A few major milestones have been achieved in the past week. Our best practices guide, weighing in at 33 pages in it’s v.5 version, is now available on the Resources page. If you have a question on markup methods for the accessibility metadata, this is the definitive resource. Questions or requests for clarification should go to our Google Group list, available on the Discuss page. I’ll note that the document is quite complete and extensive, but is in draft mode primarily because the specification to schema.org is still in draft.
As we get closer to our first real implementations and available data, we do have some live examples coming online. The first example, from Bookshare, can be seen on the live examples page.
The AccessibilitY Metadata proposal was officially submitted to the W3C schema.org process on Monday, April 15, 2013. Details of the submission can be seen in the email to the W3C public vocabs list. The detailed proposal can be seen at the W3.org site.
These added metadata items will enable alternate representations of content to be easily discoverable, as well as finding the best-fit alternate for your needs within web searches.
A significant number of changes have taken place and new content has been made available since our first post two months ago. Highlights of this are:
Subscribe to the the RSS feed or join our mailing list to stay abreast of our developments and news. We do expect to be at a few conferences in May and June, and these will be announced here and through those channels as well.
Everyone gets frustrated when hoping to find specific information on the internet and a generalized search engine returns thousands of hits instead. But imagine that you’re an educator who is searching content about the Mars rover for your fourth grade science class. You search for ‘Mars rover’ and get 85 million hits. A better search for the phrase ‘Mars rover’ (with the quotes) gets only 6 million hits, and “‘Mars rover’ education” begins to get close, although it covers all grade levels. A group called the Learning Resources Metadata Initiative (LRMI) set out to create a specification for learning resource metadata and is submitting that to schema.org. This structured data, enabled by the participation of leading search engines, will make this data much easier to find. The teacher will be able to search content appropriate for the fourth grade within certain time durations and media types.
Now imagine that you’re that same teacher, but you have students who want printed or web content in an audio presentation so that they can listen to it on their portable audio player while on holiday. Or you have children in your class where English is their second language and you are starting a science project; you’d like to find materials with captions in their native language. Further, you may be a special education teacher and would like to find descriptive content available in braille. This is very difficult today, as one has to search in specific locations for each of these content types. What is needed is metadata for accessibility information, encoded in the same microdata formats as LRMI and many other content types.
By developing the accessibility component of the educational metadata, Benetech and our partners will greatly improve the ability for students, teachers and parents to find accessible educational materials that fit the specific learning needs of specific students, including students with disabilities. This will impact students’ abilities to find and use the materials they need to succeed in the classroom and beyond. And this accessibility metadata will be applicable to all creative works such as blogs, books, audio, video and many more
A working group has formed from a set of highly qualified individuals and representatives from many leading organizations in education, accessibility, publishing and metadata to bring together the various recent efforts for accessibility metadata into a submission to schema.org.
Join us as we develop our draft specification for accessibility metadata. We welcome comments on the specification (our first public draft is expected in April 2013) and on the user stories of how people will use and interact with this metadata, both on the web in search engines and in Learning Registries. Examples are also available, showing the proposed properties in content. Sign up for our mailing list (on the right side of the page) to be informed of project updates on the specification and reference implementations.