Access Solutions to Rich Media Project

Press release - February 2001

Contact:  Mary Watkins/Media Access Group at WGBH
617 300-3700 voice/fax, -2459 TTY

Access Solutions for Rich Media Focus of Comprehensive,
Department of Education-Funded Project

CPB/WGBH National Center for Accessible Media to Work with
Content Providers National Institutes of Health, PBS's NOVA and a
Public High School Among Others
Video, audio, graphics and animation are fast becoming mainstream components
of countless Web sites and intranets serving industry, education, commerce
and communities.  Many of the technologies used to create and play media on
the Web still present significant barriers to people with disabilities.  The
Corporation for Public Broadcasting/WGBH National Center for Accessible
Media (NCAM) has been awarded a three-year grant by the National Institute
on Disability and Rehabilitation Research (NIDRR), U.S. Department of
Education, to work with researchers, technology developers, Web designers
and consumers to address these barriers.

NCAM's Access Solutions for Rich Media: Tools, Pathways, and Resources
project will create and advocate for solutions which enable deaf,
hard-of-hearing, blind and low vision Web users to benefit from Web sites
which employ multimedia. Resources developed by this project will impact the
accessibility of Web sites and products in every conceivable environment— in
entertainment, in classroom education, in customer service and retail
applications, in corporate training, in distance learning applications; in
businesses and in cultural and community organizations.

NCAM will develop solutions and resources for Web designers and distributors
who want to offer accessible Web sites and for technology developers whose
products need to enable the creation and display of captions and
descriptions.  Solutions will serve rich media technologies such as
streaming and non-streaming video and audio, dynamic HTML, animations, maps,
and other forms of media that contain elements of interactivity or change
over time.  The project will also develop and release version 2.0 of the
Media Access Generator (MAGpie), NCAM's caption and
audio-description-authoring application.  MAGpie will be available for free
download from the NCAM Web site (version 1.0 is presently available).

NCAM has also established a Rich Media Accessibility Web site
( to provide Web designers, multimedia
developers, consumers and access technology researchers with a centralized
source of information, tools and discussion about multimedia access problems
and solutions.  The Rich Media Accessibility Web site will offer
user-friendly tutorials, showcase solutions, and a library of other access
solutions to make rich media accessible to blind and deaf Web users.  Andrew
Kirkpatrick ( has joined NCAM as technical
project coordinator for the Access Solutions for Rich Media project.

Technology partners such as Microsoft and RealNetworks will review technical
solutions. People with disabilities will help identify barriers and evaluate
proposed solutions.  Webmasters from a wide range of sites will test
captioning and description tools and tutorials and provide content for
showcase solutions.  Participating organizations include the Library of
Congress, Verizon, National Institutes of Health, Massachusetts Institute of
Technology, Comprehensive Health Enhancement Support System (CHESS), public
television's science program NOVA, and the Cambridge Rindge and Latin public
high school in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

NCAM and its fellow access departments at WGBH (The Caption Center and
Descriptive Video ServiceŽ) make up the Media Access Group at WGBH.  WGBH,
Boston's public broadcaster, pioneered access to media for people with
disabilities, by developing captioning and video description for television,
the Web, and movie theaters.

NCAM is a founding member of the Web Accessibility Initiative (WAI) of the
World Wide Web Consortium (W3C).  NCAM works with standards bodies and
industry to develop and implement open technical standards for multimedia,
advanced television, and convergent media that ease implementation, foster
growth and lay common groundwork for equal access to new technologies.  For
more information visit the Media Access Group's Web site at


Andrew Kirkpatrick, Technical Project Coordinator
CPB/WGBH National Center for Accessible Media
125 Western Ave.
Boston, MA  02134
Web site:

617-300-4420 (direct voice/FAX)
617-300-3400 (main NCAM)
617-300-2489 (TTY)

Received on Wednesday, 21 February 2001 11:11:27 UTC