Dedicon and Loket aangepast-lezen
2009 International Award Joint winner
Dutch organisation Dedicon has built a streaming service where print-impaired people, both in the Netherlands and worldwide, can select, borrow and read audio books in a streaming format with a special built-in software player. This reader offers functions such as play/stop, navigate, speed and jump by index.
Readers access the digital library on the ‘aangepast-lezen’ website, which belongs to Loket aangepast-lezen, the Centre for adapated reading. This is the national library organisation which provides users with general fiction, non fiction, papers and periodicals in audion and in braille, which are produced by Dedicon. Clients contact the Centre for adapted reading by phone or by internet to order books and materials. In addition the Centre services as an information point for the general public as well as for public library stff about reading impairments and library serivces for print-impaired people.
Users can browse a collection of, at present, 9,000 leisure audio books from the national collection on their personal computers, placing their choice on a virtual personal bookshelf. Daily newspapers are also available online in accessible audio format. .Users can then read their books and newspapers immediately without having to wait for delivery. Users without a PC can access the material through a customised internet radio.
The Netherlands have a legal definition for print impaired people, which, in addition to visually impaired people, includes people with dyslexia and other reading impairments. In contrast, in many countries, UK indluded, only visually impaired people in the UK can be become members of specialist national libraries with accessible reading materials.
The ‘aangepast lezen’ website also signposts to a number of information services such as the National 24 hour Information Service and key government documents. It is exceptionally user friendly. It’s ‘pro-reader’ software is but a highlight. This reads the text aloud and highlights the sentence being read, which is very good for people with dyslexia – or, incidentally, wanting to learn Dutch. It comes with a number of options for print size and background colour. The website.
Dedicon produces and distributes books, newspapers, music scores and learning material in Braille, spoken text, tactile maps and other accessible formats to 30,000 people in the Netherlands who have a print disability. Their services are demand based and when requested material is not available in an accessible format, arrangements are made to add it to the collection. Dedicon’s core business is making service information accessible to disabled people in recognisable formats such as DAISY, Braille and Large-print etc.
A small group of visually impaired test-users were initially involved and since the pilot service went live in April 2009 the current 450 users are giving their feedback. The initial beta-release of the software player has been adjusted based on the feedback, as has the online catalogue.
The first part of the project aimed at streaming leisure books was completed by April 2009, the second phase, streaming magazines and newspapers was completed in November 2009. The third part, opening up the entire national collection of 60,000 audio books will be completed by July 2010.
In an eco-friendly spirit the service will do away with the need for millions of CD-roms to be burned and distributed in the long term.