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Advanced technology will meet the needs of the blind

Researchers at the Bradford Management Centre, UK, have joined forces with other major British and European Institutions to open up a world of information to the blind and partially sighted. Advanced electronic-commerce technology is to create a secure document-delivery servi...

Researchers at the Bradford Management Centre, UK, have joined forces with other major British and European Institutions to open up a world of information to the blind and partially sighted. Advanced electronic-commerce technology is to create a secure document-delivery service, which will safeguard the rights and obligations of authors and publisher, at the same time meeting the needs of the visually impaired for increased access to information. "People who are not visually impaired take for granted the availability of information in the printed word. But far less than one per cent of all published material is converted into forms, such as Braille and large print, which are accessible for the blind and partially sighted," said Tom Wesley, University of Bradford. He is coordinating the SEDODEL (Secure Document Delivery for blind and Partially-Sighted People) project, funded under the European Commission's Telematics Programme. "Information technology developments can provide a revolutionary solution, since electronic information can be easily converted into accessible forms, particularly by using synthetic speech on a computer. One estimate suggests that the amount of information accessible to the blind on the World Wide Web is already ten times more than has ever been converted into Braille, said Mr Wesley." The SEDODEL projects consortium also includes the Royal national Institute for the Blind, the British Library Copyright Office, the Open University EURITIS (a French high-technology company, which has developed an advanced electronic-rights-management system), INSERM (the French research organisation active with the blind) and Katholieke Universiteit, Leuven, Belgium.