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Front Matter

Chapter 1  
Could Helen Keller Use Your Library?

Chapter 2
Click (W)Here(?)!—
Basic Document Design

Chapter 3
Large-Print Access to the Internet

Chapter 4
Hearing the Internet

Chapter 5
Touching the Internet with Braille

Chapter 6
Adaptive Technology for Hearing Impairments

Chapter 7
Surfing the Internet with a "Different" Board

Chapter 8
Computers Reading and Speaking—
"Stand-Alone" Systems

Chapter 9
Funding Adaptive Technology

Chapter 10
Making It All Work—Staff Training

Chapter 11
Announcing Improved Access

Chapter 12
Working in the Real World

Appendix A
Websites Helpful for Information on Accessibility

Appendix B
Selected Vendors, Manufacturers, and Consultants

Appendix C
Special Libraries with Adaptive Technology Programs


Bibliography and Reading Resources

Adaptive Technology for the Internet:
Making Electronic Resources Accessible to All

The Online Version

by Barbara T. Mates


"For people without disabilities, technology makes things convenient, whereas for people with disabilities, it makes things possible . . . [this] fact brings with it an enormous responsibility because the reverse is also true. Inaccessible technology can make things absolutely impossible for disabled people, a prospect we must avoid." —Judith Heumann, Assistant Secretary of the Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services, U.S. Department of Education

Keynote address to Microsoft employees and experts on disabilities and technology, Redmond, Washington, February 19, 1998


It has become fashionable for libraries, like corporations, to develop mission statements or vision statements that will guide them in delivering state-of-the-art services to their patrons.

Frequently a phrase such as "equal access to information through technology" is included in one or both statements. Often forgotten in these plans, however, are accommodations for persons with disabilities who need to access information using adaptive technology.

"The 1997 National Survey of U.S. Public Libraries and the Internet," commissioned by the American Library Association (ALA), Office for Information Technology, found few libraries actually provide special software or hardware for persons with disabilities.{1} While urban areas offered the most adapted access to hardware and software, only 15.4 percent of those responding indicated that they have made access accommodations to their automated information systems. This figure is unacceptable for entities that profess to be citadels of knowledge, dedicated to "equal access" to information. In an age where quality information available via the Internet is growing, libraries should be seeking to ensure that their systems are accessible by everyone.

While the libraries that make up the network of the National Library Service (NLS) for the Blind and Physically Handicapped provide leisure reading for three-quarters of a million people, accessible, supplemental reference and ephemeral information is still lacking. This creates a discriminatory information gap between those who have access to information and those who do not. Librarians and Web masters can remedy the information gap by ensuring that the Websites they design are accessible to those using adaptive technology and that these librarians and Web masters purchase equipment and software that will facilitate this access.

As the Regional Librarian for the Blind and Physically Handicapped at the Cleveland Public Library, I see the growing need for computer access by the population we serve. More patrons are acquiring adaptive technology for home use and are anxious to "get on the information highway." Other patrons, curious about the Internet but lacking funds to purchase their own equipment, are seeking public environments to access the Internet.

This work seeks to guide information providers in establishing accessible Websites and acquiring the hardware and software needed by people with disabilities. The book focuses on access to the Internet using large print, voice, and Braille. Contributors Judith Dixon and Doug Wakefield are respected experts in the field of adaptive technology and the Internet. Both have lectured widely on the subject and use adaptive technology extensively. In this book, we describe specific products. Fortunately, new adaptive technologies are continually being developed. What we describe here is a snapshot of development at this writing. You should read these product descriptions as examples of a class of products. Use such resources as the Websites recommended in the book or in Appendix B , "Selected Vendors, Manufacturers, and Consultants," to keep up with the latest developments.

The reader will also learn how to acquire the funds for adaptive technology, what type of equipment to choose, where to purchase the equipment, and how to inform the community of your progress. Tips for ensuring that the equipment is placed in a nurturing environment are also included. Additionally, the book will direct the reader to useful Websites and to libraries that are in various stages of providing library access to persons with disabilities.

It is my hope that this book will help librarians and information providers add substance to the language in mission statements concerning persons with disabilities. Technology has the promise of aiding everyone; the information explosion should not be limited to the "temporally abled."


1. J. C. Bertot, C. R. McClure, and P. D. Fletcher, "The 1997 National Survey of U.S. Public Libraries and the Internet: Final Report" (Washington, D.C.: American Library Association, Office for Information Technology Policy, 1997).



The author acknowledges that without the help of colleagues (known and unknown) this work would not have been possible. Therefore she would like to say "thanks again" to a few of them.

Judy and Doug, thanks for always saying "yes" to requests for sharing your vast knowledge of adaptive technology with us novices. We will try to pass it on.

James, thanks for doing all the charts with less-than-coherent directions from myself.

Rocky and Dessie, thanks for sending all the equipment pictures to me; it saved me precious time.

To all my colleagues who are making their libraries and information accessible, thank you for leading the way. A special thank you to those of you who took the time to fill out my survey; your contributions helped form a very important part of this book and serve as examples of what is possible. An extra special "thank you" to Audrey Gorman for her contribution on access for patrons with learning disabilities.

To the Website managers at "DO-IT," WebABLE!, ATRC (Toronto), Trace, EASI, CPB/WGBH, CAST, LC/NLS, WAI, Sun Microsystems, Disabilities Resources, Inc., Closing the Gap, Inc., Cleveland Public Library, and other quality Websites, my eternal gratitude. Without your efforts in creating information-rich Websites, this work would not have been possible.

Lastly, thanks to Patrick Hogan, Editorial Director for ALA Editions, for asking "if I'd like to write a book," as well as Mary Huchting for her understanding and Joan McLaughlin who fixed the "grammar." Thanks to Dianne Rooney for her artistic flair.

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Adaptive Technology for the Internet, by Barbara T. Mates
ISBN 0-8389-0752-0

© 2000 by the American Library Association. All rights reserved except those which may be granted by Sections 107 and 108 of the Copyright Revision Act of 1976.

Trademarked names appear in the text of this book. Rather than identify or insert a trademark symbol at the appearance of each name, the authors and the American Library Association state that the names are used for editorial purposes exclusively, to the ultimate benefit of the owners of the trademarks. There is absolutely no intention of infringement on the rights of the trademark owners. Inclusion of a vendor or a product in this book does not constitute or imply endorsement or certification by the American Library Association.

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