STEM education creates critical thinkers, increases science literacy, and enables the next generation of innovators. Innovation leads to new products, processes, and JOBS that can sustain our economy.

Math + Science = Where the Jobs Are

In today’s global economy, the best jobs (highest-paying) will go those with college degrees and the math and science skills that are essential in our high-tech economy [1].

• Of the 10 fastest growing occupations in the U.S., eight are science, math or technology related.

• U.S. jobs that demand technical training are growing five times faster than those requiring non-technical skills.

• American demand for scientists and engineers is expected to grow four times faster than all other professions over the next decade, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Accessing and using STEM-based, work-related, information resources are difficult for job-seekers with print disabilities.

So, what are we doing about this?

We are developing fully-accessible STEM-enabled eBook reading application called IDEAL ePub3 Reader. See: http://accessible-epub-3-reader.org/

Core-competent, STEM-educated, job seekers with print disabilities can benefit greatly by using our ePub3 Reader. Just like current generation (EPUB 2 and DAISY) eBook readers, IDEAL ePub3 Reader can read text aloud (just like an audio book) and can do so in 25+ languages. It can highlight paragraphs, sentences, and words as they are being read. It enables workers to take notes using speech recognition, highlight sections of text to be remembered, and then gather all the important notes together in one place, all automatically.

However, the REAL power of our ePub3 reader goes well beyond these capabilities by delivering:

• Significantly improved accessibility. This includes enhanced navigation including jumping to specific chapters, pages, and passages.

• Video. Videos can be embedded in ePub3 texts.

• Audio. Audio passages can be embedded in ePub3 texts. They are also better at integrating the current DAISY Accessibility Standards, making them more useful to students with print disabilities.

• Interactivity: includes features like pop-ups and asides activated by clicking on words in the text.

• Vertical and right-to-left writing: accommodates a multitude of languages.

• Multi-column layouts: greatly enhance the reading of STEM texts.

• MathML Support: enables publishers to convert and publish math texts as ePub3 texts.

It is our sincerest hope that our “no-cost-to-the-user” ePub3 Reader can, in some small way, help to close the employment gap for individuals with print disabilities seeking a high-tech job!

Steve Jacobs is President of IDEAL Group, Inc. http://ideal-group.org and CEO of Apps4Android, Inc. http://apps4android.org, the world’s largest developer of Android accessibility applications with 5+ million installations in 136 countries.

[1] http://www.nationalmathandscience.org/resources/careers

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