kestrell: (Default)
Kes: Love this MIT model which has usability and accessibility as part of the same service instead of creating an accessibility ghetto, but that's the good news, because the ebook accessibility Webinar seems to fail to mention that the only way to convert most proprietary format ebooks is to first crack the DRM, and that would count as a big intellectual property no-no, kiddies so, unless you are the Librarian of Congress, it would be wrong to promote such an act, which of course, I totally do not.

1. Free Webinar-Accessibility and Usability: Working Together at MIT
Tuesday, June 26, 11 Pacific, noon Mountain, 1 Central 2 PM Eastern
Presenters: Katherine Wahl and Stephani Roberts from MIT
The Usability and Accessibility teams in MIT's Information Services and
Technology Department (IS&T) always worked closely together, but were formally
merged during a department-wide reorganization in 2009. Our goal in
blending the
teams was to provide a comprehensive service to clients without diluting our
individual practices.
After two years, we have strengthened our ability advocate persuasively for
usability and accessibility with clients, have provided more comprehensive
services, and have observed standards applied more consistently.
This Webinar will share the MIT experience as a model for other
institutions to
Register for this free June 26 Webinar:

2. EASI Free Webinar: The Cutting Edge of E-book Accessibility
Friday June 15: 11 PM Pacific, Noon Mountain, 1 PM Central and 2 PM Eastern
Presenter: Norm Coombs, Ph.D. CEO EASI, Professor Emeritus RIT

The explosion of e-books is changing the face of book publishing and changing
the role of book stores. Different vendors of e-books created their unique,
proprietary document formats which required their being read in e-readers
designed specifically for that format. Imagine having to use different glasses
to read print books depending on who was its publisher! Of course, the
format and the specialized e-readers were inaccessible to many people with
used to be called "print disabilities". The DAISY document format opened up a
wider and richer reading experience for people with disabilities, but DAISY
books were incompatible with commercial e-readers like the Kindle or Nook, and
commercial e-book formats were incompatible with DAISY.

All this is changing while we ponder these problems. Some software and
DAISY players have added the ability to read some books in the epub format,
the next version of that standard will include even more features that will
support accessibility for users with disabilities. This promises to open up a
new and larger collection of e-books for this population.

What will happen to the divergent proprietary e-book document formats? Either
all publishers will adopt a common e-document standard or, as is happening
already, tools to convert different formats will become common. This Webinar
will explore this complicated picture and try to simplify it for the audience.

Webinar participants will learn which formats are already accessible to them,
and they will be introduced to some tools for document format conversion.

Register for this June 15 Webinar
kestrell: (Default)
FYI: the cost of the course is $350
from the e-mail announcement

block quote start
Creating accessible EPUB, PDF, Word DAISY, audio content and converting between formats
This is a 4-week, EASI course stressing how to make accessible content in
many formats while primarily using authoring tools you already know and
use.While the course has been primarily about creating accessible document
content, this offering

will include an understanding of commercial e-book formats and mainstream
e-readers. Course participants need this background before moving on to
learning how to author accessible e-books in these formats.
Because we are only starting to integrate these insights into the course,
we will be making changes on the fly. The new content will be in a trail
format this time as we think through how to integrate it into the course.
Join me in May and be among the first alternative media content providers
to get astart at the important changes that are coming and which you will
have to understand within the foreseeable future.
We will try to focus on the features that make a document fully accessible
and help demonstrate how to do this using your familiar authoring tools.

*** Course begins May 7.

Read more about the course online and you can also register online:

block quote end

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
kestrell: (Default)
Technology Review's summing up of reviews for the Nook ebook reader
mentions that the new device has a Read and Record function so that someone can record herself reading aloud to accompany a child reader as the child reads a book on the Nook.

While Technology Review called this feature "sad," I immediately thought of kisd with print disabilities--things like dyslexia, as opposed to vision impairments--as having an audio text to listen to while reading the print text is a common way to make reading more comprehensible for readers with print disabilities.

I'm a big advocate of getting kids with disabilities used to using technology as soon as possible--there are games now available for getting two-year-olds familiar with using a computer keyboard--both because the earlier you teach a kid something, the more intuitively they will use it, and getting kids hooked on books is a prime example of this.
kestrell: (Default)
Kes: description from the blurg but is the required version of Firefox accessible? Last time I did a FF update I had to downgrade back to the previous version.

Kindle Cloud Reader is a web app that lets you read your Kindle books, instantly.

Kindle Cloud Reader requires
Firefox 8.0 for Windows

Buy Once, Read Everywhere

• Instant access to your Kindle library
• Continue reading even when you lose your internet connection
• Optimized for iPad: shop the integrated Kindle Store for Tablets
kestrell: (Default)
Kes: Brief article which focuses on two specific ebook projects, one J.K. Rowling's Pottermore and the other a biology textbook which will offer lifetime access.

