Community Research and Development Information Service - CORDIS

Blind will have access to documents online

To open up a world of information to the blind and partially sighted, researchers at the University of Bradford Management Centre, UK, have joined forces with other major British and European institutions in a 750,000 euro project.

Advanced electronic-commerce technology is t...
To open up a world of information to the blind and partially sighted, researchers at the University of Bradford Management Centre, UK, have joined forces with other major British and European institutions in a 750,000 euro project.

Advanced electronic-commerce technology is to create a secure document-delivery service, which will safeguard the rights and obligations of authors and publishers, at the same time meeting the needs of the visually impaired for increased access to information.

Dr Tom Wesley, University of Bradford Management Centre, is co-ordinating the Secure Document Delivery for Blind and Partially-Sighted People (SEDODEL) project. The SEDODEL 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 the Katholieke Universiteit, Leuven, Belgium.

"People who are not visually impaired take for granted the availability of information in the printed word," said Dr Wesley. "But far less than one percent of all published material is converted into forms, such as Braille and large print, which are accessible for the blind and partially sighted.

"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.

"Unfortunately, publishers are reluctant to put their books on the Web. Once there, they can easily and cheaply be copied - and the quality of copies is as good as the original. The idea that intellectual property in a digital environment can lose its value is of great concern to owners and creators."
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