News Archive

UNESCO Hosts the Multistakeholder WSIS+10 Review Event
2013-02-25

The World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS) +10 review Meeting is taking place in Paris, France, February 25-27, followed by an Internet Governance Forum (IGF) consultation meeting on February 28th and March 1st.

 

IFLA will be hosting two panel sessions during the WSIS +10 meeting. These sessions will address the ownership and licensing of digital information, and public access to the Internet. IFLA will represent the international library community - resulting recommendations will have a direct influence on the WSIS +10 process and the next steps.

 

Interested parties can participate in the meeting through the remote participation mechanism.

CSUN 2013 Program Now Available In DAISY, EPUB and HTML Formats
2013-02-18

The CSUN 2013 conference program will be available on a CD-ROM for conference attendees. The program is also available for download in HTML and EPUB formats or as a DAISY 2.02 book from the DAISY Consortium website. The menus of the restaurants are also included.

 

The DAISY Consortium would like to thank IVONA Software for providing a high-quality text-to-speech voice. You can download a free DAISY reader AMIS from our website.

DAISY Online for Book Port DT
2013-02-15

The American Printing House for the Blind (APH) has announced their implementation of DAISY Online. This service utilizes the features of the new Book Port DT and provides users the ability to find, download and play DAISY content without the need for a computer. The debut of DAISY Online brings Newsweek and Readers Digest which APH has provided in braille and audio formats free of charge for many decades, to the Book Port DT.

 

In addition, DAISY Online makes available, to those Book Port DT users who are registered with Bookshare, access to Bookshare collection of accessible books, newspapers, and more. Bookshare currently provides access to more than 175,600 titles.

 

The Migel Library has now made over 1,000 books from its research collection available free of charge in DAISY format. The Migel is one of the largest historical collections of non-medical books and magazines related to blindness in the world. Those titles, which already are available on the web through the Migel website, will be made available via Book Port DT soon.

 

To see how to use the Book Port DT with these services, please go to http://tech.aph.org/bpdt_online.htm.

TOC 2013: End To End Accessibility - A Journey Through The Supply Chain
2013-02-12

On February 13th at 1:40 pm, O'Reilly Tools of Change for Publishing conference session End To End Accessibility: A Journey Through The Supply Chain, will highlight the challenges faced by people and organizations at each part of the supply chain. Practical examples will be provided to demonstrate ways accessibility can and should be embedded.

 

Everyone involved in digital publishing will benefit from understanding accessibility. From content origination at one end, through those involved in the creation of reading systems (both devices and software), to the user experience and content discovery of eBooks from retailers or for loan, all parties need to understand the implications of their decisions for accessibility.

 

Accessibility experts from RNIB, EDItEUR, Ingram and Nook Media will share examples of accessibility considerations, applications and implications from across the publishing supply chain.

O'Reilly Tools of Change for Publishing Conference in New York Starts Today
2013-02-12

O'Reilly Tools of Change for Publishing Conference in New York starts today with the Author Revolution Day. In addition to the keynotes, all of Author (R)evolution Day on Tuesday will be live streamed. Access to this content will be from an exclusive player on the Author (R)evolution Day information page: http://www.toccon.com/toc2013/public/content/author-revolution-day.

 

Accessible Publishing Practices will also be discussed during the workshop Born Accessible: An up-to-the minute update on the tools, standards, techniques and developments that support 'Inclusive Publishing' practices.

 

Keynote presentations taking place on Wednesday and Thursday will be streamed live and recorded. Starting on Tuesday, the live stream schedule can be found at http://www.toccon.com/live.

W3C Workshop on Electronic Books and the Open Web
2013-02-11

The W3C, in partnership with IDPF and BISG, is holding a workshop on February 11th and 12th in New York on Electronic Books and the Open Web, to bring together major players of the eBooks market, including publishers, standardization organizations, booksellers, accessibility organizations, etc. The discussions ignited at this workshop are a part of an ongoing effort to bring eBook publishing to its full potential through standardization. More information is provided on the W3C workshop website. The list of submitted position papers is also available.

