- General medical and statistic data on blindness and visual impairment concerning library services
The Epidemiology of Blindness and Visual Impairment, Demography and Definitions
Epidemiology and Functionality
- There is no common standard within the EU for counting the number of blind and visually impaired people. Even at the basic epidemiological level classifying the impairment for the purposes of health statistics - the various systems are not compatible.
- Most statements concerning visual impairment rest upon a measurement of visual acuity comparing the subject to a notional optimum expressed as "20/20" where people see at 20 metres `what they ought to see' at 20 metres. The level of impairment is then expressed as a fraction of the optimum so a common threshold for judging people to be visually impaired is that they only see at 2 metres what the `normal' person sees at 20 metres, so such a person has "2/20" vision. Further complications involve using different denominators such as 60 metres; and some visual measurements express sight as a percentage of the "norm".
- Some countries use a 6/60 threshold to define "blindness" whereas others use it to define "partial sight" with
"blindness" set at 3/60.
- Yet another way of measuring visual impairment is the breadth of the visual field; somebody is considered
"blind" by most definitions if the field is 15 Degrees or less.
- All definitions of "blindness" and "visual impairment" are "after correction", or the provision of proper,
ordinary spectacles (as opposed to Low Vision Aids).
- Functional capacity varies enormously at any given level of visual impairment and so the epidemiological data cannot be extrapolated to produce functional data. This is a vital and widely misunderstood issue because the two distinctive sets of data are often conflated.
- Even with a lack of epidemilogical data and functional analysis based on random sample surveys, the
demography of blindness and visual impairment is clear at a global and at an EU level; the percentage of
blindness and visual impairment rises increasingly steeply with age; as standards of living rise, longevity
increases and the incidence (the rate of onset ) of blindness and visual impairment rises. The incidence rises
with age because of incurable conditions but more than half of the prevalence (the overall figure at a given
time) is caused by operable cataract where results have improved immeasurably since the development of the
intra occular lens implant.
- Independent of formal or informal classifications, it is generally accepted that the majority of those who are
"blind" have some residual vision; by definition, all those who are "visually impaired" or "partially sighted"
have residual vision. The total number of those who never use print as a communications medium but are
classed as "blind" or "visually impaired" is very low (in the United Kingdom it is estimated at 5%)
The Nature of Visual Impairment and Information Access.
Most blind and visually impaired people do not confine themselves to one information medium; most use different media for different occasions; many use media simultaneously when accessing information (using sound to support images or images to support sound); Those using any medium will not use it in an identical set-up.
Speech, image and Braille code customisation are vital to efficient access. The physical environment also needs to be flexible so that hardware positioning and lighting can be easily adjusted.
Very little is known about the way in which blind and visually impaired people operate in a multi-media environment, so little is known of how to weight intelligence, sensory apprehension and experience.
Little is known about the browsing strategies of blind and visually impaired people.
There are no common hardware, front end, navigation or prompt standards for access technology.
There are no interface protocols in the EU between on-line public sector initiatives to enrich citizenship; and none of these have an acknowledged accessibility dimension.
Standardisation, customisation and navigability are key factors in efficient access. These three concepts can combine to provide blind and visually impaired people with portable customisation.
The better the access, the more customised the service, the higher the ratio of output to input; if the ratio falls below a certain, unknown level, clients are likely to switch from autonomous to mediated access.
Libraries and Access
Libraries and their resource managers require an understanding of the autonomy versus mediated routes to access.
Because of the dispersed nature of the blindness and visually impaired population there are the twin extremes of over-concentration in large centres, leading to the need for dedicated personnel, and under-utilised training on the part of generalists in sparsely populated areas.
Some awareness of blindness, visual impairment, visual acuity and variable reading performance ought to be part of the general training of all librarians.
The boundary between the responsibility of specialist visual impairment agencies and the library sector ought to be mobile but clearly defined. What is considered to be a peripheral access device today may be part of the standard configuration tomorrow.
3. Description of a workstation
General Computer equipment
PC in actual configuration
Networking via LAN or Modem
Cdrom- and Floppy drive
Braille input and output devices
Refreshable Braille: Refreshable Braille output displays permit reading of any textual information (usually twenty, forty or eighty Braille characters) at a time. Pins on the display are raised or lowered to correspond to the letters on the screen.
Braille translation software/firmware: For effective use of Braille, Braille translation software or firmware is required. This permits the user to type in and review the text (using a speech synthesizer or refreshable Braille device) in Arabic letters, produce a hardcopy in Braille, and then back-translate the text to produce a final version that may be shared with a sighted person.
Speech synthesis hardware and software
Speech synthesis hardware and software and speech control for input and output. Translates the information on the screen into spoken form; most systems also include provisions for specifying preferences-e.g., whether words should be read letter-by-letter or as a full word, and how much material should be read (a sentence, line, paragraph, or entire page). The system should be easily controlled-e.g., the user should be able to stop the speech output at any point-and should work with a wide range of standard software.
Scanner and OCR software
After Scanning OCR permits printed materials to be translated into computer-readable format and stored as a text file. Some OCRs designed specifically for users with blindness can read the material aloud as it is being translated.
Technical devices to communicate with sighted people
General and communication software
Magnifying screens both reduce glare and provide screen enlargement so that the characters are approximately twice standard size. This is a simple solution for users with minor visual disabilities. Adjustable character magnification software that permits large-type copies to be viewed and printed Character magnification software permits large-type copies to be viewed and, in some cases, to be printed and permits the range of magnification to be adjusted, usually up to about 16 times standard size. Some types of character magnification software may also permit screen colors to be changed, the cursor shape to be modified, and graphics to be enlarged as well as text. Standard on some computers.
