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UK’s First Educational e-Book Library Launched Online

The UK’s first online library of educational textbooks in a range of digital formats accessible to visually impaired students has been launched.

‘Books for All’ is a joint project between The Seeing Ear ( www.seeingear.org ), a website which provides electronic books for visually disabled people, and the University of Edinburgh. It allows authorised and registered teachers and students with visual impairments to access an online catalogue of alternative format educational books for free.
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US Universities Reject ‘Inaccessible’ Kindle E-Book

Two American universities have rejected the market-leading Kindle DX electronic book reader as a textbook replacement due to its inaccessibility for blind students. Both Syracuse University in New York State and the University of Wisconsin-Madison have chosen not to use the Kindle – manufactured by Amazon.com – as a teaching-aid, after their own trials found it was not fully accessible.

The institutions’ decision was “applauded” by the US National Federation of the Blind ( NFB: bit.ly/gBnAC ), which said that although the reader contains a text-to-speech feature, “the menus of the device are not accessible to the blind”, meaning that blind users cannot purchase books from Amazon’s Kindle store, select which book to read, or even activate the device’s text-to-speech feature.
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The Music Of Signs

At last month’s launch of Signed Stories (
www.signedstories.com ),
an online treasure-house of children’s stories in British Sign Language created by broadcaster ITV for free use by teachers, parents and carers of deaf children, the excitement was palpable.

G. P. Taylor, author of the best-selling ‘Shadowmancer’ series of children’s books, said the service was “the most exciting thing to happen in children’s reading since the invention of the book.”
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‘Digital Mentor’ Trials Form Part Of Draft Inclusion Plan

The government is to pilot a ‘digital mentors’ scheme to help people in deprived areas use technologies such as websites, podcasts and digital photography to make their voices heard, collaborate and improve access to services.

The initiative forms part of a new action plan for digital inclusion (fastlink.headstar.com/action2),launched by Digital Inclusion minister Paul Murphy and the department of Communities and Local Government (CLG).

An estimated 17 million people over the age of 15 are not using computers and the internet, and there is a strong link between digital and social exclusion and disabled people with disabled people among those most excluded from the digital technologies at the heart of the developing knowledge economy, the plan says.
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Disability Body Blasts EU Anti-Discrimination Draft

A draft anti-discrimination directive from the European Commission has been criticised by a major disability lobby group for failing to cover technology accessibility standards.

The commission’s proposal, ‘Non-discrimination and equal opportunities: a renewed commitment’, deals with discrimination against people on the basis of disability, race, religion, gender or sexual orientation and covers non-employment areas such as education, social security and health care (see fastlink.headstar.com/eur8).

In a statement European disability Forum (EDF) President Yannis Vardakastanis said the draft directive omits “important issues for persons with disabilities as the concept of universal design, the necessity of European and national accessibility standards and the right to services ensuring inclusion.”

In addition the document “leaves room for interpretation and will create legal uncertainties”, Vardakastanis said (see fastlink.headstar.com/edf2).

The EDF was created in 1996 to give a voice in the European Union to Europe’s 50 million disabled people (www.edf-feph.org).

E-Learning Access Research Project Comes To UK

A European research programme to improve access to e-learning platforms and courses by people with disabilities, with a special focus on distance learning, is to hold a consultation meeting in the UK next month.

The Accessible e-Learning Platform for Europe (ALPE) (adenu.ia.uned.es/alpe) complements the European accessible learning programme EU4ALL ( www.eu4all-project.eu).

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Dyslexia and the Civil Service

It is impossible to state a definitive number for the percentage of people who suffer from dyslexia because there is no single definition of dyslexia, delegates heard at this month’s conference on Dyslexia and the Civil Service.
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international computer camp for VI students in Finland

I’m off to ICC 2007 next week to run a couple of workshops and run a camp Blog, see my post to this effect over at my Blog and please follow the camp blog and comment too to let the students know you're out there.

e-learning accessibility apeal upholds in favour of Sam Latif

The appeal by PMI reported here in the posting E-Learning Company Appeals Against Inaccessibility Ruling.we have case law.

Making accessible software, rising to the challenging

Nice to see one or two reports of this event which we ran for 70 industry representatives making it into the Bloggosphere. You can get the guides for yourself in pdf, Word, or hardcopy (for free from our Website just search for Making software accessible, a guide for Schools, or Making accessible software, a guide for developers and providers. You can access the supplementary rresources which accompany the guides as follows:

Making software accessible a guide for Schools, resources, select the ‘accessibility and access to learning’ link.
and the Making accessible software, a guide for developers and providers resources. tell all your friends.

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