The Opportunities and Challenges of the Digital Age: A Blind User's Perspective

Library services for blind and visually impaired people (VIPs) have been inextricably tied up with alternative format production, which has never risen above 4 percent of standard-text publishing. The impact of digital publishing has been modest on Braille, modified print and audio; this partly results from production methods but also from defensive copyright in which the rights of authors outweigh consumer access rights. In this instance librarians should: assert customer rights against author rights; require piracy evidence; work towards a global digital accessibility library; and advocate a generic right to information. In a global digitally converged environment VIPs will need help with navigation, data evaluation and file migration; these needs will alter the traditional, neutral, role of librarians, transforming them into facilitators, covering what were traditionally described as broadcasting and telecommunications. The biggest single problem for VIPs will be the explosion of digital static and moving pictures.