Thursday, 15th June 2000
In the morning of the first day of the meeting, Bruno Sperl and his colleagues gave to the partners a guided tour to the premises of the Library of the University of Graz. The participants visited the old Central Library Hall and the new expanded Library building.
The Library was primarily founded in 1573 by the Jesuits Order and in 1775 was given to the University of Graz. In recent years, 1970, 1983 and 1996 the Library expanded its building. In 1999, the on-line catalogue system ALEPH 500 was installed. The University Library of Graz numbers a volume of 3.000.000 books and 80.000 users.
The partners visited the adaptive workstation of the Library, which serves the blind students. A blind employee was responsible for the workstation. She prepared the material required by the blind students converting it in accessible formats -mostly in digital form. At the University of Graz, the library services for the blind were not based on public access workstations. This was not a problem for blind or the visually impaired users. On the opposite, they seemed to be quite satisfied getting what they needed ready to use it on their own computer.
At the end of the tour, the partners entered the meeting room to start the technical part of the 2nd ACCELERATE meeting. Bruno Sperl distributed to all participants his 1st Draft of the
trainers" Handbook. He suggested that the Handbook should be produced in 3 types of formats and proposed the work to be share in groups amongst the partners. All feedback and inputs on this 1st Draft should be with Bruno the latest on 15/9/2000.
In continuance, Bruno Sperl began to present and analysed the Chapter of his Draft one after the other.
Chapter 02. General medical/ statistic data on blindness
For this Chapter Despoina Karachlani offered to give input for the Greek situation, in particular concerning the following:
Philippos Tsimpoglou and Antonis Maratheftis would give the same kind of input about the situation in Cyprus.
- statistical data for the Greek blind people
- definition of blindness and visual impairment applied in Greece: which is the measurement in Greece
- social grants to blind people
- blind people and library services
- to mention the differences in daily life. It is much more complicated and time
consuming -to search, to read, even to write down- for the blind than for the
sighted users. The activities of the blind in general are much more time consuming
than the sighted
Chapter 03: Description of the workstation
In this chapter, the new adaptive workstations of the Library of UOM and of the Library of UCY should be fully described. Bruno had already classified the contents; for example: General Computer equipment, Braille devices, Speech synthesis hardware and software, OCR software, etc. The exact description of the workstations should be given by each of the concerning organisations in detail.
About the encoding of the Greek Braille, Thanassis Taramopoulos had already communicated with Mario Batusic concluding that there is no prototype
As for the material which should be provided in alternative formats, Bruno Sperl noticed that the .html files and the .pdf files are quite accessible except mathematics forms & formulas. He stated that the Library can do the scanning, give the information requested in electronic form but it is not able to do the whole transfer from maths, diagrams, e.t.c. The tutors should work on those materials.
Mario Batusic added that speaking for the establishment of library services for the blind, the 1st step is a "working" workstation for the blind and visually impaired users to come true! Then as a 2nd step, the external users will do their own scanning.
Charter 04: Use of Braille and adaptive technologies: History, state of art, emerging trends
Bruno suggested to include a page in Braille, in print and in electronic form on the web.
Chapter 05: Checklist for the Library
Bruno suggested to both Libraries of UOM and UCY to cooperate with the social partner organisations in order to circulate and join the new library services as wider as possible.
Mario Batusic stated that he would give also information and data on the access of maths, formulas, etc. and he would contribute them to Chapter 05.
Chapter 06: Electronic periodicals
For the Library of the UOM, Kostas Zontanos and Giota Patragkou checked the available and accessible Internet sites of general and specific interest in the Greek language and reported them to the participants. In particular the sites checked were classified as follows
Anna Fragkou, referring to ACTION 1: Installment of an adaptive workstation for the visually impaired readers at the Library of the University of Macedonia, updated on the adaptive equipment purchase that it has been ordered and should be delivered in July 2000. Anna Fragkou said that after the workstation has been installed and the users/ students have visited it, they will contact the tutorial staff to ask for their cooperation to provide the necessary studying material in digital format for the blind students.
She also informed that more than one person from the library staff will be in position to deal and serve the visually impaired clients from the very beginning of this
development. Since the first seminar on the sensibilisation has been performed by the Voluntary Work of Thessaloniki, last May, almost all the library staff is aware of the blind as new potential users of the library.
As for the geographical location of the workstation in the Library of UOM, Anna Fragkou explained that it will be installed outside the office of Kostas Zontanos and in direct contact with the reception desk. This location will enable the staff to have all the time optical access to the workstation and the user could easily approach the desk if needs help or information.
