Michael is a seasoned executive with almost 40 years of experience in the technology, publishing, and education markets. Michael speaks regularly around the world on the need for content that is Born Accessible, meaning designed from the beginning in digital formats that are compatible with all key book reading platforms and accessibility features. Michael also works directly with the publishing industry to implement Benetech’s Global Certified Accessible program which empowers organizations to create, distribute, sell and offer fully accessible ebooks. He fervently believes in the importance of providing equal access to written information for people with disabilities and is using his long-standing relationships in the publishing industry to lead to systematic change.
George Kerscher, Ph.D., Senior Advisor of Global Literacy
George began his IT innovations in 1987 and coined the term “print disabled.” George is dedicated to developing technologies that make information not only accessible, but also fully functional in the hands of persons who are blind or who have a print disability. He is an advocate for semantically rich content which can be used effectively by everybody. As Chief Innovations Officer of the DAISY Consortium, Senior Advisor, Global Literacy to Benetech, and member of Publishing Groups in the W3C, Kerscher is a recognized international leader in document access. In addition, Kerscher chairs the DAISY/NISO Standards committee, Chairs the Steering Council of the Web Accessibility Initiative (WAI), and serves on the Advisory Board of the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS).
Charles LaPierre, Principal Accessibility and Content Quality Architect
Charles has over 25 years’ accessibility development experience and has been a pioneer in accessible product development since 1993. Charles currently a member of the following W3C Working Groups: Publishing Working Group, MathML Refresh, ARIA, APA / Personalization Task Force, as well as a member of the EPUB3 W3C Community Group, and co-chair of the Accessibility Metadata W3C Community Group. Charles is the technical architect of the Global Certified Accessible initiative at Benetech to certify publisher content as conforming to the EPUB 1.0 Accessibility Specification, for which Charles was a co-editor.
Ashley has over 6 years of experience in the publishingindustry and previously workedat Amazon’s self-publishing business Kindle Direct Publishing, where she developed and led a DEIA-focused project and fostered relationships with dozens of authors and publishers. Before pivoting to publishing, Ashley obtained a bachelor’s degree in Graphic Design + Art and spent 7 years designing for a hotelier, a history museum, and a nationwide print company. Her passion for advocacy has led Ashley to do volunteer work with many organizations, including Big Brothers Big Sisters, We Need Diverse Books, The Pad Project, and the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI). Ashley also curr ently serves as a member of the National Information Standards Organization (NISO) Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Accessibility (DEIA) Committee.