ICADD SGML: International Committee for Accessible Document Design

ICADD SGML: International Committee for Accessible Document Design

[Mirrored from UCLA GOPHER Server, March 18, 1995]

International Committee for Accessible Document Design               


(Media note:  The graphic above is the international symbol for a person
with a disability, a wheelchair in front of a computer.)

STATEMENT OF PURPOSE                         

The International Committee for Accessible Document Design (ICADD) is
dedicated to making printed materials accessible to persons with print
disabilities.  ICADD is an international nonpartisan consortium of
representatives from industry, education, and the disabled community.

We believe that advancing computer based publishing, through adaptive
computer technology for persons with disabilities, offers the potential to
make printed information accessible simultaneously and at no greater cost
than the able bodied community enjoys.

The following pages will explain the purpose of ICADD: its background,
objectives, the strategy and the plan of action being introduced.


This document, International Committee For Accessible Document Design
(ICADD) Statement of Purpose, is hereby placed in the public domain. 
This document may be reproduced in part or in whole for advancing the
goals of ICADD.  Since this document is made available in standard size
print, large print, braille, and in soft copy formats, bibliographic
references, quotations and footnotes should refer to the ink print page in
standard size print.

October 22, 1992




George Kerscher, Director
Research and Development
Recording for the Blind


Michael G. Paciello
Program Manager
Vision Impaired Information Services
Digital Equipment Corporation

Gregg C. Vanderheiden, Ph.D.
University of Wisconsin-Madison
Director of Trace Research &
Development Center on
Control and Computer Access for
Handicapped Individuals

Joe Sullivan, President
Duxbury Systems Inc.

David Holladay, President
Raised Dot Computing

Alan J. Brightman, Ph.D.
Manager of Special Education
and Rehabilitation
Apple Computer, Inc.

Jay Unger
Product Manager of BookManager Division
International Business Machines Corporation

Dr. Tom Wesley
Department of Computing,
Phoenix Building
University of Bradford

Yuri Rubinsky, President
SoftQuad Inc.

Jolie Mason
Software Engineer
Paramax Defense Systems

Dir.ir. J. J. Engelen
Professor of Applied
Electronics and Optics
Katholieke Universiteit Leuven

Tsau-Tin (Fred) Leung
Supervisor Centralized Braille
Production Centre
Hong Kong Society for the Blind

Dr. Hideji Nagaoka
Associate Professor, Department
of Information Processing
Tsukuba College of Technology

Uli Strempel
Head of Technical Research and
Development Department
Stiftung Blindenanstalt

Kozo Kubo
Tokyo Colony (Japan)

Guido Corona
BookManager Planning and
Special Needs
IBM Canada LTD

Alan Edwards
Senior Staff Member
Corporate Human Factors

Maureen Eddins
Information Systems Coordinator
American Printing House for the Blind

Judge Leonard J. Suchanek
American World Services Inc.

Judith M. Dixon
Consumer Relations Officer
National Library Service for the
Blind and Physically Handicapped
The Library of Congress

Richard Jones
Arizona State University
Disabled Student Resources

Gregory C. Lowney
Senior Program Manager
Accessibility and Disabilities Group 
Microsoft Corporation

Monique Truquet
Scientific Director of Tobia Center
University of Toulouse Sabatier
Please direct communications to:

                    Vicki Lee Norbury
                    Recording for the Blind
                    Research and Development
                    127 N. Higgins Ave., Suite 202
                    P. O. Box 7068
                    Missoula, MT  59807

          Phone   :      406-728-7201
          FAX     :      406-728-6331
          Internet:      cbfb_gwk@selway.umt.edu

                        TABLE OF CONTENTS

PREFACE TO THE FIRST EDITION . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  1

I.  BACKGROUND . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  4
     I.A. WORLD CONGRESS ON TECHNOLOGY (WCT) . . . . . . . . .  4
          I.B.1. RELIABILITY . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  8
          I.B.2. AUTONOMY. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  9
               I.B.2.a. FLEXIBILITY. . . . . . . . . . . . . . 10
               I.B.2.b. ECONOMY. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 10
               I.B.2.c. SUMMARY. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 11
     I.C. SERVICE ORGANIZATIONS. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 11
               PRINT . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 14
          I.C.3. RECORDINGS. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 14
          I.C.4. SOFT COPY TECHNOLOGY. . . . . . . . . . . . . 15
          I.D.1. INADEQUATE TECHNIQUES SUMMARY . . . . . . . . 19
     I.E. CURRENT USA LEGISLATION. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 20
          I.E.1. REHABILITATION ACT OF 1973. . . . . . . . . . 20
          I.E.2. TECHNOLOGY ACT P.L. 99-506 SECTION 508. . . . 20
          I.E.3. TEXAS BRAILLE BILL. . . . . . . . . . . . . . 21
          I.E.4. OTHER STATES. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 21
          I.E.5. PITFALLS. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 21
          CONTINUING RAPID DEVELOPMENT . . . . . . . . . . . . 22
               PUBLISHING. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 23
          I.F.2. FORMAL PUBLISHING . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 23
               I.F.2.a. OVERVIEW OF THE STANDARD
                    GENERALIZED MARKUP LANGUAGE  . . . . . . . 24
          I.F.3. INFORMAL PUBLISHING . . . . . . . . . . . . . 26
               I.F.3.a. OVERVIEW OF OPEN DOCUMENT
                    ARCHITECTURE (ODA) . . . . . . . . . . . . 26

II. OBJECTIVES . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 31
     II.A. IDEAL . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 31
          IDEAL. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 32

III. ONGOING STRATEGY. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 34
     III.B. USE ISO STANDARDS. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 34
     III.C. INFLUENCE ISO STANDARDS. . . . . . . . . . . . . . 35
     III.D. INFLUENCE LEGISLATION. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 35
          STRATEGY . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 36

IV. ICADD PLAN OF ACTION . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 38
     IV.A. FOUNDING GROUP CONSENSUS. . . . . . . . . . . . . . 38
          IV.B.1. ISO STANDARDS WORKING GROUP. . . . . . . . . 39
          IV.B.2. DISABILITIES WORKING GROUP . . . . . . . . . 39
          IV.B.3. FUNDING DEVELOPMENT GROUP. . . . . . . . . . 40
               AND LEGISLATIVE BODIES  . . . . . . . . . . . . 40
               AND THE REST OF THE COMMITTEE . . . . . . . . . 41
     IV.C. DEFINE INITIAL TECHNICAL STEPS. . . . . . . . . . . 41
               COMPONENT . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 42
               WITH PRINT DISABILITIES . . . . . . . . . . . . 45
          IV.C.3. SGML . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 45
                    CLASS 1 DOCUMENTS  . . . . . . . . . . . . 45
               IV.C.3.b. DEVELOP A DTD FOR CLASS 2
                    DOCUMENTS. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 46
                    THE DISABLED COMMUNITY . . . . . . . . . . 48
                    TECHNIQUES BASED ON SGML . . . . . . . . . 48

                    OF THE MATERIALS PRODUCED. . . . . . . . . 48
               IV.C.3.f. STUDY THE IMPLICATION FOR
                    DEVELOPING SGML STANDARDS. . . . . . . . . 49
          IV.C.4. OPEN DOCUMENT ARCHITECTURE (ODA) . . . . . . 49
               IV.C.4.a. EXPLORE HOW TO PRESENT ODA
                    USING CURRENT SOFTWARE TOOLS . . . . . . . 49
                    PRINT DISABLED COMMUNITY . . . . . . . . . 50
               IV.C.4.c. RAISE AWARENESS OF ODA
                    WITH PRINT DISABILITIES. . . . . . . . . . 50
               IV.C.4.d. FORGE LINKS WITH ODAC SO AS TO
                    WORK WITH THEIR SOFTWARE TOOLS . . . . . . 50
                    PERSONS WITH PRINT DISABILITIES. . . . . . 50
     IV.D. CLOSING REMARKS . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 51


We have entered the age where the proliferation of electronic information
has created the means for producing accessible documents for the print
disabled.  More importantly, since most documents are now created using
computers and computer typesetting software, there is no reason a
person with a print disability cannot access any document and read that
document in braille, large print, or directly with an adapted computer.    

However, the technical details involved with making such transformations
are not as simple as they may initially appear.  The purpose of the
International Committee for Accessible Document Design (ICADD) is to
develop and encourage the document transformations that persons with
print disabilities are working toward.  Whenever possible, we intend to
enable the current standards systems to meet the needs of persons with
print disabilities rather then creating new standards.  Additionally, we
intend to clarify what is needed by the reader with a print disability.

We believe the standards for structured documents that have been
developed (and are being developed) by the International Standards
Organization (ISO) provide the power to enable access for persons with
print disabilities.  Two such standards are the Standard Generalized
Markup Language (SGML) and the Open Document Architecture (ODA). 