Lavish electronic-book projects point toward the pinnacle of the medium.

list of 2 items
kestrell: (Default)
These are scanned images of the originals, and titles include an Alice in Wonderland book and a Leonardo da Vinci notebook
kestrell: (Default)
When I tried installing this earlier this year when it first came out, I kept having an issue with Windows Journal Viewer that repeatedly interrupted the install process. Finally, last week I just uninstalled Windows Journal Viewer and the install completed.

Since then, I've been enjoying Amazon Kindle ebooks, but the Kindle format is not going to become my favorite format anytime soon, because accessibility is still pretty limited.

Basically, the Kindle ebooks are accessible in that they can be read aloud using the combination of the user's own screenreader and the Nuance text-to-speech engine included in the Kindle accessibility plug-in.

However, the user can only listen to the ebook, not access the text itself. Thus, as in the case of the art book I was reading, I couldn't find out how an artist's name or an art term was spelled. Also, one can only read by page or by sentence, so taking notes means you have to keep repeating an entire sentence until you get the words or quotes you want written down in another file.

The TTS also seems to insert lengthy pauses for white space, so sometimes I think it is done and scroll to the next page before the currant page is fully done being read. To scroll to the next page, one presses the right arrow, then hits control+r to read the page, although sometimes just pressing the spacebar reads the page. Control+shift+right arrow reads the next sentence, control+shift+left arrow reads the previous sentence. I find that I get less stutter when I read by sentence than when I read by page, which seems to sometimes jumble words.

I don't consider this restricted level of access to be sufficient for reading educational textbooks, but it does suit my very specific need to access art books, which are often too designy to scan easily, and the Kindle ebooks are often less expensive than the print books I would have to spend hours scanning. Also, of course, I can only read the Kindle ebooks on my PC, not my preferred reading device.

Bottom line: Kindle for PC with accessibility plug-in is worth trying out, although I recommend the user try playing wih some free Kindle ebooks before spending money on Kindle ebooks. Amazon still has a ways to go in making he Kindle for PC app fully accessible, bu it's definitely showing promise.

Amazon Kindle for PC with accessibility plugin download
help and FAQ
AccessWorld review
kestrell: (Default)
Weightless Books, which offers a wide variety of SFF, slipstream, spec fic, insert your favorite name for it here, just added a bunch of
Aqueduct Press titles
by Vandana Singh
of which I bought a paper copy months ago, but it was subsequently swallowed up by the Closet of Mysteries, which I expect any day to spit out something quite startling, such as a very bad-tempered Fenris (because just imagine a very large dog going eons without walkies), but just stop and mull that one over for a minute: Fenris as my guide dog!!!

And speaking of wild beasties, I also had to buy a copy of
Bewere the Night
which is an anthology of shapeshifter stories, although I bought it solely on the fact that it contains a Richard Bowes story and an Elizabeth Hand story, which is good, because they are two of my favorite authors and it's been way too long since they hadnew books out, although it seems 2012 will do something about that, but frankly, sometimes I feel as grouchy as a Fenris who has gone eons without walkies.

And I never did mention the Twilight Zone moment I had at Readercon when I tried to go to a Small Beer Press reading of Mexican fantasy writers and instead seemed to have ended up at a reading which no one else remembers and which didn't show up on the program, but involved he Elder Gods returning to Earth, except they seemed to be large sharklike beings, so it was kind of like Cthulhu meets Jaws.

Did anyone else experience the parallel universe Readercon?
kestrell: (Default)
Read about it at
and I note for the benefit of blind horror fans that the only formats offered so far are for the Kindle and the Nook [sp?], but there is an e-mail contact included a the above link to which you can send suggestions for formats. I've already sent an e-mail bringing up accessible format such as ePUB, but oher folks should send along their suggestions also.
kestrell: (Default)
Panel: Book Design and Typography in the Digital Era.
Neil Clarke, editor of Clarkesworld Magazine
and author of the highly informative essay, "This is My Life on Ebooks"
Erin Kissane
author of _Elements of Content Strategy_, available in both paper and ebook formats
David G. Shaw, Alicia "Kestrell" Verlager
Edited later: Apologies for getting a panelist name wrong, the panelist was actually Ken Liu
who read from an article he wrote about the transition from codex to scroll
and the blog David recommended for more on ebooks and accessible Web design was Joe Clark's blog"

