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PRESIDENT CLINTON ANNOUNCES GRANT TO

WGBH'S NATIONAL CENTER FOR ACCESSIBLE MEDIA

TO MAKE ONLINE LEARNING ACCESSIBLE TO PEOPLE WITH DISABILITIES

 

During a recent stop on his Digital Divide tour, President Clinton announced that the CPB/WGBH National Center for Accessible Media (NCAM) has been awarded a $1.8 million grant from the Department of Education's Learning Anywhere Anytime Program to establish a partnership with industry to make online learning resources accessible to people with disabilities.

 

STANDARDS FOR ACCESSIBLE LEARNING TECHNOLOGIES, or the SALT Partnership, is a four-year initiative to develop and promote open access specifications and effective models that enable people with disabilities to have equal access to the growing wealth of online learning resources.

 

NCAM, the research and development arm of the Media Access Group at Boston public broadcaster WGBH, will lead the project working closely with the IMS Global Learning Consortium, a worldwide coalition of over 230 educational institutions, Federal agencies and private companies developing technical standards for online learning. Project advisers include the leadership of membership organizations in education and disability. Blind, low vision, mobility impaired, deaf and hard of hearing individuals will contribute to identification of barriers and evaluation of proposed solutions.

 

NCAM and IMS will establish an industry-led Working Group to identify the features needed to make online learning accessible, and to specify the resources and technologies needed to implement solutions. The IMS Working Group will engage leading companies involved in product development, institutions implementing distributed learning environments, and international standards organizations. Initial partners include Blackboard, Inc., Educational Testing Service (ETS), Microsoft Corporation, Pearson Education, Sun Microsystems, PeopleSoft, Saba Software, and the United Kingdom's Open University.

 

Industry partners have committed to serve as early adopters of specifications. With NCAM's help, technology providers will work with publishers to enable and implement access features within platforms, applications, and content. Specific capabilities which will be implemented into various partners' products and services through this Project include:

 

-- means to enable alternate presentation in response to learner profiles

-- means to identify and activate accessibility features within content

-- solutions to enable accessibility of text- HTML, XML, PDF and E-books

-- solutions to enable accessibility of multimedia content- audio, video, illustrations

-- solutions to enable accessibility of special material- mathematical notation, graphs, charts

 

Specifications will involve and serve the entire community of public and private companies, and organizations developing learning resources. Results will impact the accessibility of online resources in every conceivable learning environment- K-12, vocational and post-secondary education, the government and the military, and in faculty development and workplace training.

 

NCAM and its fellow access departments at WGBH (The Caption Center and Descriptive Video Service®) make up the Media Access Group at WGBH. WGBH, Boston's public broadcaster, pioneered captioning and video description on television, the Web and in movie theaters. NCAM is a founding member of the Web Accessibility Initiative (WAI) of the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C). NCAM works with standards bodies and industry to develop and implement non-proprietary technical standards for multimedia, digital television, and convergent media that ease implementation, foster growth and lay common groundwork for equal access to new technologies. Information about activities and initiatives of the Media Access Group at WGBH can be found at main.wgbh.org/access.

 

The IMS Global Learning Consortium is a member supported world wide coalition supported by colleges and universities, the Department of Defense, the Department of Labor, and companies such as Pearson Education, Microsoft, Sun Microsystems, Oracle, Apple, and IBM, as well as most providers of education and training technology solutions. IMS' mission is to facilitate the delivery of internet based distributed learning to all users and all use environments, worldwide. IMS develops specifications designed to ensure the creation of content and learning management systems that permit sharing across institutions and across technical environments.


Contact: Mary Watkins/Media Access Group at WGBH

617 300-3700 voice

617 300-2459 TTY

mary_watkins@wgbh.org

main.wgbh.org/access

 

Caroline Oldershaw/IMS Global Learning Consortium, Inc.

coldershaw@imsproject.org


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