For the purpose of defining documents, we have identified three classes
of documents:

     CLASS ONE  -- Documents stored in ISO standard structured
     formats.  For example, a SGML document stored according to the
     Document Type Definition (DTD) of the American Association of
     Publishers (AAP).

     CLASS TWO -- Documents that exist in machine readable forms that
     do not provide the important characteristics of ISO standard
     structured formats.  Depending on the format these computer files
     may be extremely useful. 

     For example, TeX is rich with formatting information and only
     structural components would need to be added.  In contrast, some
     word processing files may be quite barren and provide little more
     than the ASCII representation.

     CLASS THREE -- Documents stored as a bit mapped image or those 
     that only exist on paper with no associated character based
     computer files.

The objective of this committee is to develop techniques and raise
awareness (particularly in the publishing industry) so that documents will
be made available to persons with print disabilities simultaneously and at
no greater cost as the print enabled community enjoys.  

This task employs an approach that marries the long term goal with
immediate needs.  Specifically, we intend to develop the mechanisms that
will allow Class One documents to be made accessible directly through
the various ISO standard formats.  At the same time, we intend to employ
practical methods of making Class Two and Class Three documents
available in ways that are consistent with the techniques used for Class
One documents.  

As a first step in our approach for Class Two and Class Three documents
we will define a SGML DTD that will serve as a starting point for
meeting the needs of the print disabled community.  This SGML DTD will
allow production of documents specifically for consumers with print

Since a need for guidelines in the development of accessible informal
documents (letter, short reports, etc.) also has been identified, ICADD will
be developing a recommended format for these (Type A) documents also. 
A great deal of testing and input from the print disabled community will
be required.  We expect that the process of identifying the needs of
persons with print disabilities will continue.  Once the publishing and
information industry and society at large are properly informed of the
access requirements for persons with print disabilities, access can then
be built into the publishing and information technology industry.


In this section we will provide background information concerning the
formation of the International Committee for Accessible Document Design
(ICADD).  Then we will describe the situation that brought ICADD


In December of 1991, the General Services Administration's (GSA)
Council on Accessible Technology (COAT) in association with the
Electronic Industries Association (EIA) sponsored the World Congress on
Technology.  The World Congress on Technology was the first world
conference of experts, scientists, educators, leaders in government and
industry, people with disabilities, and others from around the globe to
address issues on the development and use of technology in the work
place with the goal of advancing employment of people with disabilities. 
The conference was held in Crystal City, Virginia, USA.

The purpose of the World Congress was to address the issues on state-
of-the-art, developing, and future technologies and their  applications that
benefit people with disabilities in the work place.  Conference delegates
addressed and discussed issues related to research and development of
technology that would solve problems facing mankind today.

One of the key panel presentations at the World Congress was entitled,
"Presentation of Materials for Blind Readers and Blind Computer Users."
This presentation considered the preparation of materials (e.g., textbooks,
technical manuals, periodicals, newspapers, etc.) for blind readers and
blind computer users and the challenge related to file conversion and
reformatting requirements that tend to impede publication production.
However, as noted in the session, a greater number of companies and
organizations are producing their materials in Braille with sophisticated
computer systems.  Additionally, research with respect to electronic
referencing software and reading systems has made it possible for 
visually and print impaired readers and computer users to decipher
complex materials.

This panel session was chaired by Mr. Tsau Tin (Fred) Leung of the  Hong
Kong Society for the Blind.  Panelists included:

           * Gunnar Fagerberg (Canada)

           * Kirk Reiser (Canada)

           * George W. Kerscher (USA)

           * Michael Paciello (USA)

           * Joseph Sullivan (USA)

           * Urs Mueller (Switzerland)

This panel presentation served as the "springboard" for the International
Committee for Accessible Document Design (ICADD).  Members of the
panel session realized at the conclusion of the panel session that a
common thread bound all of them together: the need to provide an
accessible document design (possibly a standard) that would allow
industry to provide print impaired persons with access to publications
with the same ease of availability and use as persons with no print

As a result of this significant realization, an initiative to form a group of
international experts and professionals in the area of accessible
documentation was started.  With enthusiastic support from the Council
on Accessible Technology, an initial group was organized and the
following statement issued by this group was read by World Congress on
Technology chairman, the Honorable Leonard J. Suchanek, Chief Judge
and Chairman of the U.S. Board of Contract Appeals:

"As an international delegation to the World Congress on Technology, we
appreciate the invitation to share with you, in writing, this synopsis of a
significant and increasing barrier to information access for persons with
print disabilities."

"A recurring theme at the Congress has been universal recognition of the
virtual absence of standardization in the methods by which print
information is conveyed.  To facilitate the exchange of information,
specifically on an international level, we have determined that computer
based formatting standards must be developed.  Additionally, for equity
to be achieved, this process must be coordinated with similar efforts
presently underway in the computing and publishing industries throughout
the world.  As WCT delegates, we want to make it clear to you and this
international conference and their member nations that the time to do so
is now."

"Response to the panel session Monday at which several of our
delegation were presenters, has been swift and strong.  We have
organized a working group dedicated to resolving this issue as a direct
result of your encouraging support, in addition to the international
representation you recommended.  This committee is a collection of
researchers and specialists who have been involved in information access
for many years.  The committee's goal is to define a computer based
standard that conveys information logically with the same effectiveness
that is realized in the visual mode."

"The following individuals have declared their full support for this project.
Each will either participate as a member of the working group or by
identifying the appropriate colleague(s) in his company or country to serve
in this capacity."

          *  Joe Sullivan, President, Duxbury Systems, Inc.

          *  David Holladay, President, Raised Dot Computing

          *  Michael G. Paciello, Program Manager of Vision Impaired
          Information Services, Digital Equipment Corporation

          *  Alan J. Brightman, Ph.D., Manager of Special Education
          and Rehabilitation, Apple Computer, Inc.

          *  Jay Unger, Program Manager, BookManager Division,
          International Business Machines

          *  George Kerscher, Director of Research and Development,
          Recording for the Blind

          *  Dr. Tom Wesley, Department of Computing, University of
          Bradford (UK)

          *  Dr.ir. J. J. Engelen, Professor of Applied Electronics and
          Optics, Katholieke Universiteit Leuven (Belgium)

          *  Tsau Tin (Fred) Leung, Hong Kong Society for the Blind

          *  Hideji Nagaoka, Associate Professor, Department of
          Information Processing, Tsukuba College of Technology

          *  Kozo Kubo, Vice-Secretary-General (Japan)

          * Gregg C. Vanderheiden, Ph.D., University of Wisconsin-
          Madison, Director of Trace Research & Development Center
          on Communication Control and Computer Access for
          Handicapped Individuals

"We are also seeking representatives from Australia and Saudi Arabia and
hope that the Council on Accessible Technology can provide several
additional members to this working group.  We anticipate identifying all
participants within the next few weeks, and subsequently have arranged
for the international committee's first meeting at the International
Technology Conference sponsored by California State University at
Northridge (CSUN) in March of 1992.  Any members of the group unable
to attend this conference will participate in the meeting through
teleconferencing measures.  Finally, we would like to take this
opportunity to thank you again for the opportunity to provide an overview
of this important initiative.  And, as a delegation of international
colleagues, we assure you and all the nations of the world that we are
determined do our part in ushering in the Century of Ability!"


Most sighted members of modern society understand a page of braille  is
a tactile representation of the same information they read in print.  They
would be surprised to learn that when the page of  braille is from a novel,
the same braille character is used for  both open and closing parentheses. 
Furthermore, although open parentheses are always "(" in print this isn't
true in braille.  In a braille math book "(" is different from the "(" found
in a  braille version of a novel.  It may seem strange, given the closeness in
context, but computer braille and math braille use a  different set of dots
for the equal sign.  The point is not that braille is confusing and
inconsistent; rather it emphasizes the importance of context in how braille
is used.  It is not a trivial task to guarantee that text is transcribed into
braille reliably.  Yet reliability is one of the major needs of the
braille-using community.  Besides reliability there is a need for
autonomy, flexibility, and economy.  This section will cover each of
these needs.


There are two steps in transcribing text into braille.  The first step is the
somewhat intuitive recognition of intention.  Once the structure of the
text has been identified, the process becomes the somewhat monotonous
matching of each character to the correct braille symbols used for the
intended structures.

It seems natural that a computer could handle the second task well. 
While a machine doesn't grow tired, a person transcribing manually could
unconsciously make mistakes because this process is so repetitious.

However, computers are notoriously ill-suited for performing intuitive
tasks.  How can a computer help with recognizing intention of the author?

A structured document description is important because the description
eliminates the intuitive human guesswork.  A formal document description 
can precisely identify the intent needed to convert documents
automatically into useable materials for the print disabled.  This is why
the Class 1 type of documents mentioned in the Preface are preferable to
Class 2 and why Class 3 documents aren't much use.

The formal definition of a Class 1 document can convey instructions that
relate to author intention which can be used during the computer
processing performed on the rest of the text.  Specifically stating the
meaning that is often only implied by visual presentation allows that
meaning to be available to those who are not going to understand the
document visually.  Reducing the dependence on visual presentation
increases independence for members of the print disabled community.


