June 1997
ISSN 0158-5460

In this issue

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Editor: Gabrielle Grime
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From the Editor

This issue of Link-up focuses on library resources for people with intellectual disabilities and learning difficulties. Fiona Saville writes about the development of the Learning Support Collection in Manly, and an annotated resource list of videos on intellectual disabilities from the National Council on Intellectual Disability is provided. The work of the State Libraries in South Australia and New South Wales in promoting disability awareness and cultural diversity is a feature. Trevor Wilks describes the 'juggling act' of managing an adaptive technology centre, and Mary Dickenson reports on the results of an Australia-wide survey audio book availability in libraries.
This is my last issue as editor of Link-up. I would like to thank Seuth Sirimanotham for her excellent production skills and endless patience, and thank all readers for supporting and reading the magazine-it has been a pleasure working with so many libraries and individual contributors. May your good work continue!

Gabrielle Grime

Music at the Disability, Technology and Libraries Seminar ABOVE: Music at the Disability, Technology and Libraries Seminar

Manly Library's New Learning Support Collection

The Manly Council area is the thriving tourist centre of the Northern Beaches of Sydney, NSW. Even though the local saying is: 'Seven miles from Sydney, a thousand miles from care', we are far from not caring.

The Northern Beaches has its fair share of social problems, and it was not long after I started at Manly Library in 1991 that they became apparent to me. Working as Special Needs Officer for Manly Library, I realised that there were a lot of desperate parents of children with learning disabilities who felt there were few library resources available for them. After some investigation I found that there were a number of organisations on the Northern Beaches who work in the area of learning difficulties. From these two discoveries, I developed the concept of the 'Learning Support Collection'.

The project gained impetus when I made contact with a previous Mayoress of Manly, Ms Julie Heraghty. She had great enthusiasm for the project, as she is an educational psychologist who has worked in the area of learning disabilities as a consultant to the New South Wales Department of School Education.

Julie and I developed the idea of holding a Learning Difficulties Information Exchange Forum to promote the concept of a new collection for children with learning difficulties among the Manly community, schools, and relevant organisations. We wanted to gain an idea of the demand for such a collection, to receive input and valuable advice about what the service should be, find out the types of resources stakeholders would like to see in the collection, and decide where it should be housed in the new library.

On 8 September 1994, Manly Library held the Learning dificulties Information Exchange Forum in the Manly Council Chambers. Representatives from the following organisations and schools attended: SPELD NSW, Learning Links, Hyperactivity and Attention Deficit Association, Northern Beaches Learning Difficulties Support Group, Royal Far West Health Scheme and School, Northern Beaches Adolescent Service, Stella Maris College, Forestville Montessori Pre-school, Mackellar Girls High, St Rose School Collaroy Plateau, Manly Village Public, Balgowlah Boys High, Avalon Public and Brookvale Public School.

There were also a number of educational psychologists who, along with the representatives from the above mentioned organisations and schools, gave positive feedback and wanted to be on a mailing list to keep up-to-date with developments in the collection. The most exciting feedback was that they were all keen to refer their students and clients to the collection once it was established.

The forum was a great success with around 60 people attending. We effectively promoted the concept of the collection to the community, and established a client base of interested schools, educational psychologists, organisations and parents. Through the forum, we also strengthed the Library's relationship with all levels of schooling within the Northern Beaches area, discovered the scope of information and resources for collection, and identified Manly Library as an appropriate place for such a service with the community's agreement.

Arising from the forum, it was decided to develop the Learning Support Collection, which would be geared towards children with learning disabilities like Attention Deficit Hyperactive Disorder (ADHD) ; Attention Deficit Disorder (that is, without hyperactivity); dyslexia; perceptual-motor difficulties; aphasia (language difficulty); dysgraphia (handwriting difficulty); and dyscalculia (maths difficulty).

We also envisaged other user groups who could utilise this collection such as children who are learning English as a second language, children with intellectual disabilities, and parents of children with disabilities.

With this in mind, I developed the goals for the collections:

l. Provide information to concerned parents and children such as books on learning difficulties and an information noticeboard where community groups could display their brochures

2. Provide resources specifically geared towards children and young adults

3 Encourage children and young adults with learning difficulties or disabilities to discover that they too can use and enjoy libraries

4. Prevent those young people of the Manly Community from becoming adults with literacy difficulties and instead to ensure they become independent future library users.

The success of the information exchange forum gave me the motivation to find funding for this collection. I put together an application in October 1994 for a State Library of NSW Collection Development grant and waited. Grant applications are a great experience and really gave me focus to plan the collection.

Much to my surprise, community support for the collection spread into more sectors than just those occupied with education and special needs. We circulated the promotional information for the information exchange forum to the Manly Library Trust (a fundraising body set up by the Council). When a member of the Trust, Rob Hirst, who is also drummer with the rock band Midnight Oil and a resident of Manly heard about the proposed Learning Difficulties Collection, he took the information to the other members of Midnight Oil who decided to support the collection. The band gave permission for us to put up a plaque near the collection stating that 'Midnight Oil Proudly Support this Collection'. Talk about breaking down the 'uncool' barriers!

Midnight Oil donated autographed CDs, posters and a gold record from Switzerland of their 'Diesel and Dust' release. We were thrilled with their generosity, and began planning for a 'Silent Auction' of the products as part of our fundraising campaign.

In May 1995 we received the exciting news that Manly Library's grant application was successful, and as a bonus we received the full amount of $20 000. The daunting prospect of spending the money quickly became a reality. What a challenge!

I had a basic outline of how I was planning to divide up the money if we were lucky enough to get the full amount, but as we all know, putting theory into practice is never easy. I must say I enjoyed the challenge. Many of us are used to trying to develop the best possible collection from virtually no money, but this time I found myself with the opposite challenge.

The collection's range of resources had to be the best available for our community. I did not want to have items sit on the shelves because they were too specialised. When I put the grant application together, the range of proposed resources was a bit limited and I was expecting to go through the suppliers Baker & Taylor and the Internet to track down the best range. I was surprised to find that in just 18 months an explosion had occurred in the supply and demand of these resources in Australia, and at how easy it was to find them. I did not need to contact Baker & Taylor, and I only used the Internet to source items and to get up-to-date information and ideas. The suppliers that I used were: SPELD NSW; Dominies Books, Brookvale; Silvereye Educational Resources; Raymond Terrace; Audio Visual Supplies, Curl Curl; Books in Motion; Advanced Education Services, Mona Vale; and Narkaling, WA.

The range of items that I shopped for were:

Once the spending was done and the items were catalogued and processed, thanks to the Technical Services Librarian and her staff, we prepared for the launch.

We decided to give the Learning Support Collection its own section next to the Adult Reading Development Collection and to arrange it in basic Dewey under the following sections: 371 Study Skills, 372 Tutor Resources, 421 Workbooks, 423 Dictionaries, 425 Grammar, 429 Readers, 510 Maths Help, 616 Medical Conditions, 649 Parents Help, and 793 Games. This formula had worked well for the Adult Reading Development Collection.

The new Learning Support Collection was launched on 20 June 1996 by Mayor of Manly Sue Sacker. Over 60 people were entertained by our guest speaker Dr Christopher Green (the 'Toddler Tamer'), who moved the crowd from laughter to tears with his experiences of helping families with learning disabled and hyperactive children. The program also included addresses by Janette Wright, Director Public Libraries Branch; Julie Heraghty, Library Trust member; and Manly Mayor Sue Sacker, who also launched the collection by unwrapping it.

The Good Oil for Manly LibraryABOVE: The Good Oil for Manly Library

So far, feedback has been very positive. I have received calls from grateful mothers of children with intellectual disabilities who are relieved that there is finally somewhere to get help that is free. I have noticed children selecting Bangers and Mash readers while their parents are selecting literacy workbooks. The excitement from learning difficulties organisations and the local special education teachers and child psychologists has been encouraging. A strong referral network has been established.

Finally, the most successful part of the promotion of the collection concluded in early 1997 with the fundraising 'Midnight Oil Silent Auction'. We promoted it through the local press, at one of the band's gigs at the Manly Warringah Leagues Club, on Sydney's premier rock radio station 2MMM and on our home page on the World Wide Web. A tip for promoting something on your home page is to put a link through to another relevant home page and ask its Web master to put a link to yours. You can increase the range of people who access your Web site quite dramatically. We were lucky enough to be promoting something that was 'big' at that time. Midnight Oil had just released their new album 'Breathe' when we started the auction in October 1996. Once we had a link from the 'Midnight Oil Silent Auction' section of our home page through to the official Midnight Oil home page, emails arrived from all over the world. This wide exposure made our processing work for the winning entry more time consuming, but greatly contributed to our success of raising $4000. It is amazing what a fanatical Midnight Oil groupie in the United States will pay to acquire some memorabilia.

