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BYU Peery Entrepreneurship Program and Bookshare Partnership

March 11, 2013

Bookshare has developed innovative technology to make textbooks more accessible to blind and visually impaired students.   Before now, blind and visually impaired students missed out on thousands of images in their textbooks. Imagine studying science without being able to see the charts, graphs or diagrams in your textbook!  Using a simple on-line tool we call Poet, our volunteers write vital descriptions for textbook images.

On March 4, Brigham Young University students sponsored a competition among campus-based church groups to write image descriptions in textbooks for Bookshare members.  Dozens of students participated in the two-hour challenge, writing over 600 descriptions in high school textbooks on subjects ranging from physics and life science to literature and world history.  With the great success of this event, we’ll continue reaching out to colleges to host similar “image slam” competitions on their campuses. We also plan to start engaging students in proofreading digital textbooks for their print disabled peers.

This is our third semester partnering with the highly creative and dedicated students at BYU. So far their efforts have generated around 3,000 image descriptions.  They also developed a facilitator guidebook with suggestions for starting Bookshare volunteer charters on other campuses.  Their outreach efforts and activities include a blub Facebook page, competitions with prizes, promotional and recruitment videos, flyers, and a clever “Prezi”.  Students have also expressed an interest developing a local mentoring program for disabled high school students to encourage them to pursue a postsecondary education.

Special thanks to our talented current BYU team (pictured below), Amy Lambert, David Covey, Jared Hawkins, and Seth Jenson!

A head and shoulders shot of Jared Hawkins

Jared Hawkins

A head and shoulders shot of Seth Jensen

Seth Jensen

A head and shoulders image of David CoveyDavid Covey

A head and shoulders image of Amy Lambert

Amy Lambert

10 Tips for Creating Accessible EPUB 3 Files

March 6, 2013

The goal of the DIAGRAM Center at Benetech is to impact how image and graphic content for accessible instructional materials (AIM) is produced and accessed throughout the country. The DIAGRAM Center, WGBH National Center for Accessible Media (NCAM), and the U.S. Fund for DAISY are collaborating to identify challenges within the technologies, standards and production practices used to produce and display accessible images and graphic content within AIM, and develop technologies, tools, recommended practices and training materials that address them.

In support of this goal, the DIAGRAM Center has produced this document with 10 tips for creating accessible EPUB 3 files:

1. Separate content and presentation

Visual reading is only one way of accessing content. Do not use visual-only cues such as colored text, font size or positioning as the only clue to the meaning or importance of a word or section. Do not use tables or pictures of text to control the appearance of the content. The meaning of the content should be the same both with and without any styles or formatting applied.

2.  Provide complete navigation

Include a complete table of contents in the front matter and consider smaller tables of contents at the start of each section. Use <section> and <aside> tags in the content and the <itemref linear=”no”> tag in the manifest file to define a logical reading order.

3. Create meaningful structure wherever possible

Create a structure by using numbered headings in a logical structure. For other tagged structures, specify their content with the epub:type attribute. For example, the tag that contains the preface of a book might look like <section epub:type=”preface”>.  Specific tags are for specific content only (i.e., the <cite> tag is only for citations) and should be used according to the standard. Use the most specific tag available and do not automatically wrap <div> or <span> tags around everything.

4. Define the content of each tag

Include semantic information to describe the content of a tag.  A section tag for the table of contents would look like <section epub:type=”toc”> or a list of definitions in a glossary would be tagged with  <dl epub:type=”glossary”>. Use the EPUB 3 Structural Semantics Vocabulary definition to identify content.

5. Use images only for pictures, not for tables or text

Any content embedded in an image is not available to visually impaired readers. Use proper and complete markup for text and tabular data, including headers and scope attributes for tables. If images of tables are unavoidable, provide a link to a separate page containing the properly marked up tabular data.

6. Use image descriptions and alt text

Every image should have a description, caption, or alt text unless it is solely decorative.

7. Include page numbers

Page numbers are the way many people navigate within a book. Use the epub:type=”pagebreak” attribute to designate page numbers. Include the ISBN of the source of the page numbers in the package metadata for the book. A tag for a page number might look like <span xml:id=”page361″ epub:type=”pagebreak”>361</span>.

8. Define the language(s)

To make sure each word will be rendered correctly, specify the default language of the content in the root html tag. Indicate any words, phrases or passages in a different language by using the xml:lang attribute: <span xml:lang=”fr” lang=”fr”>rue Saint-Andre-des-Arts</span>.

9. Use MathML

MathML makes mathematical equations accessible to everyone by eliminating the ambiguity of a verbal description of a picture. There are many tools available to support MathML creation.

10. Provide alternative access to media content

Make sure the native controls for video and audio content are enabled by default. Provide fallback options such as captions or descriptions for video and transcripts for audio.

For more information, please visit

More Training Opportunities for Bookshare Web Reader and Bookshelf!

March 1, 2013

In case you were unable to attend the February webinars about the new Bookshare Web Reader and Bookshelf, we have several more scheduled in March. If the date and times don’t work for you, sign up anyway and you will be sent a link to the recording after the webinar is over.

