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The modern book has evolved and the use of digital content has created barriers to students with disabilities to access the content. Pictures, graphs, diagrams, and charts can be problematic for some readers to grasp complex concepts.

Although recent advances in technology make it possible to access educational information, the creation of these various resources is still a tremendous undertaking. As a result, most content creators are not able to make these tools a reality for their readers.

Imagine reading a picture book or STEAM (science, technology, engineering, art, mathematics) textbook where all the images, equations, and diagrams are missing. Readers with severe print disabilities don’t need to imagine this - it’s their reality. For them, subjects like mathematics and biology become nearly impossible without human assistance. While the use of basic alternative text can minimize some of these issues, readers with and without disabilities have varying needs and preferences when it comes to accessing content. While one reader might learn best using auditory resources, there are other readers who require visual, kinesthetic, or reading/writing resources for comprehension.

While content authors are increasingly aware of the importance of making these images accessible, they often lack expertise about how to do so for people with print disabilities. This session will highlight the gap between reading plain text and gaining access to the critical concepts commonly found in images and diagrams. Some key solutions to this problem will be showcased, including the Poet Image Description Training Tool, the Repository-Registry of Accessible Images, and the new Global eBook Accessibility Certification.

Brad Turner

Brad Turner is the Vice President of Global Literacy for Benetech. In this role, he leads Bookshare, the world’s largest library of accessible books for people with vision, processing, or physical disabilities that affect their ability to read printed material. Brad also leads the Born Accessible effort, driving systemic change within the publishing industry by providing standards and certification for accessible materials. Also in Global Literacy is the DIAGRAM center, tasked with making science, technology, engineering, art, and math content accessible.

Prior to joining Benetech, Brad served as the VP of Marketing and Business Development at Inkiru, a big data predictive analytics platform which was acquired by Wal-Mart. Brad was the Founder and CEO of Through the Lens, Inc., where his team created the first SaaS-based medical data management solution for dermatologists and plastic surgeons. Brad’s career includes executive marketing and business development roles at education technology startups, search engine companies, and networking companies.

Brad received his Bachelor of Arts in Management Science from the University of California, San Diego.