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Copyright 2000 American Foundation for the Blind. All rights reserved. Journal of Visual Impairment and Blindness, November 2000.

American Foundation for the Blind Textbooks and Instructional Materials Solutions Forum

Mary Ann Siller and Marie Amerson

The Association of American Publishers (AAP) hosted a one-day meeting on June 15, 2000, in Washington, DC, to hear presentations from the American Foundation for the Blind (AFB) Solutions Forum members on emerging technologies that could provide better access to textbooks and other instructional materials for students with visual impairments. The 41 participants--two-thirds of the participants represented publishers--discussed important news in electronic publishing, such as the development of a cross-platform standard for electronic files, dual stream publishing for print books and e-books, synchronized audio and text, and how organizations serving people with disabilities can work together with publishers. As a result of this meeting, AAP, AFB Solutions Forum, and Recording for the Blind and Dyslexic have formed the Joint Technology Task Force. The goals of the new task force include analyzing the National Information System Organization (NISO) XML (Extensible Markup Language) file format to determine its suitability for converting textbook content into braille and other accessible formats and promoting and demonstrating to accessible book producers the efficiency and benefits of using publisher files in NISO XML format. For more information, contact: Mary Ann Siller, coordinator, AFB Solutions Forum Project, AFB Southwest, 260 Treadway Plaza, Exchange Park, Dallas, TX 75235; phone: 214-352-7222; E-mail: ; Web site: www.afb.org

The AFB Solutions Forum has been working closely with other blindness organizations and the AAP to develop a consensus on federal legislation that could hasten the delivery of textbooks to children who are blind or visually impaired. AFB Solutions Forum experts in technology, production, and policy making have met repeatedly to discuss potential legislation to ensure the availability of texts in a standardized electronic format, suitable for conversion into accessible media. The best policies to achieve these objectives are still under discussion.

For more information, contact: Mark Richert, AFB Governmental Relations, 820 First Street, NE, Suite 400, Washington, DC 20002; phone: 202-408-8170; E-mail: .