The 7th European e-Accessibility Forum: Developing e-Accessibility as a Professional Skill
2013-02-04

The 7th European e-Accessibility Forum will be held March 18, 2013 at Cité des Sciences, Paris, under the high patronage of Mr. François HOLLANDE, President of the French Republic and two ministers. "Developing e-Accessibility as a Professional Skill" will be the main topic of the conference and "Accessible Publishing" will be one important concern presented and discussed by professional experts.

 

The first speakers have been announced and information about their presentations is available on the 7th European e-Accessibility Forum website.

 

Register online to attend and participate.

Dolphin Supports Load2Learn Accessible Resources for School
2013-02-03

UK Primary and Secondary students who have dyslexia, are partially sighted or blind now have access to thousands of free accessible text books and images, through Load2Learn, a service delivered by Dyslexia Action and RNIB.

 

Dolphin Computer Access has recently become a corporate partner of Load2Learn to support the service help reach more dyslexic and blind or partially sighted students.

 

Schools can register with Load2Learn to access national curriculum texts in a range of formats: structured Microsoft Word, PDF, EPUB and audio. It enables staff to support learners who cannot access standard print to read the same books, at the same time as classmates, giving them the same educational opportunities as everyone else.

 

University of Southampton & Department for Education (DfE) research* clearly shows that over two thirds of students with dyslexia improve their: reading, writing and level of achievement when they have access to electronic learning materials and appropriate assistive technologies. Visually impaired students also benefit. Confidence, homework completion and attendance increase for all groups.

Orlando Hosts ATIA 2013 This Week
2013-01-30

ATIA (Assistive Technology Industry Association) 2013 Conference in Orlando provides an opportunity for people with disabilities, and those who support, work with, employ or educate people with disabilities, to meet annual professional development requirements, get more out of existing Assistive Technologies or learn about the latest innovations.

 

The following DAISY Consortium Members and Friends are showcasing their products and services in Orlando:

More information is provided on the 2013 Orlando conference website.

Dolphin Computer Access Making Information Accessible for Arabic Readers
2013-01-29

Dolphin EasyConverter, a flexible alternative format creation tool for providing accessible documents for people who experience difficulties reading, can now recognize and convert a wide range of documents written in Arabic.

 

The new Arabic language support in Dolphin EasyConverter can be used to analyse the text in Arabic PDFs, images, Microsoft Word documents or Rich Text files. A single button then converts this material into customizable large print, Braille or audio formats suitable for Arabic readers who experience dyslexia or sight loss. More information is provided on the Dolphin Computer Access website.

Amazon.com Announces Acquisition of IVONA Software
2013-01-24

Amazon.com, Inc. announced today that it has acquired leading text-to-speech technology company IVONA Software. IVONA delivers world-class technologies that power the “Text-to-Speech,” “Voice Guide” and “Explore by Touch” features on Kindle Fire tablets.

 

Additionally, IVONA delivers text-to-speech products and services for thousands of developers, businesses and customers around the world. “IVONA’s exceptional text-to-speech technology leads the industry in natural voice quality, accuracy and ease of use. IVONA is already instrumental in helping us deliver excellent accessibility features on Kindle Fire, including Text-to-Speech, Voice Guide and Explore by Touch,” said Dave Limp, Vice President, Amazon Kindle. “The IVONA team shares our passion for innovation and customer obsession, and we look forward to building great products to deliver world-class voice solutions to customers around the world.”

 

“For more than ten years, the IVONA team has been focused on creating innovative text-to-speech technologies,” said Lukasz Osowski, CEO and co-founder of IVONA. “We are all thrilled that Amazon is supporting our growth so that we can continue to innovate and deliver exceptional voice and language support for our customers.”

 

The DAISY Consortium Friend IVONA Software offers voice and language portfolios with 44 voices in 17 languages and more in development. More information is provided on the IVONA Software website.

