VitalSource Expands Accessibility Support for Digital Educational Content

Jul 09, 2015, 10:00 ET from VitalSource Technologies Inc.

NASHVILLE, Tenn., July 9, 2015 /PRNewswire/ -- VitalSource Technologies Inc., an Ingram Content Group Company and a leading educational technology company that provides digital solutions to the higher education market, is showcasing new accessibility features of its VitalSource Bookshelf® platform at the National Federation of the Blind National Convention, July 5-10, in Orlando, FL. For more than a decade, VitalSource has provided accessible solutions to learners of all abilities, and was the first company to offer a reading system to support the emerging EDUPUB standard, which brings the benefits of accessible classroom materials into the integrated learning environment.

"VitalSource has been at the forefront of accessibility issues from the beginning, because we believe providing access for all is a fundamental part of successful teaching and learning," said Rick Johnson, VP of Product Development & Sales Engineering for VitalSource Technologies Inc. "We are proud to share our most recent innovations with the NFB community, and we will continue to improve our products and services to ensure that each and every user can be fully supported on our platform."

This year, VitalSource is expanding its accessibility agenda with new content, improved applications and increased collaboration with the accessibility community: 

Expanded Content.  As part of last year's acquisition of CourseSmart, VitalSource is  migrating all of CourseSmart's accessible PDF content to the VitalSource platform by mid-August, including content that was enhanced through the Student E-rent Pilot Project (STEPP). Funded by a U.S. Department of Education grant, in partnership with the Alternative Media Access Center (AMAC), this project will remediate more than 1,000 leading textbook titles requested by students and instructors with print disabilities. This ever-growing collection, combined with more than 200,000 titles in the highly accessible EPUB format, ensures that VitalSource offers the largest catalogue of accessible educational content available today.  VitalSource further strives to lead the market towards wider availability of accessible content by continually educating publishers about accessibility best practices.

Enhanced Applications.  VitalSource is announcing new updates to its desktop and mobile applications, all of which provide greater support for assistive technologies interacting with EPUB and PDF content.  Additionally, VitalSource is supporting user-added EPUB content in its downloadable apps, providing access for assistive technologies to a wide range of Open Education Resources (OER) and other content sources.

Accessibility Advocacy.  VitalSource is continuing more than a decade of involvement in accessibility issues by actively participating in the Center for Accessible Materials Innovation (CAMI), funded by a grant from the U.S. Department of Education. (http://cami.gatech.edu/). VitalSource also regularly collaborates with independent consultants and industry experts including the National Federation of the Blind (NFB), American Foundation for the Blind (AFB), Tech For All, JISC, Alternative Media Access Center (AMAC), and others. With the help of these experts, VitalSource strives to ensure its platform conforms to applicable accessibility standards including Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act and the Accessibility Guidelines established by the Worldwide Web Consortium known as WCAG 2.0.  The state of the platforms' conformance with Section 508 at any point in time is made available through publication of Voluntary Product Accessibility Templates (VPATs).  

"VitalSource is a great example of how a mainstream technology company can be sensitive to accessibility concerns," said Robert Martinengo, Project Coordinator, The Georgia Institute of Technology | AMAC Accessibility Solutions and Research Center.  "Equal access to education for students with disabilities can only be achieved when textbooks and other materials are universally designed and distributed.  We commend VitalSource for their leadership in this area, and we thank them for their ongoing support and commitment to accessibility."

VitalSource continues to support industry standards for accessibility by conducting conformance testing on all Bookshelf platforms – offline on Windows and Macs; online on Windows and Macs using standard browsers (e.g., Internet Explorer, Mozilla Firefox, Safari); and on mobile devices for iOS and Android. All Bookshelf platforms are evaluated using industry-leading screen reading programs available for the platform including JAWS and NVDA for Windows, VoiceOver for Mac and iOS, and TalkBack for Android. To ensure a comprehensive reading experience, all Bookshelf platforms have been evaluated using EPUB® and enhanced PDF books.

"VitalSource has been a leader in our efforts to evaluate reading systems for accessibility," said George Kerscher, Secretary General for the DAISY Consortium and President of the IDPF. "We are evaluating all the EPUB 3 reading systems we can and display the results at epubtest.org. The VitalSource Bookshelf® leads in the fundamental accessibility tests. Their commitment to providing talented people who are blind and know screen reading technology, is to be applauded."

ABOUT VITALSOURCE  
VitalSource Technologies Inc. is a leading educational technology company and the preferred choice among higher education institutions, faculty and publishers. VitalSource has delivered compelling digital content to more than 8 million students in 200 countries and territories worldwide, and we have more than 500,000 titles available in distribution from more than 750 education publishers. For more information about VitalSource Technologies, visit www.vitalsource.com

ABOUT INGRAM CONTENT GROUP
Ingram Content Group Inc. is a subsidiary of Nashville-based Ingram Industries Inc. The company got its start in 1964 as a textbook depository and has since grown and transformed into a comprehensive publishing industry services company that offers numerous solutions, including physical book distribution, print-on-demand and digital services. Committed to the success of its partners, Ingram works closely with publishers, retailers, libraries and schools around the world to provide them with the right products and services to help them succeed in the dynamic and increasingly complex world of content publishing. Ingram's operating units are Ingram Book Company, Lightning Source Inc., VitalSource Technologies Inc., Ingram Periodicals Inc., Ingram International Inc., Ingram Library Services Inc., Spring Arbor Distributors Inc., Ingram Publisher Services Inc., Tennessee Book Company LLC, and ICG Ventures Inc.  Learn more about Ingram Content Group at www.ingramcontent.com.

Contact:
Keel Hunt
(615) 321-3110

SOURCE VitalSource Technologies Inc.



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