[Athen] FW: House Subcommittee Vote Could End Books forthe Blind.

Kestrell kestrell at panix.com
Sun Jun 10 08:12:06 PDT 2007


I am totally with you on the fact that this is not just a BVI issue, and I
also like to point out hwo many people with print disabilities use the
special libraries, including one student I know who uses alt format books
because he has MS, which affects his ability to focus his gaze for visual
reading. Unfortunately, for a lot of people uninformed about print
disabilities and/or the state of digital book technology, the blind students
are the only group on the radar, because it seems pretty unambiguous that
people with no vision require alt format books. Aside from the need to get
other groups on the radar regarding who is using alt format books, I think
we need to have more open discussion about what literacy means, and what is
involved once we take literacy beyond the traditional definition attached to
print and paper books. There is still a bias against seeing digital books as
"real" books, and so the idea still predominates that only a minority of
students with serious disabilities need or benefit from alt format books. I
think part of this is generational in that, as more people who are more
familiar with using non-traditional format books filter into decisionmaking
positions in education and politics, they will have a better intuitive
understanding of how non-traditional books are used by large numbers of
readers. However, at this point, I still hear a lot of people refering to
only print and paper books as "real" books, with the unspoken implication
that using any kind of electronic or audio format is somehow not the same
thing as reading or being literate.


----- Original Message -----
From: "Ron Stewart" <ron.stewart at dolphinusa.com>
To: "'Access Technologists in Higher Education Network'"
<athen at athenpro.org>
Sent: Saturday, June 09, 2007 11:51 AM
Subject: Re: [Athen] FW: House Subcommittee Vote Could End Books forthe

> Morning,


> Pullling out the soapbox here. You can substitute Distance Educaition for

> print access in this conversation as well.


> This is not just a blindness issue! And as long as it is presented as

> only

> a VI/B issue it is never going to go anyplace. This is a VI/B, ADD/ADHD,

> LD,

> Cognitive Processing, Dyslexic, Developmental Disability, TBI, and

> Psyciatric disability issue. Did I miss any? I do not even want to being

> talking about ESL and developmental Ed. From my perspecitive, at its

> heart,

> it is another issue about inclusion and acceptance of folks with

> disabilities in our global society. This is not just about Blind Readers

> but the entire continuum of people with disabilities related to their

> ability to effectively use print based materials. If we look at all

> students who would benefit from more accessible curriculum it could easily

> be as high as 25% of our students. As long as the conversation remains a

> blind centric one the issues of inclusion and success are going to remain

> on

> the margins of the mainstream discussion.


> This is true for all topics of educational and societal reform for all

> groups that are living on the margins of mainstream society. In the last

> few years I have now been involved in more conversations that I care to

> count on this topic and often one of the first questions that comes up is

> why can we not make any progress on this, and my typicall response is

> until

> you start to include the other 75% of folks with print related

> disabilities

> you will not. These other groups are not typically as organized or as

> vocal

> as the VI/B groups and that contributes to the problem. Often times the

> groups involved are so worried about protecting their turf and closed

> agendas that it all gets lost in the real need of the people we are

> dedicated to serving.


> Being very involved in the whole Alt Format discussion on a global basis

> this still does not effectively explain to me why the NLS felt it

> necessary

> to go out and develop propriety closed market technology. I was at a DAISY

> technical meeting this last week in Toronto and asked a question about

> expansion beyond the focus on the special libraries to include the

> educaitional space in the development of the specifications and it was not

> a

> place anyone else at the table seemed to want to go. This kind of

> thinking

> promotes the possible irrelevance of the DAISY work as the mainstream

> technology moves beyond it. Don't get me wrong I am a strong advocate for

> DAISY and its impact on our students, but that is the result of closed

> technology development especially in the current fluid and dymanic IT

> world.


> The compliance with closed format and protection of intellection property

> do

> not in any way require this kind of reader. Since they published their

> original strategic plan this has been a topic of conversation and concern.

> The more they went down the closed technology route the more it came up.

> Nor does it explain why other national libraries are doing some of the

> same

> things, don't make questionable decisions unless your willing to deal with

> the consiquences. If the various development communities, both public and

> private, have good robust technologies in the marketspace then that is the

> first place agencies should look for solution. Especially when they are

> using public funds for the process.


> The DAISY PTDB2 standard for DRM in DAISY books provides for a very good

> set

> of protocols for insuring that Intellectual Property rights are protected

> in

> the development and distribution of DAISY materials. With my work in the

> AHEAD E-Text and NIMAS groups I have found that the discussion about

> copyright is typically a slippery slope and straw man argument. That is

> why

> we have made the decision to put it aside and focus on pragmatic solutions

> to the issues at hand at least in the AHEAD work. The topic does need to

> be revisited and the Chaffee exemption brought into the information age,

> but

> no one wants to open up the copyright law that is aware of all the

> competing

> issues most of which are not even related to access and disability.


> When the government is trying to cut funds at every turn, it does our

> effort

> no good to shoot ourselves in the foot. Secondly the House SubCommittee

> is

> not intending to End books for the blind they are doing our job and asking

> some hard questions about the appropriate use of public funds. Do I think

> they should spend their time looking at pork elsewhere, of course, but

> when

> a government agency puts this kind of target on their back what should

> they

> expect.