In summary, I found the whole experience, from the initial concept development in 1993 to the launch and silent auction, hard work, but very rewarding and enjoyable work. As more libraries develop these collections or enhance their existing resources, children with learning disabilities and their parents will get some much needed relief.

Fiona Saville, Special Needs Officer, Manly Library, Market Place, MANLY NSW 2095. Tel (02) 9976 4506 Email

Adaptive Technology: A Juggling Act

Trevor Wilks casts a whimsical eye on the challenges of managing an Adaptive Technology Centre with limited resources

My family gave me a set of juggling balls for a birthday present a few years ago. They were very brightly coloured, nicely weighted and tactually perfect for juggling. The kids said, 'Juggle Dad' so I juggled.

I was taught to juggle by a friend many years ago who himself was taught by a friend who advocated juggling as the only tried and true method for giving up smoking. My friend was a school teacher. He claimed that this activity helped him relax and that it was an act that would never go unnoticed in a crowded room. I never did ask him how he fitted juggling into his lesson plans but I think everyone now realises that juggling is an essential skill requirement for most government funded positions and goes hand in hand with the ability to clone oneself to cope with the daily workload.

The juggling formula, as everyone knows, works like this:

The relaxation effect of juggling is inversely proportional to the size, shape, weight and number of things you attempt to juggle.

In other words, it is extremely relaxing juggling three small coloured balls but not so relaxing juggling a machete, a bowling ball, the proverbial flaming stick, the administrative committee, the staff meetings, the increasing number of students, the Disability Discrimination Act, Murphy's law of technology, the budget cuts and the lit stick of dynamite. Of course the other variable in this formula is the number of people in the audience (and there are always a couple) waiting for you to drop something.

Needless to say I keep those small, brightly coloured, perfectly weighted balls in my desk drawer for those times when I've cut myself with the machete, dropped the bowling ball on my toe, set the place on fire and the dynamite is about to blow.

Operating an Adaptive Technology Centre in a university library can resemble a juggling act at times. If resources were unlimited and each student could have a workstation set up permanently to suit their requirements there would be no need to juggle anything. This is not the case, so workstations, desks, furniture, administrative procedures, staff, students and in particular, assistive technology, must be flexible enough to accommodate the many and varied needs of students with a disability.

The Adaptive Technology Centre was opened in May 1994 in the Auchmuty Library, University of Newcastle. Prior to this the Centre consisted of a few pieces of equipment stuck in a cupboard-sized room with a gigantic pole in the middle. The new official room was a slightly bigger, different shaped cupboard, without the pole, but with a definite oxygen problem. We moved to three new locations during 1995 as the library did its own juggling act before settling in our own purpose built premises during the first week of semester 1996.

The library management has made a generous commitment to the Centre, allocating a large space in a time when space is at a premium. The Centre is situated on the main entry level of the library. Physical access is excellent and we are in close proximity to the reference desk and CD-ROM workstations.

The Centre was designed both physically and administratively to allow students independent access to equipment, computers, photocopier, and library catalogues during standard University Library opening hours. Once students have satisfied certain skills criteria related to the equipment and software they use, they are issued with an access card and can use the Centre outside our staff hours (8.30 am to 5.00 pm, Monday to Friday).

When the Adaptive Technology Centre was first opened, emphasis was placed on vision impairment. This was due to the efforts of Professor Don Parks and Richard Dear who developed the Nomad Tactual Graphics system for the blind at the university. Their research and advocacy over the years has elevated the profile of blind and vision impaired students on campus and was the catalyst which led to the establishment of the Centre.

There is still a strong emphasis on adaptive technology for these students. The Centre has three different types of DOS screen reading software (Vocalise, Arctic Business Vision and Mastertouch), a Hewlett-Packard Flatbed Scanner with Optical Character Recognition software, a Kurzweil Personal Reader and recently purchased Windows screen reading software (JAWS For Windows). We have also purchased an Aladdin-Genie Closed Circuit TV and all workstations run screen enlargement software.

With the aid of the hardware and software, blind and vision impaired students can research assignments (using library catalogues, on-line databases, some CD-ROM databases and the World Wide Web). They can write assignments using various speech accessible word processors and print them in standard format, large print or Braille. Students also have access to email, which provides an efficient means of transferring electronic information and communicating with lecturers, administrative staff and fellow students.

The Centre now caters for students with a range of disabilities. We provide accessible desks, ergonomic chairs, alternative pointer systems, Dragon Dictate voice recognition software for students who cannot use a keyboard, photocopier and copy service and a library retrieval service. We also provide a translation service for students who have a print disability, which produces copious amounts of course material and research material in alternative formats such as braille, large print and computer file.

The number of students accessing the Centre has steadily grown since it was established, but this year saw a four-fold increase which has put a strain on many aspects of our service and the University Disability Service in general. This trend can only continue as people with a disability see tertiary education as the obvious path to improving their employment options. The government and tertiary sector need to acknowledge this situation and formulate a strategy for universities to cope with the increased demand on services such as ours.

Technology may offer some of the answers to this situation if it is combined with strong training and support, and systems are established which are practical, effective and user accessible.

It can be extremely satisfying supporting a student through a university degree, identifying the barriers and finding a way around them in conjunction with the student, the lecturer and the technology. Adaptive technology, or assistive technology as it is more often referred to, can now offer people with a disability opportunities which ten years ago were unthinkable. It is, however, by no means an instantaneous process. For most students the learning curve is very steep. Students who have entered university directly from school can find there is a significant shift from institutional responsibility to personal responsibility. Universities provide services and equipment for students with disabilities but the students themselves must develop their own personal strategies for coping with academic life. It is usually a combination of services and equipment provided, establishing effective communications with lecturers and faculty staff and a high level of personal motivation, which leads to a successful tertiary education outcome for a student with a disability.

The Adaptive Technology Centre attempts to provide an environment which is physically, technologically, psychologically and emotionally accessible to all students regardless of the type of disability. To bring these three factors together is no mean feat and generally requires dabbling in some advanced juggling. To make a centre physically accessible means providing adjustable desks and quality ergonomic chairs, as well as ensuring that students in wheelchairs and with vision impairments can move freely throughout the space.

Making the Centre technologically accessible requires the installation of alternative methods of inputting and accessing printed material, computer data and on-line information. These methods include voice activated software, alternate pointing devices, screen reading software, scanners and OCR software, screen enlargement software and closed circuit TVs. When the equipment and software are integrated with a printing system capable of producing both standard and alternate formats (large print and Braille) it can facilitate a high level of independence if the student is provided with the correct training early in their academic life.

The accessibility of information systems is increasingly important. Once supplied with the appropriate hardware or software an accessible information network can make independent research a real option for students with a disability. The trend now is for library catalogues to be made available from a World Wide Web server as distinct from the older style text-based catalogues. This can be both a blessing and a curse. It is a blessing because some CD-ROM databases are now available to students using assistive technology through the Centre, and a curse because Web pages are generally difficult for blind and non-mouse using students to navigate through. The older catalogue systems were and still are, quite accessible using a DOS screen reader or keystrokes.

Consider this scenario: A quadriplegic final year mathematics student who is extremely independent and has never had to use our service arrives at the library one day to find that all the dumb (not the term he would have used), keystroke driven terminals, at height-accessible tables have been replaced by PCs which are mouse-driven. His independence has disappeared. Overnight he becomes completely dependant on Centre staff to help him. This situation has been addressed, but technology tends to be double-edged. If thought is not put into making these systems accessible then many more people will be disadvantaged in the future.

Creating a psychologically and emotionally accessible environment is, I suppose, a somewhat nebulous concept, but it is crucial to the success or failure of a service such as ours. It involves a combination of successful of physical and technological access and the atmosphere created, and provided by the staff and students. If physical and technological access are continually thwarted by burgeoning student numbers, administrative constraints, software and hardware failure, it is difficult to cultivate a positive psychological and emotional environment regardless of the personal efforts of the staff. If progress is being made, however, where students feel they are gaining new skills and confidence and upper management are supportive then it is easy for staff at the 'coal face' to establish and maintain an atmosphere which is positive and enjoyable.

The Centre has become not just a room where essays are written, notes are transcribed or the Web is surfed, but a place to relax, catch your breath, meet other students, share thoughts and be supported by your peers and their experiences.