Lack of autonomy is one of the most frustrating dependencies
experienced by those with print disabilities.  Having to depend on others
to access the most basic information is a much more debilitating limitation
than any physical disability.

A new approach is needed to solve the problems involved in making
information available for the print disabled community.  A triangle of
communication needs to be established.  At one vertex are the support
technologists who have already created innovations in computer
accommodations.  At the second vertex are their fellow print disabled
users, who have strengthened these applications through use.  And at the
third vertex are the publishers, who are not yet aware of how easily their
material could be communicated through a simple shift in production.

Educating the outside community about the needs of the print disabled so
that all will work together to provide the tools that the print disabled
community can use to create solutions is a synergistic approach. 
Investing in making the print-disabled community ever more self-reliant
converts the energy of frustration into the power to create and improve
solutions.  This way, those working on solutions inherently understand
both the shortcomings of standard technology, and the necessity of
compatibility with this technology.


The best interface for a person who has a disability is a standard interface
with sufficient flexibility to enable technology to overcome the handicap
imposed by a physical disability.  Many people who are blind do not prefer
a voice interface--getting their hands on a braille copy is what genuine
accessibility is all about.  Flexibility is important, but where should this
flexibility be accommodated? If one had to create a method of access for
those who were totally blind that was different from the one used by
those who read large print, and both methods were distinct from the
access method used by those with dyslexia and mobility impairment,
wouldn't the number of solutions become impossibly complex, perhaps
even mutually exclusive? Some persons with print disabilities prefer
braille, some like voice, some even use a mouse interface.

The key lies in separating processing from output methods.  Each of these
types of disabilities have resulted in different output requirements, but
standardizing input coupled with the ability to handle output flexibly
means that the computer that is adapted to handle access for other daily
routines can be used to access books as well.  As an example, consider
merely specifying that emphasis is needed.  In print, this is displayed as
italics.  A braille or voice output would need a different mechanism to
handle emphasis.  Nevertheless, the most appropriate place to handle this
is certainly not in the body of the text.  Responding to what the output
conditions require is not the responsibility of the author; marking where
the emphasis belongs is.  Therefore, if the material that was given to the
computer specified when emphasis was required, the implications of how
to satisfy the output preferences can be handled as part of the output


People often start out making demands on technology by stating, "If we
could put a man on the moon, surely we can . . ."  The problem is not
that the technology does not exist to create documents that are
accessible for those with print disabilities.  The problem is the cost in
coordinating and carrying out the solutions.  If a layer of complexity is
added to the processing performed by the publishing industry to enable
those with print disabilities to access material, the cost may be
prohibitive.  However, if only minor changes have to be made early in the
publishing process, rather than revamping the whole system, a solution
is likely.  This is why the standards that have been suggested as useful
for those with print disabilities are aligned with the standards that are
currently in use by the American Association of Publishers (AAP).
Although minor changes, modifications and additions may be required,
implementation is more a matter of increasing consciousness, rather than
increasing cost.


In summary, reliability, autonomy, flexibility, and economy are essential
needs of the print-disabled community.  It is important to increase
understanding by communicating not only the conventions suggested by
this committee for providing information for those who are print disabled,
but also how our proposed strategy fulfills these needs.


Organizations formed worldwide to help people who are blind have
focused on braille production and tape recording services.  Thousands of
small local groups provide assistance to persons with print disabilities by
transcribing the print information into braille or recording the material. 
Many of these services are informal and others are quite formal with strict
training programs and tight quality control.  Several of these large formal
service organizations have become highly organized and provide
outstanding service.  They have evolved into the primary providers of
accessible printed materials.  Large print production has become more
common in school textbooks and some publishers offer large print
versions for some of their mainstream publications.  Recently, electronic
text for the print disabled has become an important development within
the service organizations previously providing only braille or recordings.

In most cases, the formal services providing accessible materials start by
requesting permission from the copyright holder.  The permission lists the
title, author, edition, publisher, and the name of the service organization
being granted permission.  Once the copyright holder has provided the
permission, the service organization is authorized to distribute the
accessible book under the terms and conditions specified by the copyright
holder.  At this point the production can begin.


Braille reproduction has always been time consuming, difficult, and
expensive.  Current methods include manual entry with vacuum form
copies, translation for reproduction on an embosser or braille press, and 
transcription that is also reproduced on an embosser or with a braille
press.  The following paragraphs outline these techniques.

One of the oldest (and most expensive) methods for reproducing braille
involves the use of a vacuum form machine.  Many school districts
employ this method because the equipment involved is relatively
inexpensive.  A braillist makes masters of the pages to reproduce using
an ordinary braille writer.  Once the master is produced, a heating element
from the vacuum form machine is used to slightly melt a sheet of plastic
that is then pulled down onto the master.  Air is pulled through the pair
of pages, leaving an image of the braille dots from the master on the
plastic copy.

One obvious disadvantage of this traditional braille reproduction method
is the high amount of labor involved in the process.  The labor comes first
in actually brailling the text.  Another disadvantage is the fact that a
trained braillist is required, because he must transcribe from the printed
page into braille, keeping in mind translation rules as well as formatting
considerations.  Theoretically, this step will not have to be duplicated by
other braillists because such work is registered into a database that lets
other volunteers know what has already been put into braille masters.  If
the braillist files the work and the potential braillist checks the database
before beginning a new book, this helps reduce much of the labor-
intensive task of getting the text into braille in the first place. 
Unfortunately, even if intentions are filed and checked, there are still
problems obtaining those masters for duplication. 

Many braillists are understandably reluctant to release what represents
hundreds of hours of work to other school districts for duplication.  These
braillists fear loss or damage to their valuable work.  Even if the vacuum
form master is obtained, it takes an incredible amount of time to make
each copy.  The pages must be copied one at a time, and each sheet of
plastic must be warmed up enough to make an accurate representation
of the master.  Keep in mind, too, that the master eventually suffers
degradation as the number of copies made increases.

Besides manually brailling masters for reproduction with a vacuum
machine, many braillists use a computer to input the text, then use a
translation program to turn that text into its grade 2 braille equivalent for
later reproduction on an embosser attached to the computer.  Some larger
printing houses use a machine that actually makes plates of the translated
braille for later use on a braille printing press for mass reproduction.  One
problem with this method, though, is formatting.  In order for the
translation software to produce accurately an acceptable format, the
typist must embed codes specific to the translator to mark sections of the
work.  Such sections include headings to include in the contents,
paragraph indention, and tables and charts.  These are all special cases
that require knowledge of the translation software and braille formatting
rules that identify the structure of the document.

There are several ways to get the text into electronic format for
embossing.  One of the most common methods is simply typing the text
into a word processing program, then translating the text into its grade
2 braille equivalent with a program designed for this purpose.  In addition
to typing the text in, it is possible to scan the material with an optical
character recognition (OCR) system, but this method requires a lot of time
in cleaning and editing to correct recognition errors with the time required
to embed the special formatting codes.  Sometimes, it is possible to
obtain the files directly from the originator or author of the text.  This
greatly decreases the time and labor involved in inputting the text, but
formatting problems still exist.  Ideally, the translation software would
recognize and use type setter codes or "mark up" language used for
purposes other than braille to create the braille equivalents of those
formatting directives.

While translation is a viable option for literary material, subjects like math
and science that contain charts, equations, and formulas prove more
difficult.  While the main body of the text is usable as previously
described, specific equations and formulas are not conducive to current
translation software; they must be "transcribed" directly into the braille
counterparts of the printed text.  Such transcription requires a skilled
operator who is knowledgeable of the braille system.  Fortunately, there
is transcription software that makes the job of editing the material once
it is entered much easier.  The amount of time required, even with the
advanced editing capabilities offered by software, is still enormous.


Large print reproduction is easier and less expensive than braille, but it is
very inflexible.  Current techniques rely on copying machines that have
the capability to enlarge the image they are copying.  While this is
acceptable to many visually impaired users, there are many types of
visual impairment that prevent the student from using normally produced
large print material.  Many people require print larger than the standard 18
point size.  Others require a style of type that doesn't include serifs and
other decorative touches.  Unfortunately, with the current techniques for
reproducing large print, the user can only get an enlargement of the type
style originally produced for the normal print edition of the book.


Cassette tape players are used to deliver books in many countries.  In the
USA a special tape format is used.  The specially designed format tapes
will not operate correctly unless a tape player is use that is specially
designed for the format.  Four tracks are used and the tape speed is
15/16 inches per second.  It is not easy to convert a tape from this
format to the more widely accepted two track system.

Paid readers are used in some cases, but most recordings are produced
with volunteer readers.  Two people are involved in the recording process. 
One person reads while the other monitors the recording for correctness
and quality.  The readers are screened for voice quality and understanding
of the subject to be read.  The training process for a reader may span
three to six months.  Recordings are made from within a soundproof
booth with high quality recording equipment.  A standard recording booth
will cost about 10,000 U.S. Dollars.

