Accessible eBooks Takes a Leap Forward

Exciting information from Benetech (also known as Bookshare), regarding Accessible eBooks and commitment from major Education Publishers. The program will empower publishers to produce accessible eBooks and educators to easily recognize accessible content during the procurement process. This is a big step forward on our march toward making sure eBooks serve all students equally. The following article provides information related to accessible eBooks. This should not be considered the CSDE’s endorsement of any product or agency.

 

BENETECH ESTABLISHES GLOBAL CERTIFIED ACCESSIBLE PROGRAM TO ENSURE CONTENT SERVES ALL STUDENTS EQUALLY

PALO ALTO, Calif. — June 22, 2017 — Benetech<https://www.benetech.org/>, the leading software for social good nonprofit, in conjunction with Dedicon, Royal National Institute of Blind People, and Vision Australia, today announced Global Certified Accessible<https://www.benetech.org/our-programs/literacy/born-accessible/certification/>. The program is the first third-party ebook verification program for accessible content. Global Certified Accessible supports publisher efforts to meet or exceed accessibility requirements set by K-12 schools and post-secondary institutions. Today’s announcement comes on the heels of a six-month beta program with participation from industry leaders spanning educational, academic, professional, and trade publications.

Global Certified Accessible ensures students unable to read standard print due to blindness, low vision, dyslexia, or a physical disability have equal access to the same content as their peers. The program has a global footprint in order to serve students around the world. Benetech developed the certification standards and serves as the lead certification provider for North America. Dedicon provides certification for mainland Europe, Royal National Institute of Blind People for the United Kingdom, and Vision Australia for Australasia.

“The importance of electronically published books continues to grow, but many ebooks lack core accessibility features that students require, falling short of procurement requirements and student needs,” said Jim Fruchterman, founder and CEO, Benetech. “As the nonprofit operator of Bookshare<https://www.bookshare.org/>, the largest online library of accessible books, Benetech is well suited to offer a Global Certified Accessible program that not only gives procurement offices the confidence that comes with third-party certified materials but also allows publishers to serve a larger addressable market.”

Global Certified Accessible is part of Benetech’s Born Accessible<https://www.benetech.org/our-programs/literacy/born-accessible/> initiative, which encourages the education community to request accessible digital content and engages the publishing community to produce content that is accessible from the moment it is created. As a result of the recently released EPUB Accessibility Specification 1.0 and the growing demand for accessible materials, leading publishers and educational institutions are increasing their support for accessibility as a business and a classroom imperative.

Ingram Content Group’s VitalSource® and CoreSource® will include the accessibility ratings for eTextbooks from publishers participating in the Global Certified Accessible program as a part of their metadata and catalog feeds through Bookshelf®, VitalSource’s content-delivery platform. By doing so, procurement offices and school districts will be able to easily identify and prioritize third-party certified, accessible eTextbooks from publishers who choose to participate.

“VitalSource is excited to help accelerate the adoption of accessible publishing,” said Rick Johnson, VP of Product Strategy, VitalSource®. “As a global solutions provider, receiving accessibility certifications from Benetech and their global partners is a logical choice. As publishers increase their ability to produce content that provides access to all students, having a trusted source that can certify their accessibility will provide a welcome level of transparency to all involved.”

Learn more about Global Certified Accessible<https://www.benetech.org/our-programs/literacy/born-accessible/certification/>.

 

 

Ensuring Access to Instructional Material for Students

The federal government instituted the National Instructional Materials Access Center (NIMAC) and created a standard file format (National Instructional Materials Accessibility Standard [NIMAS]) as part of a solution for districts to obtain materials in formats that their students can use. Although NIMAC texts are not available to every student who is struggling with reading, the updated Connecticut State Department of Education (CSDE) Web site NIMAS/NIMAC, provides the step-by-step instructions required of local districts on how to: work with textbook publishers to make file formats available for conversion; identify the student and necessary format type for the individual student; and provide contact information for the appropriate Accessible Media Producers (AMPs). Schools will need to set up an account in order to access NIMAS derived materials with the newly authorized users of Bookshare (http://www.bookshare.org – an online library of copyrighted content for people with qualifying print disabilities) and Learning Ally (www.learningally.org – a nonprofit organization that provides a library of accessible audiobooks using human narration for people who cannot effectively read standard print).

Printed textbooks and educational materials used in elementary and secondary schools must be made available in a timely manner, in formats (e.g. Braille, large print, audio, digital text) that can be used by all students in the classroom. There is a new Connecticut Accessible Instructional Materials (AIM) Web site at http://aim.serc.co/ that addresses the elements of AIM for trade books/novels, including the process for accessing the standard file format of NIMAS. The Web site is maintained by the State Education Resource Center. The site offers more information about the AIM decision-making process, explores frequently asked questions with resources, and lists active professional development (PD) and learning opportunities offered by agencies throughout Connecticut regarding AIM/NIMAS.

Once the material has been formatted into a version appropriate for the student, assistive technology (AT) is often the mechanism utilized to ensure appropriate access to the file format. The CSDE recently published AT Guidelines to enable school districts to make informed decisions about the AT considerations, implementation and evaluation for their students, factoring in administrative support and PD.