This panel is mostly a blur in my memory, although I remember David and others recommending a number of useful resources, such as A List Apart, and the book which Erin just published. David pointed out Cory Doctorow's collaborative publishing effort in his latest collection, with footnotes mentioning the names of readers who pointed out typos and other errata. We also encouraged the audience to be active consumers and producers by making complaints to publishers when the formats they need aren't available and, on the part of writers and editors trying to be part of the decisionmaking process as to in which formats the ebook versions of their books are being issued. This isn't always easy, as often authors and editors aren't kept in the loop of these decisions. An example of this surfaced when I mentioned to Ellen Datlow that I can find ebook versions of some of her anthologies at Baen Books, and she wasn't aware that the anthologies were available through that site.
Baen Books Webscriptions-New Arrivals page (includes link to Best Horror of the Year 3)
Ellen Datlow page

Also, after the panel Alexx and I went to the book room and I sought out the table for the university press which published the newest edition of Samuel R. Delany's nonfiction essay collection, _The Jewel-Hinged Jaw_, with an introduction by Matthew Cheney, and the rep was glad to find out that the publisher could donate the electronic files for books to, which works with many publishers to make books, including textbooks and literary criticism, accessible to visually impaired students and readers. Small Beer Press and ChiZine Press were there selling both paper books and ebooks, as they have done for a number of years now, and there was also a magazine called Crossed Genres which offered an ebook bundle for $20, which included two novels, two anthologies, and a year's subscription to Crossed Genres
. The works come in a variety of DRM-free formats, and the co-publishers who were there said I could contact hem if none of those formats turned out to be accessible, and they would send HTML files.

It was a pretty awesome experience to know that I would have ebooks waiting for me whenever I wanted to read them, as opposed to having a pile of books which I would have to scan by hand (not that I didn't indulge in some paper books also, mostly because Alexx found me a book about books).
kestrell: (Default)
went, I think, extremely well, as all the panelists were extremely knowledgeable and passionate about the subject. I'll probably write a bit more about this panel at some later point when I have more info at hand, as opposed to being kind of burned out and waiting for Chinese food to arrive, but after the panel I went to the Book Shop, where a number of publishers were advertising that they sold ebooks, also (go Crossed Genres! go ChiZine!), and I managed to provide a university press with the info that is the perfect way for university presses to distribute their books to students with disabilities.
Alexx mentioned after we had left the panel that it looked as if some people might have wanted to ask me questions: if you are someone who wanted to ask a question or know osmeone who wanted to ask a question, feel free to post here or e-mail me privately through LJ.
kestrell: (Default)
Has anyone bought and used a Google ebook ?
Added later: never mind, I just found
the appropriate Web page for Google accessibility
and the anser is "no." I continue to be boggled by how the Amazon Kindle and Google ebooks manage to still not be accessible to people who use screen readers.
kestrell: (Default)
Kes: Not that I'm not perfectly fine with authors trying to find a way to sell more books, but dressing it up as her trusting her fans and the other malarky included in this completely uncritical article

is absurd:

Unlike artists such as Radiohead and others who trust their fans to reimburse the artists or author for DRM-free material, Rowling has always been extremely hostile to the ebook format and, rather than placing any blame upon the big publishers, has in her statements equated ebooks with piracy, thereby pointing the finger at her fans as criminals, not the publishers.

Releasing ebooks DRM-free isn't a trust issue anymore, if it ever was. Releasing ebooks DRM-free makes financial sense, as people who buy ebooks want to be able to read their ebooks on more than one device.

And these articles which are puffing Rowling up as trusting her fans, that's just bullshit which counts on consumers having the memory capacity of a goldfish.
kestrell: (Default)
Of course, the irony of this is that, in my experience, both captcha and Googlebooks are inaccessible, but it's still a cool project
kestrell: (Default)
Kes: Short but information-rich, if you are going to read one article on the subject of ebooks and accessibility for blind readers, read this one.

E-Texts for All (Even Lucy)
By Char Booth, E-Learning Librarian, University of California, Berkeley Aug 5, 2010

block quote start
Lucy is partial to a few sayings that have helped me understand the e-text accessibility paradox. The first is that "ebooks were created by the blind, then made inaccessible by the sighted."

Online text formats like DAISY and EPUB were pioneered in part by the accessibility movement as an alternative to expensive and cumbersome Braille texts.
As ebooks have gained popularity, however, digital text became inexorably less accessible as for-profit readers like the Kindle and Sony Reader muscled onto the scene. A patina of
digital rights management (DRM) has been added in order to protect the intellectual property of vendors, contrary to the open and accessible orientation libraries have long held toward literacy and learning.
block quote end
kestrell: (Default)
This is a fascinating article on all sorts of new media that never was or almost didn't happen.

Bob Stein
in conversation with
Dan Visel

From Mao to Microsoft, a conversation on the unrecorded history of online publishing.

block quote start
DV: Did it seem at this point like LaserDiscs were about to take off?

