News Archive

Dick Bulterman Selected to Win SIGMM Outstanding Technical Contributions Award 2013

The 2013 winner of the prestigious ACM Special Interest Group on Multimedia (SIGMM) award for Outstanding Technical Contributions to Multimedia Computing, Communications and Applications is Prof. Dr. Dick Bulterman.


The ACM SIGMM Technical Achievement award is given in recognition of outstanding contributions over a researcher’s career. Prof. Dick Bulterman has been selected for his outstanding technical contributions in multimedia authoring, media annotation, and social sharing from research through standardization to entrepreneurship, and in particular for promoting international Web standards for multimedia authoring and presentation (SMIL) in the W3C Synchronized Multimedia Working Group as well as his dedicated involvement in the SIGMM research community for many years.


Dick has a strong international reputation for the development of the domain-specific temporal language for multimedia (SMIL). Much of this software has been incorporated into the widely used Ambulant Open Source SMIL Player, which has served to encourage development and use of time-based multimedia content. His conference publications and book on SMIL have helped to promote SMIL and its acceptance as a W3C standard.


Dick’s recent work on social sharing of video will likely prove influential in upcoming Interactive TV products. This work has already been recognized in the academic community, earning the ACM SIGMM best paper award at ACM MM 2008 and also at the EUROITV conference.

More information is provided on the ACM SIGMM Records website.

RNIB Works With Amazon To Deliver Mainstream Breakthrough For Blind And Partially Sighted People

The UK's leading sight loss charity Royal National Institute of Blind People (RNIB), has collaborated with global technology giant Amazon to ensure that people with sight loss can enjoy the features in the latest range of tablet devices.


Blind and partially sighted people will be able to enjoy improved access to the UK's largest source of e-books thanks to new accessibility features which have been incorporated into the new Kindle Fire HD and HDX tablets.


The new range of Kindle Fire tablets will allow people with sight loss in the UK to access Amazon's 2 million titles using increased font size, synthetic audio, and electronic braille and have the opportunity to listen to the 100,000 audio books through Audible UK directly on the device.


RNIB was consulted during the development and testing phase of these new devices. The charity is in a unique position to coordinate expert and user testing, offering technical and consumer recommendations to help Amazon ensure that the new features were accessible to people with a range of sight loss conditions around the world.

The new accessible devices mean that blind and partially sighted people will be able read the full range of Kindle books, newspapers and journals in a variety of ways. The built-in screen reader allows readers to listen to titles whilst the magnification function enlarges the screen view. The device can also be used with an electronic braille display and the audio book player also supports accessibility. More information is provided in the RNIB official announcement.

HumanWare's Global Development Expands Through a Partnership with Essilor

HumanWare announces a major strategic partnership with Essilor, the world's leading ophthalmic optics company, which becomes the majority shareholder of the company specializing in assistive technologies for people who are blind or have low vision.

This new alliance offers greater global visibility for HumanWare products while promoting access for a larger number of people with visual impairments. The alliance will also accelerate investment in research and development to offer new and innovative high quality products for both blindness and low vision.


For HumanWare, this partnership represents an opportunity to confirm its leadership in assistive technologies for the visually impaired. Along with the recent introduction of the new range of ProdigiTM digital magnifiers, HumanWare will significantly increase its market share in the rehabilitation sector and among eyecare professionals.


"We are very pleased to be partnering with Essilor, whose knowledge in optics and access to optician distribution networks will accelerate innovation to help people with visual impairments. Together, we will contribute to developing the notoriously under-penetrated global market," says Gilles Pepin, CEO of HumanWare. More information is provided on the HumanWare website.

Barnes & Noble College Announced Significant Updates to the Open Source EPUBCheck Tool

Barnes & Noble, Inc., announced that its digital education team has made significant updates to the open source EPUBCheck tool, creating a new way to evaluate EPUB files to ensure they adhere to industry standards. The updates created by the NOOK Digital Education team make it more manageable and easier to facilitate the tool’s integration into publishing workflows and workflow management systems.