The book is read in the booth with the person monitoring the process
sitting outside checking each step of the way.  Any mistakes detected by
the monitor are corrected by stopping the reader, rewinding the tape, and
recording over the passage.  When figures and graphics are encountered,
the reader describes the picture according to the guidelines established by
the organization.  Sometimes a single reader will record the entire book. 
This is common when paid readers are used.  More frequently, many
volunteers will be involved with the taping process.  Readers and
monitors will donate their time for a specific period each week.  The book
is completed as the qualified reader/monitor pairs become available.  A
book may be scheduled for three or four sessions a day, or the book may
be highly technical and only have qualified readers available several hours
a week.  Statistics show that for each hour of recorded information, four
person hours have been consumed.  The number of pages that can be
covered in one hour range from 25 for easy literary reading to only five
pages per recorded hour for highly technical material.


For years people in the print disabled community have speculated that
publisher files could be used to make American Standard Code for
International Interchange (ASCII) files available to persons with print
disabilities.  In 1988 a nonprofit company was formed to implement this
notion.  Computerized Books for the Blind and Print Disabled (CBFB)
began the production and distribution of books on floppy disk.  In 1991,
this company merged with Recording for the Blind (RFB) and E-Text
service began within RFB. 

The manufacturing process within RFB for E-Text production is similar to
that of recorded books.  The permission process is identical.  The next
step is to obtain computer files from publishers and then convert the files
into a format that editors can use to proof and provide descriptions of
graphics.  Two major problems are encountered in the use of publisher's

First, it is difficult to obtain the files from the publisher.  If the files
are stored at the publishers place of operation, it is possible to obtain
computer files.  Often, the files were produced by a typesetter
subcontracted by the publisher.  In this case it is necessary to go to the
typesetter to obtain the computer files.  This step just complicates the
problem and if more than one typesetter was involved with the publishing
of the book, it is not worth the associated problems. 

The second obstacle with using publisher files lies in the format of the
computer files.  There are many different typesetting file formats.  Not
just a few dozen, but several thousand different file formats are used. 
The conversion process is very complicated and prone to error.  In many
cases the computer files have not been updated after the last minute
corrections were made.

On a brighter note, if files come from one publisher consistently, the
conversion process only takes a few hours and the editing is rapid.  In
many cases the entire process will average over 25 pages per hour even
for technical material.  Scanning of documents is another method of
producing electronic books, but the process is significantly slower than
using the typesetting files from the publisher.


Currently, attempts to provide information in a common format for
individuals with print disabilities usually revolve around "providing the
information as an ASCII text file." This has several problems.

Although there is consensus on what constitutes ASCII characters (values
0-127 are internationally standardized), there currently is not a definition
of how the text in the file should be formatted:

     *  How many characters per line?

     *  What positions are needed for international (ISO) presentation of

     *  Should there be hard carriage returns at the end of each line?

     *  If hard carriage returns are used, how should the end of a
     paragraph be marked?

     *  How are titles distinguished?

     *  When should blank lines be used or not be used?

     *  Does a carriage return include a line feed?

     *  Should other control characters above ASCII 127 be allowed?

     *  If other characters (bullets, etc.) above ASCII 127 appear in the
     native text, what ASCII characters should be substituted in their

     *  How should bold, italic, underline or other format information be
     presented in the ASCII text (where omitting such formatting omits
     information from the document)?

     *  How should the beginning of sections or chapters within a
     document be marked?

In reality, the situation is that we do not currently have a generally used
standard for ASCII text documents.  As a result, it is extremely difficult
to ask that companies put their information into an "ASCII text format,"
since we have no common definition of what this ASCII text format is.
Secondly, third-party developers who would like to make commercial or
public-domain screen readers can have difficulties providing efficient
readers for ASCII text files, since ASCII text files do not conform to any
particular format or convention.

Therefore, one need is for a generally accepted definition of an "ASCII
Text File."  This convention could then be used for letters, short reports,
and other smaller text-based documents, to ensure their readability by
individuals with print disabilities.  Such a description would not be terribly
difficult to develop, but it is needed at this time.

There is however, also a second need for a comprehensive document
format, particularly for longer, formal documents.  (For clarity, the simple
informal publishing ASCII text file format will be referred to as Type A
format, and the second formal publishing type as Type B standard
format.)  These longer, formal documents can be characterized as being
different from short letters in the following ways:

     *  Overall length (which leads to the need for an ability to jump
     rapidly between different points in the document).

     *  The existence of sections or chapters.

     *  The existence of specially formatted text:

              -  Italics, bold face, etc.

              -  Equations

              -  Tables

              -  Columns

These characteristics make it difficult for individuals with print disabilities
to access and use these files, even if they were presented in a
conventional Type A (ASCII) format.

     *  Modern computers and software techniques now make it possible
     to create sophisticated document "readers."  These document
     readers can allow an individual to move quickly between sections in
     a paper, search for particular WORDS, search for particular
     structural elements, differentiate between different levels (e.g., in
     an outline situation, where the heading level is used to differentiate
     between major points and sub-points underneath major points, etc.).
     These readers can for the first time provide individuals with print
     disabilities with the ability to both (a) randomly access information
     in documents and (b) navigate in documents in ways that begin to
     approach the efficiency with which individuals without print
     disabilities can access and read printed material.

In order for the existing and future "document readers" to access
effectively and use these more formal documents, it is important that the
documents contain key markers in addition to the text.  These markers
would be embedded with the text, and provide information to the
document reader regarding the structure of the information.  The
document reader can then use this information in properly presenting the
information to the individual with a print disability (using voice, braille, or
other nonprint form).  The document reader also can use these markers
for navigation purposes to allow the person with a print disability to better
understand the organization of the document and to move about
efficiently within the document.


Thus, there is currently a need for two document standards.  The first is
Type A (ASCII/ISO) format that would be used for short, informal,
unformatted text, such as letters, short reports, etc.  The second, Type
B format would be used for formal publications, reports, books, etc.  The
Type B format is necessary to allow current and future document reading
systems to present accurately the information in these publications when
they are presented in electronic form.  The Type B format is also
necessary to allow individuals using these document readers to move
effectively and efficiently about within the document.  Since the different
document reader systems will each have different internal codes and
formats, a standard Type B format is needed, so that publishers have a
single, well documented standard that they can use to produce their
documents.  The various reader or translator software packages can then
work from this standard format to convert documents (either in advance
or on the fly) into their internal formats.


Many countries are interested in the laws passed in the USA that relate
to access to print.  For this reason, we have included a short overview of
current USA legislation that applies.  This section is intended to provide
a feeling for the legal climate and social attitudes currently in the USA.


USA institutions receiving Federal funds are required to make their
programs accessible to persons with disabilities.  This is the law that has
made buildings accessible throughout the USA.  Not only buildings are
required to be accessible.  The law is complex and covers many areas of
access to programs and services.  In the colleges, access to print is
required.  The colleges must assist students gain access to the printed
materials used on the campus.  The disabled student service offices run
taping programs and reading services for students in an attempt to
comply with this legislation.  Recent rulings in this area specify that the
student may select the type of accessible material that is appropriate for
them.  A recent decision stated that a student had a right to braille
formatted mathematics, because a recorded version of the mathematical
material was inadequate for that student.


In 1988 the 508 law went into effect.  This law requires that companies
selling to the Federal Government must make their electronic office
equipment accessible.  When a Request For Purchase (RFP) is issued by
a Federal agency, any equipment intended for persons with disabilities
must be accessible.  This means that companies, especially computer
companies, must be capable of making their product accessible to
persons with disabilities.  This extends to the documentation for hardware
and software.  Many computer hardware and software manufacturers
have begun programs or use the services of RFB to distribute their
documentation to persons with print disabilities even though the request
may not be associated with a Federal purchase.


In 1991 Texas passed a two part law to make braille an integral part of
any disabled student's education.  The law establishes braille as an
educational right to students.  Teachers of the blind must be properly
prepared for the braille reading student and, of course, the braille must be
available.  To facilitate the braille production the law requires that
publishers of books adopted in the State of Texas must make computer
files available to the state to facilitate braille production.  The second part
of the law established the Braille Commission to make recommendations
to the state.  One of the assignments of the Braille Commission is to
decide file formats that publishers must use when providing computer


Since, the state of Texas, USA passed the Braille Bill, many other states
have looked at the possibility of passing legislation that parallels the
Texas Braille Bill.  California is planning to modify their contractual
agreements to require publishers to provide computer files to
organizations that will assist in the manufacturing of accessible books. 
Presently seven other states are in the process of doing something that
will require the publisher's participation in making books accessible to
persons with disabilities.


