Volume I Number 1, January 1994

Department: Online Information and Networking

Steve Noble
Recording for the Blind


To all our readers: welcome. Glad to have you aboard. As _Information Technology and Disabilities_ now begins its maiden voyage, I would like to say that I am proud to be a part of this effort, and excited about where our journey may take us. It is very fitting indeed that our first issue is being compiled as an electronic text to be released over the Internet. I am persuaded to believe--and perhaps you will agree--that the combined development of computers, computer networks, screen readers, and the proliferation of written materials in electronic format has been perhaps the greatest single liberating vehicle for individuals with disabilities in this century.

This is not to say that there were not major developments in technology predating the computer that greatly assisted persons with disabilities in accessing information and interacting with others. Take, for example, the invention of the semiconductor transistor that quickly led to the design of truly practical hearing aids, and the production of telecommunication devices designed to be used by hearing impaired and deaf individuals which soon helped to clear the hurdle that was inadvertently erected by an earlier invention of Alexander Graham Bell. And let us not forget the inventions of first the phonograph and later the tape recorder--devices that made possible the Talking Book and gave blind readers a viable alternative to braille. Since spoken books on record and tape formats were so much easier and cheaper to produce than books in braille, a virtual explosion of information on accessible formats happened in the middle part of this century.

To be sure, another explosion of accessible information is happening right now. And thanks to the Internet, our current explosion is of global proportions. It will be the focus of this department column, _Online Information and Networking_, to examine current trends in online information systems as well as computer network communications services accessible over Internet.

I would be pleased to receive any information about news items that you believe would be pertinent to this column. You may contact me via electronic mail: slnobl01@ulkyvm.louisville.edu

--Steve Noble

News Items:

Update On RFB Internet Catalog

As many of you already know, Recording for the Blind has had its Master Tape Library online catalog available at the r2d2.jvnc.net host site for over a year. Although the initial test stage of the catalog was rather slow going, the pace has picked up some. The database is now intact, with regular updates to be done every month, if not more frequently.

In addition to having access to RFB's holdings information over Internet, this catalog is also designed with a book ordering feature. Once this service feature is fully functional, registered RFB borrowers will actually be able to order the books they want over Internet, including both audio cassette and available etext books. RFB is currently conducting a structured pilot of the ordering feature to gain needed feedback and experience. A select number of both institutional providers and individual borrowers are being assigned passwords to allow them to place orders over the system. The present RFB time table has the catalog order feature becoming available to all RFB users in January 1995. This date will coincide with implementation of new software that will make the Internet order-filling procedure fully automatic--currently the orders come through electronic mail and must be handled individually by RFB staff.

To access the RFB catalog you can telnet directly to r2d2.jvnc.net 4445, or you can gopher to r2d2.jvnc.net and then chose the _Publishers Online_ menu and just follow the remaining menus till you get to the catalog. Anyone can look things up in the catalog, but only those involved in the pilot can actually order books right now.

New Database Interface

The Assistive Technology Database Interface (ATDI) is a public use database to aid consumers in locating disability assistive equipment and services. ATDI is meant to help create a list of vendors in a certain region who provide certain services. To use the database telnet to bongo.cc.utexas.edu and login as tatp.

New Discussion Lists

The Learning Disability Information Exchange List (LD-List) is an open, unmoderated, international forum that provides an information exchange network for individuals interested in Learning Disabilities. Subscribers include persons with Learning Disabilities, family members and friends, educators and administrators, researchers, and others wishing to know more about this topic. Any matters related to Learning Disabilities is appropriate for discussion.

To subscribe, send an email message to:
Leave the subject line blank, and in the body of the note say:

You can contact the List Owner if needed at:

MOBILITY is a list to help disabled persons gain access and mobility. Topics of discussion include public transportation, wheelchair access, use of private cars, emergency communications, and problems relating to socializing, education and employment.

To subscribe from a BITNET node, send the following interactive
TELL LISTSERV AT SJUVM SUB MOBILITY yourfirstname yourlastname
To subscribe by email, send a note to:
Leave the subject line blank, and in the body of the text say:
sub mobility yourfirstname yourlastname

Online Seminar on Adaptive Technology


Rochester Institute of Technology and EASI (Equal Access to Software & Information)

Has the Americans with Disabilities Act left you with more questions than answers about providing computing services for individuals with disabilities? Are you trying to find the most effective and efficient way to support your disabled students, faculty and staff?

Rochester Institute of Technology has developed a two-week, online workshop, in conjunction with EASI, to provide answers to these and other questions about adapting inforI. The workshop will be delivered over the Internet. The course relies on the distance learning technology of RIT, and the adaptive technology resources of EASI.


  1. Introduction and Background
  2. Reasons to Adapt
  3. Legislative History
  4. Model Adapted Workstation
  5. Lab Environment
  6. Alternate Output Systems
  7. Alternate Input Systems
  8. Computing as Compensatory Devices
  9. Planning and Funding
  10. Review and Other Resources

Participants will be expected to do homework assignments which will focus on the use of the internet to locate a vast array of disability resources and to share with other participants their findings as well as their institution's or organization's experiences in becoming accessible. At the successful conclusion of the workshop, and upon completing at least three specified assignments, Rochester Institute of Technology will issue a Certificate of Completion. The workshop may also be taken to obtain K-12 In-service Credit.


Workshop registration fee is $99 and includes all resource materials. The workshop will be offered several times a year. For further information send email to:

Norman Coombs
Phone (716) 475-2462
Noble, S. (1994). Online information and networking. Information Technology and Disabilities E-Journal, 1(1).