New features of the tool also include tests for content accessibility markup, CSS issues that might affect presentation quality, and tests for specific script usage patterns that require security consideration that will help publishers create exceptional, accessible, EPUB 3 content. In addition, an output option was added to EPUBCheck that makes all of the program’s output available as data which can be easily consumed by other programs, making the tool more easily integrated into automated document processing workflows. The updated EPUBCheck tool is available at


More information is provided in the official press release.

Making Health Information Accessible with Dr. Georges Benjamin

Learning Ally is proud to host Dr. Georges Benjamin, President of the American Public Health Association on Wednesday, October 9th at 2 pm EST to share his expertise on the benefits and importance of making health information accessible to the elderly and individuals who are blind, visually impaired or have a learning disability. There is still time to register for this informative webinar.

EDUPUB Workshop Agenda Now Available

The detailed program agenda for EDUPUB, an IDPF workshop on digital publishing for education, is now available at The invitation-only event, taking place October 29-30, 2013 in Boston (USA), will cover four topics: the educational interoperability landscape, rich and interactive content, accessibility, and production workflows.


Keynote speakers include Jeff Jaffe (CEO, W3C) and Dan Cooper (SVP of Content Management Solutions, Pearson North America). Other presenters at the workshop represent a wide range of leading organizations and institutions involved in educational publishing including IMS Global Learning, SIF, Sophia University (Japan), Ingram VitalSource, CourseSmart, Inkling, Carson-Dellosa, O'Reilly Media, Imagineering, Google, Benetech, Metrodigi, CETIS, NCAM, LRMI, AMAC, Wolfram, DAISY Consortium, ETS, Nook Media, Adobe, VersaPub, Harvard Business Publishing, and Evident Point.


EDUPUB is hosted by Pearson Education, with organizational co-sponsors W3C and IMS Global Learning, and additional corporate sponsors including Aptara, CourseSmart, Ingram Content Group, Metrodigi, and SPi Global. The agenda was developed by the program co-chairs Markus Gylling (IDPF and DAISY) and Paul Belfanti (Pearson), and a blue-ribbon program committee of leaders from across the industry. For more information about EDUPUB visit:

DIAGRAM Webinar: “Office Hours” with the Image Description Experts

Webinar: “Office Hours” with the Image Description Experts

Date: Thursday October 24, 2013

Time: 2:30pm Eastern (1:30pm Central, 12:30pm Mountain, 11:30am Pacific)

Cost: Free

Presenters: Bryan Gould and Geoff Freed, WGBH National Center for Accessible Media (NCAM)

Session Description:

Are you a volunteer or professional image description specialist? Have you ever run into a complex image that you just weren’t sure how to handle? If so, this session is for you! Accessible-image experts Bryan Gould and Geoff Freed of WGBH’s National Center at Accessible Media (NCAM) will be holding this special session to answer all your toughest questions about how to handle complex image descriptions such as scientific textbook images, maps, cartoons, mathematical equations, and graphs.


In order to optimize the usefulness of this session to participants, Bryan and Geoff would like to collect your questions and examples in advance. Please visit this simple survey and send in your questions and images.


Register for the webinar by visiting this link.


The webinar is free and open to all. You need not submit a question in advance in order to participate, and you may also submit more than one question. The more questions we receive, the richer the session will be! Please feel free to forward this information to anyone who may be interested. You can see the webinar description and the registration link at the blog posting here:

UN Messenger of Peace Stevie Wonder Speaks Up for Children with Disabilities

This year’s historic high level meeting on disabilities at the UN General Assembly on September 23rd demanded international action to invest in children with disabilities and to include people with disabilities in the global development agenda. The UN meeting attracted diverse participants: those with and without disabilities.


Stevie Wonder made a plea for technology to be made available to all people with disabilities: “I am really going to push everyone to join our world of inclusion,” said Mr. Wonder who is a UN Messenger of Peace focusing on Persons with Disabilities. “The more people who are doing things that make a difference and are part of this world of inclusion, the smaller the world gets of people who are not committed and ultimately we will end up with a world of inclusion."