Is this really juggling or is it better known as resource allocation? How do you juggle-or allocate-the resources at nine o'clock on a Monday morning between six students whose disabilities range from blindness and vision impairment to quadriplegia and severe back injury, who inevitably end up wanting to use the same computer at the same time? The resources consist of three computers: two with screen reading and screen enlargement software, one with voice activated software and one with a scanner which also runs Netscape Navigator, has the electric wheelchair accessible desk, the word processors, the Windows email software etc.

Is it morning tea time yet?

I could always ask them to book time on the machine of their choice. But I don't think that would work. It's something to do with the nature of students and organising their lives ... or maybe I could buy more computers, get a bigger room, employ more staff, talk to the minister responsible for the tertiary education sector about the increased demand for access to higher education for people with disabilities.

No, I think that the term 'resource allocation' fits more appropriately into that other category of circus tricks known as 'sleight of hand', the type where 'Now you see it-now you don't'. Juggling better describes my situation, and besides it's more fun, more colourful and better for your health.

Ahhh,... where are my juggling balls.

Trevor Wilks, Manager, Adaptive Technology Centre, Auchmuty Library, University of Newcastle, NEWCASTLE NSW 2300. Tel (049) 215 000 Email

Planning and Action: The State Library of South Australia

The Cultural Diversity Services Team at the State Library of South Australia coordinates services for people with disabilities and initiatives in cultural diversity. Mallika Prasad-Chowta reports on the team's work

In May 1996, the State Library of South Australia established its Disability Access Policy and Strategies Statement. This was accompanied by a five year action plan.

The service definition in the policy states that the State Library offers access to information and resources for people with disabilities who are able to use its services independently. The library also aims to meet the information needs of people who provide services, and of those who care for people with disabilities.

The State Library primarily seeks technological means for making all material from the general collections available to all customers, rather than acquiring many individual items in a multiplicity of formats suitable for use by people with various disabilities. Examples are the Kurzweil machine for reading texts aloud, and computer imaging technology to magnify text.

The State Library provides services and facilities for independent users, with the assistance of the general reference staff. Customers who require more specialist assistance will usually be accompanied by their carers.

Identified customers include:

The key areas through which the State Library can enhance access to services for people with disabilities are appropriately trained staff, adaptive technology, electronic databases, physical access, public programs, and community consultation.

Coordination of services for people with disabilities is designated to the Cultural Diversity Services team. The aim of the team in this area is twofold: to make the services and resources of the library accessible to people with disabilities, and to provide support and advice to public libraries on services for people with disabilities. Where the services provided by the library are not appropriate for customers' needs, staff refer customers to other service agencies. Reference desk staff receive ongoing awareness training on the technology based services available in the library.

The State Library has an ongoing program of community consultation, for example through surveys, forums and focus groups. The Cultural Diversity Services team conducted a survey of library users in 1994, seeking feedback on how services could be improved. Of the 1628 respondents, 5.2 per cent stated they had some kind of disability, the most common being mobility and visual impairment.

The Cultural Diversity Services team has held four consultation sessions in 1995 and 1996 to evaluate the library's disability services and to identify community needs. The participants included customers with disabilities, representatives from government and non-government organisations providing services for people with disabilities, and a number of student liaison officers from tertiary institutions. These sessions also proved to be an effective way of promoting the library's collections, services and the technology.

During 1996, the State Library of South Australia undertook some very exciting cooperative projects with other disability service organisations. In March it held a half-day seminar titled 'Arts, Disability, Technology and Libraries'. This was a cooperative venture with Arts in Action, a community organisation which works and lobbies for artists with disabilities. The seminar was presented as part of the 1996 Adelaide Fringe Festival and it was sponsored by Living Health, a South Australian based health foundation which supports health promotion actvities.

The seminar's objective was to explore technology as a means for artistic expression. We had invited those who were interested in the arts, disability, technology and libraries. The day was attended by nearly 100 people, indicating demand for this kind of program. The seminar created an atmosphere in which the participants could exchange ideas on how technologies could assist in the artistic pursuits of people with disabilities.

Group at SeminarABOVE: Group at Arts, Disability, Technology and Libraries Seminar

The main features included the use of electronic communication for people with restricted mobility or communication abilities. Heather Slattery and Fred Stahl demonstrated how they had used an electronic bulletin board, the Commonground, to collaborate as writers and editors in script writing. There was also an Internet demonstration by Elvio Pederzolli of Information Technology Services of the State Library to illustrate how the Internet can 'open up' the world on a personal computer. Imaging technology and computer manipulation of photographs was demonstrated by Max Magain, a photographic artist with a disability. A prominent Adelaide blues guitarist, Chris Finnen, showed how technology can enhance musical expression and performance for people with disabilities.

In June we held another one- day seminar, 'Disability, Technology and Libraries', as a follow up to the earlier seminar. This had the involvement and support of public libraries, universities and TAFE libraries, the Disability Information and Research Centre (DIRC), and Arts in Action.

The aims of this seminar were to increase community awareness of the library services, and for library workers to explore ways to improve their services for people with disabilities. Workshops were presented by representatives of nine organisations ranging from a local government council to a highly specialised multimedia training centre. The seminar also featured displays of services and information by eight organisations such as the Low Vision Centre, Technical Aid for the Disabled, and the Carers Association of SA.

Max Magain speaks at the SeminarABOVE: Max Margain speaks at the Disability, Technology and Libraries Seminar

Highlights of the day were:

'Electronic Libraries', a keynote presentation by State Library Associate Director Susan Ball

A workshop on multimedia training programs by OptCom Inc., presented by its Director Denis Wood.

The Cultural Diversity Services of the State Library received a great deal of positive feedback on the content and the organisation of the seminar. The active participation of people with disabilities in the Master of Ceremony role, in keynote addresses, presentation of workshops, and chairing of panel discussions, was particularly appreciated.

Beryl Wicks, Community Care Officer of City of Adelaide Council wrote:

My work is in the policy and development areas and legislative responsibility under the DDA. I would like to congratulate you on the excellent planning of the seminar especially in terms of inclusion of people with disabilities. Throughout the small group discussion it was clear that people appreciated the opportunity to share their experiences and vision for the future ... The Corporation is currently involved in developing a Disability Policy and Strategic Plan. The outcomes will provide the Corporation and other city-based organisations and businesses, with a valuable resource in their efforts to improve the accessibility of the City for people with disabilities.

Another initiative of the Cultural Diversity Services team of the State Library of South Australia has been the compilation of a resource guide for school teachers titled Diversity-Our Strength-Our Future-Education for Multicultural Australia, which was launched by the Hon. Minister Rob Lucas, South Australian Minister for Education and Children's Services, on 13 March 1997. The resource guide has been jointly produced and published with the Multicultural Education Coordinating Committee of SA. The guide is in the form of an attractive poster or brochure folded into an A4 size.

The guide aspires to meet popular demand by primary and secondary school teachers and early childhood workers in South Australia for tools to provide culturally inclusive education. The guide will be of long-term value as it lists over 60 providers of resources under the categories of Community Organisations, Education Organisations, Resource Centres and Libraries, Publishers and Producers, Retailers and Suppliers, and Allied Agencies. Each entry has contact details of the agency, postal and electronic addresses, telephone and fax numbers. It also gives an account of various subject areas and formats of resource material provided by each agency.

The subject areas cover 15 classifications ranging from access and equity issues to languages other than English, tourism, trade and industry. The formats include books, audio and video cassettes, diskettes and services in the form of consultation and workshop and training. The guide offers useful and extensive information laid out in a clear, easily accessible and compact way.

A copy of the guide should be included in this issue of Link-up.

For more copies contact the Multicultural Education Coordinating Committee (SA). Tel (08) 8226 1190 Fax (08) 8226 1281.

Ramayana at the State Library

In the past, celebration of the writings of Celtic and Anglo-Celtic writers have been very popular attractions at the State Library of South Australia. Bloomsday and a celebration of Robert Burns have been two such major events. However, in October 1996, the work of sage Valmiki, considered to be the very first poet of Indian literature, proved to be equally popular in Adelaide. The Cultural Diversity Services team and the Public Programs Unit of the Library organised a reading of the Ramayana composed by Valmiki over 3000 years ago. The poetry was read by Dr Ananth Rao, Senior Lecturer in Mathematics, Flinders University of South Australia.

A full house audience, mainly of European descent gathered in the Institute Lecture Theatre to listen to the sage's words in Sanskrit. Dr Rao provided ongoing interpretation in English throughout the narration.

