[athen] RE: [adtech-ps] RE: more e-text discussion

Stewart, Ron ron.stewart at oregonstate.edu
Fri Feb 25 15:42:26 PST 2005


I am going to give you my opinion, everything is cast in Jell-O at this
point. The k-12 folks have a legally mandated system, post-secondary
has nothing but we are getting some very good indications of were we
should be going from things like the CSU-Fullerton letter.

Your conclusions are correct, but this is really a work in progress and
we are still at the initial stages of its development. At this point I
think all of this is best viewed as a framework on which we should be
leveraging all future efforts. Personally I think a fully implemented
XML based structure is what we should be moving towards and that may be
manifested as a Daisy Book, a Braille ready book, or as a NFF Book as a
deliverable. It is my opinion that currently the best standard that
exists is the DTB3 standard, but as the technology develops over the
next few years we should be able to move beyond the limitations of this
and look at the DTB3 as one deliverable format.

Long term we should all be producing materials based on the same set of
standards, and what we should get from the publishers is a raw, XML
based file containing all the underlying data sets from the specific
curriculum/textbook. It will then be our responsibility to convert that
file to the needed accommodation format be it Braille or Audio book.
Currently we are seeing several very immature tools for doing this
markup process, and as those develop we will know better were we are
going. My program is going to be part of the beta testing of the next
version of the Dolphin production tool, and the folks at the HTTCU are
working with another product system wide that is showing average book
production times of 6-8 hours. Gaeir can jump in here in as she wishes.

What are my major concerns, the total lack of provision for graphics,
images, math and science in all of the current scenarios. How DS
offices or alt format production centers are going to ramp up the
production efforts so that they can deliver the needed final product,
because in every reasonable model I have looked at your are going to be
working with an electronic source file. Finally how are we all going to
meet the timeline constraints that are currently emerging, the whole
book at the start of class.



From: Marks, Jim [mailto:Marks at mso.umt.edu]
Sent: Friday, February 25, 2005 2:51 PM
To: Stewart, Ron
Cc: adtech-ps at lists.oregonstate.edu; athen at lists.oregonstate.edu
Subject: RE: [adtech-ps] RE: more e-text discussion

Thanks, Ron, for your leadership on usable e-text. Those who access
print via alternate formats really need several tools to get the job
done, and some tools work well for some, but not all. Like you, I am
troubled by solutions that sort of address access, but don't quite
deliver the kind of utility that print disabled people must have to be
on equal footing with print readers. The adoption of NIMAS in IDEA 2004
should help us get to a better place. However, it's my understanding
that NIMAS, which is designed for K-12 and not higher education, is a
cut down version of XML. These files may require more work to make them
as functional as possible. Is this accurate?

Also, I wonder what you think about whether the file format provided by
publishers should be different from what campus alternate format
services should provide. I'm faced with sacrificing quality in order to
get e-text out quickly. This makes me uncomfortable because I know we
could be doing a better job. But I wonder whether campus services can
ever do as well as what we should expect from publishers.


Jim Marks
Director of Disability Services
University of Montana-Missoula
jim.marks at umontana.edu

-----Original Message-----
From: Stewart, Ron [mailto:ron.stewart at oregonstate.edu]
Sent: Friday, February 25, 2005 8:48 AM
To: Robert Lee Beach
Cc: adtech-ps at lists.oregonstate.edu; athen at lists.oregonstate.edu
Subject: [adtech-ps] RE: more e-text discussion


Hope you don't mind but I would like to share your email and my response
with the group. I would not be surprised at all, we all deal with a lot
of ignorance, and maybe it is just me but ignorance seems to be an
epidemic these days.

I have had very similar discussions when doing sessions on e-text
production, and in working with uniformed DS folks in explaining why
this transition is necessary. People want to focus the entire
conversation on why an MP3 file, or any audio file is good enough to
meet the needs of the majority of individuals with print disabilities.
That is the same misguided thinking that says audio tapes are good
enough and we do not need to consider moving to a digital medium. It
also reflects the same ignorance that says a dump of a scanned book to a
cdrom, without editing is access. When we focus on the technology
instead of on the purpose for using the technology we do a disservice to
our clients and to our emerging profession.

The position typically is that their clients were all happy, that it is
inexpensive to produce and very portable. Things that I would agree
with on the surface, but in actuality are totally unrelated to the
purpose for providing the access in the first place, and that is to
access the curriculum. If they students choose to ignore their other
options and just use a audio file for access then that is their choice,
a poor one in my opinion, but that does not relieve us of our
responsibility to show them the potentials.

Also when I hear that users are satisfied with a limited solution, first
my blood pressure goes way up, then I have to ask what other options are
provided to the clients so that they really can see what the
possibilities are and which ones meet their individual needs. This is
the same kind of thinking error that we encounter from administrators
who say we do not have a problem because no one is complaining.

