Born Accessible and Global Certified Accessible Origins
In 2014, previous Benetech President Betsy Beaumon gave the keynote address at the 52nd Annual Conference of the Learning Disabilities Association of America. Beaumon spearheaded the movement to ensure “born digital” books and curricula are also “born accessible,” that is, made accessible from the outset, as an integral part of the publishing process.
In her keynote, Beaumon highlighted that digital materials and technological advances can empower readers through personalized interfaces and multi-modal access formats. She described Benetech’s global literacy initiatives, Bookshare and Born Accessible, as our approach to making this vision a reality. Bookshare makes eBooks accessible and offers them to readers around the world, while Born Accessible uses standards, guidelines, and technology to make it easier to create, discover, use, and interact with accessible content.
In 2017, after a six-month beta program with industry leaders spanning educational, academic, professional, and trade publications, Benetech announced Global Certified Accessible. The program was the first independent third-party digital accessibility certification program. It aids in the challenge of making digital content born accessible by developing partnerships with corporate, technology, university, publisher, and nonprofit communities to enable the creation and distribution of accessible content.
Accessible content that is universally designed, noted Beaumon, is good content: it works better for everyone and meets the needs of learners with disabilities, advancing inclusive education and equality of opportunity. She concluded with a call to action: now is the time to make inclusion a reality. Since the development of GCA, Benetech has certified dozens of publishers and conversion vendors who are making it happen.