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Blind advocates: Hollywood lobbying threatens deal for accessible books

Disputes between blind groups and content companies could kill copyright treaty.   From arstechnica (http://arstechnica.com/tech-policy/2013/05/blind-advocates-hollywood-lobbying-threatens-deal-for-accessible-books/) by Timothy B. Lee - May 10 2013, 8:04am CDT Exerpt of article: "For the last several years, negotiators at the World Intellectual Property Organization have been working on a copyright treaty that would make it easier for blind people to get accessible versions of books, like well-annotated audio books or large-print editions. But aggressive lobbying by the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA), the Association of American Publishers (AAP), and other US copyright interests threatens to derail the negotiations, according to several advocates for the blind who spoke to Ars. "The main sticking point has been whether to try to use the treaty as a vehicle for enhancing copyright protections or whether the treaty should remain clearly focused on carving out an exception to allow works to be produced in accessible formats for the blind," said Frederic Schroeder,...
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Assistive Technology Needs for a Student with a Visual Impairment

Just in case you are having trouble figuring out what technology is out there for a student with a visual impairment, here is a resource that could help you out while making your supervisor (or the one who has the money) nervous. It was compiled by the good folks at the California School for the Blind:  Jerry Kuns, James Carreon and Adrian Amandi.  It is quite an extensive list. The file is a downloadable Word document and is listed as one of the links labeled "What's Available in Assistive Technology for Students with Visual Impairment-March 2011".   It has been updated to include iOS and Mac accessibility.  Of course, your student(s) may not need "everything" but this is a good reference for what type of technology is available.  Besides this resource document, included on the web page are various assistive technology topics.  It is quite a wealth of information. http://www.csb-cde.ca.gov/technology.htm Happy reading. Patrick Van Geem, TVI Assistive...
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Access to Textbooks Article from AFB Accessworld

Access to Textbooks A Step Forward for Accessible Textbooks: A Review of the STudent E-rent Pilot Project J.J. Meddaugh Sponsored by a federal grant, STEPP was launched in 2010 by the Alternative Media Access Center and Georgia Tech University in partnership with CourseSmart, one of the largest distributors for college textbooks. Using the CourseSmart website, thousands of titles are available on a rental basis for online viewing. Titles are available for roughly half the cost of purchasing the physical book at retail price. While other programs are available that offer textbook rentals for students, this is one of the few examples where practically the entire system is accessible. CourseSmart offers an accessible reader that allows for simple navigation and searching of the book. For the full article see AFB Accessworld.
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446 Places for Free Books Online

From the ever interesting Gizmo website comes a link to this list. It looks amazing and might be something you can share with fellow teachers and students. Gizmo's Freeware
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Saving Internet Pages as EPUB Files

This is a wonderful resource, which allows your student to save a webpage as an individual EPUB file. What is an EPUB?  ".epub" is an electronic book format that has become the industry standard, allowing eBooks that use this format to be read on a wide variety of eReaders, from dedicated hardware to desktop software to online based readers. EPUB files can be read in most portable ebook readers, such as Sony, Ipad, Kobo, etc. For the purposes of this post I will describe how to open your EPUB files in iBooks on the iPad. First, some information from the dotEPUB website: "dotEPUB is software in the cloud that allows you to convert any webpage into an ebook. For content consumers (readers), we have developed a bookmarklet (or favlet) for Google Chrome, Mozilla Firefox, Safari or Opera. And, if you are a Google Chrome user, you can install the dotEPUB extension in your browser." On the dotEPUB website I located and activated the...
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Free Braille Books

From the American Action Fund for Blind Children and Adults website: In 1997 the AAF (American Action Fund for Blind Children and Adults) started this program to provide blind children a free Braille book every month from a popular children's reading series. The books are for the children to keep and collect for as long as they want them. The titles published every month are the same titles that are available in bookstores and public libraries everywhere. In the past ten years over one hundred seventy titles from popular children’s reading series were distributed to thousands of blind children. As we send the 2012 titles out each month, the corresponding BRF files will be available here. You will be able to download your free Braille books electronically by right clicking on the file or using the applications key to choose "Save Target As" in Internet Explorer or "Save Link As" in Mozilla Firefox.
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Free Digital Textbooks on Windows 7 using JAWS or WindowEyes

Access Technology Institute are offering two free digital textbooks.  Both books are tutorials on Windows 7 using either JAWS or WindowEyes.  The books are downloadable as .zip files.  When extracting the files, five file formats are available: Word 2007(.docx), plain text (.txt), DAISY, .html, and individual MP3 files.  These are rich resources for students or TVIs who now can access these files using various software and/or devices, such as DAISY playback devices/applications, braille notetakers, or computers.   Cathy Ann Murtha, author of the textbooks, structures her tutorials in a way that makes it easy and pleasant to learn. The same structure could be used to teach students access software applications.  Please take advantage of this free offering.  The website address is:  blindtraining.com.   Pat Van Geem Assistive Technology Consultant
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The Accessibility of Four Types of Electronic Documents

Accessibility of electronic files as supplements for online courses or lessons is an important issue for students with disabilities.  General education teachers, who actually do most of the electronic production for students, do not seem to understand the accessibility issues of these documents.  If a document is not made accessible, the user with disabilities can experience difficulties in: document navigation, clarity of content, searching for specific information, and user fatigue due to the complex document layout.  There are four major types of electronic files that are used for online or off line lessons. The Four Types of Electronic Documents Electronic documents are used for various reasons, such as: activities, reference material, supplemental information, worksheets, and other assignments.  Students get the documents through email, by downloading them from learning management systems or through a file sharing system. Depending on the author, accessibility of these files can vary greatly.  The electronic documents...
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