At the present time, print disabled students are at a disadvantage compared to their sighted peers because textbooks often lack descriptions of the images they contain, or if descriptions exist, they may not be as helpful to understand the material as they could be. The goal the DIAGRAM Center is to help alleviate these situations.
The work of the DIAGRAM Center will be focused in two broad areas; the first, research and development and the second implementation and production. As part of the R&D effort the DIAGRAM Center will also survey existing creation and delivery tools for print disabled students. Using this foundation the DIAGRAM Center and its working groups will recommend tools for both the creation and access electronic books with image description as well as best practices for creating the descriptions themselves.
It is very costly to produce image descriptions and a goal the DIAGRAM Center is to find ways where collaboration (crowd sourcing) could be a helpful mechanism to bring the cost down.
An outgrowth of this process may be the creation of images description database of multiple formats which can be used by authors in the creation of their texts.
The DIAGRAM Center is managed by Benetech, a 20-year-old nonprofit organization with a mission to create innovative technology solutions that solve social challenges. Based in Palo Alto California, one of Benetech’s core programs is Bookshare, the largest on-line library of accessible materials in the United States for people with print disabilities. Benetech will be working in conjunction with the WGBH National Center for Accessible Media (NCAM) and US Fund for DAISY (USFDAISY) as lead partners for the DIAGRAM program.
NCAM pioneered the use of audio description on broadcast television, launching the descriptive video service over the Public Broadcasting Service in 1990. A founding member of the Web Accessibility Initiative, NCAM led the way for description on the web and worked with the DAISY Consortium and the International Digital Publishing Forum (IDPF) to define standard approaches for access to images and multimedia within the DAISY and ePub formats.
USFDAISY is a nonprofit organization that administers US based projects and provides financial support for the international DAISY Consortium.
The efforts of the DIAGRAM Center are guided by an Advisory Board. The members of this board represent key stakeholders including consumers and parents of students with disabilities. The board has several responsibilities. It will review the work of the Center and ensure completion of contractual obligations to the Department of Education and effective allocation of resources for the Center’s ongoing activities. The board will also help identify appropriate development subcontractors and field test sites for the technologies and products developed by the Center's team and subcontractors. In addition they will review the research and development priorities and comment on the tools and reports generated for a variety of audiences. This provides an additional layer of oversight and input to guide successful project management of R&D activities and outcomes and reporting.