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Guidelines for Creating Accessible Digital Materials Published by WGBH/NCAM

Guidelines for Creating Accessible Digital Materials Published by WGBH/NCAM

Editor: WGBH has long been at the leading edge of accessible materials for people with hearing loss. Their latest effort is a set of guidelines for creating accessible digital materials, and they’re distributing CDs at no cost!


Design Guidelines for Electronic Publications, Multimedia and the Web

The WGBH National Center for Accessible Media (NCAM), a division of public broadcaster and access technology pioneer WGBH Boston, announces publication of Accessible Digital Media: Design Guidelines for Electronic Publications, Multimedia and the Web.

These guidelines, providing step-by-step solutions for making a variety of electronic media accessible to users with sensory disabilities, are now available free of charge. A free CD containing the guidelines is also available; e-mail access@wgbh.org to order single or multiple copies.

These guidelines are the culmination of the Beyond the Text project, conducted by NCAM and funded by the National Institute on Disability and Rehabilitation Research (NIDRR) of the U.S. Department of Education (2003-2006; award #H133G020091). Project staff studied methods for integrating accessible multimedia into e-books and digital talking books (DTBs), and the results of this research have been incorporated into the guidelines. The document is a greatly expanded version of recommendations first published in 2000 and revised in 2003, under projects funded by the National Science Foundation (awards #HRD-PPD-9906159 and #HRD-PPD-9623958, respectively).

“Accessible Digital Media: Design Guidelines for Electronic Publications, Multimedia and the Web” presents solutions to accessibility obstacles in a format designed to educate and assist digital publishers as well as Web and content developers. As with tools previously created by NCAM, including MAGpie (free, do-it-yourself captioning and audio description software) and CaptionKeeper (a tool for migrating captions created for analog video to digital formats), NCAM anticipates that the ready availability of these guidelines will help accelerate the creation of e-books, DTBs, software and Web sites with accessible images, multimedia, interactivity, data tables, graphs, and mathematical and scientific expressions.

Geoff Freed, project manager for “Beyond the Text,” comments, “While the guidelines focus largely on content creation for educational materials, the solutions and recommendations are not restricted to academic settings. Lifelong learning is expected of every individual in the 21st century and advancement in the workplace is often tied to learning new skills and concepts. Corporate trainers and knowledge-management experts in all fields utilize interactive and Web-based content for professional development, and learning materials of all types now include multimedia- movies and audio clips and a variety of interactive elements.”

Those interested in building accessibility into digital materials may also want to review the results of another NCAM initiative which promotes the design of accessible learning management systems, used by many schools, universities and workplaces. NCAM’s Specifications for Accessible Learning Technologies (SALT) Partnership established an accessibility working group within the IMS Global Learning Consortium (IMS). This work, producing specifications for a universally designed infrastructure for adaptable learning systems, will result in an international standard from the International Organization on Standardization (ISO).

Please contact NCAM if you have comments about these guidelines or suggestions for future revisions. We also encourage you to visit NCAM’s Web site to explore other ongoing access initiatives.

About WGBH’s National Center for Accessible Media

WGBH developed captioning for television in the early ’70s and brought video description (description of on-screen action, settings, costumes and character expressions inserted during pauses in dialogue) to television and videos in the late ’80s. Throughout the ’90s, these services were applied and integrated into other forms of mass media and for a range of venues, including movie theaters, Web sites, and classrooms. Today, all of WGBH’s access initiatives are gathered in one division, the Media Access Group at WGBH.

About WGBH

WGBH Boston is America’s preeminent public broadcasting producer, the source of fully one-third of PBS’s prime-time lineup, along with some of public television’s best-known lifestyle shows and children’s programs and many public radio favorites. WGBH is the number one producer of Web sites on pbs.org, the most-visited dot-org on the Internet. WGBH is a pioneer in educational multimedia and in technologies and services that make media accessible to the 36 million Americans who rely on captioning or video descriptions. WGBH has been recognized with hundreds of honors: Emmys, Peabodys, duPont-Columbia Awards… even two Oscars. In 2002, WGBH was honored with a special institutional Peabody Award for 50 years of excellence. For more information visit the WGBH Web site.

For additional information about all of NCAM’s activities and the projects mentioned, please visit the NCAM Web site.

Mary Watkins
Natonal Center for Accessible Media (NCAM)
phone: 617 300-3700 voice
617 300-2489 TTY