More information is provided on the Look to the Stars website.

WEBINAR: Access to Books and Classroom Materials with Victor Reader Stream and BrailleNote Apex

Join HumanWare product managers Matthew Janusauskas and Greg Stilson for a webinar to learn about how recent software updates to both the popular Victor Reader Stream, and BrailleNote Apex make access to books and classroom materials simpler than ever before. Start off the school year on the right foot.


Date: Thursday, September 26

Time: 11:00 AM EST (8:00 AM PST), UK: 4:00 PM


Register now at:

High-level Meeting of the UN General Assembly on Disability and Development

The High-level meeting of the 68th Session of the UN General Assembly on Disability and Development, "The way forward: a disability inclusive development agenda towards 2015 and beyond", will take place on September 23rd, 2013 in New York.


The High-level Meeting will comprise:

An opening plenary meeting, which will feature statements by the President of the General Assembly, the Secretary-General, the Chair of the Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, eminent persons actively engaged in disability issues and a representative of non-governmental organizations in consultative status with the Economic and Social Council.


Two consecutive informal interactive round tables. The themes for the informal interactive round tables will be as follows:

  • Round Table 1: International and regional cooperation and partnerships for disability-inclusive development.
  • Round Table 2: Post-2015 development agenda and inclusive development for persons with disabilities.

A closing plenary meeting.

Live Webcast will begin at 9 a.m. EST on September 23rd, 2013. More information is provided on the United Nations General Assembly website.

The DAISY Consortium Welcomes the National Library of Portugal as an Associate Member

The essence of the National Library of Portugal (Biblioteca Nacional de Portugal) lies in its heritage. As an important mission they keep alive and inspiring, the resources of their language, history and identity.


Conservation, access and internationalization, alongside increasing its social value by promoting initiatives convergent with the world of research - remain the most important tasks. More information is provided on the National Library of Portugal website.

Adobe Joins Readium Foundation
2013-09-11 announced that Adobe Systems Incorporated is joining as a member of the Readium Foundation, with the intention to make a significant contribution to the development of the Readium SDK project, a full-featured EPUB 3 rendering engine optimized for native apps on tablets and other mobile devices.


"Adobe has been a strong supporter of EPUB since its inception" said Tridib Roy Chowdhury, General Manager and Sr. Director of Products at Adobe. "We are delighted to be taking another important step in promoting this important open standard by joining the Readium Foundation and collaborating with other key industry stakeholders in development of the Readium SDK project."


It is anticipated that through Adobe’s contribution, in the near future it will be possible for any client application built with Readium SDK to directly incorporate support for handling EPUB 2 and EPUB 3 content protected via Adobe Content Server 4, the most pervasive Digital Rights Management (DRM) solution for eBooks and other digital publications, which is available from a number of Adobe resellers (see:

PLEXTALK Announces a New Firmware Upgrade for the Pocket

On September 05, 2013, Shinano Kenshi Co., Ltd. announced a new firmware for the PLEXTALK Pocket, Version 6.00.


This version supports numerous improvements such as a higher quality TTS, EPUB2 format. For more information, please see the release notes. You can download firmware from the PLEXTALK website.

Call for Papers for the 29th Annual International Technology and Persons with Disabilities Conference

The Center on Disabilities at California State University, Northridge is pleased to announce that the Call for Papers for the 29th Annual International Technology and Persons with Disabilities Conference opens on Monday, September 9, 2013 and will close on Friday, October 11, 2013.


The Call for Papers is open for 6 weeks to provide presenters ample time to prepare and submit proposals by the deadline. Please support us by adhering to this timeline. Your cooperation in reading, reviewing and adhering to the policies of the Procedures and Instructions is also appreciated and is necessary to ensure that you understand and agree to the submission process.


Please Note: The Scientific/Research Track Call for Papers has been open since July 24 and will close on September 30. Proposals submitted for this track are considered for presentation at the conference and publication in our on-line journal, The Journal on Technology and Persons with Disabilities. You may submit papers to either the Scientific/Research Track or the General Sessions Track. Please visit our Journal page for more information on the Scientific/Research Track Call for Papers.


