Saturday, April 1

Article on NFB Newsline and Book Share

Greetings. The following article arrived in my Inbox a few days ago and I thought I'd share it here. For those interested, in the coming weeks and months, the Associated Press, the Austin American Statesman, and the Dallas Morning News will all be added to the Newsline collection of newspapers and also made available through Book Share. The Associated Press materials will be organized by state, and unlike the daily papers, it will be updated hourly! Read more to find out about this exciting service. Now you don't have any excuse for not reading a newspaper, since you can get it over the phone or online. I'm personally looking forward to reading the Dallas Morning News, since that's a paper that I've been wanting to read for some time now. The fact that I no longer live in the paper's city is irrelevant. Of course, it will be cool to read news about Austin as well. Enjoy.

Ascribe Newswire
Wednesday, March 29, 2006
Accessible Newspapers, Magazines Available Daily From NFB-NEWSLINE and Bookshare.org

PALO ALTO, Calif., March 29 (AScribe Newswire) -- For the print-disabled, a copy of the local newspaper delivered to one's doorstep is not accessible.
Fortunately, the National Federation of the Blind (NFB), the nation's largest organization of blind people, and Bookshare.org, the largest online digital
library specifically for the print-disabled, have teamed up to make local and national newspapers and magazines available and accessible online to this
underserved community.
Jim Fruchterman, CEO of Benetech, Bookshare's parent company, announced his organization's full commitment to the new partnership with the NFB, saying:
"As soon as we started offering NFB-NEWSLINE titles through Bookshare.org, many of our users instantly made it a part of their morning routine to
log on to our site to download their favorite daily newspapers before heading out the door. Our subscribers are now more informed and aware of what's happening
in their local communities, in their state, and across the country. We feel we're already lowering the barrier to accessible daily news each and every
day. Our agreement with NFB-NEWSLINE will allow us to make this a rich and ongoing aspect of Bookshare.org."
Dr. Marc Maurer, President of the National Federation of the Blind, which created and operates NFB-NEWSLINE, agreed, saying:
"Lifetime learning, including detailed awareness of current events, is part of what makes a good citizen, a successful employee or employer, and
a valuable participant in community life. This partnership with Bookshare.org gives blind and disabled individuals another way to gain access to crucial
information, so that they may compete on equal footing with everyone else in the world."
Using a synthetic speech engine, NFB-NEWSLINE has been delivering national and local newspapers over the phone to subscribers for a number of years.
Content is acquired electronically via a direct feed from the newspaper, and it is accessible twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week, through a local
or toll-free telephone number.
The new partnership with Bookshare.org takes this model a step farther. In 2004, Bookshare.org began making a limited number of NFB-NEWSLINE titles
available through its online digital library on a trial basis, expanding the availability of accessible periodicals to those who are not able to benefit
from telephone-based access, such as the deaf-blind and individuals with organically based learning disabilities or other disabilities which prevent the
reading of print due to a physical cause. Bookshare.org made the periodicals available daily for download from the site in either DAISY (a digital audio
file format, which can be read aloud with synthesized speech by screen-reading software, or desktop and portable devices) or BRF (a digital Braille format,
which can be used with highly-portable refreshable Braille devices).
"I do a lot of traveling around Northern California, and the Braille newspapers from Bookshare.org allow me to make good use of my time by reading
the New York Times and other papers," said Brian Bashin, a management consultant from the San Francisco Bay area. "Without this partnership of Bookshare.org
and NFB-NEWSLINE, blind people would have no access to newspapers in places where there's no cell phone service - whether that be in a subway tunnel or
on a camping trip."
"This is a crucial service for those of us who cannot access newspapers either in print or over the telephone," said Lydia Roth, a deaf-blind individual
from Ellicott City, Maryland. "Now, thanks to Bookshare, NFB-NEWSLINE is available to those who require Braille access. I like to choose a newspaper at
random, just to see what's going on in other parts of the country."
Aside from large circulation national and metropolitan newspapers like the New York Times, Chicago Tribune, USA Today, Wall Street Journal and Los
Angeles Times, Bookshare.org's NFB-NEWSLINE offerings include newspapers with smaller circulations such as the Billings Gazette, Ukiah Daily Journal, and
Paducah Sun. Spanish-language dailies La Opinion from Los Angeles and El Nuevo Herald from Miami are available for download, along with nationally prominent
magazines, such as The Economist, The New Yorker, and AARP The Magazine.
Access to NFB-NEWSLINE periodicals, either through NFB's toll-free telephone service or through Bookshare.org, is limited to residents who provide
documented proof of a qualifying print disability and live in a state that funds the service. To download newspapers, the qualified reader joins Bookshare.org
by paying its annual subscription fee for unlimited access to all the titles in its collection.
ADDITIONAL INFORMATION
A complete list of the more than 125 NFB-NEWSLINE periodicals currently available through Bookshare.org, as well as information concerning qualifications,
is available at
http://www.bookshare.org/web/AboutNewsline.html.

Additional information concerning the NFB-NEWSLINE service can be found at
http://nfb.org/newsline1.htm.

About the National Federation of the Blind:
With more than 50,000 members, the National Federation of the Blind is the largest and most influential membership organization of blind people in the United States. The NFB improves blind people's lives through advocacy, education, research, technology, and programs encouraging independence and self-confidence. It is the leading force in the blindness field today and the voice of the nation's blind. The NFB headquarters has been located in Baltimore, Md., since
1978. In January 2004, the NFB opened the NFB Jernigan Institute, a $20 million, 188,000 square foot research and training facility adjacent to its headquarters.

About Bookshare.org and Benetech:
Bookshare.org is one of the literacy programs of Benetech, a nonprofit organization based in Palo Alto, California, that develops sustainable, technology-based solutions to address pressing social challenges in areas such as human rights, disability, education, and literacy.
Bookshare.org is a subscription-based digital library that provides instant, independent access to over 26,000 books and periodicals - opening up a whole new world of reading for people with print disabilities.
http://www.benetech.org/literacy/bookshare.shtml

1 comment:

  1. Super-Jake!2:26 PM

    Hi Wayne. I just found out about your blog on www.blindconfidential.blogspot.com , when a link was added there today. I thought I'd make a couple comments on the Newsline article. Please bear with me though, as I am using the beta of Internet Explorer 7 to type this and JAWS has been acting kind of odd in forms mode. But here are my comments. I have been a Newsline subscriber for a few years now and find the service to be very good. I did however, find a couple things which seem to be lacking. First, the selection of speech synthesizers on Newsline was never really that wide. As a matter of fact, the only option now is Eloquence, which I happen to like but I know others who prefer not to use it. At one point Cepstral's voices were an option on Newsline. The other minor criticism I have is that there is no way to change the pronunciations of words. One would think that, with all the modern technology out there and the NFB's knowledge of said technology, that there'd be a way to edit the dictionary. But enough of my ranting for now. Overall I am very happy with Newsline. There is one other problem but that was kind of an "individual situation."

    ReplyDelete