The Ramayana and the Mahabharata are the two great secular epics of India. They affect the emotional and religious lives of the people of the Indian subcontinent in an extraordinary way. The influence of the two epics spread beyond India into all of Southeast Asia. The Ramayana is the simpler but more popular work and has influenced nearly every aspect of culture in India and Southeast Asia: music, painting, sculpture, both folk and classical dance, theatre, film and television. The Ramayana is regarded as the earlier of the two epics. It is believed that Valmiki composed it around 1000BC.

The focus of the evening was on the early chapters of the Ramayana. These describe how the legendary sage received the inspiration to compose this great work. Dr Rao also chanted verses from the chapter 'Sita Swayamvara', which tells the story of how Rama won the hand of Sita in marriage.

Jenni Burgess, former manager of the Parks Library, SA, describes her encounter with the experience as follows:

I went along to the performance, not really sure what to expect, and I was entranced. Dr Rao made this ancient work accessible to the modern day audience by his many topical and witty references.
The musical chanting was mesmeric and I could have listened to it for hours. Dr Rao's rendition was scholarly but his translations revealed a keen sense of humour. The audience of about 200 thoroughly enjoyed this unusual Friday night event.

Mallika Prasad-Chowta, State Library of South Australia, GPO Box 419, ADELAIDE SA 5001. Tel (08) 8207 7230, 231 Fax (08) 8207 7247.

Disability Awareness; An ongoing process

Murray Spriggs outlines the recent disability awareness work of the State Library of New South Wales

For many of us born in the Baby Boomer years and before, direct experience with someone with a disability was often limited and based on views of disability which included segregated schooling and sheltered workshops. Our views have also been shaped by the mass media.

Those who are younger, who have had more direct experience due to integration in education and the wider participation of people with a disability in the community and workplace, generally hold different views and attitudes and are less afraid of difference.

When I was a teenager, faithfully watching appeals on television aimed at raising funds to help people with a disability, I used to think these shows were wonderful. It was only after many years that I started to question how people with a disability were portrayed as individuals who needed our pity. Similarly, I now question television news items which portray people with a disability as being superheroes for achieving in their lives. More positive approaches in the media in recent years have included a Deaf lawyer on the television series Picket Fences and the positive portrayal of the elite athletes who compete at the Paralympics.

Disability Awareness training has become commonplace over the last decade largely because of government legislation. For many organisations this has been one-off training which has concentrated on politically correct language and basic awareness of the issues facing people with a disability. While this is a worthwhile starting place, it is limited in its long term effect on services or employment for people with a disability. Awareness is perhaps complete, and therefore not necessary, only when the following is true.

If you have known a person over a period of time, you cannot help but think of him as an individual. You think of him as John or as Dave, not as a cripple, a Negro, a Catholic, or a Jew. You may not like him, but if you don't like him you don't like him as an individual. Or, if you do like him, you like him as an individual. But the attitude is based on him as a person, not as a member of a particular group.

Makas 1993, p. 131.

As with the views on other matters such as race and sexuality, views on disability will continue to change, evolve and be debated in our society and therefore training cannot be a one-off experience, nor can it be viewed as a one way process.

Fine and Asch put it this way:

As laws, institutional arrangements, and social relationships begin to change, so too must the social psychology of disability change to reflect the altered experience of people with disabilities-and of persons without disabilities-as members of a common moral community.

Fine and Asch 1993, p. 2.

For over a decade we have seen changes in the law, integrated education and increased mainstreaming of services to people with a disability, all of which have contributed to a more inclusive discourse of disability. The provision of equipment, use of correct language, and provision of building access is essential to providing independent access, but will only be successful when the social psychology of disability is also addressed.

The State Library of New South Wales has conducted a number of activities aimed at improving community awareness and experience with people with a disability for staff and volunteers. They also provide an opportunity for people with a disability to participate in activities at the library. These strategies have been directed to providing opportunities for interaction, and leading towards a more inclusive discourse of disability for the library.

A component of the library's in-house training involves activities based on individuals looking at where their own current views on disability have been shaped. This session is not about what is right or wrong, but provides an environment for participants to discuss their experiences and views with others.

We also conduct a more practical session which looks at 'library and information services for people with a disability'. The session is broken into three components. The first component looks at alternative format materials such as tape and text, captioned videos, talking books and upcoming formats, such as descriptive videos for the blind. The second component looks at sourcing information about disability services within the community. The final component addresses building accessability and access to print and electronic resources using adaptive technologies. This practical session is open to State Library staff, the NSW public library network, clients and community, and gives an opportunity for clients and staff to meet and discuss issues.

This in-house training provides a good basic awareness of disability issues. As mentioned previously, however, this training should only be seen as the starting point for ongoing development.

Another training session provided for library staff at the library has included training by Russel Chudleigh from the Australian Quadriplegic Association. This training also covers language and other general awareness, and includes sharing experience of an individual who has an acquired disability. Among other activities participants get to 'don' a disability and are assigned tasks within the library like seeking a book from the reference library or finding their way from one side of the building complex to the other. In a recent training session Russel arranged for other presenters with various disabilities to share their experiences and answer participants' questions.

Last year staff at the library were privileged to be entertained with a short play, They Think We're All the Same, which was produced and performed by a group of young actors with an intellectual disability. The play was most entertaining and informative, but the question-discussion time enabled these actors to share with the audience their dreams, feelings and inspirations in a very meaningful manner. It was particularly interesting to hear from the actors how they devised the play around their own experiences in the community. This project was coordinated by Accessible Arts Inc.

Actors from They Think We're All the SameABOVE: Actors from "They Think We're All the Same"

Another activity involved inviting a class from Erskineville Public School into the library to participate in experiential recreation and living skills activities arranged by the library and Maryanne Marshall, Recreation Officer from the Royal Blind Society. These included playing Swish (a game similar to table tennis played by Blind and Vision Impaired persons) and, significantly, one participant in the class had a vision impairment. The exercise gave an opportunity for his peers to gain hands-on experience of equipment and resources used by a person with a vision impairment.

This year the library held a seminar for students with a disability. The seminar was aimed at students from Years 10, 11 and 12. Eighty-three participants received information from a range of service providers in the Education and Recreation fields. Speakers included Donna Ritchie, captain of the Paralympic basketball team, TAFE consultants and university students with disabilities.

A second seminar with the theme, 'Accessing electronic resources for people with a disability', was also hosted at the library this year. A feature of this seminar was that many of the presenters had a disability and were able to demonstrate their abilities in using adaptive technology to access a range of electronic resources.

It is my belief that these seminars, as well as consultation on specific topics, provide opportunities for a cross fertilisation of experience and ideas among both service providers and clients with a disability.

Activities in the library held for specific targets, for example school children during school holiday time, can be inclusive. An example of this at the library is the inclusion of captioned videos in the schools program of movies shown in the Metcalfe auditorium.

This year the library has undertaken affirmative action projects which will further enhance the experience of staff at the library. Through the Deaf Education Network (DEN) the library is engaged in a 20-week work placement program supported by CES. We have also employed a part-time employee through Jobsupport Inc., an employment agency for people with an intellectual disability. The position was designed to meet the abilities of the employee.

The library has also accepted work experience placements by suitable participants in various parts of the library, all of whom have added to the culture and experience of the library and of staff who have participated.

As you will have noticed there is nothing remarkable about any of the above activities, but they do have an impact on improving our service provision to clients with a disability. Many social psychologists suggest that when true awareness and acceptance is gained, there will no longer be a need for lobbying for adaptive computer technology, building access or special resources-it will be a matter of course. There would also be no need for disability awareness training as it exists today as people with a disability would be seen as a part of the shared community.


Fine, M. and A. Asch, 'Disability Beyond Stigma: Social Interaction, Discrimination and Activism', Perspectives on Disability. 1993, pp 49-62.

Makas, E., 'Getting in Touch: The Relationship Between Contact With and Attitudes Toward People with Disabilities', Perspectives on Disability. 1993, pp 121-136.

Contact numbers

Russel Chudleigh from the Australian Quadriplegic Association. Tel 1800 819 775.

Accessible Arts Inc. Tel (02) 9555 1022.

Royal Blind Society. Tel (02) 9334 3333.

Jobsupport Inc. Tel (02) 9554 9555.

Murray Spriggs, Disability Access Consultant, State Library of NSW. Tel (02) 9273 1622 Email

Videos: Intellectual Disability

The National Council for Intellectual Disability (NCID) has provided Link-up with an annotated list of videos which are available for loan, some of which are listed below. Also reviewed are some of the most popular videos from the Northern Beaches Learning Difficulties Support Group.