Visit the CSUN 2014 Conference website for more information about the Call for Papers and the 2014 CSUN Conference. The 2014 CSUN Conference will be held March 17-22 at the Manchester Grand Hyatt Hotel in San Diego, California.

U.S. Department of Education Seeks Input from Vision Professionals

Each year, the U.S. Department of Education seeks input from vision professionals on the effectiveness of products and services provided through the Federal Quota Program, which is administered by the American Printing House for the Blind (APH). To collect your input, APH is conducting a 10-question online survey, which is now available on the APH website. We encourage you to respond based on your experience with products provided through Federal Quota funds.


The 2013 APH Customer Satisfaction Survey 10 is available at through Friday, September 20, 2013.

If you have questions or require assistance with the survey, feel free to email Mary Nelle McLennan at aphsurvey(at)

30th Pacific Rim International Conference on Disability and Diversity

30th Pacific Rim International Conference on Disability and Diversity will take place at the Hawaii Convention Center, Honolulu, Hawaii on May 19 & 20, 2014.

Pacific Rim International Forum on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities will take place on May 17, 2014, Hilton Hawaiian Village, Honolulu, Hawaii. For more information, please email, or visit Proposal submission starts on September 1, 2013.

Accessing Higher Ground: David Sloan To Present Keynote Talk

David Sloan, PhD, Principal User Experience Engineer with The Paciello Group, will speak on Teaching Universal Design - the Dundee Approach at the upcoming Accessing Higher Ground Conference in Colorado (November 4-8, 2013).


Before joining TPG in May 2013, David spent over 10 years as project lead of the Digital Media Access Group, an accessibility and research consultancy unit based at the University of Dundee in Scotland.


Early Registration discount ends September 6. Conference fees rise 10 to 12% (depending on package) on September 7. Register now to save.

Techshare India 2014: INNOVATE – ADAPT – EVOLVE

The disability sector is rapidly evolving in India. It is time for the governments, corporate sector, education institutes and NGOs to think of how to innovate and adapt to meet the needs of people with disabilities and how society needs to evolve to create an inclusive environment.


BarrierBreak brings Techshare India 2014 in partnership with National Centre for Promotion of Employment for Disabled People (NCPEDP) and Royal National Institute of Blind People (RNIB),UK. Techshare India 2014, held February 13-14, 2014 in New Delhi, is a conference and exhibition discussing accessibility and assistive technology at a national level with international participation.


Techshare India 2014 will focus on the implementation of existing and new technologies and will work towards closing the gap that exists today. Call for papers is now open. More information is provided on the Techshare India website.

Tobi Simplifies Conversion from DAISY to EPUB 3 for Publishers of Talking Books

Tobi, the DAISY / EPUB multimedia production tool, recently gained new features for upgrading publications in DAISY 3 format to EPUB 3.


Tobi 2.1.1 enables user-friendly processes for upgrading books created in DAISY 3 format to EPUB 3. Thanks to improved interface and support for the latest version of Pipeline 2 (Version 1.6), users can upgrade DAISY XML to EPUB 3 text-only and DAISY 3 full-text, full-audio books to EPUB 3 content with media overlays directly through Tobi.


Tobi is also available in French. A special thank you goes to Association Valentin Haüy & Institut National des Jeunes Aveugles, France for their French translations.

Other improvements include:

  • More reliable text navigation in both EPUB and DAISY projects (which also benefits operations like "record continue", "split continue" and text-to-speech generation)
  • Fixed rounding off errors during export
  • Fixed occasional video display related error
  • Improved file saving format for EPUB projects (this may require re-importing some of the EPUB projects)
  • Miscellaneous bug fixes.