There are many pitfalls in the laws described above.  In the Rehabilitation
Act of 1973, the burden of responsibility is placed on the school or state
to provide access to print.  The school or university must provide the
access in any way they possibly can.  These institutions are using
different books and none of these organizations have the resources to
coordinate production.  The same book may be recorded in many
locations around the country simultaneously.  The 508 law makes an
attempt to require the manufacturer to make their printed materials
accessible, but there is no real file format that is specified.  Further, it
has been difficult to enforce the law.  The Texas Braille Bill is taking a
further step by requiring files in a certain format by a specified time, but
the law is strictly concerned about paper braille production.  No access is
provided in the current version of the law for persons with different types
of print disabilities, however, the move by publishers toward electronic
textbooks may widen the Braille Bill's scope.  The Americans with Disabilities
Act (ADA) is not discussed above and does not make specific requirements,
but seems to have the potential for outstanding access.  The law is
extremely general and simply states that printed materials must be made
accessible in appropriate formats.  There are many laws in the USA and
they all intend to make print accessible, but since there has been no
definitive technique to make print accessible, these laws have fallen
short.  If there arose a definite reasonable method for making print
accessible, these laws may be interpreted to specify that technique.


It is commonplace that the development of computing and information
technology has had enormous effects in most human activities.  The
publishing world is no exception.

While there are few accurate figures, it is probably fair to say that the
overwhelming majority of published documents are now produced using
computer technology.  An obvious byproduct of this is that the
information content of published documents exists (or has existed) in
electronic form.

The following sections discuss current computer technology used to
produce electronic documents and information and how that technology
can be used to further the advancement of accessible information for the
print impaired.


The advent of computer and information technology has revolutionized
the access to information by the print disabled.  Most hard copy braille is
now computer produced with a consequent considerable increase in the
amount available.  Information stored on computers can be accessed by
soft braille and enlarged print displays and speech synthesis. 
Furthermore, as the computer has become an essential part of everyday
life, both in the work place and at home, the print disabled are not
excluded from the developments but can use the technology in similar
ways to the print enabled.  Compared with the information available to
the print disabled before the advent of computer technology, that which
is available now, is truly astonishing.

However, despite the potential of access to electronic information,
compared with the amount of information available to the print enabled,
that which is easily accessible to the print disabled is tiny.  To understand
the nature of the problem it is helpful to divide printed information into
two major categories - formally published and informally published
information.  In practice there is a broad continuum of different kinds of
information, but these categories are two important end points in the


Formally published information includes books, newspapers, magazines,
learned journals, and increasingly, their electronic counterparts distributed
on, for example, CD-ROM.

Only a tiny proportion of formally published information is easily
accessible to the print disabled.  It is ironic that virtually all such
information is computer produced and therefore, given appropriate
technology, transformations could enable its widespread production in a
form suitable for the print disabled.  However, the lack of appropriate
standards for electronic information has meant that it has been very
difficult to produce braille from compositor tapes.  Thus braille books are
rarely produced directly from the original electronic form, relying instead
on a significant manual effort.

For formally published information available in electronic form, there is
more direct access.  Here however, the problem lies in the presentation
of the information.  Many print disabled have great difficulty in navigating
through large amounts of information, since they lack the ability to scan
rapidly a page or screen.  The software access systems used for
electronically published information generally assume the user has
scanning ability and often use graphical user interfaces (GUI).  Thus,
although electronically published information is physically accessible, it is
in a far from ideal form for the print disabled.

The Standard Generalized Markup Language (SGML), (ISO 8879), is being
used increasingly in the publishing world.  In view of its enormous
potential for enabling access to information for the print disabled, an
overview of SGML is presented below.


In traditional publishing procedures, the process of 'marking up' the
manuscript was a major pre-press function of the copy editor: the book
designer decided all the formats and layouts and the copy editor
translated these into detailed instructions for the compositor, written (that
is, marked up) on the manuscript.

With the development of computer text processing a variety of methods
have been developed to allow electronic texts to be annotated to show
formatting characteristics (for example, bold or centered) as well as
structure (title, section).  The rigorous separation of structure from
appearance was advocated by Goldfarb, who coined the term
"Generalized Markup."  The essential feature of generalized markup is that
it completely divorces structure from appearance: the author uses markup
to describe the structure of a document, and to specify intent without 

regard for appearance.  Thus an emphasized phrase is marked up as
'emphasized' rather than 'italic' which is a particular format of emphasis.

This separation is particularly appropriate in the formal publishing world
where there is a corresponding separation between authors who produce
manuscripts and publishers who format the manuscript into its published
form.  However, generalized markup can facilitate other aspects of
document production.  For example, in a textbook each technical term 
might be marked on its first appearance so that not only can it be printed
in a distinctive typeface, but also provide the basis of index compilation.

SGML itself is a meta-language that defines only the syntax of a standard
generalized markup language.  In defining an abstract syntax for a markup
language, SGML provides a standard mechanism for generating a family
of descriptive markup languages which can be used to describe the
structure of a document, but not its format.  A descriptive markup
language generated by SGML is normally used as a front end to a program
that will perform subsequent processing of the document, such as a

Within the abstract syntax of SGML, there is defined a standard way of
specifying the document type definition (DTD), which defines the logical
structure of a document in terms of the elements that comprise it (for
example, paragraphs, headings and footnotes) and their relationships or
constraints on their appearance (for example, a second level heading can
only occur within the scope of a first level heading).  While a DTD can be
defined for any particular purpose, a significant number of public DTD's
have been defined which function as practical extensions to the standard.

Considerable further standardization is in progress.  Standards related to
SGML that could have importance in enabling access to information for
the print disabled are DSSSL (Document Style Semantics and
Specification Language), SPDL (Standard Page Description Language) and
HyTime (Hypermedia/Time-based structuring language).


Informally published information is the world of the word processor and
desktop publishing.  Here, away from the constraints of copyright,
information flows freely and rapidly within restricted domains such as a
company or an individual office.  Documents are produced rapidly, often
having importance over a short time scale.

If the person with a print disability has access to the electronic document
and uses a compatible computer hardware and software system to that
on which the document has been produced, much of the information can
be accessible.  For many persons with print disabilities the access to
graphical information presents particular difficulties, but textual
information is generally accessible.

The International Standard (ISO) corresponding to the informally published
information category is Office Document Architecture (ODA), also known
as Open Document Architecture (ODA) (ISO 8613).  ODA, a more recent
standard than SGML, has so far attracted little attention outside the
groups actively involved in its development.  It therefore seems of value
to present a broad overview of the ODA.


ODA is an International Standard for exchange of electronic documents
between different hardware and software systems without loss of
content and layout information.  ODA is designed to allow the movement
of multimedia documents across a range of systems and to provide
models for representing documents and their processing.  The ODA
philosophy takes the word 'document' in its widest sense so that
documents can have more than just plain text.  At present the major
types of information included are text, geometric graphics and raster
(facsimile) graphics.  Extensions well under way include sound, hypertext,
spreadsheets, tables, voice annotations and automatic generation of
contents lists.

The ambitious aims of ODA means that it is inevitably very complex.
However, this complexity will be in the background of any system using
it so users will not be aware of the internal workings of ODA.

When looking at the make-up of a document we can consider the
structure which means something to a human, such as paragraphs or
titles, or we can look at how the content is laid out on a page.  A typical
report will have a 'title' followed by the 'authors' and their 'address'. 

Alternatively we may view these structures as three groups of centered
text.  ODA allows us to look at a document in both ways.

ODA does not define structures such as paragraphs or titles but provides
the ability to define them.  The definitions can act as templates for the
structures during the production of a document.  By defining the
relationships between the structures it is possible to build a template for
a type of document such as 'International Committee Report'.  A
document template also could include layout as well as structural
information.  There are two levels in which a document can be laid out.
We can place whole blocks of content in particular places and we can
decide on the fine detail within the blocks of content.  An example might
be the placing of a paragraph as a whole versus decisions about its
indentation.  ODA allows the specification of both levels of layout for all
three types of content that are presently allowed.

The ODA standard is necessarily complex to provide for its general
applicability to all types of documents.  However, ODA also specifies how
to form subsets of the total set of features for the use by different user
requirements.  These subsets are termed Document Application Profiles,
DAP's, and will be ratified by ISO as International Standardized Profiles,

Currently three main profiles have been defined.  The level one profile
provides for the interchange of documents containing only character
content between basic word processing systems.  The level two profile
allows the interchange of multi-media documents containing character
and geometric and raster graphics content between integrated office
document processing systems.  The most complex profile provides for the
interchange of documents between advanced office systems such as
desktop publishing systems and future sophisticated multimedia
document processors.  These profiles are hierarchically related.  This
means that the capabilities of level 1 are included in level 2 and those of
level 2 in level 3.  A system supporting one of these levels of profile also
should be capable of supporting documents at the lower profile levels.

Only time will tell whether ODA becomes widely used, but there are
encouraging signs.  A commercial group, the ODA Consortium (ODAC),
with representatives from many major hardware and software suppliers
is developing software tools for the creation and manipulation of ODA
documents.  It is hoped that these tools will become generally available
during 1993.  The first stage of commercialization is likely to be the
production of conversion routines whereby existing word processors can
interchange via ODA.  In the long term the development of native mode
ODA word processors can be expected.