TOC 2013 in New York: O'Reilly Tools of Change for Publishing Conference Approaching Fast
2013-01-23

Every February, the publishing industry gathers at the O'Reilly Tools of Change for Publishing Conference (TOC) to explore the forces that are transforming publishing and focus on solutions to the most critical issues facing the publishing world. More information is provided on the TOC New York website.

Inclusive Publishing Practices will be discussed in New York during the following sessions:

Transforming Braille: A Brighter Future
2013-01-16

An informative article Connecting the Dots: A Brighter Spin on the Future of Braille highlighting the Transforming Braille project has been written by Deborah Kendrick and published in the January 2013 issue of the AccessWorld.

eTernity: Bringing European Stakeholders in Education Together
2013-01-16

The eTernity project is a new initiative from CEN Workshop on Learning Technologies involving movers and shakers in the textbook industry and the stakeholders from education. eTernity is bringing European stakeholders in education together to develop a common vision, frameworks and specifications for e-textbooks for educational purposes. The idea is to fulfill educational requirements for e-textbooks as a channel for creating interactive, adaptable, customizable resources to improve learning, education and training.

 

Kickoff meeting took place January 16, 2013. For questions about the eTernity initiative, its objectives and phases - have a look at the Frequently Asked Questions.

Accessible Images - From Creation to End User
2013-01-12

Registration is now open for the third free webinar of the DIAGRAM Center series! To register follow this link: https://cc.readytalk.com/r/idq06crrrs2j.

Title: Accessible Images: From Creation to End User

Date: Thursday January 24, 2013

Time: 2:30 p.m Eastern (11:30 a.m. Pacific)

Cost: Free

Presenters: Bryan Gould, WGBH National Center for Accessible Media (NCAM); Geoff Freed, WGBH National Center for Accessible Media (NCAM); Lucia Hasty, Rocky Mountain Braille Associates.

“Accessible Images: From Creation to End User” will present an overview of best approaches for making your online images accessible to those with print disabilities.

Topics covered in this free webinar will include:

  • overview of tactile diagrams
  • decision process for whether to create a tactile diagram or describe an image
  • how to create image descriptions
  • how end users navigate image descriptions and what they sound like
  • demonstration of digital talking book (DTB) readers such as Read2Go (iOS) and discussion of DTB authoring tool options
  • discussion of which devices can read image descriptions, including the gh player
  • updates on DIAGRAM working groups and DIAGRAM at CSUN.

A recording of the session, along with the slides, will be made available after the session at http://diagramcenter.org/standards-and-practices/training.html.

Apps4Android to Showcase Accessible EPUB 3 Reader at International CES 2013 in Las Vegas
2013-01-08

HILLIARD, Ohio (BUSINESS WIRE) – Jan. 8, 2012 – Apps4Android, the world’s largest developer of accessibility-focused, and universally-designed mainstream Android applications will be showcasing IDEAL Group Reader (IGR) at the Consumer Electronics Association’s (CEA) International CES 2013 in Las Vegas on January 8-12.

 

IDEAL Group Reader (IGR), available for download from Android market at no cost to users, was developed with the support of the U.S. Department of Education’s Rehabilitation Engineering Research Center (RERC) for Wireless Technologies (Wireless RERC). According to Steve Jacobs, president of IDEAL Group and CEO, Apps4Android, “We are thrilled to be able to offer a high-quality, fully-accessible, ePub3 Reader to both consumers and the publishing industry worldwide.” IGR will be made available to users at no cost. The Beta version of IGR was tested by thousands of users in 116 countries. More information is provided on the Apps4Android website.

Tool Designed For Blind Students Proves Useful For Others, Too
2013-01-04

School districts are turning to Benetech / Bookshare, Full Member of the DAISY Consortium and a resource to help struggling readers with digital textbooks.

 

Benetech's Vice President Betsy Beauman: "Everybody’s switching over their publishing process, so now is the opportune moment for us to be there saying, hey, you guys can do it right this time. Don’t worry about what you did on paper, let’s do a digital book the right way."