People First: Employing People with Disabilities

Produced for the Office of Disability, Premier's Department of NSW by Davis Film & Video Production.VHS, 30 mins. This video is about real people with major disabilities ranging from deafness, blindness, intellectual impairments and psychiatric illness. It is a light-hearted and entertaining look at attitudes towards people with disabilities in the workplace. It shows how they successfully manage their job, dispels some of the myths about disabilities and clarifies the issues involved in their employment. Incentives, policies on employment and worker's compensation issues are also discussed.

Secondary Transition & Employment Project Assessment

This video to be reviewed in conjunction with Assessing and Teaching Job Related Social Skills by Diane Baumgart and Jane Anderson. VHS, 28 mins.

People with Physical and Multiple Disabilities: Supported Employment Demonstration

VHS, 16 mins.

Youth Advocacy Institute 'On Your Own' Videos

Transition, 210-Transitional issues for people with severe disabilities. VHS, 30 mins.

Employment, 313-Overcoming barriers to employment. VHS, 30 mins.

Employment, 305-Parents roles and concerns. VHS, 30 mins.

Employment, 311-Supported and competitive employment vs sheltered settings. VHS, 30 mins.

Working Australians

This short video highlights the benefits to employers of employing people with disabilities. Training, safety, and productivity issues are addressed. Interviews with employers from a range of industries focus on their experience with staff engaged through the Westwork program. Wesley Central Mission, 1991. 6 mins.

Supported Employment: We Can Work

Supported employment as an alternative to sheltered workshops or unemployment. Discussions with employers, developmentally disabled people in supported employment, and with family members. Canada.

The Prime Minister's Employer of the Year Awards

This video shows numerous employers speaking about the advantages of employing people with a disability. 1993. VHS, 2 hrs 40 mins.

Employability: Integrating People with Developmental Disabilities into the Workplace

A video designed for the employer showing that people with disabilities can contribute to the workforce just like any other human being. Produced by the Woolworth Corporation. VHS, approx. 28 mins.

A Question of Standards: Making Services Even Better

Produced on behalf of the Commonwealth Department of Health, Housing, Local Government and Community Services by Open Channel Co-operative Ltd, 1993. VHS, 20 mins. Deals mainly with employment issues.


Stepping Out

In November 1979, 40 extraordinary people took to the stage. Labelled by society as mentally handicapped, isolated and hidden away in institutions since early childhood, they came to Sydney Opera House and gave a performance that held audiences spellbound. This film tells the story of that event. VHS, 54 mins.

Breaking Through: The Story of Norman and Tom

This is the story of two young men who have severe disabilities. They have spent most of their childhood and adolescence in a large institution and are now becoming independent in their new home in the community. Produced by NIMR Canada. 16 mm film and on U-matic video. 60 mins, 1981.

Room to Move

This video shows how young people are making a new life for themselves outside institutions, in the community. Produced by Disability Advisory Council of Australia and Film Australia, 1987. VHS, 28 mins.

One Day Soon

The objective of this video is to raise awareness of the issues surrounding institutionalisation and community living. It explores the abilities, hopes and frustrations faced by people with disabilities and compares the safe but restricted life of institutions to the freedom and responsibilities in the outside world. One role is played by an actress, the others are by people with disabilities. Produced by the Australian College of Entertainers for Wesley Central Mission, 1986. VHS, 18 mins.

Regular Lives

Looks at integration in a local neighbourhood school, in supported employment, and in group housing. VHS, 29 mins.

And After Tomorrow

A film about the lives of people with an intellectual disability and their families, in which parents and friends speak candidly about their personal experiences. It examines the supports available for community living, and how individuals with disabilities can be empowered to make their own decisions about their lives. GARI, 1986. VHS, 51 mins.

Moving Out

For people with an intellectual disability who are deciding whether or not to live in the community. First movie in the Moving Out trilogy about people moving out of institutions in Victoria, Pleasant Creek and Kew Cottage. STAR, Vic., 1992. VHS.

Moving Out-The Family

For families of people with intellectual disabilities. Second movie in the Moving Out trilogy about people moving out of institutions in Victoria, Pleasant Creek and Kew Cottage. STAR, Vic., 1992. VHS, 18 mins.

Moving Out-The Community

Living alongside people with intellectual disabilities. Third movie in the Moving Out trilogy about people moving out of institutions in Victoria, Pleasant Creek and Kew Cottage. STAR, Vic., 1992. VHS, 18 mins.

Karen's House

A video about severely handicapped people making the transition from institution (Nulsen Haven, WA) to group home. VHS, 31 mins.

Supported Living

New community options. ARC Benton Community Housing. University of Oregon, 1987. VHS, 21 mins.

Captives of Care

Produced by ABC Television, 1981. VHS, 45 mins.


Shows how the community support allows a Nova Scotian family to keep their severely disabled child at home. VHS, 32 mins.

Just Friends

Explores friendships made between people with developmental disabilities and others. James Brodie Productions. 20 mins.


The story of three young people with developmental disabilities as they seek a full life in the community. James Brodie Productions. 20 mins.

Foster Grandparent Scheme (Hunter Region) Inc.

The Foster Grandparent Scheme was set up by Stockton Hospital in May 1995. This is an excellent video showing how advocacy works in a most positive way. Family Care Centre, Stockton Hospital. VHS, 13 mins.

A Better Life

A new educational video which presents real life, positive images and experiences of people with disabilities, thus challenging some of the negative beliefs and perceptions, which persist in our community. The video tells the story of three relationships. Produced by the Students of North Sydney College of TAFE. VHS, 21 mins.


This video is a Four Corners report on various institutions throughout the country. Reporter Chris Masters, 1996. VHS, 43 mins.

A Real Slice of the Action

Sport and recreation provide the passport to a wider world for people with an intellectual disability. Integration and acceptance can only be achieved when people with a disability are able to live in the community and share in all resources. Produced by SASRAPID. VHS, approx. 20 mins.


The First Day's the Hardest

Looks at the problems, hopes and achievements of parents of children with Down Syndrome. Produced by the Down Syndrome Association, NSW, 1984. ¾ inch video, 30 mins.

In Memory of Ella

This film is a synopsis of parents' attitudes to the birth of a child with Down Syndrome. The video will benefit genetic counsellors, medical personnel, and prospective parents of children with Down Syndrome. Capital Television Holdings. Australian Down Syndrome Association, 1992. VHS, 30 mins.

Toddler Taming: Children with Disabilities

This video was written and presented by Dr Christopher Green and covers such items as common conditions, dealing with uncertainty, how the parents feel, deals with friends and family, how to get the best from your doctor and some ways professionals can do it better. VHS, 50 mins, 1995.

Opening Doors

This video is about three families, their feelings, joys, fears and expectations for their disabled children. Produced by New Zealand Films. VHS, 46 mins.


Gentle Teaching

Children with behaviour difficulties learn and grow as a result of gentle teaching-an alternative to aversive therapy. The effects of replacing aggressive or pitying postures with interactive/supportive ones. Roeher Institute, 1987. 40 mins.

A Chance to Belong: A Story of School Integration

The story of three children who have moved successfully into normal classroom situation in Woodstock, New Brunswick, Canada. 19 mins.

Jenny's Story

Jenny lived in an institution from 6-10 years of age then returned home and attended a segregated school where she had no friends, did not talk, and was very unhappy. She later moved to the local community school where she blossomed. The film looks at the effects of integration on Jenny, and on the school itself. Parashoot Productions Inc. VHS, 16 mins.

Inclusive Schooling Integration

Setting the Scene-John Lewis. Produced by Institute of Educational Administration Geelong.

Inclusive Schooling Integration

Support Video. Produced by Institute of Educational Administration Geelong.

'A New Way of Thinking'

University of Minnesota Educational Psychology Department, 1987. VHS, 30 mins.

Hello My Friends

The story of three children who attend their local neighbourhood school. It shows how they learn and work and play with others in a social setting. VHS, 18 mins.

Schooled for Success: Integration Education of Children with Down Syndrome

This video is intended to engender a climate of acceptance in a local school where a child with Down Syndrome has applied for entry. The content of the video was dictated by the experiences of teachers who were already teaching a child with Down Syndrome in their class. Video produced by the Down Syndrome Association of NSW, 1993. VHS, approx. 24 mins.


Matthew: A World of His Own

Film Australia, 1982. 16 mm film. 13 mins.