Please visit the Tobi project page to download version 2.1.1:


The change log, describing all changes in this release is available at:


Feedback, queries & suggestions are most welcome, please use the Tobi forum:

HIMS Inc. Releases Highly-Anticipated Update to Productivity Tool for the Blind

HIMS Inc. released an update for their Braille Notetakers that includes apps and productivity tools never before seen in a product of this type. For the first time in history, blind notetaker computer users have access to YouTube, DropBox, Excel, and more using software specifically designed for use with Braille input and voice navigation.


More information is provided in the HIMS, Inc. official press release.

AFB Announces an Invitation for Nominations for the 2014 Migel Medals

The American Foundation for the Blind (AFB) announced an invitation for nominations for the 2014 Migel Medals, the highest honor in the blindness field. The Migel Medal was established in 1937 by the late M.C. Migel, the first chairperson of AFB, to honor professionals and volunteers whose dedication and achievements have significantly improved the lives of people who are blind or visually impaired. The Migel Medal Awards consists of two categories, the Professional Award and the Lay/Volunteer Award.


Professional Award nominees should be those whose career work significantly affects services to people with vision loss on a national level. Prospective candidates include, but are not limited to, professionals with specific training and expertise in education, rehabilitation, assistive technology, vision rehabilitation, personnel preparation, administration or related fields. They may work in the public or private sector and their work should span several years.


Lay/Volunteer Award nominees can be volunteers or professionals not employed within the blindness and visual impairment field whose efforts have supported or extended service to people with vision loss. Professionals from these disciplines may include, but are not limited to, those who develop assistive technology equipment and software, health care devices, and improved medical services.


Nominations for AFB's Migel Medals are due by Friday, October 4, 2013, and should be e-mailed to Scott Truax, Program Manager FamilyConnect at struax(at) More information is provided in the press release.

National Federation of the Blind Praises DOJ Settlement with Louisiana Tech

The National Federation of the Blind, advocate for full access to higher education by the blind, praised a settlement reached by the United States Department of Justice with Louisiana Tech University and the Board of Supervisors for the University of Louisiana System. The settlement requires Louisiana Tech to ensure that course materials, including those made available online, and other technologies used by the university are fully accessible to students with disabilities, including blind students who require nonvisual access.


Dr. Marc Maurer, president of the National Federation of the Blind, said: “Online course materials and course management systems are a critical part of education today, and these technologies must be accessible to blind students in order for them to receive an equal education. This groundbreaking settlement not only ensures full access to all of Louisiana Tech University’s courses and programs for its blind students, but also makes it clear that the Americans with Disabilities Act requires all institutions of higher education to procure and deploy technology that is fully accessible to their blind students. Moreover, the settlement puts in place policies and procedures that emphasize the accountability of university personnel, including members of the faculty, to ensure that courses and materials offered by the university are fully accessible to blind students. As we mark the anniversary of the passage of the Americans with Disabilities Act, we commend the Department of Justice for this outstanding result and for its commitment to protecting the right of blind students to an equal education.” More information is provided on the National Federation of the Blind website.

IVONA Introduces New Russian Voice Tatyana

With the release of a Russian Female Voice Tatyana, IVONA Software, an Amazon company, has expanded its growing portfolio to 45 high-quality voices in 18 languages. Each additional natural sounding voice and language improves text-to-speech user experience for developers, businesses, OEMs and IVONA partners, allowing them to reach new customers.


IVONA Text–to-Speech (TTS) comes in different configurations and footprints for a variety of mobile devices, desktop, network and server applications or TTS cloud. IVONA TTS solutions are used to enhance e-reading experiences on smartphones and tablets. Over 2 million mobile users have downloaded IVONA voices and IVONA TTS HQ for Android from Google Play to replace the standard Voice User Interfaces (VUI) on their mobile devices and apps.


IVONA also partners with assistive technology developers to make digital media accessible to people who are blind or visually impaired. All added voices such as ”Tatyana“ bring new opportunities for these individuals to actively participate in society and find new educational and employment opportunities. More information is provided on the IVONA Software website.

AAP EPUB 3 Implementation Project Launched

The Association of American Publishers (AAP) supports the establishment of EPUB 3 as the standard global distribution format for eBooks and has embarked on a new initiative designed to rapidly advance the format’s implementation in the marketplace.


