Accessibility: Screen Readers in the Library

Our last blog post about accessibility focused on making sure that your website was easy to access by people that use assistive technologies, such as screen readers, which read aloud what's on a computer screen to users with low or no vision.  I recently attended a fantastic webinar on actual screen reader software itself by Kelsey Flynn of the White Oak Public Library District in Illinois, presented through the LITA webinar series.  Kelsey covered some of the basics of accessibility software, including deep dives into the five most popular screen reader titles.

Some of my key takeaways:

Cloudbook for Laptop Loaner

The new Cloudbook is an ultralight PC (2 lbs) with all open source software installed including Open Office which provides a very nice substitute to the oh so pricey Microsoft Office suite.

At a cost of only $399, this might be a very nice option for libraries thinking about making laptops available to their users.

Not only is the OS (gOS Rocket) and the applications Open Source (Mozilla Firefox, gMail, Meebo, Skype, Wikipedia, GIMP, Blogger, YouTube, Xing Movie Player, RythemBox

The Ideal Public Access Computer

Multipurpose public access computers in public libraries are often used by patrons who can't afford a computer and/or Internet access, who need help using computers, who wish to gain experience with computers and business software, or who are away from home and need to use a computer or the Internet for business or school. Internet-only, or Express computers provide a useful service, they do not address the full range of needs facing public library patrons.

Bookmarks for Patrons

Imagine a world where patrons could save their bookmarks and the data they provide on online forms would be pre-filled the next time they were asked for that data....where passwords they'd set up on websites would be remembered for them....just like our home PCs! And now imagine that there was a way to do this that was completely secure, portable and affordable. Well, that's my take on the AxisCard.