Intellectual Handicap Services Qld

Includes: Time to Share, 15 mins; Stepping Stone, 10 mins; Basic Functional Literacy, 39 mins; Working Arrangement, 26 mins; Massage for Relaxation, 13 mins; An Important Role in the Community, 8 mins; An Assessment of an Intellectually Handicapped Adult, 30 mins; Behaviour Management in Action, 20 mins; Earl, 10 mins; On Being People, 19 mins; Play: Learning Through the Senses, 13 mins. Programs produced by IHS. VHS.

The Business of Welfare

This video examines the role of sheltered workshops and their alternatives in Australia in the 80s. Community Media Unit. Melbourne College of Advanced Education, 1985. VHS.

When People with Developmental Disabilities Age

Produced by the Office of Mental Retardation and Developmental Disabilities. This video can be used in conjunction with the book Wit to Win by Phillip Le Pore and Matthew Janicki. VHS, 19 mins.

No Turning Back

Australian Bicentennial Authority. PAL VHS, 1989. 51 mins.

Wolfensberger on Normalisation

VHS, 60 mins.

New Alternatives in Service Provision

Community Services of Victoria. VHS.

Intellectual Disability Rights Service

Redfern Legal Centre. VHS

Our Baby Has Down Syndrome

Produced by Down Syndrome Association South Australia, 1986. VHS, 30 mins.

Biological Aspects of Mental Retardation

Reviews present knowledge of genetic/bio-medical factors which are responsible for most cases of severe intellectual disability, and discusses the impact of this knowledge, and of changing social attitudes, on treatment. Roeher Institute, 1984. 30 mins.

Disability, Society and Change

This video was produced to provide information to consumers, family members, and prospective service agencies about the Disability Services Act, (DSA) and as a training resource. Produced by Accolade Communications for National Council with funding from DCSH, 1990. VHS.

'A Place of My Own'

This module focuses on services that are actively promoting participation in real community life, as well as the social relationships that flow from them and provides some useful examples of the range of service models supported by the DSA. VHS, 18 mins 31 secs.

Attitude and Management

Community support, interviews with families, people with disabilities, and with experienced practitioners, will assist physicians in ongoing management. Also examines attitudes that can hinder the patient. Roeher Institute, 1984. 30 mins.

Wheeling Free

Follows Jeff as he journeys through Central America. He goes on a trek into the Costa Rican jungle, climbs Mayan Ruins in Guatemala and skindives of the coast of Belize. This video is both a travelogue and a film about physical disability. Ronin Films, 1991. VHS, 52 mins.

Reaching Out

Produced for Action on Disability with Ethnic Communities Inc. by Education Shop, 1990. Runs for 15 mins. Reaching Out is in Vietnamese and is suitable for community groups. Reaching Out provides information on the range of services available to people with intellectual disability.

The Everyone in Show

'There are no disabilities, only abilities.' This is the message of The Everyone in Show. It is an entertaining and fun video as well as an excellent resource in the areas of community health, human relations, and personal development for both primary and lower secondary students. Produced by SKA TV for Reinforce. VHS, 16 mins.

Understanding Material Grief: 4. The Birth of Handicapped Baby

This video looks at the grief reactions of women following the birth of a disabled baby. Effects of long term stress and the impact of unresolved grief are illustrated through an interview with a mother of a teenage child born with severe disabilities. Directed by Margaret Nicol and Tony Vuletich. 1992. VHS, 39 mins.


There is something profoundly disconcerting about the physically and mentally disabled. As for an imaginative or emotional life for the disabled, well that's something many of us care not to ponder. Perhaps that has been Esther's father's problem. Perhaps that is why he's shunted her off to an institution. Happily such places are not the grey hells they used to be although the legacy of those grim times still lives in the stories of Skallagrigg. Genie or angel, 'the Skallagrigg is always there for you but you have to look for it'. To us it might be a fairy tale but for Esther it is hope and the promise of love. Reviewed by Paul Harris, The Age, 1 March 1996. VHS, 90 mins.

See the Person Not the Problem

A humorous, thought-provoking video that mirrors a society's response and reaction to people with cerebral palsy. Its theme is consciousness raising, through a crystal clear presentation of situations and events that confront people with cerebral palsy daily in their journey through society. It explodes the mythical, stereotyped perceptions about people with cerebral palsy and encourages society to examine its attitudes and behaviour. Produced by Cerebral Palsy Association of Western Australia. VHS, 17 mins.

When Billy Broke his Head

This video is funny, shocking and wonderfully real. When Billy Broke his Head provides a wake-up call to all of us about the realities of disability. Produced by Billy Golfus and David E. Simpson. VHS, 55 mins.


A six-part comedy drama series. Tape 1: Episodes 1-3. Tape 2: Episodes 4-6.

An irreverent and frequently riotous look at group-living in the 90s. Three young people with intellectual disabilities are forced to share their rented house with a bankrupt builder and his vitriolic daughter. Housegang is a Film Australia production in association with Alfred Road Films and Accessible Arts Inc. for SBS Independent, 1996. VHS, 3 x 26 mins.

Dr Christopher Green Presents Understanding ADD: Attention Deficit Disorder

This video is for parents, teachers and health care professionals. This video has assembled the latest information, research and solutions to this misunderstood problem which affects learning, behaviour and family relationships. Produced by Australian Video Publishers Pty Ltd. VHS, 2 hrs 12 mins.

Now We're Talking: The National Relay Service

Now everyone can enjoy the benefits of the telephone service. There are two information videos: one for the deaf and hearing impaired and the other for the speech and communication impaired, on how the service works. Produced by Scottie Connolly. The service is supported and funded by the Commonwealth Departments of Human Services and Health and Communications and the Arts. VHS.

Audio Cassettes

Help Me to Tell the Truth

The story about a self-advocacy group inside a large institution for people with an intellectual disability.

Your Rights at Work

This a kit for people who have intellectual disabilities and for people who work with them. It is relevant to sheltered workshops and open workplaces. It contains: a manual covering rights at work; a cassette tape and a guide book for workers. Produced by the Intellectual Disability Rights Service of Redfern Legal Centre, NSW.

Disability, Society and Change

A resource kit explaining Commonwealth Government's statement of principles and objectives of the Disability Services Act.

Rights for All

Produced by the Intellectual Disability Rights Service, August 1991. Content has been adapted from the Rights for All magazine.

Down Syndrome Means You're Special

A series of four programs of interest to professionals, families and friends of people with Down Syndrome. Produced in conjunction with Australian Down Syndrome Association Inc., by University Radio 5UV and sponsored by the Variety Club of Australia.

Minimum Outcomes Booklet

Royal Blind Society. For use by print handicapped readers.

The Housing Needs of People with Disabilities

Audio tape of the National Housing Strategy. Jan. 1992. (2 tapes)

Guardianship: A Balancing Act

The voices of people with disabilities, their families, friends and professionals. A report from the Disability Council of NSW. To assist people in understanding the role of the Guardianship Board and what the practical outcomes are for people with disabilities. Three tapes and accompanying booklet make up A Balancing Act. The stories on these tapes offer a moving and provocative insight into the lives of people with disabilities. Redfern Legal Centre Publishing, 1992.

Northern Beaches Learning Difficulties Support Group: Recommended Videos


Secret is a video which portrays the impact of dyslexia upon the life of a grandfather and grandson. The story draws attention to the fact that this impairment has historically prevented many people from learning how to read. For the grandfather, he has led a successful life and is held in high regard in the community. His secret is that he cannot read.

The discovery that his grandson also has dyslexia provides the impetus for the grandfather and his family to positively confront this impairment and try adaptive strategies to learn to read.

The video is to be highly recommended for its sensitive approach to an impairment which the community and education field have gained much knowledge about. Perhaps more importantly, the video is praiseworthy for its depiction of a community which includes and embraces individual difference. Starring Kirk Douglas. 21st Century Pictures Pty Ltd. VHS, 120 mins.

Fat City Workshop and a Question of Perception

Both these videos focus on the issue of learning disability. These videos are instructional and an excellent resource for education professionals or those involved in the instruction or development of people generally.

The videos illustrate the powerful role educators have in the education of students with or without disabilities. The Fat City Workshop video is particularly good at showing the impact a teacher can have on the learning and development of a student.

An overarching message these videos teach us is that if children or students have impairments of a learning or cognitive kind then it is critical that teaching methods provide developmental opprotunities for learning.

The video also provides valuable insight into strategies that include rather than exclude children with individual differences from classrooms. This is a significant characteristic of teaching that is becoming more prominent as our communities begin to welcome children with disabilities into local schools. VHS, 140 mins.

Paul Cain, NCID, PO Box 521, MAWSON ACT 2607. Tel 282 5624 Fax 282 5639

Email URL

Thanks to Julie Appleton, Northern Beaches Learning Difficulties Support Group, PO Box 174, NARRABEEN NSW 2101.

