. Members of the Consortium actively promote the DAISY Standard
Digital Talking Books because it promises to revolutionize the reading
experience for people who have print disabilities. The Consortium's
vision is to
ensure that all published information is available to people with print
disabilities, at the same time and at no greater cost, in an accessible,
feature-rich, navigable format. The DAISY Consortium has established its
and goals in order to make this vision a reality.