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From: George Kerscher <kerscher@montana.com>
Date: Tue, 27 Jul 2004 16:01:24 -0600
To: "WAI Interest Group (WAI Interest Group)" <w3c-wai-ig@w3.org>
Message-ID: <002b01c47425$4698fda0$0300000a@IBM>
Dear WAI IG,

I thought you would want to know about this press release.


FOR RELEASE	Contact: Elaine Quesinberry 
July 27, 2004	(202) 401-1576

New standard expected to help students who are blind, print-disabled.

Students with blindness, low vision and print disabilities are expected to
gain improved access to textbooks under a voluntary standardized format for
electronic files, U.S. Secretary of Education Rod Paige announced today.  On
behalf of Secretary Paige, Deputy Secretary of Education Gene Hickok
discussed the new standard at an event commemorating the 14th  anniversary
of the Americans with Disabilities Act.  The event was co-sponsored by the
Departments of Commerce and Education in Washington, D.C.
	"President Bush believes that every single child can learn and
deserves the opportunity to learn-that's why he pushed for the historic
education reforms of the No Child Left Behind Act," Secretary Paige said.
"Today, we're taking another step toward this goal with a new, voluntary
standard that will enable students and teachers to more quickly access
general curriculum materials, thereby opening more doors of opportunity to
	When textbooks and classroom materials are produced using this
voluntary standard, they will be in a standard electronic format that can be
adapted to products ranging from Braille editions of textbooks to on-screen
displays of text and graphics.  In past years, the lack of a standardized
format meant that publishers had to produce materials in multiple formats-
often causing delays that meant students with disabilities did not receive
their textbooks in time for the beginning of the school year.    
	To address these challenges, the Department of Education's Office of
Special Education Programs provided funding to the National Center on
Accessing the General Curriculum at the Center for Applied Special
Technology, Inc. to convene an expert panel to establish a voluntary,
standardized format for materials.  The 40-member panel included educators,
publishers, technology specialists and advocacy groups.  
	In addition to establishing the new standard, the Department of
Education will fund two centers to support further development and assist
states with implementing the voluntary standard, thus improving academic
results for students with disabilities.      
	The No Child Left Behind Act is the bipartisan landmark education
reform law designed to change the culture of America's schools by closing
the achievement gap among groups of students, offering more flexibility to
states, giving parents more options and teaching students based on what
works.  Under the law's strong accountability provisions, states must
describe how they will close the achievement gap and make sure all students,
including students with disabilities, achieve academically.	
	For more information on the National Instructional Materials
Accessibility Standard, please visit:  http://www.cast.org/NFF/NIMAS/

George Kerscher, Senior Officer, Accessible Information
Recording For the Blind & Dyslexic (RFB&D)
Secretary General, DAISY Consortium
Co-chair Web Accessibility Initiative (WAI), a division of the W3C
Chairperson, Open eBook Forum (OeBF)
Phone: +1 406/549-4687
Email: kerscher@montana.com
Received on Tuesday, 27 July 2004 18:00:59 UTC

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