Large color monitor and software to permit the selection of colors used
Character magnification software will not work effectively on a screen that is too small to see more than a few characters at a time. A large screen-roughly 19" to 25"-is therefore recommended. Users with color-blindness or low vision are likely to find that certain color combinations are easier to work with than others. This may also be true for users with learning disabilities. Color monitors and software which permits the selection of colors used are available; these allow individual users to adjust the information on the screen to accommodate their personal abilities.
4 Use of Braille and adaptive technologies: History, state of the art, emerging trends
History of Braille
A Brief History of Braille Production and Use
Braille, the reading and writing system for visually impaired readers that uses raised dots to represent numbers and letters of the alphabet, was introduced in the early nineteenth century by Louis Braille. The idea of using a series of raised dots to represent numbers and letters was already being used in the "night writing" code developed by Nicholas Barbier for the French army. Barbier used a "cell" composed of twelve dots to facilitate communication on the dark battlefield , while Braille devised the six-dot arrangement still in use today by most of the world's languages. Many people think of Braille as the primary information medium of blind and visually impaired readers. This hasn't been the case since the 1930s, when the circulation of "Talking Books" (first as phonograph records, later audio cassettes) exceeded that of Braille titles. The new audio technology had two advantages over Braille: tapes and records were much less bulky than Braille, and production costs were significantly lower as well. Microcomputer technology has created even more options for the print-impaired reader. Screen-reading programs provide aural access to the computer display for low vision or blind readers. Optical Character Recognition (OCR) technology, including stand- alone scanners as well as more sophisticated reading machines (such as the Kurzweil products), can translate a page of text into any number of formats, including but not limited to immediate speech output. Each new development in adaptive technology has had its effect on the supply and demand for titles in other formats. For college students and other academics with visual impairments, this usually means that a variety of media will be used. While students may have had time to order and receive textbooks in Braille (or on audio tape), there will be other readings assigned throughout the semester, as well as long-term research that will necessitate the student's use of a lot of material that is simply not available in an accessible format. Most of our students have a preference for one medium over the others, but will settle for the most readily obtainable for their immediate needs. Some readers, however, are unable to use the complete range of adaptive technologies due to multiple disabilities. Some blind people have limited sensitivity in their fingertips (resulting from stroke or other cause), which makes it difficult or impossible to use Braille. Deaf/blind readers, on the other hand, must use Braille as their substitute for print.
State of the art, VIP and the Web
Access to on-line information systems has become much more easier and user-friendly with the invention of the World-Wide Web. The average computer user needs little knowledge to navigate, search and read documents using dedicated programs, also called browsers. The availability of adaptive hard- and software providing general access to popular operating systems opens the door for visually impaired people to a number of various information services. The fact that most of the document content is available as some kind of text information, suggests to carry out an investigation how far the content is accessible for visually impaired readers.
However, since the invention of the web a few years ago the web has rapidly evolved more and more to an information system which is increasingly based on graphics and multi-media components (e.g. video clips, animated images, sound clips, etc.) rendered by so-called plug-in applications. Consequently most of the available web browser available nowadays rely on a graphical user-interface and include the necessary extensions to render multi-media information properly. Only a few of the web browsers developed and maintained frequently use a character-based display and keyboard for input.
The HyperText Markup Language (HTML) which is used for writing and encoding documents on the WWW has evolved quite fast in the last few years. The development of this document markup language has not only been carried out by universities and research institutions, but also by commercial companies. More and more the development of HTML focussed on layout and presentation features for on-line documents. However, mistakes in the basic design and frequent use of bitmapped objects lead to the problem that documents became largely inaccessible for visually impaired users because assistive devices (braille displays and screen readers) could not render the displayed information. The fact that awareness on disability-related issues has risen considerably in the Web community resulted in the integration of new features in both document formats and web browsers. As a consequence basic accessibility to the Web is provided nearly by any browser available.
What can be expected in the field of assistive technology in the near future? Are there any trends towards easier access to electronic information system for visually impaired people?
In this section we will highlight some of the current developments in information technology important to those questions. The focus in this section is on graphical interfaces instead of character interfaces because that's undisputedly where it is all going.
The World Wide Web Consortium (W3C), founded in 1994 to lead the Web to it's full potential, is an international industry consortium. Members include respected research institutes, like MIT, as well as the major companies in information technology, among which major players Microsoft and IBM.
W3C controls the specifications of web protocols and is engaged in continuous research to unify and extend these specifications. Their commitment includes promoting a high degree of usability of the web for people with disabilities.
The latest versions of the web language HTML (4.0) and cascading style sheets (CSS2) contain new elements that explicitly deal with the access problem. Until now, web specifications have been abused by software vendors to create spectacular effects on webpages. In practise, this has led to the development of websites that are completely inaccessible to visually impaired people. The new specifications are better designed and explicitly take the access problem into account. How the use of stylesheets can contribute to better access was clearly demonstrated in the Austrian workpackage.
To further promote the need for better access, W3C launched the Web Accessibility Initiative (WAI) in 1997. WAI pursues accessibility through five areas of work: technology, guidelines, tools, education and research.
