National Braille Press, LightHouse of San Francisco, University of Alabama Huntsville Launch the Accessible Graphics Consortium

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This new consortium of researchers, teachers, and non-profits in the blindness community will work to provide a new standard of tactile graphic equity for the blind and visually impaired.

“The consortium of organizations, universities, and talented individuals will work together to bring a unified approach to producing, teaching, and learning how to read tactile graphics for the blind and visually impaired which will immensely improve access to tactile graphics for this community.

National Braille Press (Boston), LightHouse of San Francisco, and University of Alabama, Huntsville have launched the Accessible Graphics Consortium (AGC), creating a collaboration of a community of university researchers, teachers and organizations united to aid in the common and standardized provision of tactile graphics to the blind and visually impaired.

Universal information is often presented as imagery: maps, charts, graphs, diagrams and pictures. However, very little of visual content in the public sphere is accessible to the blind and visually impaired. Braille is widely used as an essential tool for literacy, but broad access to high-quality tactile graphics, raised-line interpretations for the blind and visually impaired, is essential for knowing the modern world.

The primary goal of the AGC is to promote greater tactile graphic literacy through research, improved production methods, and curriculum development. AGC will collect, analyze, advance, and disseminate best practices to the community, first focusing on the creation of a recognized program for training teachers in tactile graphics for STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, Math).

The AGC will also establish an Advisory Group to support these initiatives. Stakeholders include national blindness organizations such as the American Printing House for the Blind (APH) the National Federation of the Blind (NFB), American Foundation for the Blind (AFB), teachers of the visually impaired (TVIs), academic researchers, curriculum developers, and large producers of braille and tactile graphics.

“This new consortium of organizations, universities, and talented individuals will work together to bring a unified approach to producing, teaching, and learning how to read tactile graphics for the blind and visually impaired which will immensely improve access to tactile graphics for this community,” said Brian Mac Donald, President of the National Braille Press.

Bryan Bashin, CEO of LightHouse of San Francisco added, “Tactile graphic literacy can often fall behind in the priorities when teaching the skills that people who are blind and have low vision use to live life successfully, and yet it is the foundation from which so many joyous experiences can stem. We at the LightHouse here in San Francisco are proud to be a core member of this new partnership and consortium.”

“The role of tactile graphics in learning for individuals with visual impairments is often under-estimated and definitely under-researched. The creation of this consortium that focuses on research and development to better understand the impact of tactile graphics on learning is exactly what the field needs. The STEM-VI Research Laboratory at UAH is excited to be a member of new collaboration,” said Derrick Smith of the University of Alabama in Huntsville.

For more information on participating in or supporting the AGC, one should reach out to the media contacts listed on this release.

About National Braille Press
National Braille Press is a non-profit braille publisher and producer of braille and tactile graphic products. NBP creates products and programs to support braille literacy in the blind community and to provide access to information that empower blind people to actively engage in work, family, and community. For more information visit http://www.nbp.org

About LightHouse for the Blind and Visually Impaired
Founded and based in San Francisco since 1902, the LightHouse is one of the largest and most established comprehensive blindness organizations in North America, with a wide variety of programs to suit a wide variety of needs, as well as a rich network of blindness advocates and professionals. http://www.lighthouse-sf.org

About University of Alabama in Huntsville STEM-VI Research Laboratory
The STEM-VI Research Laboratory at the University of Alabama in Huntsville (UAH) is directed by Dr. Derrick Smith. The Laboratory’s primary mission is to conduct and disseminate strategies research, and development on topics STEM education for students with visual impairments. For more information, visit: http://www.stemvi.org.
Media Contacts:

National Braille Press - Boston
Ann Murphy email: ann@sevenletter.com
Phone: 617-646-1031

LightHouse for the Blind and Visually Impaired – San Francisco
Lee Kumutat, Director of Communications
Email: lkumutat@lighthouse-sf.org or press@lighthouse-sf.org
Phone: 415 694 7309

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