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Archive for April, 2013

Accessible Copyright Treaty Hits New Roadblock

The World Blind Union (WBU) has reacted angrily to a new setback to long-running work on an international copyright treaty which could improve access to accessible books for blind and visually impaired people.

The union has been a key negotiator in talks at the World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO) which have been going on for almost five years. Following the latest round of talks from 18-20 April in Geneva, the WBU released a statement saying the discussions “devoted almost no time to insuring that the treaty will encourage the cross border sharing of desperately needed books for the blind”, concentrating instead on protecting the rights of existing copyright holders.


Great Expectations Of e-Book Access Demonstrations

Accessibility is “rising up the agenda” of the publishing industry as awareness grows of the value of helping people access electronic books in multiple formats, a publishing standards body said this month.

The statement came following a live demonstration of accessible readings from “Great Expectations” by Charles Dickens at the London Book Fair in an event organised by the Royal National Institute of Blind People, the Publishers Licensing Society and EDitEUR – the trade standards body for the global book industry.


Location Networking Aims To Help Disabled People Connect

A free smartphone app that can help disabled and other diverse communities find and connect with people from within their own and other groups, and request social support, has been launched in the UK.

MiFinder combines elements of social networking platforms with GPS satellite location, allowing users to engage and potentially meet with people nearby them who share similar interests. The app has a range of potential uses – including dating – but is unusual in promoting its use for social support, its owner says.


Erik Weihenmayer, Adventurer: Scaling The Heights Of Possibility

By Andrea Tarquini, translated by Margherita Giordano.

Erik Weihenmayer has climbed Mount Everest, the world’s highest mountain, and descended Mount Elbrus, the highest peak in Europe, skiing to base camp. Now he is preparing to ride the rapids of the Grand Canyon’s Colorado River in a kayak. Extreme sports always offer extreme challenges, but for Weihenmayer, the level of difficulty is different: he is blind, after contracting retinoschisis at the age of three.

Weihenmayer, 44, an American of German origin, lost his sight gradually until his eyes were removed as a teenager and as a young man, to be replaced with prosthetics. “I was not afraid of going blind, but of ending up marginalised,” he told Lukas Eberle, a writer at the German newspaper “Der Spiegel”. “Sometimes it’s frustrating, it’s a daily struggle with yourself and with your limitations that you would almost pull out your hair,” said Weihenmayer.