The Commission of the European Communities (CEC) funds a significant
amount of research and development in the information technology area.
One of its latest programs is the TIDE (Technology Initiative for Disabled
and Elderly people) Pilot Action.

TIDE is a pre-competitive technology research and development initiative
specifically aimed at stimulating the creation of a Single Market in
Rehabilitation in Europe.  For the purposes of TIDE, Rehabilitation
Technology (RT) is defined as:

"Technologies provided directly to elderly and/or disabled people, to
enable them to live more independent lives and become integrated in the
social and economic activity of their communities, preferably outside
institutional care."

The TIDE documentation (TIDE Synopses, March 1992, DGXIII, CEC)
suggests that:

"The increasingly rapid expansion of Information and Telematics
Technology (ITT) has alerted technologists to the fact that disabled and
elderly people are at risk of becoming further disadvantaged in their
access to advanced services and equipment.  For example, the rise in the
use of image and graphic formats has already created increased
difficulties for users with visual impairment.  Also, the lack of common
standards is at present negating many potential advantages in modern
telecommunications for groups of people, such as those with hearing

Within TIDE, the Communication and Access to Information for Persons
with Special Needs (CAPS) project started in December, 1991 and will
last until the end of March 1993.

The TIDE Synopsis states about CAPS:

"The project's main objective is to provide broader access to digitally
distributed documents especially newspapers, books and public
information to a significant group of handicapped and elderly persons,
who have difficulty in accessing the printed word and/or electronic
information.  The print disabled group includes the blind, the deaf blind,
the visually impaired, the dyslexic and those with motor impairments that
make it difficult to physically control paper documents or to use
traditional methods for computer access."

The CAPS Consortium involves many organizations, the whole project
being coordinated by the Catholic University of Leuven, Belgium.  The
other partners are the Royal National Institute for the Blind (RNIB),
London, UK; University Paul Sabatier, Toulouse, France; Stiftung
Blindenanstalt, Frankfurt, Germany; Sensotec CV, Bruges, Belgium;
Infologics AB, Stockholm, Sweden; University of Bradford, UK; Swedish
Handicap Institute, Stockholm, Sweden and Elan Informatique, Toulouse,

The synopsis shows that the overall aims of the CAPS Consortium have
a great deal in common with those of this international committee. 
Furthermore, one of the aims of CAPS is to stimulate the standardization
work in the field of Rehabilitation Technology by developing the use of
ISO standards of document architectures for the print disabled and
suggesting ways in which general standardization in this area should
consider the needs of the print disabled.  As part of this work, CAPS will
produce a report on access for the print disabled using the two ISO
standards ODA and SGML.

Given that the resources available within the rehabilitation communities
for this specialized work is so limited, it seems opportune that there
should be collaboration between the CAPS Consortium and this
international committee.


The objective of the International Committee for Accessible Document
Design (ICADD) is to assist in making all published material accessible to
persons with disabilities.


Any document or item of information should be accessible to persons
with print disabilities simultaneously, at no greater cost and as
conveniently as the able bodied community enjoys.

By, "simultaneously" we mean: the printed documents release date
should be identical with the release date to the print disabled community. 
Currently, most documents for persons with print disabilities are released
long after the printed document is available.  In most cases a recorded or
braille version will not appear for a year or more after the printed version
is released.  

By, "at no greater cost" we mean: the accessible version should not
enormously exceed the cost of the material available to the able bodied
community.  If a college textbook sells for 50 U.S. Dollars, then the
accessible version should not be much more than 50 U.S. Dollars.  In
many cases today, it is possible to obtain an accessible copy of a book
that normally sells for 50 dollars, but the accessible version sells for 500
U.S. Dollars or more.  If an able bodied person purchases a book for 50
dollars, the person with a print disability should not be forced to purchase
the book on CD-ROM for hundreds of dollars with an additional 600 titles
they don't want just to gain access to the one book.

By, "as conveniently as" we mean: the accessible book should be
generally available.  The person with a print disability should not need to
hunt for the book at the many organizations established for making print
accessible.  If the book cannot be sold in the same location as the print
copy, then the publisher should make it generally known where the
accessible version can be obtained.  If a bookstore sells only paper and
does not sell accessible versions, then it should be able to refer its
customers with print disabilities to the place to purchase the accessible


Technologically and sociologically there are many aspects that need to be
addressed by the international committee.  Certainly there are the
technological issues to address.  In this respect, the work that needs to
be done is one of ISO standards and software development.  On the other
hand, the sociological mechanisms that need to be developed may be
more difficult.  While it may be technically possible to make documents
accessible to persons with disabilities, if these techniques are significantly
more difficult or expensive than traditional publishing, our society may not
be willing to make the accommodations we are asking for.

We realize that information systems will continually evolve.  Our group
must focus on incorporating access by persons with print disabilities into
the evolving system design.  From a software engineering perspective,
the end user provides the requirements of the software to be developed. 
All information system developers must realize that persons with print
disabilities will be using those systems and their needs must be
considered.  We must establish the requirement of access by persons
with print disabilities at every step of information systems development. 
To make this requirement, we must be capable of telling developers
exactly what is needed in an accessible document.  We cannot assume
that the developers have any understanding of the needs of persons with
print disabilities.  A specific set of rules and regulations is needed.  We
must be able to point to a handbook of access for our consumers.

Socially, we must suggest legislative language to be used when creating
laws that protect the rights of persons with disabilities.  We have learned
much from prior legislation.  Many other countries will be legislating
access for persons with disabilities.  The new laws cannot make the same
mistakes that have gone before.  From this perspective, we must suggest
very specific language that should be written into laws.  If we tell the
lawmakers exactly what is needed in a law, it is more likely that the law
will be written correctly.  If there are no specific recommendations for the
laws, all kinds of interpretations may result.


The objective of this committee is to develop techniques and raise
awareness that will enable documents to be made available to persons
with print disabilities simultaneously and at no greater cost than the print
enabled community enjoys.  This objective will be hard to achieve fully;
to have a reasonable chance of success it is necessary to direct the
efforts of the committee within the framework of a broad, but realistic
strategy.  The main structures of this framework are:


Clearly, if persons with print disabilities are to have equal access to
documents, then the methods used to produce accessible versions must
be closely related to the methods used for general commercial production.
The aim must be to encourage the production of accessible versions as
a more or less automatic byproduct of normal production.


During the rapid development of information technology, there has been
a considerable and ongoing debate about the role and relative importance
of ISO Standards and so called 'de facto standards'.  It is not the purpose
of this committee to adjudicate in these complex arguments.  However,
the committee believes that the growing awareness of the value of
International Standards can be harnessed to our advantage.

International Standards are public, general, and stable.  They develop to
encompass changing technologies, but in an agreed and non arbitrary
fashion.  The resources available to the Rehabilitation Community will
never be sufficient to keep up with the enormous number of and rapid
changes in proprietary document formats.  It should, however, be feasible
for the Community to develop appropriate interfaces to International
Standards.  As more information becomes available (through normal
production methods) in International Standard formats, the information is
potentially automatically accessible.

This part of the strategy is therefore closely linked with the first, as, in
the committee's view, the degree to which it will be possible to link to
normal production methods, will be significantly determined by how
quickly these methods move in the direction of ISO Standards.


Technical Committee ISO/TC 173 is concerned with "Technical systems
and aids for disabled or handicapped persons." However, the ISO
Standards that are of most concern for the work of the present
committee are not covered by TC 173 - they are part of the normal
standardization process.

It is very important for the ultimate success of our work that ISO
Standards take into account the particular needs of people with
disabilities.  There seems little evidence that these needs are being
considered in the detailed processes leading to the complex information
technology standards such as ODA and SGML.  This committee needs to
ensure that the special needs are considered, both informally, and through
a formal liaison with TC 173.


Legal requirements to make print and other forms of information
accessible to persons with disabilities are an absolute necessity. 
However, the laws must be reasonable and easily enforceable.  Before
sincere attempts at legislating access electronically, two steps must have
been taken.

*    We must be able to demonstrate accessible materials to every print
     disability group.  Testing the systems in collaboration with persons
     who are blind, persons with orthopedic disabilities, people with low
     vision, and persons with learning disabilities will establish that the
     system developed meets every disabled person's needs.

*    We must be able to demonstrate the cost effective mechanisms of
     producing these accessible materials.  Showing how the system we
     develop is integrated into the publishing industry and providing
     access requires little extra work; and will make it clear that needs
     can be met without undue hardship.

Without these first two steps, legislation cannot be effective.  In the past,
attempts at legislating access have been unsuccessful because it was
unreasonable to manufacture the accessible documents.  Laws cannot be
unreasonable and by establishing the two criteria above we show that
access by persons with print disabilities is reasonable.