Boom in Audio Book Popularity

Mary Dickenson reports on a recent survey of audio book availability in Australian libraries

A recent survey by the National Library of Australia shows that in less than a decade there has been a rapid escalation in the popularity of audio books. Literature in this form is no longer of interest only to people with impaired vision or other print handicaps. Audio books are being enjoyed by all kinds of people, in all kinds of settings.

Eighty-four per cent of libraries responding to a question concerning access to their audio book collections, replied that their audio books were available to all borrowers. Just six per cent of responding libraries said their audio book collections were available only to people with print disabilities and in most instances there were special circumstances responsible for the restriction. This finding contrasts with the results of a survey in the late 1980s, when audio book collections in many public libraries were available only to people with print disabilities. In the 1980s there was also more variation in definitions of what constituted a print disability, with some libraries using more restricted definitions than others. At that time, audio books were sometimes available only to people who were blind or partially blind while other libraries extended this service to people with physical disabilities which affected their ability to read and/or manipulate literature in print form. Anecdotal evidence suggests a more liberal definition of print disabilities now applies just about everywhere. Another change is that in most instances the number of titles available to all borrowers exceeds those to which restrictions apply.

The number of audio books held in public libraries has increased dramatically as a result of their growing popularity and availability. One library, where the demand was particularly heavy, reported they would be more than doubling their numbers within the next six months. Another change is that the overwhelming proportion of audio books are on open access and only a small number are unavailable for general borrowing, usually due to copyright restrictions. These latter audio productions are those produced by the traditional producers of audio books for people with print disabilities. With the rapid increase in the number of commercially produced audio books, these now constitute the largest category of audio book holdings in many public libraries. A number of libraries commented that they prefer to purchase only open copyright books. As the general public discovers the benefits of literature in audio form, the pool of audio books available for all users grows in volume and diversity, so everyone benefits.

Need for more Australian literature in audio

One glaring impression gained from the survey is a pressing need for more commercially available unabridged productions of Australian literature. There is now a great range of audio productions of fiction and non-fiction works from British and North American producers, who specialise in the literature from their respective countries. The overwhelming majority of libraries responding to the questions seeking to ascertain the proportion of audio books by Australian authors was that such productions accounted for less than 14 per cent of their holdings. The survey also showed that fiction titles dominated the collections.

Another gap in audio book availability commented on in the survey was of titles currently popular among teenagers.

Almost all audio books are recorded on cassettes but audio compact discs have begun to make an appearance and judging by overseas trends this form of audio recording is gaining popularity more rapidly than was anticipated just a year ago.

Abridged audio books are becoming more available in public libraries as demand for these productions increases. Even libraries serving the needs of the print handicapped more exclusively now find there is a demand for abridged audio books from elderly borrowers and other people who for one reason or another prefer abridged audio literature.

Explanations for the growing popularity of audio books among the general population are complex but the rapid spread of portable sound technology such as the cassette player and the Walkman and now the portable audio CD player have made audio books accessible to just about everyone. Categories of borrowers identified in the National Library survey included long distance travellers; farmers who listen to audio books in their tractor cabins; fruit pickers and joggers out with their Walkmans; and craftspeople who read with their ears while working with their hands. A great thing about audio books is that they increase the amount of time people have for reading by enabling them to 'read' while doing other things. Audio books are enjoyed by all age groups and they are marvellous for keeping children calm while travelling.

Rising standards

So far as standards are concerned, the growth in a commercial market for audio books has resulted in ever-higher standards of narration and sound quality. Audio book narration is now an important additional source of work for actors, here and overseas, and one they find particularly challenging and satisfying. Many actors comment that they just love the opportunity to work on a project where they can fulfil the actor's dream of playing all the parts themselves. The challenge for the actor is to evoke just the right tone for the entire book, relying solely on his or her voice to communicate emotion. Careful preparation is required and actors vary in the way they go about this, but essential ingredients are to prepare a list of the characters and their ages, personalities and accents so that the narrator can become familiar with their respective 'roles'.

In addition to audio books by a single narrator, there is now also a demand for multi-voice productions, laden with special effects, which though not to everyone's taste, are popular with the youth market.

A significant contribution to the improved standard of Australian audio book production has been the TDK Australian Audio Book Awards which were established by the National Library of Australia in 1988 and have been awarded annually since 1989. The standard of narration and sound quality of audio books which have won awards of recent years compare very well with the best overseas audio book productions.

A coming phase

To date, a major drawback of audio books for people who cannot read regular print is that there has been virtually no random access to the recorded text. A new CD playback system called DAISY/PLEXTALK is about to overcome this drawback. This new system offers four giant steps forward over the conventional tape cassettes used for audio books:


The National Library of Australia is extremely grateful to all public libraries who responded to the questionnaire concerning audio book holdings. The information obtained will be a great help in fulfilling another aim of the TDK Australian Audio Book Awards, which is to increase public awareness of the benefits and pleasures of literature in audio form. A further aim is to see a large range of Australian audio books available, without restrictions, through libraries, bookstores and other appropriate outlets. The results of the survey show that this aim is also well on the way to achievement in public libraries.

The prize of a multimedia pack, donated by TDK (Australia) Pty Ltd for responding libraries, was won by Craig Price of the Burnie City Library.

Mary Dickenson, Coordinator, TDK Australian Audio Book Awards, National Library of Australia, CANBERRA ACT 2600. Tel (06) 262 1289 Fax (06) 273 4493 Email

News and Resources

New Technology

A number of innovations for Internet Accessibility are available from Cornell University's Website, including the new Emacspeak 97++, which aims to provide a powerful Internet ready audio desktop. The application integrates Internet technologies including Web surfing and messaging into all aspects of the electronic desktop. Emacspeak, and other audio applications, including AsTeR (Audio System For Technical Readings) can be downloaded from: or Email The release is currently read only.

Raised Dot computing produces braille translation software. The first version of their MegaDots program, completely tailored for Australian braille, is now available. The company has added a new style sheet called AUSSIE, customised for Australian usage. Information about MegaDots can be obtained from Pulsedata International Pty Ltd, 60 Broughton Road, SURREY HILLS VIC 3127. Tel (03) 9890 1495.

Communication Technology: Research

The Rural Development Centre, University of New England, together with I.D.E.A.S. Inc is carrying out a 12 month national research project, which will investigate the implications of new communications technology in the provision of information to people with disabilities and its role in disseminating information about disabilities to other key people and organisations. A report about the results will be published, to assist people with disabilities, carers and relevant organisations.

For further information contact Ms Robyn Wolstenholme. Tel (067) 73 2220 Fax (067) 73 3245 Email

New Publications from RBS

Age Pension: All You Need to Know (Sept, 1996) contains answers to the most commonly asked questions about the age pension. It is available on audio cassette and ASCII file disk for people with print disabilities, and is free from the Royal Blind Society. To receive a copy, call the Royal Blind Society on (02) 9334 3524 or toll free on 1800 644 885.

A valuable resource for women with early breast cancer is also available from the Royal Blind Society on audio. The booklet All About Early Breast Cancer has been recorded by Royal Blind Society on behalf of the NHMRC National Breast Cancer Centre. All About Early Breast Cancer contains valuable information for women who have been told they have early breast cancer, and may also be useful for their partner, family and friends. Commonly asked questions are answered, and a list of resources and contacts provided. Copies can be obtained free of charge by anyone with a print disability by calling Allison Boyes at the National Breast Cancer Centre on (02) 9334 1706.

The Forever Garden

Although written essentially for people planning their retirement, The Forever Garden, by Cara Rosehope (Hyland House, 1996) is useful reading for anyone who would like to create an easy-care garden, whether due to ageing, disability or time commitments. The book is a practical guide for creating gardens, with colour plates, illustrations and text on the benefits of gardening, choices of garden tools and methods, and gardening for mental fitness. The book is overall well-indexed and includes useful addresses such as TAD, Independent Living Centres, stockists of specialised gardening tools, and horticultural therapy organisations. The Forever Garden is available from Hyland House Publishing, Hyland House, 387-389 Clarendon Street, SOUTH MELBOURNE VIC 3205. Tel (03) 9696 9064 Fax (03) 9696 9065. Price: $24.95.

Care for Caring Parents

Care for Caring Parents: Support for Parents of Children with Special Needs by N.C. Schultz and C.L. Schultz (ACER, 1997) provides program materials consisting of a Parent's Book and a Leader's Manual.