The EPUB 3 Implementation Project is being developed in a partnership with retailers, digital content distributors, device makers, reading systems providers, assistive technology experts and standards organizations, with the support and engagement of leading advocates for people with disabilities.


Publishers have set an ambitious six-month goal to rapidly advance implementation of EPUB 3 through the initiative. Although each individual publisher will make decisions about introducing EPUB 3 titles on its own timeline, many anticipate introducing large numbers of EPUB 3 files into the marketplace beginning First Quarter 2014.


Convening this summer: A working group to identify baseline accessibility features for the EPUB 3 files and for metadata, and to plan the program for the September workshop September 10, 2013: A daylong workshop for all participants in New York City is planned to define and prioritize actionable projects. More information is provided on the AAP website.

Springer Signs Agreement Granting Worldwide Digital Rights to Bookshare

Springer, the leading global scientific publisher, has signed an agreement to provide Bookshare, an international leader in providing copyrighted digital accessible books to people with print disabilities, with world rights to its titles. Springer is home to the world’s largest Scientific, Technical and Medical (STM) eBook collection and published more than 7,500 in 2012.


The first major STM publisher to commit to making their books accessible at this scale, Springer has taken a leading role to ensure that students have access to critical scientific resources. By contributing their digital files directly to Bookshare, they make it possible for students with disabilities to receive accessible books in a timely fashion and significantly reduce the costs of making these books available.


“This agreement dramatically expands the volume of research-based STM content available to individuals with print disabilities and ensures a continuing flow of new scientific content annually,” said Betsy Beaumon, Vice President and General Manager of the Benetech Global Literacy Program, at Benetech. “We applaud Springer for recognizing that individuals with print disabilities badly need more access to scientific and technical content.”


More information is provided in the official press release.

New DIAGRAM Webinar: Tools for Creating Accessible Math – July 18, 2013

What tools are available for making math accessible online? Geoff Freed and Bryan Gould of WGBH’s National Center on Accessible Media will be joined by math accessibility researcher Steve Noble to demonstrate the latest and greatest tools for creating and reading accessible math. Register now to attend this brand-new live webinar entitled “Tools for Creating Accessible Math” on Thursday July 18 at 12:00pm Pacific time (3:00 p.m. Eastern).

Participants will:

  • learn what MathML is and how to use it to make math expressions accessible
  • see demos of how assistive technologies interact with Web browsers and reading systems to read MathML expressions
  • learn about tools such as Math Helper (part of the Poet image-description tool), MathJax, MathType and MathPlayer that help you create and display accessible math
  • Don’t miss this opportunity to hear the discussion and ask questions of this expert panel!

DIAGRAM webinars are free and open to anyone. Please feel free to forward this message to anyone who may be interested in participating. Register online.

WIPO Treaty: Miracle in Marrakesh

History was made in Marrakesh last week as ten days of hard negotiations resulted in consensus on the text of a WIPO treaty that should remove legal barriers to equal access to text for the print disabled. Benetech’s CEO Jim Fruchterman was a key participant in the negotiations.


Fruchterman said, "We are extremely excited about the treaty. We have the technology and we have the content, now we have a legal regime to make it possible for every person with print disabilities on the planet to get access to the books they need for education, employment, and social inclusion." [Intellectual Property Watch]


A heartfelt thanks to everyone who worked tirelessly to make this happen. Stevie Wonder stated: "Today my heart is at peace and my faith in humanity has been renewed…Today we all are brothers and sisters in the struggle to make this life and the future better, not for one, but for all…This victory is most significant for many reasons. Most obviously, the positive impact for the blind and the visually impaired. But also it sends a message to all world leaders, that it is possible to do business, and to do good at the same time." [Watch the YouTube video].

More information is provided in the June 2013 issue of the DAISY Planet newsletter.

