Focus sentence: What is this service about? Does anyone in the print disability community have trouble getting detailed information about what is happening in the world, in your country, in your neighbourhood? Does TV do it for you? Or radio? No news service provides the detail available in the newpaper!! It’s about understanding needs in the disability community and how public libraries are not coping. It’s about using technology to increase accessibility. And finally it’s about community, relationships and libraries. Right to read April 2008, saw the launch, in Amsterdam, of the World Blind Union’s International Right to Read Campaign, which will advocate globally for accessible books. The International Right to Read Alliance is a partnership between the World Blind Union and the Libraries for the Blind Section of IFLA, and it will work with publishers, booksellers, libraries and many others to create a world where blind people can read the same book at the same time and for the same price as everyone
In 2004 Vision Australia was formed following the merger of the Royal Blind Society (RBS), the Royal Victorian Institute for the Blind (RVIB), Vision Australia Foundation (VAF), and the National Information Library Services (NILS) in July 2004. In December 2006 through the amalgamation of Royal Blind Foundation Queensland and Hear a Book, a Tasmanian producer of audio books was also merged into Vision Australia in November 2007, further expanding our extensive catalogue of audio books. In April 2008, at a Special General Meeting of Seeing Eye Dogs Australia (SEDA), members of SEDA agreed to a merger of their organisation with Vision Australia. This groundbreaking decision represents the coming together of Australia&apos;s largest provider of blindness and low vision services with the only national provider of seeing eye dog services. The merge became official on 1 July 2008. Collectively these seven organisations represent more than 600 years of experience in making a difference to the lives of Australians who are blind or have low vision! Since June 2008, Vision Australia and Guide Dogs Tasmania are collaborating in a five year agreement that will bring great benefits to hundreds of Tasmanians. This joint venture will see Vision Australia products and services offered along side those of Guide Dogs Tasmania in shared Tasmanian centres. It will ensure improved services for Tasmanians who are blind or have low vision.
Only 5% of all published information is available in formats accessible to people who are blind or have low vision Lack of access to information is biggest barrier to full participation in work, recreation, life
Up to 4 million Australians are affected by a print disability or condition that inhibits their ability to read standard print. Up to 63% of people who are blind or have low vision and want work, are unemployed. The number of people who are blind or have low vision will double over the next decade. Unemployment rates for people who are blind or have low vision are four times the national average. We know that continued population growth and ageing will bring a sharp increase in the incidence of blindness and vision impairment.  This estimate combines blindness and low vision projections from Census population figures (as at 2006) and figures drawn from Market Equity (2002) Secondary Research to Determine the Size of the National Print Disabled Audience.  ‘Results and Observations from Research into Employment Levels in Australia’ Robert Spriggs, Market Research & Development, Vision Australia (April 2007).
From early 2004 Vision Australia has provided a phone based news service called Today’s News Now (TNN). In this early version of the service, an electronic newspaper feed from the publishers (Fairfax and News Ltd) was automatically converted into an access database which was accessible and searchable by phone. Library members could phone in and select a newspaper and then a synthetic voice would read the paper or the article to the caller. The only technology needed was a telephone.
In 2006 we began work on a web based version called “News on the Go”. This second version requires the user to have internet connection and a DAISY player like the BookPort (now superceded) , Victor Stream or Plextalk Pocket. The DAISY player was loaned to the library member free of charge. We began the service with 8 newspapers and a small number of users. We developed an automated conversion system so that the feed service from publishers would be converted with the addition of meta-tags and DAISY mark-up. This has the advantage of allowing the reader to jump through the sections of the newspaper until they find information of value – like, the Sports section, and then jump through the headlines until they find one they are interested in. Then they would read the article. While I say they would read the article, I mean the DAISY player has Text To Speech (TTS) technology and reads the words out loud. It also reads a Braille file. This service started the idea of members having a newspaper subscription instead of manually select one day at a time. The second concept it established was the two options for downloading. The standard option of logging onto a web site and downloading the titles waiting for you in your ‘basket’. The second option was a desktop shortcut for your user name and password. This would validate your logon and a small dialogue box would tell you how many papers you have available for download. The importance of this is that there is no need to use a web browser or to navigate the internet. Users enjoy the benefit of accessible portable newspapers. As only text is being downloaded, it does not require a fast internet connection. There are also software DAISY players for people who want to read newspapers on their computer.
2007 i-access ® Online Service Exactly the same concept was transferred to the new i-access ® Online Service established in 2007. This new service was developed on a much more robust technology platform with improved page navigation and selection features. This service now included a small selection of human narrated books and magazines.