To make that possible, the U.S. Department of Education just granted Benetech $6.5 million a year for the next 10 years. More information is provided on the KQED website.

TPB Is Now the Swedish Agency for Accessible Media
2013-01-03

On January 1st, 2013 by government decision, long-time member and supporter of the DAISY Consortium TPB (Swedish Library of Talking Books and Braille) changed its name to "Swedish Agency for Accessible Media", reflecting its present role in the public sector.

 

Swedish Agency for Accessible Media (MTM) collaborates with local libraries in order to give people with print disabilities access to literature. The main mission of MTM is to produce and lend talking books as well as books in Braille and E-text formats. Furthermore, MTM provides advice and information on matters concerning talking books and braille. MTM also has a special service aimed at university students unable to read printed materials. MTM is entirely government funded.

Since November 2000, all talking books at MTM have been produced in DAISY format. To read more about MTM please visit http://www.mtm.se/english/.

NFB-NEWSLINE Mobile Update Avaliable in App Store
2012-12-29

The NFB-NEWSLINE® Mobile App 2.0 is now in the Apple App Store. Developers have made several improvements and smoothed out some of the bugs that appeared after the iOS 6.0 update was released by Apple. Now you should have a better user experience and access to some of the other information provided by NFB-NEWSLINE.

 

Users can receive emergency weather alerts right on their iPhone with the NFB-NEWSLINE Mobile App. If there is a weather alert for your area, and your address and zip code is up to date on your NFB-NEWSLINE® account, you will hear a message saying “weather alert” when you launch your NFB-NEWSLINE® Mobile app, and you will feel your iPhone vibrate. Just double tap on the weather alert button when you hear the alert, and you can read the entire weather alert on your iPhone. Please keep in mind that only the iPhone will vibrate, since only the iPhone has the built-in vibration motor. Those of you running the NFB-NEWSLINE® Mobile App on an iPad or an iPod will only receive the voice alert without the vibration. If you want to get just the vibration alert without the voice alert, you can turn off the voice alert for weather alerts in the settings menu.

If you need to update your address and zip code, you can call 1-866-504-7300, or e-mail nfbnewsline-ios(at)nfb.org

National Federation of the Blind Announces Dr. Jacob Bolotin Awards
2012-12-26

The National Federation of the Blind has announced that applications are now being accepted for the 2013 Dr. Jacob Bolotin Award Program. Each year the National Federation of the Blind presents cash awards to individuals and organizations that have made outstanding contributions toward achieving the full integration of the blind into society on a basis of equality.

 

Dr. Jacob Bolotin was a blind physician who lived and practiced in Chicago in the early twentieth century. He was widely known and respected in Chicago and throughout the Midwest during his career, which spanned the period from 1912 until his untimely death at the age of thirty-six in 1924. He was particularly recognized for his expertise on diseases of the heart and lungs. Bolotin used his many public speaking engagements to advocate for the employment of the blind and their full integration into society.

 

Dr. Marc Maurer, President of the National Federation of the Blind, said: “Dr. Jacob Bolotin was a pioneer who overcame low expectations and discrimination to become a renowned member of the medical profession without the benefit of the support services and civil rights protections available to blind people today. He was also a fierce advocate for greater opportunity for the blind in his time, and doubtless would have been a leader in the organized blind movement had he lived to see it come into being. The Jacob Bolotin Award Program celebrates his pioneering spirit by recognizing and supporting outstanding programs, technologies, and individual efforts that promote independence and opportunity for blind Americans. Our previous winners have been a distinguished group and we look forward to honoring more trailblazers this year.”

 

Recipients of the 2013 Dr. Jacob Bolotin Awards will be determined by the Dr. Jacob Bolotin Award Committee of the National Federation of the Blind. Online applications are due by March 31, 2013. Individuals or organizations are encouraged to apply on behalf of themselves or others. The award recipients will be announced at the 2013 National Federation of the Blind Convention in Orlando.

 

For more information or to fill out the online application, please visit www.nfb.org.

