Pearson And Accessibility
July 10, 2012 — Today marks the start of the Association on Higher Education And Accessibility (AHEAD) annual conference, which brings together higher education professionals involved in the development of policy and in the provision of quality services to meet the needs of persons with disabilities. Sandi Kirshner, Pearson’s Executive Vice President for Higher Education Policy, issues this statement today to attendees of the AHEAD conference and all those working to secure access to educational materials for students with disabilities:
“Pearson wants to listen, learn and collaborate with you. We share your commitment to helping students with disabilities access the educational materials they need to succeed. And, as we move from print-based delivery of content to digital delivery, we are excited about the opportunities the digital revolution offers us to extend our efforts around inclusive publishing.
“You’re our partners in this endeavor, and as we move forward I’d like to share information about what Pearson is doing to increase accessibility:
- Our learning technology platforms are on track to be accessible, in accordance with the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines 2.0 (WCAG 2) Level AA and the Section 508 guidelines, by the end of 2013, with most student views reaching the goal by the end of 2012.
- More than 50 core math titles are now available in screen-readable HTML/MathML, with at least 40 more in development.
- The latest release of our online learning program MyMathLab/MathXL, compatible with the screen-reader JAWS, enables multiple-choice, free-response, and graphical problem types to be read and interacted with via keyboard controls and math notation input.
- More than 130 Pearson Higher Education staff and our vendor staff have been trained in writing text alternatives for images.
- We’ve developed and hosted webinars for employees, on a regular basis, on how to develop accessible digital products, and many development teams are working on accessible features for specific products.
- At the request of university departments and/or Disabled Student Services offices, we’ve held webinars that offer training on certain products and their accessibility features. These webinars have enabled us to collaborate on solutions to meet specific student learning needs.
- We maintain an extensive knowledge base of guidelines and techniques that is available to Pearson team members and all of you at http://wps.pearsoned.com/accessibility.
- Over 100,000 existing rich media assets have been audited for accessibility compliance.
- All higher education rich media assets produced in 2012– animations, videos, simulations, HTML pages, and audio content – will include transcripts and captioning.
- Beginning in 2013, all new rich media assets developed for our higher education products are required to meet accessibility standards.
- Our new generation of eBooks will be authored in XHTML5, which will allow us to take advantage of valuable accessibility features and to offer truly smart content to provide the best possible learning experience for all.
- Pilots for accessible PDF textbooks are underway in the subjects of Sociology, Psychology, and Teacher Education.
- Pilots for accessible versions of our textbooks will soon start in English, Biology, and Chemistry.
- We’ve established an executive-level, higher education accessibility governing board to guide our accessibility efforts.
- We dedicate full-time staff and contract with accessibility experts to assist our development teams and continue to push forward with new ideas.
“We continue to put transparency first in our efforts and welcome input and advice on how we’re doing. You can always reach us at firstname.lastname@example.org. In the coming months, we will reach out to professionals working at higher education institutions in Disabled Student Services offices nationwide, seeking information about technology in use, trends you see, challenges you face, and other important topics. We look forward to working with you further to expand access to all educational materials.”