Each library will have its own unique environment and patron needs. The one constant that is being assumed is that an IBM compatible and Windows 95 will be the common platform. We are setting forth recommendations that can be readily tailored to different sites or which can be acquired a piece at a time to build what we consider to be the ideal workstation. We will first outline a general workstation and then explain how it can either be scaled back or expanded as may suit each location. We will list the items and specific hardware and software that we recommend and later list similar alternative products.
We are assuming a computer located in some public or semi-public area of the library which will not be restricted exclusively to use by patrons with disabilities. Therefore, we want the adaptations to be as unintrusive as possible. In that speech output will be necessary on this computer, it should either be located where the voice output will cause minimal distraction to other patrons, or it should be equipped with a headset for use when the speech is active.
We recommend an IBM compatible computer running Windows 95, with a Pentium (486 will probably work), at least 166 MHZ (although a bit less should work), 32 MB RAM (although 16 MB RAM should work) and a hard drive of a gigabyte (again less may work especially if the library only uses some of the recommended software on that machine).
It is impossible to predict which disability group will use this system most frequently. This makes it hard to guess which software is the most important, but we will take a "leap in the dark" and try.
We are assuming that learning disabled patrons and low vision patrons will top the list. We will make ZoomText Xtra Level 2 as the most important item as it covers these 2 groups well. Price $595. A demonstration version can be downloaded from the web at http://www.aisquared.com/contents.htm
Next, we assume that patrons with either permanent or temporary hand mobility impairments will be next. We recommend Cooper's OnScreen keyboard with WordComplete and a mouse substitute such as the SAM trackball. Price OnScreen $99 and SAM Trackball $134 and add $25 for a simple switch. (%10 for shipping) A demonstration version can be downloaded from the web at http://www.rjcooper.com/page7.htm#onscreen
For blind or nearly-blind patrons, we recommend the screen reader software, by Henter-Joyce, Jaws For Windows version 3.2 which includes a software synthesizer. Price $??
Lastly, we recommend including pwWebSpeak, a browser designed specially for the needs of web users with disabilities. Many people with disabilities use various standard browsers, especially Lynx, but this product would have a browser that would be readily used by a disabled patron with very limited familiarity with the web. Price $150. A demonstration version can be downloaded from the web at http://www.prodworks.com/productsindex.htm
If a library needs to strip down these recommendations, we have listed the items in the order of our guess at their likely need. If a library, however, knows its disability patron population differs from our assumptions, it can select items most suiting that population. A library may also decide to select ZoomText Xtra Level 1 instead of Level 2. The cost is somewhat less, and it runs with less computer memory. A library may also consider the use of Level 1 if they already have a speech synthesizer and screen reading program.
If a library is able to expand on the general workstation, we would strongly urge that it include a scanner and optical scanning software packaged with software to facilitate its use. This enables blind, low vision, learning disabled patrons and those unable to manipulate books to manage reading print independently. We recommend Arkenstone's Open Book. The Office of Civil Rights has specified a scanner and relevant software as an important tool for a library to meet its obligations of providing equal access to its services. However, if a library has more than one adapted computer, it may not have all of them turned into reading machines. Libraries may already own a scanner and not need to purchase one for this purpose. Depending on what other adaptive software is on the computer, synthesizer software may be already on the machine.Price for Open Book software only $995.
A college or university library should also seriously consider purchasing a braille embosser and the software to prepare electronic text for brailling. The courts have held in several cases that schools do not necessarily have to provide text in the particular alternative text requested by a student with disabilities. However, at the same time, it has firmly insisted that the school must be prepared to provide the alternative format most suited to the material being converted, and it has said that in areas such as math and science, braille is frequently necessary. We recommend Enabling Technology's Juliet Pro Braille embosser and braille translation software from Duxbury. Juliet Pro $??. Duxbury software. Software $??
Our recommendations include software speech synthesizers which will be included in the adaptive software. Many of the Ohiolink libraries already have the DecTalk synthesizer. This can be used instead although the cost savings will be negligible. We will add an appendix with recommendations for ways in which the previous adaptive technology owned by the libraries can have some continuing usefulness.
While it is not hardware and/or software, we believe that Ohiolink libraries need to know that a school is required to provide adequate training in the adaptive technology for disabled students. This does not necessarily mean the library provide the training, but the library will need to know where on campus to send a student who needs help. The library will need to provide training on the technology for some staff. With the turn-over of staff or their reassignment, this training will need to be ongoing or provided in some interactive computerized format. Having a listserv discussion for Ohiolink librarians assigned to serve the disabled patrons could be a simple and inexpensive way for staff to keep refreshed and find specific help when needed.
As the computer has become more sophisticated, so has the adaptive technology that allows people with disabilities to use the computer. Just installing this hardware and software will not work. There is a need that there be someone with experience in the installation and use of this equipment to ensure that it is functioning properly. The personnel in the adaptive computing lab at Wright State may be able to suggest an adaptive technologist.
We want to underline that the products mentioned here do also have site license pricing. Some specifically indicate that it does not apply to a college or school which has separate campuses. This would seem to apply that one site license would not cover all the Ohiolink libraries. However, businesses frequently do negotiate special pricing. Ohiolink includes enough libraries that, we believe, it ought to find some way for these libraries to approach providers and try to negotiate the most favorable terms possible.
2. Detailed information on the software and hardware recommended and vendor contact information
Besides the recommendations we are making related to computer access, we should make a couple other comments. The library should be sure to have one computer available on an adjustable table with adequate aisle space to accommodate a wheelchair. Some low vision users may prefer a physical magnification device like a CCTV for reading books. All documentation must be provided in alternative formats. If tape q,4 ?owrdings are one of the selected options, a tape recorder with headsetz will be needed.