THE ROBIN SEAMAN AWARD
Who Was Robin Seaman?
Robin Seaman was a beloved member of the publishing industry who passionately advocated for making books accessible to people with disabilities. Robin’s nearly 40-year career in publishing began at Oxford University Press in the 1980s. She worked in various roles at Macmillan, HarperSanFrancisco (now Harper One), IDG Books, Rocket eBook, and in 2008, Robin joined Benetech, a technology non-profit. Her enthusiasm and tireless pursuit of publishing partnerships is what led to the company’s innovative digital library, which now makes more than one million e-books accessible to people with visual disabilities.
Robin’s commitment to making publishers and the industry more accessible led to her involvement in several important initiatives, including Benetech’s Born Accessible program, which encourages publishers to incorporate accessible reading features in their books from the beginning, and the Global Certified Accessible program, which creates accessibility certifications for e-books. As chair of the Accessible Working Group of the Book Industry Study Group, her committee produced the Quick Start Guide to Accessible Publishing, the most downloaded document ever produced by BISG. Robin was awarded the BISG Distinguished Service Award for that work in 2016. Several months after her death in 2019, she was also awarded BISG’s Industry Champion Award for her passionate advocacy on behalf of people with print disabilities.
Robin co-founded Bay Area Women in Publishing in 2012, with the aim to strengthen professional ties among local publishing women, and to raise the visibility of women leaders in publishing. While serving as on BAWiP’s board for the next seven years, she offered more than 100 contacts from her extensive network to the group’s early email list, contributed to the group’s strategic vision, and informally mentored members of the group.
Robin Seaman was known for her commitment to collaboration, the ease with which she related to people, her elegance and great sense of humor and especially her vision and advocacy for a more inclusive book publishing industry.