Microsoft has kept its promise and integrated its 'Active accessibility' technology in Windows 98 and subsequently in the latest versions of all its major software products. Although the implementation of this technology is still facultative to other software developers, we can see a definite trend towards real use. The technology allows for far better navigation and information presentation for people that use adaptive devices. This will relieve the developers of assististive technology of the dirty technological tricks they had to resort to in the past to create access to information on the screen.
The majority of visually impaired computer users is not blind. The adaptive devices they use are primarily screen magnifiers, sometimes in combination with synthetic speech. There is a trend towards the integration of customisable screen magnification and speech into the operating system itself, instead of installing it as add-ons. The quality and usability of such tools will improve as will the technical support.
Gradually the adaptive devices for graphical interfaces will become better products. If more attention is given to the early introduction of access design criteria in the development of standard software products, one can expect better results for the use of adaptive devices. We are still a far way off from sound industry standards on assistive technology. The market for adaptive devices is too small to be of any real economic interest to the computer industry.
5. Checklist for the Library
To ensure that patrons with disabilities need not regard computers as a barrier instead of an aid to their successful library use, libraries need to plan for and implement accessibility measures. Since library staff members may also have disabilities, it is important to remember that the points made in this document about access for patrons apply to access for employees as well.
Since about 10% of the general population is disabled, a reasonable goal would be to have about 10% of computer equipment and resources earmarked for accessibility.
Potential Access Problems
Patrons with disabilities may have access needs in one or more of the following categories:
issues affect people who have trouble with the devices used to input characters or commands into the computer.
issues affect people who cannot access the computer's output. This includes: people who have difficulty reading the screen or handling a standard computer printout due to visual impairment.
includes a variety of non-computer components. Examples of potential problems include whether a visually impaired person can easily find appropriate signage indicating how to find the computer area.
perhaps the most important category, affects the user's ability to find help in using equipment. This handbook covers alternatives to having to read and handle printed documentation. Support ensures that staff will have the knowledge to provide guidance on equipment use and the sensitivity to work effectively with patrons with visual impairment. Training components provide new users of adaptive equipment with basic information and strategies for equipment use, which should both increase user success in equipment use and reduce the staff resources required for support.
All staff likely to come in contact with patrons should be trained in sensitivity to the needs of persons with disabilities, and should be readily available to provide services as needed. This might entail asking a person with blindness exactly which parts of the screen he wishes to have read off. These services should be widely publicized, and should be able to be requested with a minimum of embarrassment to the user.
GENERIC ACCESS STRATEGIES
For many users, solutions need not be complicated or expensive. For example, Braille labels placed over certain keys on the keyboard may do wonders for some patrons with visual disabilities. Most well-thought-out solutions will not hamper the ability of a non-disabled person to use the computer, and may indeed prove to be a boon to all users.
Many patrons will have already found strategies to cover some or all of their needs, and may be willing to share these strategies.
This handbook provides two checklists covering generic systems. Each checklist includes an outline with items to be checked off as they are implemented, followed by explanatory comments on each checklist item. The first checklist covers team preparation measures, while the other covers different levels of implementation,
The items in Checklists 2 are meant as indicators rather than anything hard and fast; depending on the library's situation, one or more steps may be implemented at different levels. In addition, not all solutions are available for all types of computerized systems
CHECKLIST 1--TEAM PREPARATION
This list is not meant to be exhaustive.
CHECKLIST 2 IMPLEMENTATION MEASURES
- Initiate contact between library personnel and interested users
Initiate contact between library personnel and interested users. The initial impetus for the process of establishing adaptive computing in libraries is likely to come from representatives of one of these two groups; certainly both groups are affected by the process.
- Develop team of consultants on library adaptive computing.
To be effective, most plans for the implementation of adaptive computing require awareness of needs and demographics of people with disabilities (both in general and among current and projected library clientele), awareness of types of adaptive computing equipment and its compatibility with standard equipment, awareness of the existing library computing environment, and awareness of related issues such as funding. Since one individual or group may not be versed in all these areas, a team of experts drawn from the library staff and the community should be assembled to evaluate and discuss issues, share information, and represent their particular concerns. This group may initially be fairly large during planning phases and may become smaller as goals are met, but will need to continue to exist on a long-term basis.
1. Team should include persons (usually more than one in each area) with expertise in the following areas:
a. Equipment currently being used in the library. The type of standard equipment that patrons will need to access will influence purchasing decisions of adaptive equipment, since the standard and adaptive equipment will need to work together.
b. Adaptive computer equipment and peripherals. This team member will need some level of familiarity with equipment and strategies for access to input, output, environmental, and documentation/training/support for people with visual impairment.
c. Current and projected demographics of users with disabilities. This information facilitates the process of determining the order of priority in which equipment should be acquired.
d. Library funding. The way in which the library chooses to fund acquisition, maintenance, and training for computers in general is likely to influence, if not dictate, the ways that these considerations are budgeted for adaptive technology.
e. Library computer use policy. Issues such as copyright of materials in alternative formats and policies for fair use of computer workstations when needed by both disabled and non-disabled patrons need to be developed in accordance with existing policies.
