Words to Ponder....

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Friday, October 24, 2008

Is It Possible to Violate Copyright When Providing an Accessible Copy?

Actually, yes. Not anyone can just produce copies of something and provide it for the visually impaired, so be careful. There are special entities that make and provide specialized formats of materials. The National Library Service for the Blind is one of those entities. It provides libraries all over the country (I guess that partially answers the question in my last post!) To find a library near you, a link is provided on the NLS website www.loc.gov/nls/index.html to search. I searched Pennsylvania and discovered the closest one to me is in Pittsburgh at Carnegie:

Library for the Blind and Physically Handicapped
Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh
Leonard C. Staisey Building
4724 Baum Boulevard Pittsburgh, PA 15213-1389
Librarian: Kathleen Kappel
Telephone: (412) 687-2440 Toll-free (In-state): (800) 242-0586 FAX: (412) 687-2442
E-mail: lbph@carnegielibrary.org
Web site: http://www.carnegielibrary.org/lbph
Hours of Operation: 9:00-5:00 M-F

Pretty cool, huh?

Do Libraries Provide Access for the Visually Impaired?

Steph raised an interesting question in her response to my last post. She wondered if their are libraries that provide access for the visually impaired. I personally haven't been to one with obvious concessions to the visually impaired, but I'm sure there are. It seems that academic libraries would be more apt to provide these services. I remember at the beginning of this semester receiving correspondence from Clarion telling what to do if we had any special needs regarding Internet access, etc., so I guess that's one example of an academic library/university
providing special concessions.

I also came across a very good website with guidelines on how to provide IT access for the visually impaired. It mentions that it is far less costly to upgrade and purchase technologies as they become available rather than waiting until you actually need them for a visually impaired person and have to purchase them all at once.

The site is provided by University of Washington and the organization is called DO IT.

I found it interesting to peruse the suggestions and steps. Does anyone else have any experience with visually impaired technologies or has anyone seen it in use in a library?

Monday, October 20, 2008

So, Exactly What Is an Accessible Copy?

Well, put simply, an "accessible copy" is a version of a work that provides for improved or easier access for a visually impaired person. This means that possibly even the original format of the work may need to be altered. An accessible copy can include added capabilities for navigating around the original version, so it includes both hard and soft copies. In other words, if a person is totally blind, a text can be made into an audio format so the person can listen to the book, or it could be translated into braille. What if a person can see, but cannot hold a book? This person is also included in the context of visually impaired and can have books made into e-books and the like for easier use which also comes under the definition of an accessible copy.

With audio books being published and many libraries now lending them, certain types of accessible copies are much easier to come by these days.

Friday, October 17, 2008

VIPs are VIPs

Yes, Visually Impaired Persons are Very Important People. Those of us who are sighted, even if we wear a form of corrective lenses, tend to take our vision for granted and often don't consider how access to information can be seriously hampered or even impossible to those who are visually impaired. Who are the visually impaired? Anyone:
  • whose visual acuity is 20/200 or less in the better eye with correcting lenses, or whose widest visual field is no greater than 20 degrees;
  • whose visual disability, with correction, prevents the reading of standard printed material;
  • unable to read or unable to use standard printed material as a result of physical limitations. (NLS 2006)

So, what does the Chaffee Amendment do for those who are visually impaired? It allows for an "accessible copy" to be made without requiring permission from the author or creator of the work as long as that copy is only to be used by the visually impaired and expressly states that purpose.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Did You Know?

Who is aware that there are special copyright laws and considerations for the visually impaired? I hadn't even thought about the possibility of copyright laws hampering information access for visually impaired persons, until now! Over the next couple days, I'll present a few facts and points that have been addressed by the Chaffee Amendment which was passed September 16, 1996. This information could be helpful to us as teacher-librarians with the very real possibility of having students with visual difficulties using our libraries and knowing how to serve these students.

If anyone happened to read this post previously, you might notice a change in the name of the Amendment and the date it came into effect. I mistakenly had put the name and date of the Act passed in the United Kingdom dealing with the visually impaired.

Interesting Observation

There were only 5 total respondents to my quick poll regarding viewing rights of DVDs in schools, but I found the results very interesting. When we consider our educational background, we know we've at LEAST gotten through 4 years of undergrad studies. More of us are unaware of a lot of copyright issues, including this one, than are well versed. Compare that to the general public and I think we'd find most know even less than we do. It lays a lot of responsibility at our doorstep to help educate others, whether we're in a public venue or school media center!!

Friday, October 10, 2008

Who Takes the Blame for Plagiarsim?

A couple posts previously, I mentioned information about the need for schools to employ Turnitin because of plagiarism. In keeping with this topic and students' overwhelming submission of plagiarized materials, I found this article to be informative and interesting. The author, Nate Anderson, discusses points of a speech from Baroness Deech who runs the Office of the Independent Adjudicator for Higher Education in the United Kingdom. This agency handles student complaints against university decsions dealing with copyright issues, so Deech gets a first-hand look at these issues.

Anderson begins by mentioning the burgeoning problem of student plagiarism partially due to electronic databases that make it so easy to cut and paste and students growing up in a "Rip, mix, burn" society. Then he asks if it is totally the students' fault and brings in Deech's thesis that teachers and technology have an equal share in the blame. How's this, you ask?

In her speech, Deech mentions (criticizes?) the teaching methods of university teachers. She says that students seem to have expectations that information will be handed to them, often because teachers simplify lectures and complex lessons down to "three bullet points" in a PowerPoint. Instead, she encourges that students take their own notes and limit computer usage for research.

Anderson, also an educator, says he is surprised by the number of students who have forgotten how to even locate books on a shelf and the mentality that if it's not accessible through Google, it's not worth finding. He mentions his dismay at some of the websites that "students consider authoritative." Couple that with students who are poor writers, procrastinators or lazy and it's the perfect recipe for copyright disaster.

Regardless of who might be to blame or contributing to the problem, Anderson makes the claim, and rightly so, that students are still ultimately responsible. Students always have the choice whether to create original works or not.

My questions to you: How well do you feel your college professors advocated - verbally or by example - researching, curiosity, and originality?

Do you feel your professors' methods made you any more aware of copyright issues?

Anderson, N. (2006, October 20). Are teachers and computers responsible for plagiarism?
Retrieved from, http://arstechnica.com/news.ars/post/20061020-8041.html