Today, May 15 is Global Accessibility Awareness Day—a day intended to get people talking, thinking, and learning about digital accessibility for people with disabilities. I’d like to take this opportunity to share here some of what Benetech’s DIAGRAM Center is doing to ensure that digital content is accessible to everyone.
3D Printing for Accessible Educational Materials
The DIAGRAM Center is working at the frontier of accessible publishing and online content by making it easier, faster, and cheaper to create and use accessible digital images. One of the many emerging technologies we are researching is 3D printing for accessible educational materials. The advent of affordable 3D printers has created exciting new possibilities for teachers, students, parents, and anyone else to create educational materials for students with visual impairments. With a 3D printer, you can create a tactile model of an object that would otherwise be, in the words of research scientist Joshua Miele, “too small, too large, too fragile, or too dangerous” to hand to a student for inspection. But, are 3D printers available to most teachers? What role should 3D printers play in the accessible classroom?
DIAGRAM researcher, teacher of the visually impaired (TVI), and Berkeley Ph.D. candidate Yue-Ting Siu recently presented her research on this topic in a well-attended DIAGRAM webinar. Joining Ting was Mike Cheverie, a teacher of students with visual impairments in the Los Angeles Unified School District, who presented a case study of his experience using 3D printing to create STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math) education materials for his students. See and hear for yourself what the latest research says about this emerging capability by playing the closed-captioned recording of the webinar or by visiting the DIAGRAM webinars page to download the PowerPoint slides and associated handouts.
Accessible Image Sample Book
If you are interested in learning even more about the many ways that digital images can be made accessible, including short and long descriptions, tactile graphics, MathML, sonification, audio description, and 3D printing, check out DIAGRAM’s Accessible Image Sample Book. This free, online resource provides examples of accessible digital images such as maps, bar charts, diagrams, mathematical expressions, photographs and more. This resource can be used as a guide when creating accessible images in your own digital books and other digital publications. You can learn more of what the book contains by listening to the webinar about the Accessible Image Sample Book presented by its authors.