2. Team members should ideally be drawn from the following groups of people:
a. Library administrative staff. These persons will know about issues such as library funding, policies, and plans for future developments in the library infrastructure.
b. Library computing staff. This group will know about day-to-day operations of and problems in the
c. Potential users. These persons are not only the most likely to know about potential barriers to effective computer use, they are also the most likely to have had actual user experience with adaptive technology.
d. Outside consultants. This may involve members of local disability-related groups, vocational rehabilitation counselors, etc.
e. Professionals with clinical expertise in disability-related areas
f. Rehabilitation technologists/engineers. These are persons with a thorough knowledge of disability and rehabilitation, coupled with a background in the use of technology by persons with disabilities.
g. Representatives of library's parent organization (company, university, etc.). These persons may have a broad overview on ways that technology in general, and adaptive technology in particular, is being implemented throughout the organization.
h. Other groups as appropriate. Depending on the library's individual situation, it may seem evident that representatives of other groups need to be involved. For example, if adaptive technology is being implemented over a multi-branch library system, then representatives of all branches will need to be involved.
- Team walk-through of existing facilities to determine existing accessibility accommodations/problems.
A variety of accommodations are likely to already exist in the computer labs, particularly since some computer manufacturers are building in accessibility features as part of their standard hardware or system software (check the manuals for further information) and since the buildings may already fully or partially comply with architectural accessibility laws. One or more members of the consultant team may also be aware of equipment purchased for the benefit of a few students but never publicized or made generally available.
- Survey patrons to determine existing accommodations/problems.
The survey should not only serve as a way to gather information; it should also be a means of notifying patrons of what is being planned, and of giving them as early an opportunity as possible to express opinions. The survey may also pique interest among patrons experienced with adaptive computer use, who are likely to have useful suggestions and may make excellent new members of the consultant team. The survey should be administered anonymously.
- Placement of article(s) in standard information sources about intention to implement computer accessibility. It would be difficult to over-publicize the implementation (and later, the availability) of accessible computers. The survey discussed above may only reach those patrons who have identified themselves as having adisability.
- Identification of personnel to implement accessibility measures.Responsibility will need to be assigned so that it is clear who will be executing the implementation measures at every step and for every item. A follow-up procedure should also be instituted to ensure that measures are implemented in a timely, efficient, and thorough manner.
Software allowing control of keyboard delay and repeat rate
Software allowing cursor control from keyboard instead of mouse
An illuminated magnifying lamp that can be swung over the keyboard
Earphones for speech synthesizer users and people who need to set the auditory output to a loud level. Speech synthesizer users and persons who require that the auditory output be at a high level will require headphones so as not to disturb other patrons. These headphones are supplied with many speech synthesizer packages. Patrons should be warned, however, against the prolonged use of headphones with high levels of auditory output.
Heavy earphones (such as those worn by jackhammer operators) Heavy earphones should be provided so that an appropriate environment can be created for people who require a very quiet atmosphere to work effectively.
Position terminals to best take advantage of lighting source. PC's should be positioned in such a way that glare on the screen is minimized. If the main lighting is provided by sunlight, position monitors at right angles to windows with adjustable blinds or curtains. (If this is not possible, polarizing lenses that fit over the screen are available inexpensively.) Overhead lighting should be provided by 75-watt fluorescent lights; a higher-wattage bulb may be needed for labs with unusually high ceilings. All lamps should be of the positionable swing-arm variety.
Plan strategies for removing existing architectural barriers
Any architectural barriers found during the team walk-through described in Checklist 1, Item C should be discussed with the person or department responsible for building operations. Follow-up should be done to ensure that existing problems are recognized and fixed in a timely manner.
Permanent signage near entrances indicating location of computer area(s) and route(s) from that entrance Permanent signage near all entrances should indicate the location of the computer lab and the most accessible route from that entrance. The signs should have text in both large raised letters and Braille, and a visual/tactile map of the route. This can often be done quickly and relatively inexpensively.
Indicate accessible equipment/entrances in any general brochure of library hours and features. General library literature is an excellent place to list information on types of available accessible equipment.
Post large-print signs on library doors indicating that adaptive equipment is available Signs on computer lab doors indicating that adaptive equipment is available should be large enough for people with low vision to read. The signs should briefly indicate what types of equipment are available, what the procedure is for accessing the equipment (e.g., "Ask the reference librarian for assistance"), and where additional help can be obtained.
Label computers and workstations designated as accessible
Establish a priority system so that non-disabled persons may use the equipment with the understanding that they should yield use of the computer to a disabled person as soon as another workstation becomes available.
Identify personnel to construct and install simple mdifications. Simple modifications to standard equipment in accessible workstations may frequently need to be made to accommodate users.
A small budget should be allocated for construction materials.
Train staff on sensitivity to people with disabilities, and equipment function and procedures. All library staff should be trained in sensitivity to needs of people with disabilities, general information on adaptive equipment, and procedures for obtaining help if a person requires training or if equipment malfunctions. At least one full-time long-term staff member should be trained in operation of adaptive equipment. New employees should be told who the trained staff members are and how they can be contacted for assistance.
Arrange for library information to be available in alternative formats.Have crucial information-hours, sources of help, basic computer operation procedures-read onto a tape. Implement a policy for distributing the tape-e.g., if users bring in a blank tape, the library will copy the tape for them.
Where appropriate, materials should also be made available in Braille using Brailling equipment
If the library has a general goal statement, prepare a goal item on accessibility. This statement should be consistent with the findings and actions of the cnsultant team, and should be reviewed annually.
Obtain documentation on disk. If documentation is available on disk, it may be searched directly by users or printed out in large type or Braille. Contact product manufacturers to see if documentation is available on disk. If not, the documentation may be available on disk from Recordings for the Blind. Recordings for the Blind also provides many popular general computing books on disk.
Recruit volunteers on a short-term basis to train users and library staff in adaptive equipment use. These volunteers should be carefully screened for their ability to work comfortably with patrons and staff, and their technical ability. They should be given the same training as mentioned above for library staff.
