Main content

Alert message

American Foundation for the Blind Textbooks and Instructional Materials Solutions Forum

A critical project from the Electronic Files and Research and Development Work Group is the Joint Technology Task Force (JTTF). The JTTF began on June 15, 2000 in Washington, D.C. when AFB, Association of American Publishers (AAP), and Recording for the Blind and Dyslexic (RFB&D) brought publishers and the technology specialists in the field of blindness together to discuss new technologies and the capabilities for advanced electronic file conversion that allows greater accessibility to both the visually impaired community and general user of eBooks. At this historic meeting, topics discussed included the development of a cross_platform standard for electronic files, dual stream publishing (both print and eBook), synchronized audio and text, and how organizations serving people with disabilities can work together with innovative publishers.

There are two main goals of the JTTF:

  1. To analyze the National Information Standards Organization (NISO) Extensible Markup Language (XML) file format to determine its suitability for converting textbook content into braille and other accessible formats.
  2. To promote and demonstrate to accessible book producers and Braille transcribers the efficiency and benefits of using publisher files in DAISY/NISO XML format. 
Stakeholders in this effort have expertise in Extensible Markup Language (XML), which is used for all modern IT systems. The Digital Audio-Based Information System (DAISY) Consortium and the National Information Standards Organization (NISO) both use the XML notation. The DAISY/NISO XML 3.0 Document Type Definition (DTD) is used to define markup for textbooks. The structure guidelines of DAISY clarifies the usage for Braille applications and for Digital Talking Books (DTB). In addition, expertise is from Braille software developers, expert users of Braille translation software with publishers' electronic files and publishers of textbooks.

Stake holders include American Foundation for the Blind; American Printing House for the Blind; Association of American Publishers (with Harcourt, Houghton Mifflin, McGraw Hill, Pearson, and Scholastic); Braille Authority of North America; Duxbury, Inc.; Ed-IT PC; National Braille Association; National Library Service; Recording for the Blind & Dyslexic; Texas Education Agency's producers of alternate formats; and educators of children with visual impairments. 

A listserv was established and meetings were held in September 2000 and during the AAP School Division’s Annual Meeting on January 17, 2001 in Austin, Texas. The group will continue to meet quarterly to share the progress made with the various objectives.