Short term needs and long term goals are completely compatible.  The
short term need of persons with print disabilities is for immediate access
to printed documents.  The long term goal is for publisher's files to be
used directly to access information.  The short term needs can be met by
existing service-providing organizations and these organizations can work
toward the long term goal of direct access to publisher files.  The
marriage of the long and short activities is likened to a bottom up
approach and a top down approach that meet in the middle.

Our bottom up approach uses the existing ISO SGML standard to make
CLASS TWO and CLASS THREE documents accessible.  If we begin by
defining a document type definition (DTD) that we feel will meet the
current needs of persons with print disabilities, we can put these two
types of documents into this SGML DTD form.  These documents may be
put into an ISO SGML DTD, but these documents will not be as useful to
the publishing industry as documents in a DTD that is defined for general
use.  However, the DTD we use will allow us to test the effectiveness of
the system defined for persons with print disabilities.  Once we have
tested our approach it should be possible to include this DTD into
generally defined DTDs.

The top down approach takes ISO document creation systems and
imbeds the needs of persons with print disabilities within the standard. 
In SGML, for example, the DTD we define is embedded into other DTDs
designed for general use.  As more and more documents are available in
ISO defined formats, more documents will automatically become available
to persons with print disabilities.  The top down and the bottom up
approaches meet in the document made available for the person with a
print disability.  The production techniques are drastically different, but
the outcome is identical.  We must realize that our goal is the one that
works from the top down, because it is this process that builds access
into documents.  The bottom up approach is an after market fix.  The
document for the person with a print disability is the same, but it may
have taken a great deal of time and money to produce the SGML
document only for the print disabled community.

Initially it is easier to test the top down approach by using documents
created with the bottom up approach.  For example, a document may be
needed that only exists in print.  Producing the document in SGML using
our DTD will allow the development and testing of software and access
systems with the existing documents.  As our testing becomes more
refined, we will use existing SGML documents and test our DTD from
within the existing SGML files.  No after market work will need to be
done except the development of the software to extract the information
needed from the SGML document created for a general audience.  In
short, we can reach our long term goal as we meet short term needs.

This approach has one other benefit that cannot be denied.  The service
providers that are converting CLASS ONE and CLASS TWO documents
will have an opportunity to work directly with the people who are creating
publishing systems.  It should be possible for these service providers to
lend the publishing industry a hand during the transitional period where
publishers do not have the expertise of creating accessible ISO


The following sections provide the initial outline of the International
Committee for Accessible Document Design (ICADD) plan of action. 
These sections include:

          * Founding group consensus

          * Defining the working subcommittee

          * ISO standards and disability working group

          * Funding development working group

          * Official recognition by established organizations serving the
          print disabled and legislative bodies

          * Establish a vehicle for communication between involved and
          interested consumers and the rest of the committee


The founding members of ICADD agreed that the objective of the
committee would be to develop techniques and raise awareness
(particularly to the publishing industry) so that documents will be made
available to persons with print disabilities simultaneously and at no greater
cost as the print enabled community enjoys.  The founding members also
agreed that in order to accomplish the most in the least amount of time,
a working subcommittee should be formed.


The ICADD working subcommittee established several initial goals and
areas of concern.  These included the creation of the following:

     * ISO standards working group

     * Disabilities working group

     * Funding development group

The ICADD subcommittee also determined that the following issues were
critical to the success of ICADD:

     *  Establishing a vehicle for communication between involved,
     interested consumers and the ICADD committee

     *  Achieving official recognition by established organizations who
     serve the print disabled and their associated legislative bodies

     *  A brief description each subgroup and critical issue follows.


The purpose of the ISO standards working group is to determine those
standards that affect the creation, transmission, and implementation of
accessible documents.  In addition, this working group will determine
what is required by the document design committee to comply with
current and future ISO standards.


The disabilities working group will be responsible for implementing any
official accessibility standards that will affect the creation of accessible


Officially the ICADD is not developed, but rather a consortium of
professionals who are interested in furthering efforts related to document
accessibility for the print impaired.  Therefore, there are no official funds
for sponsoring or supporting this committee.  As a result, a subgroup of
committee members needs to be organized to develop a plan for raising
funds in support of ICADD.  Additionally, the subgroup, with direction
from the committee as a whole, will organize and implement efforts
geared toward raising needed funds.


In order for ICADD to carry any weight in both the technological and
assistive circles, ICADD requires sponsorship.  That is, an official body
must publicly make known its recognition for and sponsorship of ICADD.
In addition, the creation of possible new standards and minimally new
guidelines for information and document accessibility requires a major
acknowledgement from other standards bodies.

Regarding this, the Assistive Devices Division (ADD) of the Electronic
Industries Association Consumer Electronics Group (EIA/CEG) has offered
to sponsor ICADD.  The ADD has requested a formal proposal from
ICADD, specifically outlining the committee objectives, goals, and futures.
Sponsorship from ADD would greatly enhance the credibility of ICADD,
particularly from an internationalization standpoint since EIA is an
internationally supported organization.

In addition, EIA/ADD has strong ties to the National Science Foundation
(NSF) and the Electronic Information Foundation (EIF), both of whom have
displayed interest in our work.


An ICADD communication plan must be put in place.  The plan should
contain the methodology for:

           * distributing meeting minutes

           * subcommittee notes

           * working committee notes

           * modes of communication

           * multimedia distribution

Additionally, the plan must contain a means for communication amongst
members when international partners are not able to attend committee
meetings.  Most likely this will mean conference calls or satellite
transmission of meetings.

The second part of the plan should consider the means of communicating
with customers, publishers, industry, assistive technology programs, and


In this section we will state some identified requirements for accessible
documents.  Once some requirements are specifically stated, we will
suggest initial steps to make documents available using ISO systems.


Although it is not the only means of tactile reading for the blind ever
invented, the basic system developed by Louis Braille in the early 1800's,
and now named for him, has stood the test of time and is now the
accepted standard throughout the world.  Braille books normally are
produced as bound paper volumes, that is in essentially the same physical
form as print books, although they are typically much, much larger.  With
such a book, the blind reader cannot only read linearly but can browse,
scan, cross-reference, etc. in much the same way as a sighted reader can
-- silently, and without affecting the ability to carry out other interactions
through speech or hearing.  Good braille readers typically achieve a speed
of reading roughly the same as a sighted person reading aloud, or about
200 words per minute.  Braille also can be produced on much smaller
scale and in other formats and media, ranging from the simple slate and
stylus (roughly the functional equivalent of a pencil), through
typewriter-like machines, electronic braille storage and display devices,
and in general to approximate equivalents of every familiar means of
producing or showing print.

For those totally blind persons who are also deaf, braille represents the
only practical system of reading in general use.  Moreover, the proven
practicality of braille makes it a preferred or at least supplementary
reading method even in those cases where other means, such as
speech-based devices or enlarged print, are also possible.

The basic goal of braille is to represent print material as accurately and
fully as possible, both as to form and meaning.  As to form -- that is, the
print considered as a series of letters and other symbols arranged in a
certain way on the page -- the braille rules are mostly written in those
terms and designed so that the symbols of print can be unambiguously
reconstructed by the braille reader (at least most of the time, with some
unfortunate exceptions at present).  

Furthermore all significant text element distinctions, such as boldface
versus ordinary print and headings versus paragraphs, are indicated in
some way in braille.  On the other hand, because meaning is naturally
regarded as more important than form, some rules are designed to ensure
that a strictly mechanical representation of form does not cause the
underlying meaning to be unduly obscured or encumbered.  For instance,
this concept is behind rules that call for merely incidental or ornamental
aspects of print format, such as typeface changes in many cases, not to
be represented in braille.  Moreover, beyond this concept of the primacy
of meaning, and often combining with it, there are certain practical
characteristics of braille that affect the extent to which, and the ways in
which, the full representation of print can be achieved.

The first such characteristic is the great bulk of braille, as compared with
the equivalent print, which has given rise to a considerable emphasis on
"space saving."  For example, this concept is behind the "contractions"
used in Standard English Braille, whereby certain words and letter
combinations, often depending on pronunciation and hence meaning, are
written in shortened form.  A second complicating characteristic of braille
is that, because the tactile sense is generally thought not to have as
broad a capability as the visual to integrate information globally, i.e., to
see a large formatted structure at once both as a whole and as a set of
relationships among elements, it is not always recommended that spatial
arrangements be brought over from print just as they are.  

For example, there is generally less use of white space in braille as
compared with print, because of this characteristic as well as the
space-saving issue.  A third relevant characteristic of braille is that its
character set, being limited to 63 distinct nonspace characters, cannot be
put into one-to-one relationship with the essentially unlimited symbols of
print.  This characteristic leads to the use of multiple-character sequences
for some symbols and "indicator" characters that affect the interpretation
of one or more subsequent characters.  With the contractions, this leads
to words and other sequences being sometimes shorter, sometimes
longer, and sometimes the same length as in print -- which in turn can
complicate the handling of formatting structures where, for example,
vertical alignment plays a role.  Another consequence of the character set
issue is that frequently the interpretation of a character depends on
implicit context; a character that stands for a contraction in ordinary
English words might mean an accented letter in a foreign-language
phrase, for example.