Design and implement a training program for users of complex equipment. The training program should include provisions for alternative formats of print materials (such as Braille) The program should be offered regularly, and should be listed with other training courses given by the library. On demand, "mainstream" courses should be adapted so they can be offered via alternative formats.
6. Electronic Periodicals
628 KB html file, online access !
7. Setting up accompanying structures at university level
Support of integration in the class
Main task supporting visually impaired students is the transcription of study materials. To guarantee efficiency of budget and time, to guarantee high quality and to avoid double work at different universities the forthcoming strategies are chosenl:
Contact to students, survey on:
Who will join what lectures
Who will be the lecturer
What study materials will be used
When and how will these materials be available
Experiences show that the procedures connected with transcription should start at least two months in advance. High responsability of students is needed as well as support from the staff of the Joint Institute.
Contact to teachers
- Discussion of visual and non-visual methods
- Research and development of alternative methods
- Discussion about the methods for exams
If the problem of appropiate access to information in special disciplines or lectures cannot be solved, staff members of the Joint Institute must contact the responsible persons to discuss alternatives or even organisational details of the curriculum. If possible generic solutions should be attained.
Analysis of study materials
- Scripts / papers
- Blackboard concepts
- Electronic information media
- Video and other
Size and quality of adapted study material must guarantee that the visually impaired students is enabled to pass examinations successfully. On the long term the quality of materials, provided for visually impaired students, must be improved.
Co-operation with authors and publishers
- Contact with authors of books and papers
- Skeleton agreements
- Copyright agreements with authors and publishers
- Co-ordinated information system
Co-operation with authors and publishers can give access to a version of papers or books that is the more easy to transcribe than others. Co-ordination and confidence can establish long term agreements.
Transcription of materials
- Producing materials
- Typewriting materials
- Scanning, OCR processing
- Conversion of digital sources
- Re-structuring of generic and complex structures
- Textual description of nonconvertible information
- Re-coding of nonconvertible methods
- Results in Braille, large print or digital
The digital version is the favorite, because the others are to heavy and voluminous. The more intellectual work can be done by students, working and beeing payed as tutors. Ideally they themselves have already successfully finished the concrete course and have special knowledge about the content. For problems like mathematics, chemistry, statistics, wiring diagrams, musics, tabular bookkeeping, cost accounting solutions must be looked for worldwide or new codes must be developed.
- Organisation of transcription
- Studymaterials for internal use
- Studymaterials for external use
- Control and cataloguing
- Secure document delivery
- Overall information system
- Evaluation of quality and accessibility
Librarianship is needed to catalogue and store the adapted study material for other users. Worldwide interlibrary loan will be the future of digital libraries for the blind.
Information days for pupils, study guidance and psychological support for newcomers have proved to be very helpful.
Opening and accompaying support
Organisation of mobility trainings, support to overcome bureaucracy, search for accomodation, network installation of private electronic equipment, organisation of meetings between teachers and students etc.
Organization and administration
- Co-ordination of the works done during transcription of study materials
- Control of study material
- Co-ordination of time schedules
- Coordination meetings
- Technical support of computers
- Initialising, organizing and making partner of projects
8. IPR and licensing
Copyright in Databases and Text
There is a draft of new EU legislation on copyright and related matters stemming from the information Society Initiative. There are two distinct sets of rights issues: those relating to the access to intellectual property; and those relating to access to databases collating records of intellectual property.
The current negotiation of Clause 5. of the Draft Directive on Copyright and Related Rights within the European Union (European Union: Proposal for a European Parliament and Council Directive on the Harmonisation of Certain Aspects of Copyright and Related Rights in the Information Society, 10.xii.97 has reached a crucial stage. The current Draft Directive indicates that the intellectual property rights of visually and hearing impaired people to intellectual property should be derogated to nation states at the discretion of each. This approach is explained in the Background Paper (European Union: Copyright and Related Rights in the Information Society: Proposal for Directive - Background, 10.12.97.) which states that an EU-wide regulation is not required for disabled people "in view of their more limited economic importance". The Draft Directive clearly goes against the general principles of the EU as expressed in its People First document (European Union: Living and Working in the Information Society: People First, Draft 22.vii.96. Final (96) 389.) which clearly states (sub-Section 5.5. the third Challenge: Empowerment and Integration, in paragraphs 96- 113) that disabled people, as of right, must enjoy the fruits of the Information Society.
In matters of access to intellectual property there has been a tendency for the access rights of disabled people to be considered subsidiary to the intellectual property rights of content creators. There may be a few extreme cases where there is a conflict in this area but by large the rights of disabled people to the enjoyment of content do not conflict with the rights of creators to enjoy the proper fruits of their creation. A great deal of work needs to be done in this area not only because of the false perception of conflict, particularly in the digital environment, but also because intellectual property laws tend to the principle that silence on any point of permission means no consent; thus, a great deal of intellectual property deprivation suffered by visually impaired people arises not from deliberate acts but from oversight.
The second aspect of the copyright issue is in respect of databases where new legislation vests IPR on database providers for fifteen years and this will apply to the creators of alternative format bibliographic databases.
A principle needs to be established whereby the creators of alternative format bibliographic databases (and other content) through the use of public sector funding or private funding intended for the general benefit of blind and visually impaired people cannot be sold at a profit and that, therefore, charges can only be made for handling and collating the data but not for the data itself; further, charges for collation and handling should only be levied in one-way transactions and not in inter-lending or interavailability arrangements.
