Obituary: Robin Seaman, 68

Robin Seaman, director of content acquisition at Benetech and a passionate advocate for making books accessible to those with disabilities, died January 7 in the San Francisco Bay area from complications due to an infection. She was 68.

Seaman began her publishing career in the early 1980s working as a promotions manager at Oxford University Press and later in the same position at Macmillan. In 1988 she joined HarperSanFrancisco as associate marketing director, and in 1997 joined IDG Books, where she was creative director, product packaging, where she oversaw the first redesign of the For Dummies series.

Seaman was an early convert to the growing digital transition and in 1999 she joined the new digital venture NuvoMedia as director of content for the Rocket eBook, a pioneering digital reading device. She continued in that role after NuvoMedia was later acquired by Gemstar.

In 2008 she was hired as director of content acquisition at Benetech, a nonprofit focused on technology-driven social ventures, among them Bookshare, an online library of books accessible to people with disabilities. Through Seaman’s enthusiasm and tireless pursuit of publishing partnerships, Bookshare’s collection of accessible e-books has grown to nearly 700,000 digital titles.

Her commitment to making reading available to everyone is also reflected through her work in Born Accessible, an initiative to encourage publishers to create accessible content from its inception. In addition, she spearheaded the launch of Global Certified Accessible, accessibility certifications for e-books, and chaired the Accessible Working Group of BISG, which promotes best practices in accessibility in publishing. In 2016 Seaman was awarded the BISG Distinguished Service Award for chairing the committee that produced the BISG Quick Start Guide to Accessible Publishing.

In addition, Seaman was a cofounder and board member of Bay Area Women in Publishing.

Benetech CEO Betsy Beaumon said “We will remember Robin for her passion, dedication and vast contribution to ensuring that books and information are accessible to everyone, and for her positive, gracious manner in all things.”

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