However the question really should be, if we are acting as professionals
in the field of access technologies; how can we provide equitable access
to the curriculum for our users that truly gives them a level playing
field? As has often been stated this can not be done with an MP3 file,
it is not indexed and does not allow for efficient use of the material,
i.e. the ability to navigate it. We can not separate the technology or
delivery mechanism from the teaching and learning process. The most
successful students are those that know how to best access the required
information to complete a required learning activity. With a text book
that is done by drilling down into the material to the exact material
required, and this can only be done with an ability to scan the material
an almost impossible task with a typical audio file.

Listening to John Grisham on a audio book is a worthwhile leisure
activity. Finding a specific set of cause and effect relationships is a
learning activity which requires a specific set of tools and skills.

Now for your question:

XML is a meta-data based information structuring system, not really just
a data delivery mechanism. It allows for the delivery of information
into whatever format is desired as long as the appropriate data
structure is contained in the underlying database, and the retrieval
tool supports the data structure. For example, if I had the entire
electronic textbook in my XML based book repository I could query the
system for the book, and have it provided as an MP3 file or as a
structured e-text file so that it could be brailed.

Ron Stewart


From: Robert Lee Beach [mailto:rbeach at toto.net]
Sent: Fri 2/25/2005 6:14 AM
To: Stewart, Ron
Subject: Re: [adtech-ps] FW: [DSSHE-L] How many blind objections to PDFs
arebased on...

I really like that this person pointed out one fact. Many of the people
producing e-text are not users themselves. You'd be surprised how many
people I've argued with regarding the importance of indexing audio text.
They think they can just begin recording, turn the tape over when they
to the end, and keep going. Or, if producing on CD, they don't see the
need for marking the beging of pages with even the page numbers, much
marking them so that each page is a separate track. I did get one
to admit that producing whole chapters wasn't really the best for the
student, so they break the tracks into 5 or 10 minute segments. How
helpful is that? You then have to provide an index to show what pages
included in each segment or the user still cannot find what they're
for without going through the whole CD.

Now, I have a question. I know XML can be displayed through a browser,
how effective is it for production into, say, audio CD, MP3, or braille?


I know this is going to sound a bit
At 04:47 PM 2/24/2005 -0800, you wrote:

>This is germane out discussion on e-text




>-----Original Message-----

>From: Disabled Student Services in Higher Education

>[mailto:DSSHE-L at LISTSERV.BUFFALO.EDU] On Behalf Of Marks, Jim

>Sent: Thursday, February 24, 2005 4:03 PM


>Subject: Re: [DSSHE-L] How many blind objections to PDFs are based



>I'm glad Carol pointed out that PDF files are a problem for people with

>learning disabilities. My office has been discussing whether there is


>difference in e-text for students with learning disabilities and for

>those who are blind or visually impaired. One staff member, a person

>with a learning disability that impacts her ability to read print

>effectively, said that e-text designed for blind users works very well

>for people with learning disabilities as well. Yes, many people with

>learning disabilities prefer to see the print versions of their

>textbooks, especially the visual features of print such as graphics,

>photos, etc. However, this can be easily accomplished by reading the

>print book along with the e-text. We don't really have to get fancy

>with the technology by creating e-text with all the visual features

>built in. If we build e-text that works for blind users, then it is

>universally accessible. This is very important to consider since the

>numbers of college students with learning disabilities hover around 2


>4 percent of students with disabilities while the blind and visually

>impaired comprise about one half of one percent of students with

>disabilities. In addition, many of the people who are designing e-text

>are not users of e-text. They bring lots of talent to the process, but

>they also bring in paradigms biased to visual access to print. If

>e-text somehow splits into two camps, one for visual access and one for

>non-visual, it could damage accessibility for all people with print

>disabilities. There's no problem finding something that works


>to the needs and abilities of a particular individual, but we should

>take care not to create an industry standard that won't work for

>everyone. For example, my office sometimes does create PDF files, the

>inaccessible type, that we give students to use with WYNN or Kurzweil

>3000. WYNN and Kurzweil easily convert the PDF files, and students can

>sometimes use the exact view features of these programs to see an image

>of the book while the program reads what it thinks the image is saying.

>We do not build accessible PDF documents, although some colleges and

>universities do this routinely. We don't because other file formats

>work so much better for everyone. Much depends on how the end user

>reads the e-text. Point here is that PDF works for some, but not all.

>And, again, please ask for XML version of e-text from publishers. XML

>affords the highest degree of universal accessibility, and it's the

>standard for K-12 education. Makes sense that higher education would


>the same.



>Jim Marks

>Director of Disability Services

>University of Montana-Missoula

>jim.marks at umontana.edu





>-----Original Message-----

>From: CManchester [mailto:cmanchester at HOWARDCC.EDU]

>Sent: Thursday, February 24, 2005 3:47 PM


>Subject: Re: How many blind objections to PDFs are based on...



>It's a problem for LD users also.


>Carol Manchester


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Robert Lee Beach, Assistive Technology Specialist
Kansas City Kansas Community College
7250 State Avenue
Kansas City, KS 66112
Phone: (913) 288-7671
Fax: (913) 288-7678
E-Mail: rbeach at toto.net

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