Disability News Items

I’ve recently joined the Blind News Service at www.blindprogramming.com.  As I like to take weekends off from posting here, I think I’ll use the space to put up articles that I get from Blind Programming that fit into the categories about which I tend to write.  So, thanks to Leon and the people at Blind Newss here are three articles for your Saturday reading pleasure:

Blind Confidential: The first is about a sound addition to one’s kitchen:

From: Gimpy Mumpy (Blog)
Friday, February 17, 2006

Cooktop with Voice Navigation, Sweet!

Popgadget has the skinny today on a Sanyo Electric cooking stove with voice navigation and musical tones to alert you when burners have heated up to a certain temperature.  What a great idea for VI (visually impaired) chefs or gimpy cooks like me who need to go have a lie down while waiting for that water to boil.

Another great piece of Gimp Gear for the kitchen!

Via Popgadget

Sanyo Electric is to release in Japan the wildest appliance I’ve ever read about: their new induction heat-type cooking stove features a “voice navigation” function to make it easier to use.

The 200V Built-In IH Cooking Heater emits various musical tones when, for example, cooking is completed or water is boiled. The music can be downloaded from the internet via mobile phone and transmitted to the cooking unit via infrared communications.

The device also offers oral instructions for novice cooks.


Blind Confidential:  Frustrated with inaccessible Pod Cast software?  This open source project sounds like it might do the trick.  I haven’t tried it myself but will and report my findings in a later post.

Rok’s Planet (Blog)
Friday, February 17, 2006

Juice podcast receiver formerly iPodder

Want to listen to internet audio programs but can’t when they are scheduled? Ok. Juice formerly known iPoder program lets you create your own custom online audio anytime, anywhJuice formerly known as iPoder is aere. Really.

If you want to listen to podcasts, this program is for you. Juice is the premier podcast receiver, allowing users to capture and listen to podcasts anytime, anywhere.

Juice is free
Juice supports more than 15 languages
Juice supports multiple media players
Juice is free software licensed under the GPL (open source)
Juice’s primary purpose is to manage podcasts
Juice has a built-in directory with thousands of listed podcast feeds
Juice has auto cleanup, authentication, centralized feed management and much more
Juice is accessible for blind and visually impaired users (windows version only)
Juice is fresh!



Blind Confidential:  Accessibility trainining for library professionals:

eGov Monitor, UK
Friday, February 17, 2006

New web resource for library staff working with disabled people

By Source: Museums, Libraries and Archives Council

The Museums, Libraries and Archives Council (MLA) has launched a new web resource to provide information and learning for public library staff relating to access and equal opportunities for disabled people. Part of the Framework for the Future programme, the resource aims to improve access to libraries and library services for people with disabilities by supporting the staff who work with them. It does this through a range of resources including learning modules, case studies and background materials.

Learning modules

The resource includes a set of ten learning modules which together form a flexible self-study package, to be used by individuals and groups from front-line staff to senior management. Each module is structured in the same way and requires the learner to do some reading or research, some practical tasks or activity and some evaluation. They can be used in a variety of ways: as a training programme for front-line staff, working through all the modules in succession; as a one-off training resource for staff needing to update their skills or knowledge in a particular area; to support other training on disability issues.

Themes covered by the modules are:

Understanding disability
Knowing sources of information and support including websites
Assessing your stock, resources and technology
Meeting the needs of a range of disabled users
Consulting with disabled users
Developing a new outreach service
Developing new publicity, marketing and advocacy materials
Developing your access policies and plans
Developing a specific improvement in your services for disabled users
Using technology to support the needs of disabled users
Before starting on a learning programme staff are encouraged to complete a learning needs analysis form, with the support of their line manager. The form is based on MLA?s Inspiring Learning for All Generic Learning Outcomes, and helps staff identify their learning needs in relation to supporting disabled users in their library service.

Case studies

The learning modules are supplemented by a number of case studies which introduce some interesting people who have, or who are working with people who have, a range of disabilities. The stories are presented as short video clips showing individuals or small groups talking about their personal experiences of using or working in public libraries (with transcripts). These are a good starting point in using the website, and also form a excellent introduction to the potential challenges facing disabled library users and the ways some library services are addressing them.

One such case study features Ann and Bill, who are both blind, discussing a reading group for visually impaired people:

‘ I said what I would like to do is to start a group, for visually impaired people who would read in an alternative format, and make sure all books that were available, would be available in the formats that were required. We listened to a book a year ago. It was The Girl with the Pearl Earring. We were able to talk at great length about the understanding of colour when you are visually impaired. Now you wouldn’t have done that in the other readers’ groups, but it was quite an interesting conversation about visually impaired people’s perspective of colour.’

‘It widens your understanding of the books that you have read. It gives you an opportunity to get off your chest something that bugged you. It can be very interesting and you meet people.’

In another study Joanne talks about her work with library users who have learning difficulties:

‘My name is Joanne Roberts. I am the Community Librarian at Rugby library, I have been working here for a year and a half now. We have been encouraging anyone and everyone to join. If they have trouble with the form we will help them or their carers will help them but they’ll all go away with their library card and sometimes the look on people’s faces to get this library ticket is a joy. There is a regular customer: he is a young Down syndrome person, he’s probably about 18 or 19, he’s obsessed with Buffy the Vampire Slayer , which is fine because so am I, so we have a lot to talk about.

‘When I first met him I was quite ashamed of myself because I couldn’t understand him and I got frustrated and I felt that I had let him down and myself down. Everyone else said just don’t worry about it you’ll get better the more times he comes in, and they were right, as long as I don’t panic, as long as I just take my time and be patient with myself and him, we’re getting along really well now.’

Background reading

Other areas of the website provide some helpful background material. This includes notes on responding to enquiries from customers with disabilities, including some background to each broad disability and guidance on how you might need to respond. There are three sets of notes, covering visual, hearing and learning disabilities. The latter is particularly helpful as it deals with an area less well-covered by other resources:

‘People with learning disabilities may need more time to think about what they want to say or to form an answer, or may need encouragement to answer a question. This may embarrass the listener, or cause impatience. For the person with a learning disability it may cause frustration, or a feeling of lack of power, of being hassled, or of not being taken seriously. It’s important, therefore, that time and patience are given to those people with learning disabilities who require it, to enable them to deal with things as independently as possible.’

There are also links to useful websites covering both general disability issues and specific disabilities. These include users with learning disabilities; those experiencing mental health issues; with physical disabilities; hearing, visual or speech impairments; and with facial or other disfigurements; as well as some useful links to websites providing technical information, services or support.

The new web resource providing information and learning for public library staff relating to access and equal opportunities for disabled people is on the MLA website here.


These resources have been developed as part of the Framework for the Future Programme supported by MLA. Framework is aiming to improve access to public libraries for all. You can find out more at



Blind Confidential:  That’s all for today.  I hope our readers enjoy posts like this.  Feel free to send me news items, press releases and anything else that you might think fits into this blog.

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I'm an accessibility advocate working on issues involving technology and people with print impairment. I'm a stoner, crackpot, hacker and all around decent fellow. I blog at this site and occasionally contribute to Skepchick. I'm a skeptic, atheist, humanist and all around left wing sort. You can follow this blog in your favorite RSS reader, and you can also view my Twitter profile (@gonz_blinko) and follow me there.

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