Learn more about Bookshelf and the Bookshare Web Reader

Wednesday, March 6, 2013
4:00 PM ET, (3:00 PM CT, 2:00 PM MT, 1:00 PM PT)
Register Here


Thursday, March 14, 2013
3:30 PM ET (2:30 PM CT, 1:30 PM MT, 12:30 PM PT)
Register Here

Reading Choices: So Many Ways to Enjoy Bookshare!

Tuesday, March 19, 2013
1:30 PM ET, 12:30 PM CT, 11:30 AM MT, 10:30 AM PT
Register Here

Plan Your CSUN Schedule

February 26, 2013

Are you going to CSUN?

Our tradeshow booth.

The Bookshare Booth

Look for our booth, #712, in the conventional hall and stop by for a demo and training on the new tools, Bookshare Web Reader and Bookshelf.

Here’s quick look at all the Bookshare presentations, trainings, and events. Mark your calendars with items of  interest.

Event Day Time Location Presenter
Latest Developments in
Math Accessibility
Fri 8:00 am Ford C,
3rd floor
Anh Bui
Born Accessible: Inclusive Publishing Thur 1:50 pm Ford C,
3rd floor
Betsy Beaumon
Reading Technology: What Works? Thur 9:20 am Ford C,
3rd floor
Kristina Cohen and guest teacher from SDUSD
Making Sense of Digital Access, Books, Trends Wed 9:20 am Manchester H, 2nd floor Betsy Beaumon & Donna McNear
Bookshare Member Feedback Meeting Thur 5-6 pm Cunningham A, 4th floor Kristina Cohen
Bookshare Tools Training Thur 11:30 am Cunningham A, 4th floor Kristina Cohen
Bookshare Tools Training Thur 12:45 pm Cunningham A, 4th floor Kristina Cohen


Bookshare Members: Join Read Across America Day!

February 25, 2013

Saturday, March 2, is Read Across America Day, an annual event sponsored by the National Education

A picture of the Cat in the Hat

Association (NEA) to motivate students to read. This year, it coincides with Dr. Seuss’s birthday. Schools are celebrating on Friday, March 1.

Whether you celebrate on Friday or Saturday, let’s show the NEA that Bookshare students are readers!

  1. Add Dr. Seuss’s books to your students’ Bookshelves! It will be so easy to get all the titles to them! Watch this video to learn how to use Bookshelves in schools. Or look at the first-time user guide.
  2. Post a picture on Facebook of your students reading Dr. Seuss or one of the biographies below. Tweet your favorite Dr. Seuss book and mention @Bookshare.
  3. Add a comment below or on Facebook with your plans. How about a Dr. Seuss reading marathon? How many titles can your students read in an hour? Can anyone read all of his 46 titles?
  4. Ask your students to pick their favorite Dr. Seuss title, read an excerpt, and then describe why it is their favorite. Tell others which book was the top favorite!

It doesn’t matter if it has been a long time since you or your students read Dr. Seuss. Whatever your age, you can enjoy his books. Bookshare has them all! Or, if you have already memorized his books by heart, try one of these:

  1. Dr. Seuss: Young Author and Artist (Childhood of Famous Americans Series)
  2. The Boy on Fairfield Street: How Ted Geisel Grew Up to Become Dr. Seuss (41 pages)
  3. Dr. Seuss & Mr. Geisel: A Biography

The NEA has lots of suggestions for participating.

You can also share your plans and pledge to participate.

I like to read, I do! I do!

What is the Bookshare team reading?

February 20, 2013

What is the Bookshare team reading? For fun, we recently asked them, thinking our friends and followers might be interested and find a new idea or two. While selecting a new book, try adding them to your Bookshelf and opening one and reading it with the Bookshare Web Reader. They are easy to use! Read about the new tools.

Fiction Picks:

The Racketeer, by John Grisham. His latest title. Given the importance of their role, it is remarkable that in the history of this country only four active federal judges have been murdered.

Flight Behavior, by Barbara Kingsolver. A current best seller about global warming set in the Appalachian mountains. A great read! You won’t be able to put it down.

Rules of Deception, by Christopher Reich. A spy thriller. August 2008 Buzz Book Doctor Jonathan Ransom thought he knew everything about his wife Emma until she was killed in a tragic skiing accident in the Swiss Alps.

A Memory of Light, by Robert Jordan and Brandon Sanderson. The 14th and last book in the Wheel of Time series. Jordan started the series in 1990, but after he died in 2007, Sanderson finished the series.

The Passage, by Justin Cronin. The story of Amy–abandoned by her mother at the age of six, pursued and then imprisoned by the shadowy figures behind a government experiment of apocalyptic proportions.

A Cupboard Full of Coats, by Yvette Edwards. Plagued by guilt, paralyzed by shame, Jinx has spent the years since her mother’s death alone, estranged from her husband, withdrawn from her son, and entrenched in a childhood home filled with fierce and violent memories.

