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DIAGRAM Center: Making Image and Graphical Content Accessible. EASI Webinar – August 8, 2012. A Little About Us…. Benetech: Technology Serving Humanity Anh Bui, Senior Manager of DIAGRAM Center Fred Slone, Director of Operations, Bookshare

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Diagram center making image and graphical content accessible

DIAGRAM Center: Making Image and Graphical Content Accessible

EASI Webinar – August 8, 2012

A little about us

A Little About Us…

  • Benetech: Technology Serving Humanity

  • Anh Bui, Senior Manager of DIAGRAM Center

  • Fred Slone, Director of Operations, Bookshare

  • DIAGRAM Center and Bookshare are part of Benetech’s Literacy Program

Images are challenging especially stem

Images are Challenging (especially STEM)

Diagram created to meet those challenges

DIAGRAM Created to Meet Those Challenges

  • Revolutionizing access to images and graphics in educational content through technology:

    • Tools

    • Standards

    • Best Practices & Research

  • Make creating and using accessible images easier, faster, more cost effective

  • So students can have timely access to the information they need

What s an accessible image

What’s an Accessible Image?

  • Provides different mode of access to visual information contained in an image, e.g.:

    • Text/audio description

    • Tactile graphic

    • Sonification

    • Smart image

    • Multi-modal access

Diagram goals


Make it easier, faster, and cheaper to make and use accessible images so that students with print disabilities have timely access to the information they need.

In other words:

  • Make it easier for content producers to create accessible images

  • Make it easier for consumers to use accessible images via technology

  • Make it easier for both producers and consumers to discover accessible images and tools

  • Make it easier for both to interact with content that need not be stored as traditional or static images in the first place (e.g., mathematical equations)

Diagram center making image and graphical content accessible

Make “born digital”mean

“born accessible”

What is the diagram center

What is the DIAGRAM Center?

  • 5-year Research & Development Center

  • Funded by Department of Education, Office of Special Education Programs (OSEP)

  • Awarded to Benetech along with partners:

    • NCAM

    • U.S. Fund for DAISY

Who else is the diagram center

Who else is the DIAGRAM Center?

  • 27-member Advisory Board

    • Technologists

    • Educators

    • Publishers

    • Accessibility experts

    • Student/Parent reps

  • Working Groups with 20+ members

  • Collaborators including Image Share, DorinaNowill

What we ve done tools

What We’ve Done: Tools

  • Poet: A Tool for Crowdsourcing Descriptions

  • Image Accessibility Coverage Checker for DAISY Books

  • Tobi integration: DAISY tool for multi-media production

Poet a tool for crowdsourcing descriptions

Poet: A Tool for Crowdsourcing Descriptions

  • Web-based and open source for adding image descriptions to eBooks (DAISY)

  • For use by authors, publishers, accessibility providers

  • Designed to:

    • Quickly identify all images in an eBook

    • Tag images needing descriptions

    • Author and edit rich descriptions

    • Provide guidance to describers (guidelines)

    • Moderate and approve descriptions

    • Integrate with content production tools

Poet navigation contextualize describe

Poet: Navigation, Contextualize, Describe

Poet math helper

Poet: Math Helper

Converts ascii math input into MathML and MathJax

Poet bookshare use case

Poet: Bookshare Use Case

  • Bookshare actively using Poet to add image descriptions to textbooks

  • Thousands of images described by

    • Volunteers

    • Vendors

  • Provides user feedback to influence new development

What s next tools

What’s Next: Tools

  • Poet

    • EPUB 3 and Content Model support

    • Improved UI

    • More Math and STEM support

    • Image Classification

    • Field testing with educators

  • Image Accessibility Coverage Checker for EPUB 3

  • Prototypes:

    • Interactive Image Description/Tactile Graphic Decision Tree

    • QR Codes for Tactile Annotations

    • Simplified Math Notation System

    • More!

  • Multi-modal access

What we ve done standards

What we’ve done: Standards

  • Advocacy for description-related mark up in web and ebook standards

  • DIAGRAM Content Model:

    • Framework for how to think about accessible images

    • Standard means that we can share metadata about images across systems

    • Groundwork for giving individuals different ways of getting information from the same image

Standards content model

Standards: Content Model

  • XML data model for image metadata

  • For given image you can have:

    • multiple types of descriptions (e.g., short, long, simplified etc.)

    • alternative image links (e.g., SVG)

    • other image metadata (e.g., target age, grade level, etc.)

