On November 9th, the Digital Media Collective hosted a presentation by Anne Gilliland, Head of the Prior Health Sciences Library Copyright Management Office, entitled “Rights for the Disabled and Copyright: Fair Use, Kindles, and the International Treaties.” This program aimed to raise awareness of challenges faced by people with disabilities and the legislation that impacts their use of intellectual property, particularly in an educational setting. One challenge that is often faced by people who are visually impaired is the lack of availability of works published in an accessible format. Currently only about 5% of works published in the U. S. are available in accessible formats.
Technologies like the Kindle hold promise for making more works accessible. Costs can be high for converting a book into Braille and the wait for copies can be long. Kindle’s support of text-to-speech functionality offers another alternative to this problem. Of course, the text-to-speech functionality has been a controversial issue for many publishers.
Anne also highlighted several pieces of legislation, including the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), the Chaffee Amendment, the Developmental Disabilities Assistance and Bill of Rights, the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, and most recently, the 21st Century Communications and Video Accessibility Act of 2010.
The program concluded with the call for reliable reproduction exceptions internationally, clarity about websites and the ADA in the United States, more organizations making accessible reproductions, more accessibility features built into technology devices, and trusted intermediaries for providing accessible copies of intellectual property. A new effort by the World Intellectual Property Organization, the Trusted Intermediary Global Accessible Resources Project (TIGAR), was launched recently (press release). This project involves publishers making titles available to trusted intermediaries, who then convert the works to accessible formats and share them across a network. This project as well as the review of legislation and the issues involved in making, accessing, and using works in accessible formats provided for an engaging discussion among the group. Anne’s presentation slides and a resources list are posted to the Digital Media Collective wiki.