NEH/ODH Start Up Level 2 Grant: Making the Digital Humanities More Open (Fall 2012)

Total amount awarded: $49,339
Grant period: 9/1/2012 – 8/31/2013

Making the digital humanities more open was funded to develop a wordpress plugin that would allow wordpress based text and websites to be made accessible to visually impaired readers by converting text into braille. BrailleSC will undertake its second stage of development by designing and deploying a WordPress-based accessibility tool that will create braille content for endusers who are blind or low vision. In partnership with the Maryland Institute for Technology in the Humanities (MITH) at the University of Maryland, College Park, as of February 2013, this project is on schedule to successfully launch a completed plug in by summer 2013.

University of South Carolina Magellan Scholarship (Spring 2011)

Mr. Bohon was awarded a Magellan Scholarship in Spring 2011. The Magellan Scholarship is awarded once per major semester through the University of South Carolina’s Office of Undergraduate Research. This grant allows undergraduate students the ability to conduct research in their field of study at the university. As a result of this scholarship, Mr. Bohon ported the existing Omeka accessibility plugins to the WordPress CMS and created an online community (AccessibleFutures. org) for developers, web designers, and website administrators working in the area of accessibility.

Faculty Scholarly Course Re-allocation Award (January 2011)

Dr. George Williams was selected for a Faculty Scholarly Course Re-allocation Award in the Spring of 2011. A user-friendly, online, and automated braille translation tool is needed to address the braille literacy crisis currently underway. A digital braille file is not especially difficult to produce, but it can be quite labor-intensive, not to mention expensive, to hire a human braille translator to create such a file from an original alphabetic text. For this reason, and others, high-quality digital braille files are few and far between, leaving many blind or low-vision readers without access to credible and up-to-date textual sources of information. This project researched the possibility of creating an easy-to-use, online, automated braille translation tool designed to be incorporated into popular content management systems like WordPress. This award also led to the development of the proposal for a NEH/ODH Start Up Level 2 Grant.

NEH/ODH Start Up Level 1 Grant: BrailleSC. org (Fall 2010)

Total amount awarded: $24,987
Grant period: 9/1/2010 – 8/31/2011

Dr. Williams was awarded the NEH/ODH Level 1 Start Up Grant in Fall 2010. This grant supported the collection of additional oral histories from individuals with visual impairments in South Carolina. This grant also support further research into the area of accessibility and allowed for more development of accessibility plugins for both Omeka and WordPress. In partnership with the Center for Digital Humanities in Columbia, SC, and with guidance from the Center for History and New Media, we modeled the ways in which digital humanities projects can be designed and implemented with the needs of visually impaired users in mind.

University of South Carolina Upstate Research Assistant Grant (Fall 2009)

Funded by a grant designed to encourage undergraduate research projects from USC Upstate’s Center for Undergraduate Research and Scholarship (CURS), Dr. Williams and Mr. Bohon began exploring the possibilities for making Omeka a more accessible platform in the Fall of 2009. With this funding, several strides were made in the area of accessibility research and several plugins for Omeka were developed.

BrailleSC. org: The Possibilities Are Endless (October 2009)

Dr. Herzberg was award over $497,000 from the United States Department of Education in Fall 2009 for her grant entitled, “The Possibilities Are Endless: Promoting Braille In South Carolina. ” The goals of this grant are to 1) significantly increase to the knowledge of vocational rehabilitation personnel and educators in the area of braille and enhance their knowledge of methods of teaching braille and 2) provide activities to promote knowledge and use of braille and nonvisual access technology. This grant supported the construction of BrailleSC. org, a fun, educational resource for individuals who are visually impaired as well as for their families, friends, and educators. In less than one year since the launch, this scholarly resource, however, has been visited by more than 3,000 individuals from around the world.