Tobi 2.0 Brings Support for EPUB 3 Media Overlays and MathML
2012-12-24

Tobi 2.0 is a production tool for DAISY 3 and EPUB 3 talking books, with a dedicated editor for image descriptions, built-in content validators, MathML support, and much more!

 

The DAISY Consortium is pleased to release Tobi Version 2.0, a free open source authoring tool designed to help users worldwide achieve excellence in accessible publishing. This major update includes support for EPUB 3 "Media Overlays", which is the mainstream non-proprietary standard for "read aloud" publications. Just like DAISY, EPUB 3 enables the synchronization of audio with text, but it is based on modern HTML5 web standards.

 

Tobi can produce EPUB 3 Media Overlays from regular EPUB 3 files (.epub extension), which can be text-only, or with full or partial audio. Furthermore, the DAISY Pipeline 2 has been integrated which will enable users to migrate their existing material (DTBook XML, DAISY 3 and DAISY 2.02) to EPUB 3 in the near future.

 

Other significant improvements have been introduced since last major release, based on feedback received from the DAISY community. This includes rendering of mathematical equations (with full support for the MathML-in-DAISY profile). Tobi now also comes with integrated EPUB 3 and DAISY 3 validators, which can be executed at import and export time. Support for MP4-AAC audio has been added to facilitate the import of existing EPUB 3 Media Overlays. The audio recording modes have been greatly improved, now featuring control of the synchronisation granularity based on pre-defined preferences. The ability to import and quickly synchronize existing (pre-recorded) audio makes it possible to combine various types of workflows.

 

The performance of the waveform display has been increased substantially. For peace of mind, the application now automatically creates backups of the project file. To know more about all the new features and bug fixes, please visit: http://www.daisy.org/tobi.

 

We would like to thank all contributors and supporters for their valuable feedback.

Pipeline 2 Version 1.4 Now Available
2012-12-22

The DAISY Pipeline 2 is an ongoing project to develop a tool for automated production of accessible materials for people with print disabilities. It is the follow-up and total redesign of the original DAISY Pipeline. Version 1.4 of the Pipeline 2 conversion framework is now available. Three alternative packages are proposed:

  • Default Distribution: includes the command line tool and all conversion scripts except those related to Braille production.
  • Web UI Distribution: includes the command line tool, all conversion scripts except those related to Braille production and a BETA version of the local Web User Interface.
  • Full Distribution: includes the command line tool and all conversion scripts (including those related to Braille production) and a BETA version of the local Web User Interface.
  • Please visit the Pipeline 2 project blog to get additional information and download Version 1.4.

WIPO Advances Toward Treaty to Facilitate Access to Published Works by Persons with Print Disabilities
2012-12-21

Meeting in extraordinary session, the WIPO General Assembly took a landmark decision on December 18th, 2012 to convene a diplomatic conference in 2013 in order to complete negotiations on a pact to improve access to copyrighted works for the many visually impaired and people with print disabilities around the world. The General Assembly also expressed gratitude to Morocco for its offer to host the diplomatic conference.

 

WIPO Director General Francis Gurry welcomed the constructive spirit of engagement among member states and the decision to convene a diplomatic conference in 2013 to agree on the provisions of an international treaty. “Member states took an important decision today in our collective efforts to facilitate access to copyrighted works by the visually impaired and persons with print disabilities” Mr. Gurry said. He added “The future treaty will improve access to published works for millions around the world.”

 

More information is provided on the WIPO website.

M-Enabling Summit 2013: Global Summit for Accessible Mobile Technology for Seniors and Users of All Abilities
2012-12-16

The M-Enabling Summit is the only global program exclusively dedicated to promoting mobile accessible and assistive applications and services for senior citizens and users of all abilities, a market of more than one billion users worldwide, with considerable untapped potential.

The second edition of the Summit is expected to draw more than 600 participants from at least 40 countries.

 

It is organized in cooperation with the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) and the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), ensuring substantial participation for leading international mobile service providers, policy makers, app developers and manufacturers. We hope you will find sessions and workshops that interest you and your organization! The conference agenda is now online and can be viewed on G3ict website.

