Ingram’s VitalSource Delivers “Accessibility Release” to Benefit Students with Disabilities; Company Teams with American Foundation for the Blind to Test and Update Platform

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Ingram's accessibility release to benefit students with disabilities with e-textbook platform

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We are working with publishers to provide them with the ability to enhance their content for really advanced accessibility support through the release of a revised DTD (Document Type Definition) (v3.4), our

VitalSource Technologies Inc., an Ingram Content Group company, today announced an “accessibility release” for its industry-leading VitalSource Bookshelf® e-textbook platform.

The release, which makes the application more usable for disabled students, contains extensive internal feature and function enhancements, as well as support for third-party screen-reader applications. These new features include the new DTD (Document Type Definition) v3.4 and VitalSource’s “MathSpeak” program which adds rich English-language articulation to MathML tags.

AFB Consulting, the accessibility consulting arm of the American Foundation for the Blind, has been working with VitalSource for months, reviewing applications and recommending new accessibility features, according to Rick Bowes, Senior Executive Consultant of the AFB Consulting group.

“The team at VitalSource understands the importance of making content accessible for individuals with disabilities, and they are making important strides,” Bowes said. “I believe their effort is going to make a big difference for disabled students, and we are excited to be part of it.”

Scheduled for this accessibility release are Windows, Macintosh®, and online updates in June, and iPhone®, iPod Touch®, and iPad™ releases in August.

“The entire Bookshelf platform will be updated for accessibility in plenty of time for fall class starts,” said William Chesser, Vice President and General Manager of VitalSource.

The Bookshelf platform supports download, online, and mobile access points for content, according to Chesser. “We’re working with the AFB Consulting to ensure each of these access points is developed for full accessibility and conformity with the appropriate Section 508 and WCAG 2.0 (Web Content Accessibility Guidelines) standards,” he added. “I believe this establishes VitalSource as the only e-textbook platform currently in the market providing accessibility in all three places.”

Section 508, an amendment to the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, was enacted to eliminate barriers in information technology, to make available new opportunities for people with disabilities, and to encourage development of technologies that will help achieve these goals. Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) are part of a series of Web accessibility guidelines published by the W3C's Web Accessibility Initiative. They consist of a set of guidelines on making content accessible, primarily for disabled users.

“For publishers who work with VitalSource, the new Bookshelf enhancements do not have to mean a change in workflow,” Chesser said, “but they may represent a moment of opportunity.

“A publisher who is already working with us doesn’t have to do anything differently to see the benefit of these changes. However, for those publishers who are already moving to XML workflow—and most of them are—they can add a few simple tagging instructions to their process and see an even greater accessibility improvement,” Mr. Chesser added. “We are working with publishers to provide them with the ability to enhance their content for really advanced accessibility support through the release of a revised DTD (Document Type Definition) (v3.4), our “MathSpeak” program, which adds rich English-language articulation to MathML tags, and industry standard alt tag support.”

In addition to the accessibility features, the new release also includes enhanced navigation for users, automatic updating of content, enriched reference and dictionary options, and simplified content ingestion for publishers.    

“The VitalSource platform from Ingram is just getting better and better,” Chesser said, “and as it does, every relevant aspect is being reviewed extensively by the AFB,” said Chesser.

Accessibility has emerged as a key issue around the world as educators have begun to wrestle with electronic content delivery. While digital content is often seen as a potential money-saver for schools and students, educators are required to make sure implementations do not exclude disabled students.

VitalSource is currently delivering content from the world’s leading textbook publishers, including Elsevier, Pearson, Cengage, Macmillan, John Wiley and Sons, McGraw-Hill, Oxford University Press, and many others.

ABOUT AFB CONSULTING
AFB Consulting is a division of the American Foundation for the Blind, the internationally-recognized organization that has been a leader in serving the needs of people with vision loss for over 80 years. AFB Consulting’s mission is to help organizations successfully address the accessibility and usability of their products, services, websites and EIT systems for all people, including those living with vision impairments and other disabilities. For more information visit http://www.afbconsulting.org.

ABOUT INGRAM
Ingram Content Group Inc. provides a broad range of physical and digital services to the book industry. Ingram’s operating units are Ingram Book Company, Lightning Source Inc., VitalSource, Ingram Digital, Ingram Periodicals Inc., Ingram International Inc., Ingram Library Services Inc., Spring Arbor Distributors Inc., Ingram Publisher Services Inc., Tennessee Book Company LLC, Coutts Information Services, and Ingram Marketing Group Inc. For more information, visit http://www.ingramcontent.com and http://www.vitalsource.com.

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Elizabeth Fielding

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