2009 i-access ® updated A significantly expanded selection of newspapers – from 28 newspapers in June 2008 to 124 papers - thanks to support from Fairfax and News Ltd - the two major Australian newspapers publishers. The paper selection includes all major Australian daily papers as well as many local, regional and country papers. It now has over 500 users and demand is strong. This service will continue to grow as we are now also receiving a number of magazines in text format. The devices that read the text from newspapers also read plain text and Braille. This makes the DAISY Players very flexible as users can play their own MP3 music and use their own documents in the devices. People love this service and give us much feedback, especially if there is a problem with the site!! This small service now generates about 10,000 loans power month and growing.
Other improvements for 2010 Upgrades to i-access ® Online The Vision Australia Information Library Service has been working in partnership with ISG to develop and implement further upgrades to the i-access ® Online service. The upgrade was launched yesterday on March 4th with the following improvements. 1) Books The books page has been divided into genre e.g. Romance, Crime, Children, Young Adult, etc instead of them being in one long list. The number of books that can be downloaded in one session has been increased from 1 to 3. The reason for not making it unlimited at this time, is that we are concerned that both an increase in traffic and an unchecked increase in the size of downloads will make download times unbearably long. We will be monitoring download times with this upgrade to determine if the limit can be increased again in the future. 2) Magazines and Podcasts We have introduced Podcasts. These will primarily be VA Radio shows. Magazines will be divided into groups the same as our magazine genre compilations along with CBM, Children’s and Community Languages. The most exciting thing about the new magazine and podcast pages, is that clients will be able to subscribe to a title like they can a newspaper. This means as soon as a new edition of a magazine is available, it will appear in their download queue if they have added a subscription. 3) Braille Music We have added a Braille Music page. We offer an increasing selection of electronic Braille music files (BRF) for download. These files can be chosen by selecting a category e.g. Piano Music, Brass, Vocal, Popular etc and then selecting a title. 4) URL downloads We have created a new way for people to download. It is designed primarily for people using Mac computers or those who have unresolvable problems using the Downloader. To enable the URL download, a client can simply change their download option by going to the profile page. Once they have changed their download option to URLs, the “Items Awaiting Download” page will no longer display a link to launch the i-access ® downloader. Instead, every item in the download list will be a link. They then select a link and they will be asked if they want to save or open the file. They should choose to save the file and then indicate where to save it. 6) Downloader With the new version (2.1.6) clients are now able to pause and resume downloads and there have been slight improvements in the speed of downloads as well. Newspapers will now appear in individual folders within the day folders allowing more devices and software to more easily access individual titles. When downloads are completed, an alert sound now plays.
i-access ® Online will be redeveloped into a new web interface for the entire range of library services and include all the functionality and services one would expect in a modern online service. As well as books, magazines and newspapers, the catalogue search screen will also search over 8,000 online periodicals available via the consortia arrangement (Gulliver) with other Victorian public libraries. Clients with devices such as a VictorReader Stream, Plextalk Pocket, or any one of an ever growing range of software readers will tap into this existing information service making the content available in a more portable, accessible and flexible manner. We currently have over 15,000 DAISY audio books (and growing) that will become downloadable when the new web interface is able to connect to these holdings. One day all information will be accessible to all from the moment it is produced. Until then, we need flexible options like the services described. The solutions we are implementing will see Vision Australia as a significant gateway to information, and one of the many possible providers of information, helping our library members to become more independent. It is not just about books, it’s about living. It is about empowerment and quality of life.
10 a i access newspapers
i-access ® newspapers before
everyone else does
Vision Australia Information Library Service (VAILS)
Over 600 years of experience
combining 7 major blindness
Largest provider of Blindness, Low
Vision and Print Disabled Services to
46,000+ clients across Australia
A national library service to 18,000+
Primary source of accessible material
to people with a print disability
The biggest barrier
to full participation:
Lack of access to
Only 5% of
Up to 4 million Australians are affected
by a print disability
63% of people who are blind or have
low vision are unemployed
Number of people who are blind or have
low vision will double in the next
The Digital Revolution has largely
ignored the needs of people with a print
Daily Newspapers, Books & Mags
Full DAISY text Capability
Fast & Portable
Documentation & help Desk
No web site access – widget only
2006 - News On The
Go web based service
Browser accessible but not
Online Trial 2005 / 06
60% used the BookPort daily
Over half said they accessed more information
than prior to using the BookPort
85% satisfaction with the service
91% wish to continue service
Listening to music
Accessing other files from web
The alarm clock
Note-taking and storing files
2009 i-access ® updated
2010 i-access ®
• No software required – Mac allowed
•Introduced Braille music
•Larger range of books
•Small selection of in-house podcasts
•Subscription for magazines
•Service improvements to Downloader
i-access ® - the future
• 15,000+ titles on our server
• Gateway to 8,000+ online periodicals
• Growing range of net content
• National Repository of accessible content
Easy to use and accessible anywhere
Delivers books, newspapers, magazines,
Braille music, text and a small selection of in-
Makes better use of databases & web content
Supports open access concepts
Sensitive to client technical capabilities
Key support to independence
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