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Archive for March, 2009

Déjà Vu All Over Again?

Readers of the eleventh annual Better Connected report on UK council websites, published last month by the local government Society of Information Technology Management (Socitm), might be forgiven for feeling that time has stood still.

Last year’s report found that only 37 out of 464 council websites (8%) attained the most basic level of accessibility, Level ‘A’ of the World Wide Web consortium’s (W3C) web content accessibility guidelines (WCAG 1.0) (
http://www.headstar.com/eablive/?p=164 ).
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The Music Of Signs

At last month’s launch of Signed Stories (
http://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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Private Sector Slow To Address Access Queries

A ‘mystery shopper’ test which sent emails to a range of UK local council and private sector websites requesting information on their accessibility to blind users has uncovered a pattern of poor responses, with around one in five sites not bothering to respond at all.

The exercise, carried out by the local government Society of IT Management as part of its annual ‘Better Connected’ review of council websites (
http://www.socitm.gov.uk/socitm/Library/Better+Connected+2009.htm ), found local government websites performed better than sites in other sectors.
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ITV Unveils ‘Signed Stories’ Treasure-House For Deaf Children.

What is intended to become the world’s largest online library of contemporary children’s books fully accessible in sign language, sound, animation and text has been launched by the British broadcaster ITV, for free use by teachers, parents and carers of deaf children.

Signed Stories (
http://www.signedstories.com )
has been created by ITV SignPost, the company’s non-profit accessibility agency. Around 25 stories are already available to view in British Sign Language by streaming video alongside the other complementary formats, with a plan to offer 150 stories by the end of the year, and 300 or more by the end of 2010.
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Row Brewing Over E-Book Speech Function Removal

A row has erupted over whether or not publishers should be allowed to disable the text-to-speech function on electronic book readers, after one US reader manufacturer bowed to requests from an authors’ rights group and made the speech function optional.

Manufacturer Amazon made the move with respect to its new Kindle 2 e-book reader following representation from the Authors Guild, which had claimed that the automatic allowance of text-to-speech (TTS) conversion effectively created an audiobook device, even though no audio royalties were being paid.
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