These manuals address many of the deep concerns, hopes, fears and pressures of parents who face extraordinary demands in caring for a child with special needs. In both books, the main objective is to maximise personal and social support for parents within the context of their families and community. The Leader's manual provides detailed agendas for the nine-session Care for Caring Parents course, while the Parent's book has been designed particularly for those parents who will probably never have an opportunity to attend a group.

Prices: Parent's book $16.95; Leader's Manual $75.00; freight handling charges 10% of full invoice value. For information and ordering contact ACER Customer Service, Private Bag 55, CAMBERWELL VIC 3124. Tel (03) 9277 5656 Fax (03) 9277 5678.

Sexuality Resources

The Australian Quadriplegic Association (AQA), through the Independent Living skills program, has been delivering sexuality courses to people with spinal cord injuries and other physical disabilities for over ten years. The autumn issue of Quad Wrangle, the official journal of the AQA, supplies an excellent reading list and article relating to this topic. To subscribe to Quad Wrangle, contact the Australian Quadriplegic Association Ltd, 1 Jennifer Street, LITTLE BAY NSW 2036, Tel (02) 9661 8855 Fax (02) 9661 9598.

Open Letter

Open Letter: Australian Journal of Adult Literacy Research and Practice began in 1990 as an initiative of International Literacy Year. The project has now reached the end of its fully-subsidised period of funding from DEETYA, and will now move to an independent subscription base. The magazine is an important independent channel for publishing the results of research in the language, literacy and numeracy field. The University of Technology, Sydney and the Adult Literacy Research are now responsible for Open Letter. To subscribe to the journal, contact Sue Anderson on (02) 9514 3817.

Addressing Violence Against Women

The NSW Department for Women and the Australian Caption Centre (ACC) have collated a group of captioned videos which address issues of violence against women. These will soon be available through the State Library Service (NSW), or local women's services.Although aimed at NSW libraries, an ACC pamphlet describes the contents of the videos and gives addresses of video distributors for anyone wanting to purchase the videos. For a copy of the pamphlet, contact the Australian Caption Centre, 187 Thomas Street, HAYMARKET NSW 2000. Tel (02) 9212 5277 Fax (02) 9212 2198 TTY: (02) 9212 3129.

Resources on Intellectual Disability

Under Blue Skies: The Social Construction of Intellectual Disability in Australia, edited by Errol Cocks, Charlie Fox, Mark Brogan and Mike Lee, is a study of the history of government services to people with intellectual disabilities in Western Australia. It is written largely as a social history, with the lives of people with intellectual disabilities and their families firmly at the forefront, and represents the cooperative endeavour of professional historians and others directly concerned with people with intellectual disabilities. Under Blue Skies is available from the Centre for Disability Research & Development, Edith Cowan University, JOONDALUP WA 6027. Tel (09) 400 5658 Fax (09) 400 5657. Prices (including postage): $27 (within Australia), $29 (overseas orders), $20 student price.

The Australian Institute of Health and Welfare is an independent health and welfare statistics and information agency in the Commonwealth of Australia's Health and Family Services portfolio. The institute publishes information on a broad range of issues relevant to the health and welfare of Australians living with disabilities. One of the latest publications explores The Definition and Prevalence of Intellectual Disability in Australia. The paper, by Xingyan Wen, critically reviews some significant definitions of intellectual disability, and attempts to quantify the size of the population group. It also aims to inform and stimulate discussion. To order the publication, contact: Tel

(06) 295 4466 TTY (06) 295 4752 Fax (06) 244 1044.

Learning Disabilities: Lifelong Issues, edited by S.C. Cramer and William Ellis, outlines an agenda for improving the educational, and ultimately social and economic, futures of people with learning disabilities. It features sections devoted to education, labour, justice and health and human services. The book integrates research and reality to create a model for updating services and opportunities for people with learning disabilities. ISBN: 1557662401, 1996,

Cost: $65.00 Available from MacLennan & Petty Pty Ltd, PO Box 145, ROSEBERY NSW 2018. Tel (02) 9669 5755 Fax (02) 9669 5997.

ABC Resources

The 1996 Sing Collection has popular and contemporary songs for children about multiculturalism and the environment as their major theme. The Sing Collection consists of a song book, vocal and instrumental cassette pack, and a Sing Percussion Book. For prices and availability contact ABC Education. Tel 1 800 800 150.

The Internet: A Step-by-Step Guide is produced in Australia and is a practical guide for using the Internet, from turning on the computer, to getting information off the Internet from all over the world. It also explains Internet terms and their functions in an easy, entertaining style. Ideal for beginners of all ages. Price: $29.95. Contact 1 800 800 150 for prices and availability.

Make Headlines

Make HeadlinesABOVE: Make Headlines

The Office of Government Information and Advertising (OGIA) has developed a 'Content Analysis of Australian Non-English Language Newspapers' which gives readers the information to target non-English speakers accurately and efficiently. The analysis results from an exhaustive research commissioned by OGIA, which was conducted by the Centre for Multicultural Studies at the University of Wollongong. It is a three-part series offering comprehensive analysis of the content, style and character of non-English language newspapers in the 14 major language groups. Stage 1 covers Arabic, Portuguese, Vietnamese, Spanish and Chinese publications; Stage 2 covers Italian, Croatian, Macedonian, Serbian and Turkish publications; Stage 3 covers Greek, Persian, Maltese and Polish publications. To obtain a copy of the Content Analysis of Australian Non-English Language Newspapers - Stage 1, 2 or 3, contact AGPS Mail Order Sales: GPO Box 84, CANBERRA ACT 2601. Credit card or account customers only. Tel 13 2447 Fax (06) 295 4888. Price: $69.95 for each Stage.

World Wide Web Accessibility

The World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) has launched the Web Accessibility Initiative (WAI) to promote and achieve Web functionality for people with disabilities. Endorsed by The White House and W3C Members, the WAI will involve the establishment of an International Program Office (IPO) responsible for developing software protocols and technologies, creating guidelines for the use of technologies, educating the industry, and conducting research and development. The W3C will be working with government, industry leaders, Web developers, content providers, and non-profit organizations, including the Yuri Rubinsky Insight Foundation, to lead the development efforts of the newly created Initiative.

According to Jim Miller, W3C Technology & Society Domain Leader, the World Wide Web Consortium will be the central point for the formation of accessibility goals, and will also be an advocate for people with disabilities to Web developers and content providers. In addition, the IPO will be housed and fully integrated within the W3C, with technologists working to ensure that Consortium-developed protocols meet or exceed accessibility goals.

The W3C's technology development will focus initially on protocols and data formats aimed at making the Web itself more accessible. W3C will develop descriptive video and captioning enhancements to HTML and XML, develop extensions to CSS that will support speech output, and work on the negotiation of user agent features for HTTP and PEP.

The W3C was created to develop common protocols that enhance the interoperability and promote the evolution of the World Wide Web. It is an industry consortium jointly run by the MIT Laboratory for Computer Science (LCS) in the USA, the National Institute for Research in Computer Science and Control (INRIA) in France and Keio University in Japan. To date over 170 organizations are members of the Consortium.
For more information about the World Wide Web Consortium, see

National Council on Intellectual Disability

PO Box 521, MAWSON ACT 2607. Tel (06) 282 2624 Fax (06) 280 8858

Agency Members

ACT ACT Council on Intellectual Disability

Gerry McKeon, Secretary
77 Bargang Crescent
Tel (06) 231 6226 Fax (06) 242 7686

NSW NSW Council for Intellectual Disability

Annette Donohoe, Executive Officer
Suite 3, 3rd Floor, 22-36 Mountain Street
Tel (02) 9211 1611 Fax (02) 9211 2606

QLD Unicare

Margaret Brewis
PO Box 86
Tel (07) 3367 3836 Fax (07) 3367 3849

SA Intellectual Disability Services Council

Richard Bruggemann
PO Box 758, Tynte Street
Tel (08) 8267 5966 (W); (08) 8431 4535 (H)
Fax (08) 8239 0818

TAS Tasmanian Council on Intellectual Disability

Ms Deborah Anastasio
State Office Administration
PO Box 346
Tel / Fax (03) 6228 1911

VIC VALID (Victorian Advocacy League for Individuals

with Disability)
Kevin Stone, Executive Director
Unit 1, Ground Floor, 2 Walmer Street
Tel (03) 9427 8299 Fax (03) 9427 8739

WA Developmental Disability Council of WA Inc.

Ms Sue Harris, Executive Officer
Lotteries House, 1st Floor
79 Stirling Street
Tel (09) 220 0649 Fax (09) 220 0625

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Last updated 2 July 1997