9. Distance Learning
Distance learning offers exciting training options for administrators, staff, and clients in the rehabilitation field. The Internet is a flexible, powerful, and efficient tool for the delivery of such programs and facilitates access for people with disabilities.
The Internet "information highway"creates a revolutionary forum for the exchange of ideas, fundamentally changing the way we communicate. It is an indispensable tool in the information age. For distance learning programs, it can be used to deliver instruction, store information, and facilitate communication. People equipped with appropriate technology, including individuals with disabilities, can gain access to unlimited opportunities for interaction and learning without leaving their homes or offices.
Distance learning occurs when an instructor delivers instruction to students who are not in the same location. This approach eliminates the constraints that once limited education to students and instructors in the same place at the same time. Distance learning programs show promise in the rehabilitation field and may help address shortages of trained personnel . They use a variety of technologies to deliver instruction, including print media, voice technologies (real-time, voice mail), video technologies (tapes, live telecasts, cable television), postal mail, and computer technologies. Increasing numbers of schools, government agencies and other institutions are using the Internet to deliver distance learning courses.
The Internet provides a rich medium for distance learning. This collection of networks began as a research vehicle, but grew to become much more. The Internet connects thousands of computers and millions of people around the world. As network technologies become indispensable tools in post-secondary programs and careers, schools and employers provide direct network connections in labs and offices. However, most personal computer users with access to the Internet are connected to host computers through modems and standard phone lines.
Many Scholars require adaptive hardware and software products to control input, interpret output, and read documentation. Hundreds of adaptive devices are commercially available. For example, students who are blind use optical character readers, voice output, and Braille translation software and printers. Products that present large images on the screen are used by those with low vision.
Use of the Internet for distance learning can benefit both clients and administrators in the rehabilitation field. The Internet is a flexible medium for instructional delivery, information access, and communication between all participants, including those with disabilities.
Delivery of Instruction
For administrators of rehabilitation programs, distance learning can be used to train rehabilitation counselors and other staff, develop leadership and administrative skills of managers, and provide continuing education. The Internet facilitates delivery of instruction, group work, and class discussions. Individuals with disabilities who have adaptive technologies can benefit from the growth of distance learning programs where students and educators "meet " electronically for instruction, discussion, and support.
As a research tool, the Internet is unsurpassed. Electronic connections can provide access to databases for academic research, electronic journals for professional development, on-line library catalogs, encyclopedias, dictionaries, newspapers, and resources for addressing the needs of clients. There has been an explosion of electronic versions of books, periodicals, and other printed materials that are being made available over the Internet. Some suggest that traditional libraries will someday become largely electronic libraries in which catalogs, books, journals, and other printed materials are available over international networks.
Instructors of distance learning courses can store their own course materials on-line and link to thousands of pages of reference materials for people in their classes using Internet resource tools. On the Internet it is easy to share resources and obtain resources from others.
A challenge for any distance learning instructor is assuring active participation between participants and between the teacher students. The Internet is a learning environment that promotes the engagement of learners. Students can regularly share and discuss ideas, viewpoints, and beliefs with other learners and with the instructor. They can communicate at their convenience (not necessarily at the same time), contemplate issues before presenting ideas to the group, and develop long-term relationships. Electronic mail facilitates student-teacher interaction, "classroom" discussions, and collaboration on group projects at their convenience; electronic communities never sleep. Such interaction is important and satisfying to learners (Moore, 1990; Wagner, 1993).
Electronic mail and Internet discussion groups provide new and limitless opportunities for communication and collaboration with colleagues from around the world. Participants can become part of a community of learners that extends far beyond the class list as they join the ever-growing global community (Wilson, 1992). They can choose people to communicate with based on common interests, not common locations and convenient schedules. Telecommunications is an important communication tool for individuals with disabilities which make communicating in other ways difficult because of social isolation and difficulties speaking, hearing, and/or moving. The inability to speak, hear, see, or move is not a limitation in electronic communication.
The greatest challenges in using the Internet to deliver or enhance distance learning courses are related to difficulties some potential students face in gaining access to the Internet. For example, use of the Internet to deliver distance learning programs has great potential for reaching those in rural areas and individuals with disabilities. However, people in rural areas and people with disabilities tend to have more difficulty accessing the Internet than others. Equal access to this technology will require the commitment of legislators, educators, information providers and others to overcome financial and technical barriers. A question yet to be answered is whether electronic resources will be managed in such a way that there will be equal access to on-ramps to the information highway.
Students must have access to appropriate technology in order to participate in courses that use the Internet. For those who already have computer equipment and can obtain local Internet access, costs can be low. Once on the Internet, there are no line charges. However, for those who must dial long distance to make their connection to a host computer, long distance charges can be significant. Thus, Internet access can be particularly problematic in rural areas. Access will become less of a problem as more people connect to the Internet. An interim solution for some distance learning providers is to provide both Internet and non-Internet distance learning options. This solution may create more work for instructors now, but help programs move ahead toward more Internet delivery as time goes on. Instructors and administrators who currently have distance learning courses in place, can consider providing an Internet option for one course, evaluate the experience, and add offerings in response to the resulting experience and interests of potential students.
Besides access issues, challenges facing instructors and administrators of distance learning programs who desire to use Internet as all or part of its delivery mechanism include providing Internet training to instructors and students and converting existing materials into formats accessible over the Internet network.
