[nobe-l] WGBH Releases Guidelines for Describing STEM Images Within Digital Talking Books and on Web Sites

Mary Watkins mary_watkins at wgbh.org
Thu Sep 24 19:13:41 UTC 2009

         September 24, 2009

WGBH's National Center for Accessible Media 
Publishes Free Guidelines for Describing STEM 
Images for Use within Digital Talking Books and on Web Sites

Free Webinars Scheduled

A significant amount of Science, Technology, 
Engineering and Math (STEM) information is 
presented visually, from graphs and tables to 
diagrams and math equations. Students and 
professionals in the STEM fields who are blind or 
have low vision must find methods of accessing 
this data. In many cases, they rely on assistants 
to read and describe images in order to stay 
current with content in their fields of study. 
This creates a dependence that is inefficient, 
expensive and time consuming. Access to text 
through electronic files and digital talking 
books (DTBs) has created a great deal of 
independence for these users. NCAM's publication 
of these new guidelines means that presenting 
meaningful information about the images 
accompanying text can be more readily achieved.

"Effective Practices for Description of Science 
Content within Digital Talking Books" is the 
result of a seminal 4-year effort encompassing 
multiple surveys with describers and with 
students and scientists with vision loss to 
research preferred practices for description of 
visual information in textbooks and journals. 
WGBH's Carl and Ruth Shapiro Family National 
Center for Accessible Media (NCAM) undertook this 
research thanks to a grant (# 04535663) from the 
National Science Foundation (NSF).

WGBH worked in close collaboration with the 
American Foundation for the Blind (AFB), and 
together they assembled a broader network of 
researchers and experts including Recording for 
the Blind and Dyslexic, Inc. (RFB&D); the 
American Printing House for the Blind (APH); 
scientist and former NSF program officer Lawrence 
Scadden, and DAISY (Digital Accessible 
Information System) Consortium Secretary General 
George Kerscher. The DAISY Consortium is the 
world-wide network of libraries, publishers and 
service organizations that developed the DTB 
standard. All project partners contributed to the 
DAISY/NISO standard and all partners were among 
the 40 members of the National File Format Panel, 
which produced the National Instructional 
Materials Accessibility Standard (NIMAS).

Chapters of the new guidelines cover description 
of a variety of information types, including bar 
charts, line graphs, Venn diagrams, tables, pie 
charts, flow charts and complex diagrams and 
illustrations. A resource section is also 
included, providing links to many organizations, 
tools and standards which all contribute to 
generating more accessible STEM materials. The 
guidelines are available online at:


NCAM staff will provide training for implementing 
these STEM Description Guidelines through free 
webinars. The dates and times for the webinars, 
which last an hour and a half, appear below.  The 
same training is offered at each webinar; you can 
register for the time most convenient for you by 
sending an email to <stemdescription at wgbh.htm>stemdescription at wgbh.org

Wednesday, September 30 at 10:00 a.m. EST
Monday, October 20 at 1:30 p.m. EST
Thursday, December 3 at Noon EST

Additional dates will be offered in 2010. These 
sessions are available at no cost thanks to 
funding from the National Science Foundation (grant # 0833608).

Comment from a recent webinar participant:

"It was an excellent program and very helpful. I 
will be using what I learned to train my students 
to create more accessible image descriptions. Thank you."

Donna M. Kachlic
Disability Support Services Specialist
The University of Texas at Tyler

"Effective Practices for Description of Science 
Content within Digital Talking Books" joins 
several other NCAM publications and tools that 
enable and promote access to media for all users. Among them:

• "Accessible Digital Media: Design Guidelines 
for Electronic Publications, Multimedia and the Web"
• "A Developer's Guide to Creating Talking Menus for Set-top Boxes and DVDs"
• "IMS Guidelines for Developing Accessible Learning Applications"
• MAGpie, the Media Access Generator (free, 
do-it-yourself software for creating captions and descriptions for multimedia)

Links to all these resources are available at 
NCAM's site, <<http://ncam.wgbh.org>http://ncam.wgbh.org>

About NCAM

The Carl and Ruth Shapiro Family National Center 
for Accessible Media at WGBH is a research, 
development and advocacy entity that works to 
make existing and emerging technologies 
accessible to all audiences. NCAM is part of the 
Media Access Group at WGBH, which also includes 
The Caption Center (est. 1972) and Descriptive 
Video Service® (est. 1990). Follow the Media Access Group on Facebook.

About WGBH

WGBH Boston 
<<http://www.wgbh.org>http://www.wgbh.org> is 
America's preeminent public broadcaster, 
producing such celebrated national PBS series as 
Masterpiece, Antiques Roadshow, Frontline, Nova, 
American Experience, Arthur, Curious George and 
more than a dozen other award-winning primetime, 
lifestyle and children's series. WGBH is the 
leading producer of online content for pbs.org-- 
one of the most-visited dot-org sites on the 
Internet-- a major producer for public radio and 
a pioneer in developing educational multimedia 
and new technologies that make media accessible 
for people with disabilities. For its efforts, 
WGBH has been recognized with hundreds of honors, 
including Oscars, Emmys, Peabodys and duPont-Columbia Journalism Awards.


Mary Watkins, WGBH
<mary_watkins at wgbh.htm>mary_watkins at wgbh.org
617 300-3700 voice
617 300-2589 TTY


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