Obi 2.5 Released: Create DAISY Compliant Audio Books with Rich Navigation
2012-12-14

The DAISY Consortium is pleased to announce the latest release of Obi, an open source software tool for creating DAISY compliant audio books with rich navigation.

 

Obi 2.5 adds several significant new features and fixes issues identified in earlier versions. Many of the changes, both features and bug fixes, were based on feedback and suggestions received from the worldwide DAISY community. The new version of Obi introduces comprehensive functionality for creating skippable structures such as footnotes and annotations as well as automated book production via enhanced audio file import.

 

Other features that empower audio book producers include phrase detection while recording, fine navigation to simplify the nudge operation, live waveform display that enables structure markup on the audio being recorded, ability to replace audio of phrase/section with external audio, multiple section phrase detection, and the ability to generate synthetic speech for page numbers.

 

Please visit the Obi project page to check out the full list of features and bug fixes. Download Obi Version 2.5 at http://www.daisy.org/obi/download. Your feedback is always appreciated.

 

The DAISY Consortium would like to extend a special thanks to all contributors for their valuable feedback and continuous support to the Obi project. Obi is also available in French, thank you goes to Association Valentin Haüy for providing French translation.

 

Obi continues to fill in the gaps and facilitate accessible publication production worldwide to overcome obstacles like language barriers and cost constraints.

 

Free open source production tools such as Obi, developed by the DAISY Consortium can take accessible content production beyond the production houses and assist educators, students and other individuals in creating accessible publications at reasonable cost.

Shinano Kenshi Co. Ltd. Announces the Receipt of Prime Minister's Commendation On Barrier-Free Universal Design Contributors Award
2012-12-13

Shinano Kenshi Co., Ltd. received Japanese Prime Minister's Commendation of Cabinet Office, Barrier-Free Universal Design Contributors Award 2012 at the Prime Minister’s office in Tokyo on December 5th, 2012.

 

The award started in 2002 by the Japanese Government in order to promote barrier-free universal designs to enable all citizens, including the elderly, disabled, pregnant women, and/or people with small children, to enjoy social activities safely and comfortably. Shinano Kenshi was recognized for its enormous contribution to supporting the visually-impaired for their self-reliance, participation in social activities, learning and employment opportunities by the development and manufacturing of Digital Talking Book players and recorders that comply with the DAISY format under the brand name of PLEXTALK®.

 

DAISY, which stands for Digital Accessible Information System, allows a person with a visual impairment or a print disability to read and navigate through talking books. Library services for the visually impaired have converted their titles into DAISY format. In order to read DAISY formatted books, Shinano Kenshi has developed and produced DAISY players since 1993.

 

“We are very honored to receive this award.” said Shinya Kanai, General Manager of Assistive Technology Products Business Unit of Shinano Kenshi. “We would like to share this honor with all the libraries for the blind and the volunteer organizations that have supported us to promote DAISY books to the visually impaired throughout Japan and the world.”

 

For more information on PLEXTALK® assistive technology products: http://www.plextalk.com/.

 

About Shinano Kenshi Co., Ltd., and PLEXTALK®

Shinano Kenshi Co., Ltd., the world’s largest manufacturer of DAISY players and recorders, is responsible for the development and manufacture of digital talking book players and other products sold under the brand name of PLEXTALK®. Shinano and PLEXTALK® assistive technology products are created to improve the quality of life, self-reliance and independence of their users.

The 7th European e-Accessibility Forum: Registration Now Open
2012-12-10

The 7th European e-Accessibility Forum will be held March 18, 2013 at Cité des Sciences, Paris, under the patronage of Mr. François HOLLANDE, President of the French Republic and under the patronage of Madame Geneviève FIORASO, Minister of Higher Education and Research. The first speakers have been announced and registrations is now open. More information can be found on the 7th European e-accessibility Forum website.

