This is a great set of notes from the GTT Toronto group.Anyone who is using CNIB library/CELA library service can get something out of these.
October 15, 2015.
Jason Fayre opened the meeting. He introduced the evening’s guest speaker, Lindsay Tylor, Manager of member services for CELA, Centre for Equitable Library Access. She proposed discussing what CELA is, and how it interacts with the CNIB library, then library services in general. She did a check-in with the group: most people use the CNIB library, a handful use things like Bookshare, commercial services and the public library. The Centre for Equitable Library Access is a non-profit created in April 2014 by Canadian public libraries so that they can offer services for people with print disabilities. Its origin is in the idea that it isn’t just for some to require the use of charitable dollars to access library services. The main point is that public libraries are increasingly accessible. This means that all libraries in Ontario should be able to offer an equal level of access to people with print disabilities. This is especially impactful for people in small communities. CELA also means that anyone with a print disability can access the large collection owned by CNIB, not just people with vision loss. The functional difference with CELA for the user is merely that they will be accessing their material through the public library system. Anyone coming to the CNIB as a new client will interact directly with the public library, and existing clients will be enrolled by CNIB staff.
The first goal of CELA is to recognize that one size doesn’t fit all users; one format won’t work for everyone, and people have a range of technical skills. The goal is for pleasure reading and life-long learning, not really academic material. In the publishing world at large, very little is available in alternative format, and there’s a recognized goal of not duplicating material that is already accessible. There are three formats, audio, etext and Braille. For each one there are different delivery methods. Audio is by far the most popular. All of the audio through CELA is in daisy format. This means the books highly structured, and can be accessed by page, heading, and other fine organizational ways. It’s used worldwide. There are two ways of downloading daisy books. The first is daisy zip, which is a bunch of mp3 files with some data files that dictate the organization of the audio. These come in a zipped folder that can be downloaded, then transferred to a portable device. The process of unzipping a file is built into windows. Internet access is required. For those who don’t have internet, daisy books are made available on CD. Most users currently use CDs. You can play the files on the computer itself if you prefer. The second method, the newest, and most convenient, is the direct to player method. There are specialized players Victor Reader Stream and Plextalk are the two main portable daisy players. They come internet enabled, and you can configure them to your internet connection. The player will download books directly from the library site to your player without having to use CDs or zip files. It’s easy.
When you get a player, you need to sign up through the public library to access the service, or you call the CNIB or CELA help line and they will walk you through configuring your player with your library account. A technician can send you an SD card which will configure the device for you, or they can walk you through it over the phone. A long standing CNIB library user can call 1-800-268-8818. A CELA user can call 1-855-655-2273. Your local library should have this CELA number. The website is http://www.celalibrary.ca. Players sold in the last 2 years will connect to the internet; an older player may not.
Since the spring, aps for Apple and Android devices will do the same thing as downloading with a dedicated daisy player. This can be a cheaper option. Lindsay did a demonstration of the Apple ap. You can peruse the website yourself, or instruct the service to choose books from particular genres and download them. The ap is called Direct to Player, and is available in the Apple App store for Apple devices, and in the Google Play Store for Android. It’s easy to delete books if you’re sent books from your chosen genre that you decide you don’t want. There’s a generous lone period, but eventually the books may disappear from your device because of licensing agreements. You can simultaneously choose particular books, and receive books from your chosen genre. Lindsay demonstrated playing a title off of her phone. There are features for bookmarks, sleep timer etc.. The ap features work very much like those on a dedicated player. Lindsay was asked whether there’s a plan to put a search feature directly into the ap. Lindsay replied that this is one of the most common requests, and that she thinks it’s coming. The ap is free. You have the option to stream or download. At this stage the ap is strictly for audio, not Braille for a Braille display. The first time you open the ap you must enter your library number. The ap is used by both the CELA and CNIB systems.
Newspapers are one of the most popular services offered. It’s available online, and it’s simple. Sign into CNIB or CELA, go to the link called News Stand, and over 50 national and international newspapers are listed. Enter on the link, and plain text articles are offered. It’s electronic text. Newspaper specific sites can be difficult to navigate, but this service is much easier, and updated daily.
Bookshare is an American service, the world’s largest online library of its kind. 260,000 titles. They work closely with publishers, and have titles that aren’t always easy to find. They’re made available at the same time as the print editions. The books are all etext or synthetic speech, or electronic Braille. Not all titles are available to Canadians because of licensing agreements. Joining on your own is $75 the first year and $50 each subsequent year, but CNIB and CELA members have free access. At http://www.bookshare.org, you must go through a membership process. Scanning your CNIB id card and sending it will qualify as proof of disability. If you don’t have a card you need a signature by a professional. They have their own built in web reader, and Apple ap called read to go which you pay for. There’s an Android ap that’s free. The ap has options around font size for low vision readers. Voice Dream Reader was proposed as a better and cheaper ap option. The voices offered through Voice Dream are outstanding. Voice Dream also works with CNIB and CELA titles. Voice Dream is $13.20. Direct to Player and Read to go are similar. All titles appear on your bookshelf. In Read to Go, you can search Bookshare from within the ap. Lindsay demonstrated the Read to Go ap with its own synthetic voices. It allows you to control the speed of the voice or the size of the font.
The topic of DVS movies was raised. Some DVDs are produced with DVS, but many aren’t. CELA does buy DVDs they can find that have it. The CELA DVD collection is popular and well used.
It was proposed that links to books in the Digital Times e-newsletter should be made into direct download links. Lindsay agreed this would be very useful, but might be technically difficult to arrange.
It was also suggested that Braille downloads should be in zip files, not downloadable one volume at a time. Lindsay said she would bring this suggestion to others in her department.
In answer to a question on the topic, Lindsay explained that the library’s content comes from local production, international agreements with libraries around the world, and a growing relationship with commercial audio book producers, Particularly Recorded Books. She explained that patrons can request a book either through an online form on the CNIB library website, or by contacting the help line. She said that some priority is given to blind authors who’ve written on the topic of vision loss, but that there isn’t currently a focus on producing works by blind authors in other genres.
In closing, Ian White encouraged anyone who isn’t already on the mailing list, to email email@example.com in order to begin receiving communications from the GTT list. There are movements towards creating a Facebook page, and a voicemail line to disseminate information. He announced that the next meeting will be on November 19th, and that Brian Moore will be presenting on the topic of GPS solutions.