Archive for the ‘books’ Category

Access to books moves on – slowly

July 16, 2007

In the week when the latest Harry Potter is published in an accessible (DAISY)) format at the same time as the print edition, all be it that you have to order it from a specialist supplier and won’t actually get it for a few days:

Google Books have added an accessible (textual) version to the full view of out of copyright books found by the search. Because of the way this has been achieved the textual edition is while available to all very difficult to access for anyone not using assistive technology. What about those print impaired users who use text to speech or screen magnification for reading but don’t rely on them for navigation is the first question I ask myself.
however the “read offline” option remains only to be available to the masses, and there is no accessibility for the ‘snipets’ of books still covered by copyright. certainly it’s a step in the right direction but will it actually make any difference to anyone? how many out of copyright books are referenced by Google which can’t already be found elseware on the Web.
See a detailed report on the Daisy consorteum news pages

And in another step in the right direction visually impaired communities recently joined with the international publishers association to discuss issues around shareing of resources in alternative formats.


how’s that for service!?

July 4, 2007

A couple of weeks ago I bookmarked Revish as an interesting new information rich and user friendly book review site. Amazon et al are fine in their own way but so massive and inpersonal that it’s hard to find reliable and/or meaningful recommendations especially if you fancy something completely different rather than just another title by the same author as you bought last time. However, I had a bit of an accessibility issue. In the lists of titles reviewed each entry had a thumnail image of the book in question, a rating and the name of the reviewer. Because of the lack of an alt tag on the thumnails I couldn’t actually identify the title under review without clicking on each in turn. Very labour intensive.

Like a good little accessibility evangelist I promptly dispatched an email explaining the issue and with in ten minutes had a reply telling me the problem was resolved. Not just that it would be resolved, but that it was sorted, that all thumbnails now have their alt tags in place so I can differentiate between titles in the review lists.

You can’t beat that for a quick service.

Actually as the man behind Revish is no less than Mr Dan Champion this will be no surprise to anyone who knows Dans reputation but quality deserves recognition so:

Thanks Dan, good site, excellent customer service.

that’s just what you want to see from a developer, not that everything is perfect first time out, but that they can adapt to variations in a hurry and maintain the quality.

Books for all report

June 7, 2007

On Tuesday the Scottish Executive posted a report titled Books for All: Accessible curriculum materials for pupils with additional support needs to its website.

The report is the outcome of a project funded by Scottish Executive Education Department and carried out by the Communication Aids for Language and Learning
(CALL Centre) at the University of Edinburgh. It considers:

  • The numbers of pupils with literacy support needs in Scotland.

  • What learning materials are required in alternative formats.

  • Which alternative formats would benefit pupils with literacy difficulties.

  • What benefits are achieved by having learning materials in alternative formats.

  • Issues of equity and provisions under copyright exemption legislation.

  • how accessible materials might be made more widely available.

  • the duties of responsible bodies such as local authorities

  • and what steps should be taken to address these issues.

The report will also be available
from CALL’s Books for All web site at

new screenless mp3 player

May 30, 2007

I’m very excited to read about the imminent arrival of this new screenless, thus blind friendly (accessible) 1gb mp3 player the Creative ZEN Stone. it’s Audible compatible and get this!!! will sell for less than half the price of the equivalent Ipod shuffle, £27.99. Better still you can apparently move files to it in Windows Explorer as if it were any USB pen drive. no need for any horrid inaccessible proprietory software like Itunes. I'm front of the queue. Or at least, when I find a UK retailer who is taking pre orders or a release date I will be.

Update, Amazon have them and seem to be cheapest as it qualifies for free delivery. 6 colours available although for some reason the Red seems to be £2 more expensive and take longer to deliver at 2 to 4 weeks, the white, black, pink, lime, and blue taking 1 to 2 weeks. I've seen them a bit cheaper on a few sites but all then charge around £5 for delivery making them more expensive. Brian Hartgen has more details including free jaws scripts for the accompanying software and details on how to use with Audible books.