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October 21, 2005

Press Release

WGBH and Shapiro Family Foundation Collaborate on Community Workshops Exploring Accessible Media Technology

Workshop Materials & Information Available to Download Free of Charge

Boston, MA. This fall, WGBH's National Center for Accessible Media (NCAM) and the Carl and Ruth Shapiro Family Foundation are collaborating on a series of workshops for nonprofits in the Boston community. These workshops will share WGBH's internationally recognized expertise in the field of creating and enhancing access to various kinds of media for users who are deaf, hard of hearing, blind or visually impaired. The goals of the partnership are to build awareness of the needs of disabled members of our community, and explore the tools and technology that can better serve the city's entire population. The workshops also will provide an opportunity to further expand the social network of individuals and organizations working to make greater Boston a model among cities integrating accessibility of services and resources for all.

The workshops will take place at WGBH, and will focus on five general areas outlined below. Representatives from a wide range of organizations have registered to attend, including university-based disabled student service and tech resources offices, VSArts of Massachusetts, Easter Seals, Boston's Out-of-School Time Network, The Learning Center for Deaf Children, H.E.A.L. Foundation, Outdoor Explorations, Gay and Lesbian Advocates and Defenders/GLAD, Cultural Access Consortium, Massachusetts Rehabilitation Commission, Patriots' Trail Girl Scout Council, the town of Brookline's Web operations office and the YMCA. Space is still available for several of the workships. Organizations that wish to take part are invited to contact WGBH's Mary Watkins for more information and to register at or 617 300-3700 voice, 617 300-2489 TTY.

All workshops will be accessible to persons with disabilities via captioning and sign language interpretation. The topics to be addressed are:

Making Web Sites Accessible Part 1
Thursday, October 27, 9-11am

This session will look at identifying and repairing most errors on Web sites. Open to nonprofits and to those Web development agencies they contract with.

Making Web Sites Accessible Part 2
Thursday, November 3, 9-11am

For those already familiar with the basics, this session will address issues with PDF, JavaScript and Flash. We also will cover incorporating external media onto sites while maintaining accessibility. Attendees will be trained on how to use WGBH's MAGpie--free, do-it-yourself software for captioning and describing digitized media.

Advocacy Makes it Happen Part 1
Tuesday, November 15, 9-11am

People with disabilities, parents and social service professionals are often the first source of information on assistive technology for everyone from the salesperson at Best Buy to the person on the phone at Comcast, and even for some educators in mainstream settings. Learn the current facts, what's on the horizon and how to make technology serve the needs and desires of people with sensory disabilities. Co-hosted with Brian Charlson of The Carroll Center for the Blind.

Advocacy Makes it Happen Part 2
Tuesday, November 29, 9-11am

This session addresses access to TV and movies. Great strides have been made in the area of television and movie theater access. While the technologies for captioning and description are now in the marketplace, advocacy from the community is absolutely crucial to "getting to equal." Learn tips from those on the front lines. Co-hosted with Pat Hill from the Massachusetts Assistive Technology Program.

Access to Educational Media
Wednesday, December 14, 9-11am

Educational media is moving online. How do state and federal standards apply? Attendees will hear about access challenges, solutions and work still to be done from NCAM's director of Research and Development.

About NCAM

WGBH's partnership with the Carl and Ruth Shapiro Family Foundation on this workshop series grows out of WGBH's three decades of experience pioneering and furthering access solutions to mass media for people with disabilities. WGBH developed captioning for television in the early '70s and brought video description (which describes on-screen action, settings, costumes and character expressions during pauses in dialogue) to television and videos in the late '80s. Throughout the '90s, these services were applied and integrated into other forms of mass media, including movie theaters (via WGBH's "MoPix" technology and service), Web sites (via WGBH's MAGpie, a free software tool that enables do-it-yourself captioning and description for digitized media) and classrooms (through projects which utilize captioning and description to increase literacy levels and foster inclusiveness for all students). A previous collaboration the Shapiro Foundation enabled NCAM to conduct outreach with Boston-area educators around Cornerstones, a free literacy curriculum for students who are deaf or hard of hearing developed by NCAM using video elements from the PBS series Between the Lions. Today, all of WGBH's access initiatives are gathered in one division, the Media Access Group at WGBH.

About WGBH

WGBH Boston is America's preeminent public broadcasting producer, the source of fully one-third of PBS's prime-time lineup, along with some of public television's best-known lifestyle shows and children's programs and many public radio favorites. WGBH is the number one producer of Web sites on, the most-visited dot-org on the Internet. WGBH is a pioneer in educational multimedia and in technologies and services that make media accessible to the 36 million Americans who rely on captioning or video descriptions. WGBH has been recognized with hundreds of honors: Emmys, Peabodys, duPont-Columbia Awards-- even two Oscars. In 2002, WGBH was honored with a special institutional Peabody Award for 50 years of excellence.

About the Carl and Ruth Shapiro Family Foundation

The Carl and Ruth Shapiro Family Foundation was established in 1961. The Foundation's areas of interest are arts and culture, education, health and hospitals, Jewish life and social welfare. Grants are concentrated in Greater Boston and Florida. The Foundation's tradition of giving has been characterized by major capital projects. Over the past three years, the Foundation has established three new strategic grant program initiatives. The first, called the Special Assistance Initiative, aims to promote the well-being of individuals with disabilities primarily through increasing access to assistive technology and expanding opportunities in sports, recreation and the arts. The second, called the Youth in the Arts Initiative, provides funding for after-school art programs for at-risk youth. And the third, to be launched later this fall, is called the Empowerment Initiative and will target its funds to specific kinds of programs that enable and support individual empowerment.

Press Contact

Mary Watkins
Media Access Group at WGBH
617/300-3700 voice
617/300-2489 TTY