Of course, accessibility is right up Benetech’s alley and the focus of our Literacy program. In my Fall 2011 President's Update
This last September, Benetech won a 3 million dollar award over one year from OSEP for a project we call Leveraging Impact through Technology, or, very appropriately, LIT. In partnership with the American Institutes for Research (AIR), the LIT project will dramatically enhance the availability and quality of accessible educational material for students with print disabilities at all levels of education. Through the LIT project, we’re adding many new innovations to the groundwork laid by the B4E project, with a focus on three core areas: content, tools, and utilization. Here’s a glimpse at what we’re delivering:
- Open-content, publicly available and freely shared image descriptions and reusable graphical models to improve accessibility of NIMAC textbooks and Common Core content (this is so cool, I'm going to write another blog just on this aspect: look for the Triple Play blog!)
- Exciting new tools, including a free, open source Android ebook reader and a free web-based ebook reader along with an accessible bookshelf in “the cloud.” These will enable educators to easily assign accessible books to students, and allow students to access these materials – available in mp3 and DAISY audio – on multiple devices of their choosing, whether at home, on the move, or at school.
- Free professional development for school districts across the country in order to increase utilization of Bookshare and serve as many students as possible.
One of the reasons why the LIT project is so exciting and cool is that it enables us to pursue some of these new directions, using tech innovation to scale up efforts to ensure equal access to quality education by students with disabilities for years to come. In the U.S., Bookshare is allowed to serve only students with a legally qualifying print disability per the Chafee Amendment to the Copyright Act. Yet those who qualify represent but a small fraction of the demographics that can benefit from accessible books. With the LIT project – especially with its open-content aspects and new tools – we’re setting our sights on changing the lives of many more students. We’re honored and proud to embark upon this new project!