Example the hydrologic cycle

Example: The Hydrologic Cycle

Standards content model example

Standards: Content Model Example

About this description

Author: John Doe, Ph.D. in Water Engineering

Target Age: 9-12

Target Grade: 4-7


The image depicts the cycle of water evaporating, turning into clouds, falling back to earth in the form of precipitation and being filtered through sediment.

Long Description

The image depicts the natural process of evaporation and precipitation and how rain water gets filtered and cleansed through the earth's sediment.

On the left-hand side of the image is a lake...

A weather event such as a rainstorm eventually returns the precipitation to the ground...

The natural filtering agents in the soil...

Annotation added by teacher

In the winter we get snow instead of rain.

Simplified Language Description

The image shows how water becomes clouds, then rain, and then gets cleaned by the soil.

Tactile Image

[Tactile image]

In the upper left corner of the tactile…

Simplified Image

[Simplified image]

Moving front the top left corner of the image

What s next standards

What’s Next: Standards

  • EPUB 3 Accessibility

    • Collaborating on EPUB 3 accessibility checklist

    • Update Matt Garrish’s “Accessible EPUB 3”

  • Continued advocacy, monitoring progress

  • Reference implementations and guidelines

  • Exploring integration opportunities with other standards

What we ve done best practices research

What we’ve done: Best Practices & Research

  • Training webinars

  • Product evaluation matrices

  • User survey on reading technologies

  • Report on metadata images

What s next best practices research

What’s Next: Best Practices & Research

  • SVG and 3D Printing evaluation

  • Audio-tactile (i.e., text-tactile) usability study

  • Collaboration with Mathematics eText Research Center (MeTRC, University of Oregon)

  • Interviews with content providers

  • End-user survey follow up activities

  • Advocacy for efficacy research

What s next longer term

What’s Next: Longer Term

  • Some of the areas under exploration:

    • Technology for tactiles

    • Haptics

    • Interactives and Image exploration

  • Extended International Reach

  • Sample Content

  • Coordination with efforts in assessment

Putting it all together a case study

Putting It All Together: A Case Study


What is bookshare

What is Bookshare?

Bookshare is an online library of accessible media for readers with print disabilities.

Over 200,000 Members

Over 150,000 titles

Over 190 Publishing partners

Over a thousand new books added every month

Bookshare believes that people with print disabilities should have the same ease of access to books and periodicals that people without disabilities enjoy.

Funded by an award from OSEP, the Office of Special Education Programs in the U.S. Department of Education.

What bookshare offers

What Bookshare Offers

Digital books for individuals with print disabilities

FREE membership for qualified U.S. students through OSEP award

Multiple accessible formats, including text to speech and audio

  • FREE assistive technology software

Our accessible image initiative

Our Accessible Image Initiative

  • Launched in late fall 2011, started from zero

  • It takes time & staffing

  • “Re-launched” in early 2012

  • A few volunteers did nearly all early descriptions

    AS OF JULY 2012:

  • 21,000 image descriptions created

  • 16 described textbooks, including two STEM related

  • Nearly 50 active describers

Lessons learned important stuff

Lessons Learned / Important Stuff

  • The 80/20 Rule (more like 70/20/10)

  • Recruiting

  • On Boarding & Training

  • “Image Slams” – Focused, ½ day events

  • Examples, examples, examples

  • Quality Control

  • Volunteer Burn Out

  • “Why should I care?”

It is art and science

It is Art and Science

  • Long vs Short Descriptions

  • Color vs No Color

  • Emotions and subjectivity

  • How much context

  • Learning objective vs not giving away the answer

How can you get involved

How can you get involved?



  • DIAGRAM Center www.diagramcenter.org

  • Poet http://diagramcenter.org/development/poet.html

  • National Center for Accessible Media (NCAM) http://ncam.wgbh.org

  • DAISY Consortium http://www.daisy.org

  • IDPF http://idpf.org

  • Benetech http://www.benetech.org

  • Bookshare http://www.bookshare.org

  • “Accessibile EPUB 3,” Matt Garrish, published by O’Reilly Mediahttp://shop.oreilly.com/product/0636920025283.do

  • “508 Compliance” by Katie Cunningham, O’Reilly Media, May 2012

Thank you


  • Anh BuiEmail: anhb@benetech.orgSenior ManagerDIAGRAM Center

  • Fred SloneEmail: freds@benetech.orgDirector of OperationsBookshare

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