Guidelines for Creating Accessible Digital Media Published by WGBH

  • 7/14/2006
  • WGBH National Center for Accessible Media

Boston, MA (July 2006). The WGBH National Center for Accessible Media (NCAM), a division of public broadcaster and access technology pioneer WGBH Boston, announces publication of ?Accessible Digital Media: Design Guidelines for Electronic Publications, Multimedia and the Web.

These guidelines, providing step-by-step solutions for making a variety of electronic media accessible to users with sensory disabilities, are now available free of charge at . A free CD containing the guidelines is also available; e-mail to order single or multiple copies.

These guidelines are the culmination of the "Beyond the Text" project (, conducted by NCAM and funded by the National Institute on Disability and Rehabilitation Research (NIDRR) of the U.S. Department of Education. Project staff studied methods for integrating accessible multimedia into e-books and digital talking books (DTBs), and the results of this research have been incorporated into the guidelines. The document is a greatly expanded version of recommendations first published in 2000 and revised in 2003, under projects funded by the National Science Foundation.

Accessible Digital Media: Design Guidelines for Electronic Publications, Multimedia and the Web presents solutions to accessibility obstacles in a format designed to educate and assist digital publishers as well as Web and content developers. As with tools previously created by NCAM, including MAGpie (free, do-it-yourself captioning and audio description software) and CaptionKeeper (a tool for migrating captions created for analog video to digital formats), NCAM anticipates that the ready availability of these guidelines will help accelerate the creation of e-books, DTBs, software and Web sites with accessible images, multimedia, interactivity, data tables, graphs, and mathematical and scientific expressions.

Geoff Freed, project manager for "Beyond the Text," comments, "While the guidelines focus largely on content creation for educational materials, the solutions and recommendations are not restricted to academic settings."

Lifelong learning is expected of every individual in the 21st century and advancement in the workplace is often tied to learning new skills and concepts. Corporate trainers and knowledge-management experts in all fields utilize interactive and Web-based content for professional development, and learning materials of all types now include multimedia movies and audio clips and a variety of interactive elements.

Those interested in building accessibility into digital materials may also want to review the results of another NCAM initiative which promotes the design of accessible learning management systems, used by many schools, universities and workplaces. NCAM's Specifications for Accessible Learning Technologies (SALT) Partnership established an accessibility working group within the IMS Global Learning Consortium (IMS). This work, producing specifications for a universally designed infrastructure for adaptable learning systems, will result in an international standard from the International Organization on Standardization (ISO).

Please contact NCAM if you have comments about these guidelines or suggestions for future revisions. We also encourage you to visit NCAM's Web site ( to explore other ongoing access initiatives.

About NCAM
NCAM is part of the Media Access Group at WGBH, which also includes: The Caption Center, which first developed captioning for TV in the early '70s and, Descriptive Video Service, a TV access service launched in 1990 to offer description of on-screen action, settings, costumes and character expressions to people who are blind and visually impaired.

Since its founding in 1993, the National Center for Accessible Media has been the R&D pioneer in the field of media access, advancing the accessibility of all forms of media in a wide range of venues, including movie theaters, the Internet, digital television and mobile media in the home, classroom, workplace and community.

For additional information about all of NCAM's activities and the projects, please visit

Mary Watkins
Media Access Group at WGBH
phone: 617 300-3700 voice
617 300-2489 TTY

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