Administrators and instructors should consider available technology for delivering distance learning options that allow all individuals, including those with disabilities, to fully participate. The Internet is a flexible, powerful, and efficient tool to supplement or replace other distance learning delivery modes. Existing programs like those at the University of Washington demonstrate the successful use of the Internet for communication, instructional delivery, and information access in support of distance learning. Rehabilitation administrators are in a unique position to help other distance learning programs make effective use of this powerful technology. An added bonus to rehabilitation administrators who work through the problems in gaining Internet access for staff and programs is that the rich networking resources will be of personal benefit to them in their own professional growth, research, and collaborative efforts.
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Wagner, E. D. (1993). Variables affecting distance educational program success. Educational Technology, 33(4), 28-32.
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California Coast University offering off-campus accelerated undergraduate and graduate degree programs for mid-career adults.
American Coastline University - offers a wide range of academic degree programs including ministry programs leading to ordination; as well as continuing education, avocations, and upward mobility professional development courses.
American College - graduate and professional education, primarily on a distance self-study basis, in the field of financial servives.
American College of Metaphysical Theology
American College of Prehospital Medicine - ACPM offers Associates and Bachelors degrees to qualified EMS personnel. ACPM is an accredited distance education college through the DETC.
American Global University - offering courses of instruction leading to Bachelor's, Master's, and Doctoral degrees.
American Institute for Computer Sciences - offers bachelor and master degress in computer programming via a unique distance education format.
American Military University - distance education university, specializing in military and defense studies.
American River College
Andrew Jackson University - an entirely off-campus education with bachelor's and master's programs in communications, business, criminal justice and public administration.
Athena University - institute of higher learning offering courses via the Internet.
Auburn University - participate in quality educational experiences in your own locale and at times that are convenient to you.
Barrington University - offers distance learning programs in business, computers, law, and other areas.
Bienville University - founded to provide selected distance-learning opportunities for professional men and women with career interests in business, sports, and the health professions.
Brigham Young University@
CALCampus - offers courses through Internet in English, math, science, social studies, computer science, business, and foreign languages.
California Institute of Integral Studies@
California National University - to address the needs of today's and future workers by providing higher education through distance learning.
California State University at Humboldt - variety of online courses in Computer Science and Information Systems offered by Dr. Hal Campbell, CSUH.
Canyon College - offers bachelor or masters degrees in business, health care administration, psychology, and more.
Carnegie Mellon University - School of Computer Science
Castlebridge University - offers Bachelor's, Master's and Doctorate programs in psychology, business administration, health sciences, human services and other fields.
Catholic Distance University - site has descriptions and registration info for adult distance learning programs in the teachings of the Roman Catholic Church.
Central Michigan University
Central Pacific University - offers bachelors, masters, and doctorate degree programs through correspondence.
Central State University - offering BBA, MBA, and DBA degrees by distance learning.
Centre for Educational Development - provides Bachelor, Master, and Doctoral Degrees through open/ distance learning programmes in Hong Kong.
Centro de Enseñanza a Distancia - private institution which offers learning courses in many areas, with branches in China, Germany, Greece, Poland, Portugal, Switzerland and most of Latin America.
Century University - allows you to earn or complete your college degree without classroom attendance. Earn your bachelors, masters, or doctorate degree through guided independent studies.
Chadwick University (2)
Champlain College - offers a range of online, career-oriented, academic programs.
City University Los Angeles - distance education final year undergraduate and graduate programs for accomplished individuals worldwide.
Connecticut State University - offering a variety of courses and several degree programs.
Cyber University - provides health courses and medical board accreditation exams for physicians.
CyberEd at UMass Dartmouth@
Department of External Studies - offers an undergraduate curriculum designed for adult learners in the School of Religion.
Diversity University, Inc. - a non-profit organization dedicated to promoting education through on-line services.
Faculdade Carioca - pioneira no projeto Univir (Universidade Virtual). Todos os cursos com ênfase em informática.
Fairfax University - offers international home study distance learning degree programs to candidates worldwide.
Florida State University - information on distance learning opportunities and resources at the university.
Frederick Taylor University - offers distance learning undergraduate and graduate degree programs in management and business administration.
Golden Gate University
Home Study International - a Seventh-Day Adventist distance education provider. Offering accredited and non-accredited programs for pre-K to 12; and certified, transferable college courses.
Honolulu University of the Arts, Sciences, and Humanities - offers innovative, non-resident degree programs in your native language.
Idaho State University - cooperative effort by ISU, UI, and BSU providing a variety of graduate and undergraduate interactive on-line college courses.
Indiana University, Bloomington - Division of Extended Studies - accredited college and high school courses offered using distance learning, internet, e-mail, video, CD ROM, and correspondence.
INTEC College - Southern Africa
International University - a university to develop and provide affordable courses, certificates and degrees to individuals world-wide, using electronic technologies.
Internet University - real-time, instructor-led web-based training. Distance learning sessions for all types of educational and academic opportunities.
Iowa Digital Education Association - offers K-12 and post-secondary courses through the Internet.
Kennedy-Western University - complete a BA, MA, or PhD program while working. Not available to CA residents.
Lacrosse University - accredited institution offering Associate's, Bachelor's, Master's, and Doctorate programs in a self-paced format.
LaSalle University - offers undergraduate and graduate degree programs through distance learning.
Louisiana State University - offers continuing education and distance learning courses to university and high school students.
Magellan University - offers online courses in mathematics, MCSE certification, and desktop software.
