Access to books for the visually impaired: minimising charity and maximising choice
2011-06-17T08:44:08Z (GMT) by
This research aims to find ways of making access to copyrighted books for the visually impaired as much a matter of choice as possible by moving the provision of access away from models based on charity and of building the provision of access into the mainstream. The work of third sector organisations providing access and attempts by the visually impaired community itself to enhance access are described. Realities effecting support workers in universities who have to help visually impaired students investigated. Legal disputes relating to copyright and anti-discrimination law are discussed. Developments in the ebooks market are monitored with a particular reference to attempts to build accessibility into devices like the Kindle and Apple products. The research also looks at how best to secure access to online bookshops, web pages offering ebooks for download in public libraries and ebook libraries in academia. The current level of access being achieved in this area is assessed. Next ongoing attempts to improve access and differing views on the advisability of an approach based on enforcement of the Worldwide Web Consortium’s accessibility guidelines or a more flexible approach emphasising user testing are discussed. Conclusions and recommendations: changes to copyright law and further development and clarification of anti-discrimination law as it applies to publishers are necessary. Libraries should adopt a more innovative approach and field some of the specialist provision currently undertaken by charitable organisations. Accessibility to relevant websites is probably best provided by a combination of ongoing relationship building and with web developers and a more flexible approach than rigid enforcement of accessibility guidelines. Further research is needed on exactly how libraries could undertake specialist transcription most efficiently and on how to bring multi-national companies like Adobe, Amazon and other manufacturers of ebooks reading devices unambiguously into the ambit of anti-discrimination.