New Level of Accessibility for Newspapers and Books Through DAISY Online Delivery Compatible Reading Devices in Sweden

MTM, Swedish Agency for Accessible Media, has signed with Polarprint, Humanware’s Swedish retailer, to provide Victor Reader Stratus M 4/12 players in the nationwide launch of DAISY online delivery based services in Sweden. Over 6000 elderly and novice IT users, consumers of talking newspapers and talking books, will benefit from the new online services and reading devices. The transition to new devices will continue throughout 2014.


The agreement was signed on June 13th by MTM and Polarprint at the DAISY Conference in Copenhagen.

Diplomatic Conference to Conclude a WIPO Treaty: Message from the DAISY Consortium to Ministers and Delegates

Dear Colleague:


Please pass the following message from the DAISY Consortium to ministers and delegates involved in finalising the text of the proposed copyright treaty.


"The DAISY Consortium represents the world's leading libraries and agencies providing services and developing technical standards supporting access to books and publications by people with print disabilities. Our organisations are agencies that work with governments to support them in implementing their responsibilities under the UN convention of the rights of people with disabilities in relation to access to information. We are organisations that have long maintained trusted status as responsible custodians of rights holders works and the special privileges conveyed under national copyright legislation and other international treaties such as the International freepost convention.


Our organisations have long called for a clarification of the legal provisions that govern cross-border transactions of publications that have been enhanced to provide access to people with print disabilities. This is so we may improve the service we can provide people with print disabilities worldwide and provide a service which is more efficient and economic for governments and other funding agencies. We therefore applaud the initiative of WIPO member states to develop a new copyright treaty to facilitate access to published works by visually impaired persons and persons with print disabilities.


At our board meeting on 12 June 2013 in Copenhagen we agreed to ask governments involved in the WIPO diplomatic treaty in Morocco to make a special effort to negotiate a final text that is simple to understand and to operate, does not impose unnecessary administrative delay and costs and does not contain restrictions and burdens that would defeat the goal of enabling people with a print disability to be able to access the same book as their neighbour, with the same ease and cost, and in a way that is affordable by society. We can then play our part, alongside rights-holder colleague organisations to ensure the privileges granted are exercised and managed in a responsible manner.


We applaud the simplicity of the World Blind Union text and echo IFLA request for a simple treaty.


We thank you for your hard work to deliver this treaty which will play a key part in helping to end the book famine."

Stephen King


DOE Commended for New Guidelines on Braille Instruction

The National Federation of the Blind commended the Department of Education for guidelines on Braille instruction issued in a Dear Colleague Letter. This letter clarifies the provisions of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) regarding Braille instruction.


Dr. Marc Maurer, President of the National Federation of the Blind, said: “We commend the Department of Education for recognizing that every blind child needs to be given the opportunity to learn Braille. Knowing how to read and write Braille is critical to the ultimate success of blind children. The department’s action today puts school administrators on notice that Braille instruction must be provided to blind children unless a thorough and rigorous evaluation demonstrates that Braille is not appropriate. The guidelines also make it clear that Braille is appropriate for blind children who have some vision, especially if their eye condition is degenerative and they are therefore likely to continue to lose vision. Finally, the guidelines emphasize that external factors like the expense of providing Braille instruction or the availability of audio or other alternative formats cannot be used as an excuse to deny Braille instruction to blind children. We hope and believe that these clarifications will reverse the harmful decline in Braille instruction that has left too many blind people functionally illiterate, and will restore Braille to its proper place as the most effective reading and writing medium for blind people.”


“The U.S. Department of Education is committed to ensuring that children who are blind and visually impaired have access to Braille instruction and Braille materials,” said Michael Yudin, Acting Assistant Secretary for Special Education and Rehabilitative Services at the Department of Education. “The ability to read and write Braille competently and efficiently is critical to ensuring students who are blind and visually impaired graduate from high school college and career ready.”


On May 1, 2012, Senator Patty Murray of Washington, along with twenty-five Senate cosigners, wrote to Secretary of Education Arne Duncan to express concern that blind students in America were not receiving adequate instruction in Braille, the recognized reading and writing medium for the blind, and were therefore falling behind their sighted peers in school. More information is provided on the National Federation of the Blind website.