European Disability Forum and Microsoft Team up to Enhance Accessibility
2012-12-07

Accessibility is high on the European agenda as the European Union and 24 out of the 27 EU Member States have ratified the United-Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities which states that persons with disabilities have the rights to access the digital environment to the same extent as anyone else. The European Digital Agenda and the European Disability Strategy 2010-20 have announced the presentation of a European Accessibility Act and of proposal for legislation covering access to public sector websites and websites delivering basic services to citizens.

 

In this context, Microsoft and EDF support the plan of the European Commission to deliver an inclusive web environment that can be used by all Internet users including persons with disabilities. We also believe that discussion forum where both users and ICT companies discuss accessibility issues is a key component for an accessible web.

 

During the early days of personal computing, people with disabilities couldn’t access the Internet or were only able to access limited information. Robert Sinclair, Chief Accessibility Officer at Microsoft Corporation, mentioned that for people with disabilities accessibility provides the opportunity to participate in activities that many of us take for granted. Microsoft is working with industry to lead an effort to create a clearly defined professional society related to accessibility that defines necessary skills and a network that allows for the exchange of best practices and knowledge. The society could develop and administer one or more professional accessibility certifications and offer continuing education to help individuals maintain their expertise as the field evolves, improving accessibility of IT for people with disabilities. More information is available on the Microsoft blog.

National Federation of the Blind Condemns Amazon’s Push to Put Kindle E-books in Schools
2012-12-04

Seattle, Washington (December 4, 2012): In protest of a recent push by Amazon.com to put Kindle e-books, which are inaccessible to blind students, into K-12 classrooms across the country, members and supporters of the National Federation of the Blind will conduct an informational picket at the company’s headquarters on Wednesday, December 12. The action comes on the heels of Amazon’s launch of Whispercast, a system designed to allow teachers and school administrators to push Kindle e-books to different devices, theoretically allowing the sharing of content among devices brought to school by the students. Kindle content, unlike some other e-book products, is not accessible to blind students, even on devices that are themselves accessible to the blind, such as personal computers and iPads. This is because Amazon makes Kindle content available only to its own proprietary text-to-speech engine, if at all, rather than to accessibility applications of the reader’s choice.

 

Furthermore, the limited accessibility features that Amazon has implemented do not allow for the kind of detailed reading that students need to do in an educational setting. Although the books can be read aloud with text-to-speech, the student cannot use the accessibility features of his or her device to learn proper spelling and punctuation, look up words in the dictionary, annotate or highlight significant passages, or take advantage of the many other features that Kindle devices and applications make available to sighted students. Kindle e-books also cannot be displayed on Braille devices, making them inaccessible to blind and deaf-blind students who read Braille.

 

Dr. Marc Maurer, President of the National Federation of the Blind, said: “Amazon has repeatedly demonstrated utter indifference to the recommendations of blind Americans for full accessibility of its Kindle e-books and failed to follow the best practices of other e-book providers. Blind Americans will not tolerate this behavior any longer. While we urge Amazon to correct the many obvious deficiencies in its implementation of accessibility and remain willing to work with the company to help it do so, we will oppose the integration of these products into America’s classrooms until Amazon addresses these deficiencies. Putting inaccessible technology in the classroom not only discriminates against blind students and segregates them from their peers, but also violates the law.”

 

Full press release is available on the National Federation of the Blind website.

Recognizing Technology Accessibility on the International Day of Persons with Disabilities
2012-12-03

Persons with disabilities make up 1 billion of the world’s population, yet they face challenges in equal opportunity and access to society in critical areas like education, employment, healthcare, transportation, information communications technology and justice. Every year on Dec. 3, the International Day of Persons with Disabilities, we recognize the importance of providing this underserved community with equal access opportunities and livelihoods. This year’s theme is “removing barriers to create an inclusive and accessible society for all” – an area in which technology plays an important role. On this day, Microsoft pays tribute to the contribution our United Nations partners are making toward addressing accessibility issues through innovative technology initiatives. Read more on the Microsoft Technet blog.

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