Monday, March 01, 2010

BLIO eReader for Textbooks

I saw an interesting webinar for BLIO eReader. The software-based product was developed by KNFB Reading Technology, Inc. This is an electronic book / textbook reader program which allows students to use their own digital ink to highlight passages and to also type electronic notes. There are built-in tools for text-to-speech synthesis, and there are also tools to synchronize spoken words with typed text.

Unfortunately, one of the main selling points is 508 and ADA accessibility - and the person presenting the webinar linked to and displayed materials which outright failed to meet 508 accessibility (video clips without closed-captions, interaction activities which required mouse-based navigation, lack of ALT text captions in images, etc.).

The company uses a proprietary software application (rather than Adobe Reader which would have been a preferable implementation - for accessibility and market penetration reasons). This looks like a product that has some merit for the future, but it looks as though it needs to get some solid textbook partners involved in offering titles AND to have those partners ensure that the media and image materials make best use of accessibility features in the tools.

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