Particular conditions of use also can affect the representation
requirements.  For example, one artifact of print format that is frequently,
though not always, shown in braille is the break between print pages,
together with the page numbers assigned to each print page.  This is to
permit blind and sighted persons, e.g., teachers and students or
professional colleagues, to work together on the same document, using
common page references.  A similar need can also arise with respect to
numbered lines, as in works where verses are numbered.

The major impact of the foregoing is that the distinctions indicated by
various formatting conventions in print may or may not be carried over to
braille, and if they are carried over they may or may not be indicated by
similar conventions.  Therefore, in order to do the best job of automating
the conversion process, it is necessary to know the "meaning" of each
text element, e.g., the fact that a heading is a heading, its level in the
document hierarchy, and possibly even such details as what language it
is written in -- rather than simply that it was formatted in a certain way
in print.

Looking to the future, it is worth noting that braille itself is changing,
partly to improve its ability to represent more complex print material and
partly to improve the ability to process such material by automatic means. 
For example, within a few years it may become unnecessary to
distinguish ordinary English from "computerese" or mathematics; all may
be treated by a single "unified code."  Likewise the "space saving" issue
is now generally less emphasized than formerly, so that print notation and
format may be followed more directly in more cases.  These
improvements are likely to alleviate many more troublesome details of
conversion to braille, but in large the general characteristics described
above are likely to remain.

Systems for document representation in braille must take into
consideration the very special requirements of information represented in
braille.  It may be necessary to preserve print formatting information that
may have no other use for different types of access.  It must be realized
that braille may be, for many persons, the only method of reading.  And
for intellectually difficult material, braille may be the best method of
reading.  For this reason, any system developed must take the needs of
braille formatting into consideration.


Initial needs of persons with print disabilities can be obtained by
consulting the experts that currently produce materials for these readers. 
The people who develop braille translation software understand what is
needed to format braille properly.  The producers of soft copy books also
can help identify what is needed for moving files into this format.  Beyond
these initial steps, it will be necessary to identify the requirements of
developers, but the first and last consideration is the need of the reader
with a print disability.  The need to have readers with print disabilities
involved in constructive feedback can never be overlooked.


Rapid advances in accessible document design can be made using current
SGML techniques.  In this section, we will state the steps that will be
taken to utilize SGML to move all classes of documents into an accessible


According to the overall strategy, it will be important to develop
mechanisms so that information encoded in ISO standard structured
formats are accessible to the print disabled.  In the case of SGML this 
means that texts marked up according to known DTD's should be
accessible through as automatic means as possible.

Some initial studies for this development have started.  They are
proceeding with the following guidelines, suggested by Yuri Rubinsky:

* for access to be enabled, it must require absolutely minimal overhead
(if any) on the part of the people actually marking up the text.

* if people have to markup text twice - once for their own purposes and
separately for the purposes of access encoding - there is a great
possibility for the second stage not happening.

* there is value in having one piece of text marked up in such a way that
both codings are effectively present.  Most significantly, as new
technology becomes available to make possible browsing access to any
markup, all repositories will still contain the full richness of their

* it may well be possible to have creators of DTDs build into them the
relevant attributes to allow for Braille and voice-synthesis from the files
encoded for other purposes, as a by-product.  In this fashion, everyone
creating markup schemes shares the burden, a burden that is absolutely
minimal on a site-by-site basis - perhaps as little as a few hours for a
reasonably complex DTD if good guidelines have been developed.


The design of a SGML DTD for persons with print disabilities is one of the
first steps to take in accomplishing our goals.  By going through this
process, we can identify those items that are needed in documents for
persons with disabilities.  The DTD we define will need to be complete. 
By complete we mean that it should provide the information that is
required by the document needs of our intended audience.  Paper braille
production may have requirements that are not needed in soft copy
formats.  Likewise, soft copy access will have requirements that are not
needed in braille.  The DTD we design must contain the information that
is needed by any access system for persons with disabilities.  If the
intended output is braille, some information will not be used.  If the
intended output is large print other information will not be used.  No
matter what access system uses the DTD, the DTD should provide the
information required.

We expect, but we are not sure, that many simplifications from a general
DTD can take place in our definition.  The American Association of
Publishers (AAP) SGML DTD for books is widely used in the world.  It is
comprehensive and complex.  We hope to create a DTD that will allow a
formal mapping of the elements in general DTDs such as the AAP.  Our
DTD should be a subset of the components found in other generally
accepted DTDs.  This is a formal definition of the documents created for
persons with disabilities.  To automatically convert a document created
under a generally accepted DTD, a formal mapping from that DTD to ours
would need to be defined.  This formal mapping would actually be defined
from within the more general DTD.  This process of defining a DTD with
the requirements we have will demand a high level of expertise.

We may discover that the document needs of persons with disabilities
contains elements that are not part of other generally accepted DTDs. 
The AAP DTD, for example, does not contain all that is required for
persons with disabilities.  The AAP DTD does not include a way of
encoding the source page number.  We would hope to expand the AAP
DTD so our DTD would be a proper subset of the AAP.

Further, it may not be practical to extract our complete DTD from existing
text processing software.  For this reason, a minimal DTD may be
needed.  From this approach we have the AAP DTD that is complex and
very large.  The complete DTD created for our purposes is a proper subset
of the AAP and contains all elements that we feel are needed by persons
with disabilities.  Finally, we have the minimal DTD that is a proper subset
of both the AAP and the complete print disabled DTD.  It should be
possible to extract files that conform to the minimal DTD from existing
text processing software.  This approach encourages software developers
to move in the direction of ISO structured file formatting and furthers our
goal of built in accessibility in text processing software.


It will be important that the disabled community develop such technical
expertise.  This will naturally involve a partnership between the
Established Organizations serving the print disabled and educational and
commercial technical organizations.

Training courses in such areas as SGML are typically very expensive,
being designed for the commercial world.  The international committee
needs to explore how the knowledge transfer can best be organized,
whether informally or by the development of formal training courses
tailored for the disabled community.


CLASS ONE and CLASS TWO documents will need to be mastered based
on the DTD we define.  These documents must be valid SGML
implementations of our DTD.  It is critical that the production process be
efficient from a human resource and a financial perspective.  We
recognize that mastering of titles for persons with disabilities is done by
volunteers all over the world.  The systems developed for mastering must
be simple for average people to participate.  If we develop a system that
requires a high level of expertise to produce these documents, it will be
difficult to make large numbers of these titles available.  We hope to
develop the techniques to make document production as efficient as


Documents produced that conform to the DTDs ICADD develops will need
to be tested in many ways.  The files must facilitate braille production,
large print publishing, and must easily be converted into soft copy books
for direct electronic access.  Further, the testing of the developed DTD
must examine the efficiency of mastering techniques.  Finally, the DTD
and conforming files must be in a condition that allows for sophisticated
development of access techniques.  This primarily applies to areas of
mathematical, scientific, and graphical information.


We hypothesize that having access to information will make a significant
difference in the educational and professional opportunities of persons
with disabilities.  We plan to document these growths as more documents
become available.  We also plan to identify quantitatively and qualitatively
the improvements in persons educational and professional careers.


ODA development is currently underway.  It should be possible to alert
the designers of this emerging system to the needs of persons with print
disabilities.  In this section we will discuss some steps that can be taken. 


As ODA is a more recent standard than SGML, and users will not
normally be aware of its underlying technology, there is very little
expertise generally available in ODA.

The CAPS Project is currently investigating how ODA documents can be
made accessible, both by synthetic speech navigation and by the
production of formatted braille.  Most of the reports detailing the
outcomes of this work will be public and are expected in the first quarter
of 1993.  It would therefore seem that this work could be a base for the
international committee to build on.


The points made above about knowledge transfer concerning SGML apply
equally to ODA.  However, considerably more difficulties can be expected
as the internal workings of ODA are not designed to be available to other
than highly specialized experts.

As part of the developments of access techniques within ODA, it is hoped
that insights should be gained as to how much knowledge transfer is
needed, and how it might be achieved.


As the mechanisms for providing access to ODA documents for the print
disabled become clearer, it should be possible to provide guidelines for
developers of ODA applications.

These guidelines need to indicate how the special needs of the print
disabled can best be met.


The Application Programming Interfaces being developed by the ODA
Consortium look likely to have a considerable effect on the acceptance of
ODA world wide.  It is vital that the technical work of the international
committee have access to these Interfaces and so can develop its


In line with the overall strategy of the international committee, it will be
important to influence the future development of ODA so that it fully
takes into account the needs of the print disabled.

This work needs to be carried out both at a formal level, through ISO, and
at an informal technical level. 


The work and organization of ICADD is an ongoing process.  We feel that
the activities of this working group will continue for many years.  The
group is expected to grow and we invite the active participation of any
individual, company or organization interested in working toward 
solutions to the problems surrounding access to print by persons with