Malta University Radio Station (radju ta' l-Universita') - 103.7 FM - provides open distance learning through nationwide FM broadcasting.
Massey University Open University Study - designed to inform people about the distance education program.
ME/U Knowledge Online - Mind Extension University and Jones Computer Networks. Delivers educational opportunities from 12 universities and colleges.
Mercy College - commuter college with campuses in the New York metropolitan area. Also offering distance learning programs.
Michigan State University
Monticello University - offering a range of degrees in law, management, history, and many other subjects.
New Jersey Institute of Technology@
North Carolina A&T State University
North Central University - offers distance learning degrees in business, technology management, psychology, and law.
Northern Arizona University - offers computer-based courses.
Northwestern College - Christ-centered college education.
Northwestern College [Lima, OH]
Northwestern Michigan College - offering distance learning, vocational and traditional courses.
Ohio University - Independent Study Program - over 350 courses are offered for distance learners as correspondence courses and credit by exam. Special projects arranged.
Open University - UK@
Open University of Sri Lanka - offers further education through distance learning techniques.
Open University of the Netherlands@
Penn State Continuing and Distance Education (C&DE) - applies Penn State's resources to business, academic, and professional clients and adult learners through courses, seminars, workshops, conferences, and services.
Phoenix Special Programs and Acedemies
Queen's University - offers distance/continuing education degree courses via correspondence, CD-ROM, and the Web.
Robert Kennedy University - an American university in Switzerland offering Bachelor, Masters, and Doctorate degrees online through distance learning.
Rochester Institute of Technology - offers graduate and undergraduate degrees, certificates, and courses online.
Rochester Institute of Technology - Health Systems Administration - offers a master of science degree, graduate certificates, and an undergraduate certificate through distance learning study.
Rogers University - offering associate degrees in business, computers, humanities, and liberal arts.
Sogang University - introductory and novice Korean, and understanding South Korea.
South Atlantic University - offers Bachelors, Masters, and Doctorate degrees.
Southern California University for Professional Studies - SCUPS is a distance learning college designed to fit the needs of today's busy adult learner.
Southern Christian University - offers numerous undergraduate and graduate distance learning programs in theology.
St. George University - international university.
Steward University - awarding degrees based on previous education and experiences.
SUNY Learning Network - online learning for SUNY students.
Texas A&M University
TheU - a World Virtual University project.
Thomas Edison State College@
Trinity College & University - sells degrees based on your prior learning. Also offers homestudy or on site programs in alternative health, business, writing, and sports coaching.
Troy State University
U.S. Army War College
UC Berkeley - Cal VIEW - televised instruction program at UCB that broadcasts graduate EE/CS courses to participating NTU member companies.
UC Berkeley Extension - courses now available over the Web.
University Access (1)
University College of the Fraser Valley Online - Earn college credits, diplomas and degrees from home using your computer.
University of Alabama - education via correspondence, videotape, satellite uplinks etc. Credit Courses offered at high school, undergraduate, and the graduate level.
University of Alaska Southeast - includes programs in Alaskan Wildlife, business, and education.
University of Alaska, Fairbanks
University of Asia - offers bachelor, masters, and doctoral degrees in international business via distance learning.
University of Berkley - earn a college degree without taking classes.
University of British Columbia - UBC Access Guided Independent Study Catalogue for agricultural, health, and wood science instructional videos from our distance education courses.
University of Colorado
University of Findlay - offering online degrees in several fields.
University of Florida
University of Guelph - offers access to distance and continuing education courses, conferences, and workshops.
University of Houston
University of Iowa Guided Correspondence Study - online course catalog with descriptions for courses offered through correspondence study.
University of London External Programme - undergraduate/postgraduate qualifications without coming to London through the External Programme. Open/distance learning and independent study: home or college.
University of Maine System
University of Maryland University College@
University of Massachusetts at Lowell - distance education courses.
University of Minnesota - Distance Education
University of Minnesota, Morris
University of Missouri - Extension Teaching - offers a variety of courses online enabling students worldwide to take full university courses for enjoyment or credit.
University of Missouri at Columbia - catalog that provides complete list of high school and university courses as well as information on enrollment policies and procedures.
University of Missouri at Kansas City - Virtual University Project - building an infrastructure for course delivery and preparation of courses both for departments and on-line delivery.
University of New Mexico - Distance Education Center
University of North Texas
University of Oregon
University of Phoenix - offers continuing education and degree programs to working adults around the world through multiple campuses and the Online Degree Program.
University of Reno - Independent Study by Correspondence - complete courses in math, English, business, foreign languages and more.
University of San Jose (Costa Rica) - master and doctorate degrees through distance learning with minimum on-campus presence.
University of South Carolina - media-enhanced classrooms, college/high school independent learning (correspondence), satellite delivery.
University of Southern Queensland
University of Wisconsin - Steven's Point
University of Wisconsin-Extension Distance Education Clearinghouse
Utah Education Network - organization of public and higher education that represents higher, public, and vocational education. Provides educational television, telecourses, and on-line teaching.
Virgnia Polytechnic Institute and State University - offers distance learning.
Virtual Classroom at NJIT
Virtual School, The
Washington State University - Extended Degree Program - offers distance learning courses which enable students to earn a Bachelor of Arts Degree from a distance.
Western Michigan University - Department of Distance Education
Western States College of Commerce - program in the field of Law.
10. Use of Greek bibliographic databases and electronic periodicals
11. Access and accessibility to resources in Greece and Cyprus
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