Mrs. Barbara Levc, Counselor for students with disabilities at the University of Graz, joined the afternoon session of the meeting. Although she was on maternity leave, Bruno Sperl kindly asked her to participate for a while and transfer her experience. Barbara, blind herself, described to the partners her position in the University and advised the experience derived from her work in the years 1994-1998.
She started in 1994 by "building" the position, since there was no such position existing before then at the University of Graz. It took her 4 years (till 1998) to become known. In 1997, she saw 10 people /students per semester with different disabilities.
Barbara Levc, as Counsellor, was belonging to the administrational/ organisational personnel of the University. Her position was deriving directly from the Central Administration. This structure made her more independent in implementing her tasks. Apart from that, the Counsellor, she said, should very well specialised, classified person.
Through a further and deeper discussion held with her, the following list of "advice" should be taken into consideration, summarising the special experience she gained in the field.
One person in the Library is needed to guide, to talk, to ease the access of the
blind / visually impaired users
For the design of web pages /home pages: to be simple, not a lot of frames
Generally on the screen, labels are preferable instead of buttons
How co-operative the teachers are to give their material, their texts in alternative
formats for the blind / visually impaired students
If the blind/ visually impaired users are going to work independently, they have to know to whom can be based on
If a person of the staff will handle the workstation for them (blind / visually
impaired) should be well prepared
Where to put the workstation? Publicly, openly ? If so, then the blind users
perhaps will not work! All the time they will explain: what is this to the "curious"
For entering the University, an oral test is given to the blind student, which is a
right by law. They can order this adoption.
The teacher is obliged to produce the studying material for everybody. The 1st task is on the teacher, then the Library follows.
Friday, 16th June 2000
On the second day of the meeting, Bruno Sperl had arranged all partners to visit the Odilien Institute in Graz. Odilien is a Pedagogical Institute, founded in 1881, for the education of the disabled people. It was applying for the whole area of Styria in Austria. Especially, Odilien is the Styrian Center for the education of the blind and visually impaired people. The Institute was standing as a private organisation where the State contributes only the teachers' salaries. The parents/ the family had to pay a -rather low- fee per month.
In the Institute there were operating a Primary School, for children between 6-14 years old, and a Professional School providing vocational training to youngsters. The classes were mixed, teaching able and disable pupils together. In all classes there were two teachers teaching the children. Odilien was a modern Institute applying innovative pedagogical methods and techniques. 150 different subjects were taught in the Institute including rehabilitation activities in the everyday life.
The visitors had a guided tour to almost all the premises of Odilien, including the workstations for the blind readers, the Library and the classrooms of the Schools. They met only a few pupils, since most of them had left for swimming that day. The Institute keeps the children from 9-5 p.m.; children were not living there. The Institute believes that the right concept is that the children should stay with the families and not in asylums
Odilien had recently completed some large scale reconstruction and renovation works of its premises. It was very well equipped in facilities, automation, technology and computer applications. The Library of Odilien Institute numbers 6.000 titles in normal print, in large print and in Braille. There was enlargement equipment available for the visually impaired users -and mostly elderly people- to read.
The students of the vocational training School produced a number of objects (wooden, ceramics, with straw, paper, etc.) which were selling at the Odilien boutique. The visitors left the Institute -after they had made a serious shopping there!
On the second half of the day, after the lunch break, the partners continued the technical meeting. Bruno Sperl proceeded with the presentation of the rest chapters of the 1st Draft of the "Train the trainers" Handbook.
Chapter 07. Setting up accompanying structures at University level
Referring to the services to be provided accompanying the Bruno Sperl gave as an example to organise an Open Information Day, inviting all visually impaired people -if possible- to be informed on the new services at the University.
Moreover he stressed that it is a fragile matter to make /attract blind people to study at the University without any job perspectives, for example, or without providing in parallel any other general support and global information.
Chapter 09. Distance Learning
As Distance Learning is the new trend in studies and it is growing fast, Bruno thought that it could be useful to mention a few things about it in the "Train the trainers" Handbook. The participants agreed that more and more Universities started to include Distance Learning in their Study Programmes.
The text of this Chapter is, nevertheless, based on American sources.
