Provision of Materials in Accessible Formats
Accessibility is a consideration not only with library holdings - audio, large print, electronic books, periodicals and databases - but also with other information supplied by the library. This includes handout information
(flyers, publicity brochures and other material), notice-boards, administrative forms (membership, reservation, acquisition request forms, library rules, opening hours, service descriptions), physical access to materials (physical placement of collections, home library services and so on) and catalogue access.
An awareness of accessible formats and specialist services and their applications and limitations is an important feature in training public library staff in dealing with people with hearing disabilities.
Access to library materials in print form does not usually present special difficulties for people with impaired hearing. However, two points do need to be taken into consideration:
Materials recorded on audio cassette may be accessible to some hearing impaired users but care should be taken to ensure that spoken words are clearly enunciated in a voice somewhat lower in pitch and at a slightly slower speed. Use of shorter sentences with slightly longer pauses between sentences is also helpful. Background music should be avoided at all costs.
Recording messages for telephone and general use
Particular care should be taken. A longer than average signal should be given to let the caller know that the message has ended and that they can begin to speak.
Music played on "Hold" on telephones should be totally avoided.
Videos and video recordings can be helpful in providing material in accessible format to Deaf and hearing impaired. These can incorporate the use of subtitles, headings and graphics (graphics can incorporate Auslan signs) and captions. They can also incorporate the use of sign language either by the main speaker or by including an interpreter. Where information is presented mainly in signs, English captioning should be used for non-signing deaf and hearing impaired users.
Many feature films, TV dramas and documentaries as well as health education and employment training videos are available in captioned format either from Cinemedia on loan or for purchase through the Australian Caption Centre. The Australian Caption Centre can also caption videos as requested. See Resource section for contact details.
Use of interpreters
If special programs, activities and public meetings are planned, it is advisable to consider providing the services of sign language and oral deaf interpreters to provide equal access for deaf and hearing impaired participants. (Not all people with hearing disabilities can gain access via audio loops). The cost of providing this service should be built into the budget at the initial planning stage. The service provider or library is responsible for meeting these costs, not the consumer.
Sign language interpreters can be booked through the Victorian Deaf Society (VDS). Oral deaf interpreters can be booked through BHA Victoria. Depending on the nature and length of the activity, more than one interpreter in each mode may be needed. You will be advised of this when making the booking. It is advisable to make the booking as early as possible as qualified interpreters are in short supply and the demands on their services are heavy. When advertising the activity, ask that participants state whether they require interpreting services at the time of booking. Bookings for interpreters can be cancelled with reasonable notice without incurring a fee. If there are no requests for this form of access it is reasonable to cancel the booking.
It is also possible to engage the services of real time interpreters. This service involves the use of a computer program designed to convert a form of "short hand" into everyday English at high speed. Consumers can follow what is being said by reading the transcript on monitor screens or the transcript can be projected onto a large screen.
This system is similar to court stenography. Costs include the services of a real time interpreter as well as hire of equipment in some cases.
The system can be used by more than one person at a time and does not rely on the use of sound.
For more information on real time interpreting services contact BHA Vic.
Notetakers for the deaf are also available and may be requested for certain activities. They can be booked through the VDS. Notetakers usually work for only one person at a time. Provision of materials in accessible formats
Sign language interpreters can be booked through the Victorian Deaf Society. Oral deaf interpreters can be booked through BHA Victoria.
G E N E R A L
More and more information is available in electronic formats. This can include computer disk, bulletin boards, email, the Internet and online and CD-ROM databases. Many people with hearing disabilities have the technology and skills to exploit this increasingly rich source of information
A P P L I C AT I O N S, A D V A N TAG E S,
D I S A D V A N T A G E S
Advantages include speed, currency, editability, searchability, ease of storage and transmission and avoidance of the need for alternative formatting. Most new information nowadays is produced in electronic format prior to being printed.
S O U R C E S
CD-ROM databases of public domain titles, the Internet (e-text sites, documents) and libraries themselves, government and other organisations (forms, flyers and allied material developed in-house on computers) can be supplied on disk to people with print disabilities. In fact, any organisation which uses computers to produce information is a potential source of electronic information for people with hearing disabilities.
S E L E C T I O N
Electronic documents should be formatted in such a way that they are able to be accessed easily by people with hearing disabilities. Consideration should be given to language levels of Deaf and other users from non English speaking backgrounds when providing material in these formats. Provision of materials in accessible formats
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