BS: No. VHS was exploding. It was like being in the CD-ROM business when the Web was exploding. I was at a meeting one day with the president of RKO Home
Video, and I said to him, “So, what’s the chance you would sell me the rights to Citizen Kane and King Kong for LaserDisc?” He said, “Well, they’re not
worth anything to us. Of course I’ll sell them to you.” So I bought the rights to two of the most famous movies ever made. I had a choice: I could make
stuff for the Apple II, but aesthetically I just couldn’t stomach it. (That was the age of pea-green text on a black screen.) So I went with LaserDiscs.
block quote end
kestrell: (Default)
Open Spaces Magazine has an essay titled
"The Purpose of Copyright" by Lydia Pallas Loren
which offers an explanation of copyright law as it is written in the Constitution. The text is clear and specific, and well worth reading, especially for blind and visually impaired readers like myself who are daily affected by resultant laws and trends, such as Fair Use and the
recent announcement by the Librarian of Congress
that readers with disabilities are allowed to "jailbreak" digital materials with DRM
which prevents access.

Actually, this is just a fascinating essay all around, as the law professor who wrote it contextualizes it within the founding fathers's original intention of preventing copyright law from being used as a tool for censorship.
kestrell: (Default)
Description of the icon I would like to have here: short blind woman with a white cane/sword and an eyepatch made from the page of a book.

Kes: I can't help but think that this ruling will only serve to further muck up the issue of ensuring that ebooks, including textbooks, are made accessible to people using adaptive technologies. Publishers continue to make ebooks wrapped up in DRM which locks out screen reader users, but it's the screen reader users who are being forced to break laws if they want access while publishers are still not held accountable for conforming to the ADA, twenty years old this week and still only kind of sort of a law.

Of course, you are going to have to be one of those blind hackers who actually knows how to crack the DRM, because this is not the stuff that most blind bloggers are going to be posting about (and being held legally liable for) on their personal or professional blogs.

Maybe we should organize a massive online pirate crack-in where hundreds of blind readers break the DRM simultaneously?

Article: Apple loses big in DRM ruling: jailbreaks are "fair use"

Nate Anderson
| Last updated about 2 hours ago

Every three years, the Library of Congress has the thankless task of listening to people complain about the Digital Millennium Copyright Act. The DMCA forbade
most attempts to bypass the digital locks on things like DVDs, music, and computer software, but it also gave the Library the ability to wave its magical
copyright wand and make certain DRM cracks legal for three years at a time.

This time, the
Library went (comparatively) nuts,
allowing widespread bypassing of the CSS encryption on DVDs, declaring iPhone jailbreaking to be "fair use," and letting consumers crack their legally
purchased e-books in order to have them read aloud by computers.

You can read the rest of this detailed article here
but the part I want to highlight here is
block quote start
(6) Literary works distributed in ebook format when all existing ebook editions of the work (including digital text editions made available by authorized
entities) contain access controls that prevent the enabling either of the book’s read-aloud function or of screen readers that render the text into a specialized format.
block quote end
kestrell: (Default)
but the spin sounds impressive in this press release
This is not being mentioned in any of the press releases, but K-NFB (that's Ray Kurzweil and the National Federation for the Blind) decided to go with Quark as a format over ePub, even though ePub is becoming the format preferred by publishers and many experts on ebook technologies. Also, I hear that, despite the involvement of the NFB, the Blio will not support Daisy, which is the format used by all of the libraries for the blind, including Bookshare and the NLS (the branch of the Library of Congress which provides books for readers with disabilities).

So this means that, at best, Blio would need to be only one of your ereaders if you are an ebook consumer. And Quark? I've heard my editor housemate talk about this format, but it's proprietary, which means a lot of the small press publishers are not going to be producing ebooks in this format. Do ebook consumers really need another proprietary format? Not this one, at least.
kestrell: (Default)
For our test subject, I used
Cory Doctorow's new novel _For the Win_
but you can also find free ePUB ebooks on and

But first I installed the
ePUBReader add-on for Firefox
by downloading it directly from the
EPUBReader Add-on page at Mozilla.

After following the instructions to restart Firefox, you will see a
Welcome to ePUBReader page
which describes how ePUBReader works.

Basically there is a toolbar section located at the bottom of each page from which you go to the individual sections or pages. Using Jaws, it looks like this:

toolbar with 5 buttons
[link] ePub-Catalog [Kes: This is the list of epub ebooks which you have saved, from which you select the one you want to read.]
[link] Save copy
[link] Set bookmark
[button] skin/nav_backwards_enabled Alt+Shift+a [Kes: Guessing this is the button to go back a page.]
[button[ skin/nav_forwards_enabled [Kes: Click on this button to go to the next section or page.]
[button] Decrease font-size
[button] Increase font-size
toolbar end


kestrell: (Default)

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