NW, by Zadie Smith. This is the story of the northwest corner of a city. Here you’ll find guests and hosts, those with power and those without it, people who live somewhere special and others who live nowhere at all. And many people in between.

Nonfiction Picks:

The Sorcerer’s Apprentices, by Lisa Abend. What goes on behind the scenes at elBulli, where chef Ferran Adrià’s remarkable cuisine comes to life? It’s a really fun read for anyone interested in food or cooking.

The Mind’s Eye, by Oliver Sacks.  Great book on neurological dysfunction and the brain’s compensation systems. The book tells the stories of people who are able to navigate the world and communicate with others despite losing what many of us consider indispensable senses and abilities: the power of speech, the capacity to recognize faces, the sense of three-dimensional space, the ability to read, the sense of sight.

Conversations with Myself, by Nelson Mandela.   Nelson Mandela has bestowed his entire extant personal papers, which offer an unprecedented insight into his remarkable life.

Thomas Jefferson: The Art of Power, by Jon Meacham. In this magnificent biography, the Pulitzer Prize-winning author vividly brings to life an extraordinary man and his remarkable times.

Joseph Anton: A Memoir, by Salman Rushdie. On February 14, 1989, Valentine’s Day, Salman Rushdie was telephoned by a BBC journalist and told that he had been “sentenced to death” by the Ayatollah Khomeini.

Until Tuesday, by Luis Carlos Montalván. About service dogs for returning vets. “We aren’t just service dog and master; Tuesday and I are also best friends. Kindred souls. Brothers.”

Visiting Tom, by Michael Perry. What can we learn about life, love, and artillery from an eighty-two-year-old man whose favorite hobby is firing his homemade cannons? Visit by visit—often with his young daughters in tow—author Michael Perry is about to find out. Memoir. This team member also recommended Population: 485, by the same author.

True Compass, Ted Kennedy’s autobiography. In this landmark autobiography, five years in the making, Senator Kennedy speaks with unprecedented candor about his extraordinary life.

The Best Advice I Ever Got, compiled and edited by Katie Couric. A collection of wisdom and stories from a wide variety of very interesting people. “I particularly enjoyed learning about Suze Orman’s rise to financial advisor stardom from her starting point as a college dropout waitress, about Jay Leno’s wise and insightful teacher who encouraged his comic storytelling rather than quenching it (he has dyslexia and wasn’t a great student), and about how the author of The Help received 65 rejections before she found someone to publish her book.”

A Bookshare Valentine’s Day Love Story

February 14, 2013

This true story was written by two Bookshare volunteers, Evan Reese and Lissi Deren.

She was a proofreader in Ohio who saw a new Welsh name, Evan Reese, on the Bookshare volunteer list. His messages were articulate, optimistic, technically sound, sometimes funny, and always courteous. He was a scanner who saw happy messages from Lissi, noticed she loved animals, and better yet, she was a fan of The Lord of the Rings, proofreading a book, One Ring to Bind Them All. On May 20, 2006, he emailed her off list asking her to hurry because he wanted to read it. Ten days later the book was added to the collection and they’d agreed to tackle Tolkien’s 12 volume history of Middle Earth together.

It was all work between them, figuring out how to prepare accented elvish and format footnotes until the day he wrote, “Not to get too personal, but I really like ketchup,” and she impulsively bought a half gallon bottle of Ketchup at Super K-Mart. A week after one of his best friends died, feeling lonely, and bolstered by how well they worked together and their mutual interest in Bookshare and Tolkien, he impulsively called her. They talked and talked. They exchanged more and longer phone calls and emails. One night they listened to the Fellowship of the Ring movie on the phone until 4 in the morning.

By October, he declared he loved her. She was ecstatic but fearful he was too good to be true. He began a campaign, sending love letters, love songs, and reassurance. She said that he had the persistence of a used car salesman, but he finally won her shy permission to fly to Ohio to meet. They became a couple but were so discreet that it was over a year later before a canny volunteer noticed some of Evan’s messages were sent from Lissi’s email address and speculated a Bookshare romance was in progress.

He moved to Pennsylvania to be closer to her. By then they were collaborating on projects to add more books appealing to young boys, holiday books, books about Ireland, Scotland and Wales, mysteries, and science fiction. They worked on projects with many other Bookshare volunteers at the same time.

They live together in Ohio now with two cute, affectionate, house dogs. They download regularly from Bookshare’s exploding collection to their various braille and listening devices. Though they’ve contributed over 1,250 books to the collection, his scans exceed the standard for accuracy; she proofreads every word, and they both double check everything. Jim Fruchterman is their hero, and they treasure their friends among Bookshare’s staff and volunteers.

Without having to do an advanced search in the romance section to read it, you have our story, one that wouldn’t have begun if Bookshare hadn’t welcomed our volunteer contribution and given us an email list, a means of pooling talent and helping one another. We have many reasons to be grateful to Bookshare, most important of which is that it brought us together. As Bookshare continues to evolve, serving up more books in more diverse ways, our romance grows too, no doubt to reach new heights on Valentine’s Day.

Wishing happy reading and full hearts to our Booksharian friends,

Evan and Lissi