> Ron


> -----Original Message-----

> From: athen-bounces at athenpro.org [mailto:athen-bounces at athenpro.org] On

> Behalf Of Kestrell

> Sent: Saturday, June 09, 2007 10:28 AM

> To: Access Technologists in Higher Education Network

> Subject: Re: [Athen] FW: House Subcommittee Vote Could End Books for the

> Blind.


> Ron,


> I have spoken to a number of people involved in special librariaries for

> the


> blind, and all of them insist that their players, hardware as well as

> software, must include DRM restrictions or the libraries will not be able

> to


> get the cooperations of publishers in distributing their work. My

> impression


> is that the state of the technology is dictated by the libraries' lawyers,

> and that perspective dictates the design of the technology, the

> distribution


> method, and everything else involved in the design and distribution of the

> books and the players.


> There are lots of blind readers who comprehend that this is not the most

> efficient or most economically sound method for doing things, but those

> dissenters seem tobe in the minority, or, at least, not on any of the

> committees that make the decisions.


> Ultimately, I find it sadly ironic that the same government which is

> taking

> the NLS to task for insisting on the more expensive "special formats" is

> the


> same government that has contributed so much to the arcane nature of the

> copyright laws which have left the special libraries so paranoid about

> being


> held accountable for any infringement that they feel compelled to go

> design

> these special players (read the copyright declaration on any of these NLS

> or


> RFBD or even Bookshare books and you will get an idea of how the format

> dictates the player and the distribution method, and even the relationship

> witht he consumer).



> Alicia/Kestrell

> ----- Original Message -----

> From: "Ron Stewart" <ron.stewart at dolphinusa.com>

> To: "'Access Technologists in Higher Education Network'"

> <athen at athenpro.org>

> Sent: Friday, June 08, 2007 5:26 PM

> Subject: [Athen] FW: House Subcommittee Vote Could End Books for the

> Blind.



>>I have a tendency to stick my foot into sticky things and I also know that

>> if I respond on any of the blindness lists I would be tarred and

>> feathered.



>> Based on my understanding from a recent trip to Washigton DC and a couple

>> of

>> conversations with legislative types, the number one issue for the

>> funding

>> is the fact that the NLS did not use off the shelf technology or work

>> with

>> any of the exsisting commercial solutions to build this reader. This has

>> been an issue throughout the development process on this reader, and to

>> be

>> honest I am not surprised by this at all. It is becoming more and more

>> of

>> an issues with federal funding of projects when the project goes off and

>> reinvents the wheel like this.


>> Anybody want to help me become better informed on the whys and werefores

>> of

>> this.


>> Ron Stewart


>> -----Original Message-----

>> From: blindnews-bounces at blindprogramming.com

>> [mailto:blindnews-bounces at blindprogramming.com] On Behalf Of BlindNews

>> Mailing List

>> Sent: Friday, June 08, 2007 4:43 PM

>> To: Blind News

>> Subject: House Subcommittee Vote Could End Books for the Blind.


>> House Subcommittee Vote Could End Books for the Blind.



>> PressRelease

>> Author : National Federation of the Blind

>> Earthtimes.org - USA

>> Thu, 07 Jun 2007.



>> On Wednesday, June 6, the House of Representatives Legislative Branch

>> Appropriations Subcommittee voted to substantially underfund the Books

>> for

>> the Blind program of the Library of Congress.


>> Dr. Marc Maurer, President of the National Federation of the Blind, said:

>> "Since 1931, Congress has consistently supported on a bipartisan basis a

>> national program of audio and Braille books for the blind, operated by

>> the

>> Library of Congress. The blind of America are shocked and disappointed

>> that

>> a House subcommittee has callously disregarded our literacy needs since

>> literacy leads to independence. By appropriating only $7.5 million of the

>> $19.1 million needed for transition from antiquated analog cassette tape

>> technology to digital technology, the subcommittee has effectively voted

>> to

>> shut down the only public library available to blind Americans. The audio

>> books produced by the Library of Congress will be useless unless the

>> digital

>> playback technology is provided for readers. The Talking Book program is

>> at

>> a crossroads because the analog tape used for the past thirty-six years

>> has

>> become obsolete and must be replaced for the program to continue.

>> Virtually,

>> all government programs, except Books for the Blind, have converted to

>> state-of-the-art digital communication technology at a cost of billions

>> of

>> dollars to the taxpayers. Leaving the Books for the Blind program behind

>> is

>> unconscionable. Since it is early in the appropriations process, however,

>> Congress still has time to correct this grievous error. We therefore

>> urgently appeal to the full House Appropriations Committee, the members

>> of

>> the House of Representatives, and the United States Senate to provide the

>> full $19.1 million requested by the National Library Service for the

>> Blind

>> and Physically Handicapped of the Library of Congress to begin production

>> of

>> digital talking books and players."


>> The Talking Book program serves over 750,000 blind Americans, including

>> blind children and an ever-increasing number of older Americans who are

>> losing vision. The incidence of blindness is expected to increase as the

>> baby boom generation reaches retirement age. Therefore, the need for this

>> essential program will only increase.


>> CONTACT: John G. Pare Jr., Director of Public Relations of the National

>> Federation of the Blind, +1-410-659-9314, extension 2371, Cell:

>> +1-410-913-3912, jpare at nfb.org


>> Web site: http://www.nfb.org/


>> http://www.earthtimes.org/articles/show/news_press_release,118989.shtml




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