Saturday, 17th June 2000
The last day of the technical meeting, Mario Batusic reported briefly on ACTION 4: Training package for the users. He made the following points on the Document Layout Concept (structure and working method) on the
"Train the Users" package:
- General Document Layout
- Main Features of the Tutorial
- Page and Section uniformity
- Browser Recommendation
Mario Batusic asked what is used in the two libraries and Kostas Zontanos and Philippos Tsimpoglou replied, referring basically to applications of OPAC and Ultranet.
Next, Despoina Karachlani reported on ACTION 5: Evaluation of the adaptive workstations, since CGL was not participating in the meeting. Despoina referred to the Evaluation processes made so far to measure the experiences and attitudes of the users. The questionnaire on the "0 measurement" has been translated into Greek and distributed to the partner University Libraries.
For the Library of UOM, 16 users had been formed as the target group for the evaluation measurements. 8 of them were students, 3 employees and 5 unemployed. 10 interviews had been completed till then.
For the Library of UCY, approximately 10 users would form the target group. No interviews had been stared till then. Philippos Tsimpoglou would meet the Secretary of the PanCyprian Organisation of the Blind in Nicosia right after his return.
Next, Despoina Karachlani continued with the ACTION 6: Dissemination activities. She referred to the second type of "brochure" which should be addressed to the users, disseminating the new library service of UOM and UCY Libraries.
In July and August 2000, Polyplano Euroconsultants will design the brochure formats and should be printed/ published/ announced in September 2000, after the installation of the adaptive workstation in UOM and UCY has been completed. The timing for the two Libraries will be more or less synchronized.
This promoting material for the users would be in various formats:
- announced on the web
- recorded on the answering machine of the Panhellenic Association of the Blind of Northern Greece in Thessaloniki, updating all their members calling to get
the latest news.
- printed in Braille page (s)
- printed in large print
Next, Despoina referred to the administrative and financial issues of the project.
She reported that the first tranche of grants paid by Leonardo da Vinci Programme - 70% of the total- reached the UOM on 06/06/2000. The necessary administrative, financial and bank procedures were already in progress and therefore the grants should reach all partners concerned within two weeks latest.
She informed all participants to be aware that -according to the rules of Leonardo da Vinci (LdV)- any amount of grants remaining at the bank account of the partner, after 45 days of incoming, will make a certain interest till the partner spends the whole amount. This amount of interest must be declared at the end to the LdV
Financial Unit in order to be reduced off the rest 30% of the grants that should be
dispatched by the European Commission after the project has been completed and the Final Report has been submitted and evaluated.
She also stressed to UOM and UCY, who had to buy equipment within ACCELERATE, to keep in mind that the depreciation percentage given by the European Commission for computer equipment maybe not covers the whole cost in the short remaining period of a year or so. Nevertheless, the project leader and the project co-ordinator will ask the Commission to support them and allow the full depreciation of the adaptive equipment due to the highly expertise and unique installation of such equipment in the University Libraries in Greece and Cyprus, plus the very limited number of users.
About the internal project management, Despoina Karachlani updated that she had received almost all Management Reports (MR) and advised that she would unify the parts of the Activity Reports incoming every period. This procedure will produce at the end just one MR for the project.
As for the Financial Report (FR), the first report will remain single per partner in order that the figures of the second one would be added to the first and so on, up to the last. In this way, the project could follow the budget and the expenses of each partner separately.
She reminded the participants to complete and keep the Time Recording Sheets, regarding the time spent for the tasks of ACCELERATE within each partner organisation. The Time Recording Sheets should be submitted along with the Final Report of the project to the European Commission.
The next Management Report - MR2 - is due at the end of August, including the working period starting from 01/05/2000 up to 31/7/2000.
The partners confirmed that the dates of the next PMC and Technical meeting to be held remain the same:
This meeting would basically regard a workshop for the librarians on the adaptive workstations at the university of Linz. In early September Bruno, Mario and Despoina should have the first contact on the Agenda content (topics/ subjects, hours of training, etc.) and the travel arrangements.
- 3rd meting in Linz: October 2000, 12-14.
The Director of the Library of the University of Graz, Mrs. Sigrid Reinitzer joined the partners at the end of the meeting. Despoina Karachlani, as project coordinator, updated generally on the proceedings of the project.
By the closing of the 2nd ACCELERATE meeting, Mrs. Sigrid Reinitzer escorted the partners offering lunch (for welcome and salute!). Despoina Karachlani invited her to visit Thessaloniki next year to attend the Final Dissemination Conference of the project.
In the afternoon, a guided tour in Graz was organised by Bruno Sperl for all participants. It was two hours of historical and cultural sightseeing in the sunny Graz.
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