[Athen] FW: House Subcommittee Vote Could End Booksfor the Blind.

Kestrell kestrell at panix.com
Sun Jun 10 08:29:04 PDT 2007


Actually, I would love to hear more of this rant, as it is one of the most
informative rants I have heard on the subject. Are you writing or otherwise
blogging about this somewhere?

As a blind reader, I have my own rants on this subject, including the fact
that the NLS and RFBD increasing levels of DRM have made reading their books
so onerous that I rarely read anything from these libraries anymore. All my
"special" hardware players have died, and I refuse to allow the RFBD to
install anything on my beloved Book Port, and I am probably going to have my
twenty+ year membership to RFBD lapse as I refuse to sign the third DRM
end-user agreement in three years that i was sent.

----- Original Message -----
From: "Pratik Patel" <pratikp1 at gmail.com>
To: "'Access Technologists in Higher Education Network'"
<athen at athenpro.org>
Sent: Sunday, June 10, 2007 12:10 AM
Subject: Re: [Athen] FW: House Subcommittee Vote Could End Booksfor the

> There is, sadly, blindness politics involved in the NLS development of the

> digital delivery project. In all this, NLS has decided that it will not

> support one of the most important feature of a DAISY/DTB book, page

> numbering. I am beta testing the download service and it is certainly

> lacking in that regard. None of the books will be accompanied by text

> either. Unfortunately the design phase (or Frank Kert Cinke) determined

> that adding page number navigation to newly developed DTB's would add

> considerable cost to NLS's processes. This was partly a decision made by

> one of the blindness organizations, which has a strong monitary interest

> in the NLS digital development. the other organization lacks leadership,

> the willingness, or the understanding to do anything about it. I hope to

> change that soon. Forgive me for being so cynical but there are some very

> odd political things going on in New york with the Higher Ed textbook

> legislation and the political nature of this fie

> ld is becomming more and more evident to me. The more money is involved,

> the more annoying this gets.


> My apologies to those individuals who may belong to either of the

> organizations. My inditement does not reflect on your personal ability or

> beliefs.


> NLS is using a DRM system developed by the National Institute of Science.

> The current beta test of the download delivery is taking place by using

> an SD card and a modified Victor Classic desktop player. Supposedly, NLS

> will be supporting manufacturers of other hardware players--notice I do

> not say sofftware players--who wish to develop support for NLS's DRM and

> proprietary flash-based cartredge. NLS has chosen not to support software

> players as they fully expect the DRM to be broken in a short time after

> it's released. NLS wants to show no support for any such activity. I

> love governmental agencies who are afraid of their own shadows! The

> players that NLS will be supporting will not be able to playback DAISY

> material that does not comply with the DRM technology. I certainly hope

> this doesn't remain the case for too long. NLS plans to allow

> manufacturers to develop resellable hardware cartredges for those

> individuals interested in the digital download service. The do

> wnload service will work in a similar manner to the Web braille service

> currently provided to the patrons.


> If NLS receives the partial funding promised by the current atmosphere in

> Congress, it will not be the end of NLS or the program. This funding is

> to supplement what NLS already receives on an annual basis. The move to

> digital will happen much more slowly than NLS predicted. I'm not

> suggesting that NLS should not receive its full funding as it has

> requested. But, certainly needs to explain some very important points

> about their decisions and contracts. I'm doing my part to get people to

> move on this issue as I do believe that the agency should be allowed to

> put its plans into effect at this stage. ...


> I could go on; but I know ya'all got better things to do than listen

> to/read my rants.


> Pratik



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

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

> Behalf Of Ron Stewart

> Sent: Saturday, June 09, 2007 11:52 AM

> To: 'Access Technologists in Higher Education Network'

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

> Blind.


> 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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