In the past year, more than ever before, resources are becoming available, publishers are setting higher goals, and developers are creating new tools to ensure that people with print disabilities are not excluded from evolving technologies, programs and resources for reading, learning and staying informed. Leaders in the effort to build accessibility in at the source are coming together, creating an environment where content can be “born accessible.” Progress is evident in a variety of sectors: federally funded research and development projects, commercial enterprises large and small, cloud-based services with distributed labor both paid and volunteer, hardware and software manufacturers, and advocacy and standards organizations.Three non-profit organizations committed to ensuring accessible content experiences are available to all—Benetech (Bookshare), the DAISY Consortium, and the WGBH National Center for Accessible Media (NCAM)—will be joined by mainstream publishers and retailers to share the latest information on:
Finally, the panel will discuss a new distribution model known as “Bookaccess,” which involves several retailers and publishers (TBA) who will be selling accessible content to a broad segment of the population who can benefit from enhanced versions of books (readers with autism, ADHD, mild dyslexia, struggling readers, English-language learners, and others).
Betsy Beaumon has served for more than twenty years as a technology executive and entrepreneur. She is a former Senior Director for BEA Systems, Inc. and managed international e-business initiatives for Cisco Systems, Inc. In 1995, she founded Social Online Service, the first web-based information and referral service for social service organizations. As Executive Director of the company, Betsy was an early supporter of Web accessibility standards.
Betsy was also one of the founders of TradeBeam Inc., a provider of global trade management software services. She began her career in engineering, then moved into product management for GTE and Lam Research Corporation.
Betsy brings an extensive background managing high growth organizations to her leadership of the Benetech Literacy Program. Her past experience in operations, marketing, product management, services, training and strategic partnerships supports the ongoing expansion of Benetech’s Bookshare and Route 66 Literacy projects.
Betsy earned a BSEE from Northwestern University. Active in volunteer work, Betsy has taught English classes to adult students in Tanzania.
Larry Goldberg is the founder and director of the Carl and Ruth Shapiro Family National Center for Accessible Media (NCAM) at Boston’s public broadcaster WGBH. For more than a decade he directed WGBH’s Media Access Group and its Caption Center and Descriptive Video Service and now focuses on research and development, public policy initiatives and strategic partnerships for global impact. He is a leader in the international effort to assure that the design and implementation of new technologies meet the needs of people with disabilities and other populations who lack access. He led development of the specifications for digital television closed captioning in the U.S. and was awarded a patent in 1996 for “Rear Window™,” the first closed-captioning system for movie theaters and theme parks. He has developed dozens of innovative R&D projects for full inclusion in such fields as online education and digital publishing, mobile devices and mobile media, in-flight entertainment, home media networks, Web-based media, theatrical motion pictures, museums and theme parks, and many others.
Larry regularly briefs Congressional and regulatory agencies on barriers and opportunities in new and emerging media. He consults and writes about the needs of people with disabilities for many publications and national advisory boards and served on the Federal Communications Commission’s (FCC) Technological Advisory Council, its Consumer Advisory Committee and currently co-chairs its Video Programming Accessibility Advisory Committee.
Larry worked closely with Cong. Ed Markey (D-MA) and House and Senate staffers of the technology and telecommunications subcommittees, in a bipartisan effort to draft, negotiate and pass the “21st Century Communications and Video Accessibility Act,” which was signed into law by Pres. Obama in October of 2010. Under that law, which expands access to new and emerging digital media under regulations being written by the FCC, the Video Programming Accessibility Advisory Committee (VPAAC) was established at the FCC and Larry was named co-chair by Chairman Julius Genachowsky. The first act of the VPAAC was to issue recommendations for extending closed captioning to Internet-based media, which Larry and his working group delivered to the FCC ahead of deadline and which became the basis for the Notice of Proposed Rulemaking and the subsequent rules, due in early January 2012.
Larry is regularly consulted by the White House Domestic Policy staff on matters pertaining to access to technology for persons with disabilities and helped establish a standing committee within the CIO Council of the United States government on accessible technology. At the beginning of the Obama Administration, Larry met with the new CTO of the U.S. (Aneesh Chopra) and the new CIO (Vivek Kundra) to brief them on issues of concern regarding inclusive technology policies and practices.
Larry also was involved in crafting and now proliferating the media and communications provisions of the United Nations Convention on Persons with Disabilities, adopted in December of 2006 and which has since been signed by 153 countries. Larry has consulted with governments and NGOs in Japan, Israel, Brazil, Mexico, India, the United Kingdom, Canada, Argentina and Russia. He was a member of the U.S. Access Board’s Electronic and Information Technology Access Advisory Committee (EITAAC) that established rules for federal compliance with Section 508 and its subsequent “Refresh Committee” which updated those rules. Larry works with technology companies such as Apple, Disney, Microsoft, Verizon, Panasonic, AT&T, Yahoo!, HP, Adobe, and others on solutions to meet the needs of consumers with disabilities. His undergraduate degree focused on Cinema Studies and Broadcast Journalism at University of Southern California.
Rick Johnson is the Chief Technology Officer, and one of the founders of VitalSource Technologies, Inc. VitalSource, a division of the Ingram Content Group, is the maker of Bookshelf®, the most widely used platform for delivery of electronic textbooks in the world. As CTO, Rick manages the strategic direction of the fast growing platform, guiding the architecture, and implementation of its clients and systems.
Rick’s career has been focused on bringing together his three passions: technology, publishing, and education. He is a frequent speaker on electronic textbooks, their integration into an institutional environment, and how the accessibility needs of individual students can best be accommodated with their delivery. He served on the working groups responsible for version 2 and version 3 of the EPUB standard, is on the executive committee for the IMS Global Learning Consortium, and is the co-inventor of 3 international patents dealing with electronic books and their distribution.
George Kerscher Ph.D. – “In the Information Age, access to information is a fundamental human right.”
George Kerscher began his IT innovations in 1987 and coined the term “print disabled.” George is dedicated to developing technologies that make information not only accessible, but also fully functional in the hands of persons who are blind or who have a print disability. He believes properly designed information systems can make all information accessible to all people and is working to push evolving technologies in this direction.
As Secretary General of the DAISY Consortium and President of the International Digital Publishing Forum (IDPF), Kerscher is a recognized international leader in document access. In addition, Kerscher is the Senior Officer of Accessible Technology at Learning Ally in the USA. He chairs the DAISY/NISO Standards committee, the EPUB Maintenance working group and the W3C’s Steering Council for the Web Accessibility Initiative (WAI). George also serves on the USA National Instructional Materials Accessibility Standard (NIMAS) Board.
Doug is Accessibility Lead at Nook Media, the digital products division of Barnes & Noble; responsible for the strategy and execution of accessible products and services for the Nook software and hardware product lines. He is a serial entrepreneur with over 25 years of startup experience. He has been the founder and executive management at 5 Silicon Valley startups, delivering products as diverse as network terminals (Network Computing Devices), electronic books (NuvoMedia, Barnes & Noble), network security systems (Vernier Networks), and mobile consumer applications and services (LightPole, Inc). He currently serves on the advisory board of several technology startups, and serves as an executive mentor in several local forums.
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