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Archive for January, 2010

The Biggest IT Help Scheme In The World

A government scheme to ensure all school pupils in England have access to computers and the internet at home could have a huge impact on the assistive technology sector.

Earlier this month, the government announced the launch of its ‘Home Access’ scheme to improve technology access for school pupils from lower-income families. Backed by some £300 million, the scheme is expected to provide computers and internet access for home use to around 270,000 families by March 2011.

Amazon Bows To Pressure On Kindle Accessibility

The online retailer is to incorporate extra accessibility features into its Kindle DX electronic book reader or ‘e-reader’, after several American universities rejected the device as a potential teaching-aid, citing inaccessibility to blind students (see E-Access Bulletin, issue 119: ).

Audible menus and an extra-large font size will be added to the new version of the Kindle DX on its release this summer. The menu feature addresses claims by Syracuse and Wisconsin-Madison universities that although the Kindle features a text-to-speech function valuable for blind users, inaccessible menus meant that such users would not be able to activate the function.

International Copyright Treaty On Accessible Formats Edges Closer

An international treaty allowing people to share accessible versions of copyright works across national borders moved a step closer last month, with an agreement by the World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO) to consult on the issue.

The 19th session of the WIPO Standing Committee on Copyright and Related Rights (SCCR), held in Geneva in December ( ), agreed to host a series of consultation meetings aimed at producing an international consensus.

Severely Disabled Pupils Face Wait For Home Access

School pupils with serious disabilities are facing an indefinite delay, likely to last six months or more, to receive the assistive technology they need to benefit from the government’s new ‘Home Access’ computer scheme, E-Access Bulletin has learned.

The £300 million scheme ( ), managed by education ICT agency Becta ( ), is providing computers to children aged 7-14 from low-income families. Launched this month, it aims to help around 270,000 families by March 2011.