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TeleRead for the Blind

By David Faucheux |

Update, Feb. 27, 2004: Check out the TeleRead news page in large
type and a special one-column format for
the blind and vision-impaired


TeleRead, a plan for a Carnegie-style library system on the Net, could help pave the way for the blind and other visually impaired people to be able to read copyrighted books for free--and as soon as the books came out.

E-books could work well with speech synthesizers and other adaptive technology.

Below are the thoughts of David Faucheux, a blind man from Lafayette, Louisiana, who in the past has served on a book-selection advisory committee of the National Library Service for the Blind and Physically Handicapped.

A Phi Beta Kappa with an undergraduate English degree from Louisiana State University, David Faucheux graduated magna cum laude from LSU's library school. And yet he has had difficulty finding work in his chosen field. Hopefully TeleRead could speed up the spread of effective adaptive technology and make life easier for him as both a reader and librarians.

Feel free to run off printouts of this page or otherwise copy anything from it including the RealAudio file of his voice--you may even broadcast the audio on radio or television.

Update, May 4, 2003: "TeleRead for the Blind" originally appeared in 1997. You can also read David's new essay appealing for an Open eBook standard for consumers, which would be especially helpful for the visually impaired. Of interest, too, would be his article Is There a Place for Us? Toward the Full Inclusion of Blind and Other Librarians with Disabilities--which he wrote for the ALA's Interface Magazine. Alas, despite David's love of books and his distinguished academic credentials, he is still unemployed.

--David H. Rothman,

Why David Faucheux Likes TeleRead

When Louis Braille formulated his system of raised dots, the blind became literate. For the first time, blind people could read independently. Specially produced slow speed long-playing phonograph records and four-track cassettes have offered additional options.

Over 50,000 books are published annually; many magazines and journals, as well. It is impossible for this material in its entirety to be produced in Braille or cassette format! At present, agencies serving the blind can translate approximately 10 percent of the materials published annually.

Using TeleRead or a similar system, best sellers, genre fiction, nonfiction, magazines, journals, monographs, and other materials would be made instantaneously available to all. Gone forever would be the wait--of often over a year--for fiction and a minimum of several weeks or months for much-needed college texts. Using speech synthesis or Braille, ASCII text files could be downloaded by the blind and even dyslexic and read.

Advances in Cybrarianship have made this a possibility. That should be a reality. Make your voice heard. Write, call, e-mail or fax your Congressman--and the White House. Thank you for your support.

--David Faucheux,


 Hear a RealAudio File of David Faucheux reading the material above. At 28.8K you'll need at least 30 seconds for  the file to reach you. Please pass the material on! No charge and no copyright problem. We want you to distribute David Faucheux's recording as widely as you can. But thanks to a possible glitch--or is it a protection scheme gone awry?--you might not be able to reproduce the file digitally, or at least not with the RA player. Ignore the stupid screen message and get out your old-fashioned tape recorder and save the sound the analogue way for your friends and colleagues. Or try downloading with a browser not equipped with RealAudio, then transfer the file to a machine with RA. Note: This audio file may not work with some older RealAudio players. Catch up with RealNetworks for a newer version of the software.

 The White House. The regular address is Office of the Vice President, White House, 1600 Pennsylvania Ave., N.W., Washington, D.C. 20500. The White House phone number is 202-456-1414, and the fax number is 202-456-2883. Always include your name, phone number and regular address when writing the White House or others.

 U.S. Senate e-mail addresses and other contact information.  

U.S. House contact info.

 Tips on writing Capitol Hill (this lobbying site has nothing to do with TeleRead, but the information is good).

 ReadToMe--free audio software that reads out Web pages and hundreds of classics on the Net., an invaluable group that has arranged for vision-impaired people to be able to share books legally via the Net.

 National Library Service for the Blind and Physically Handicapped--part of the Library of Congress. Commendably, NLS is already trying to promote the development of technical standards for digital talking books. TeleRead itself--an outside, independent proposal at this point, rather having any affiliation with NLS--would address complexities that go far beyond the technical matters. It's would library system for the whole nation, blind and otherwise, and the proposal tells how to pay for it all. Of course NLS might be a possibility as a test setting if the right people were so inclined. Whatever the technology, an important goal should be the encouragement of the Carnegie model of free libraries.

 Equal Access to Software and Information (EASI), a valuable group that among other things is working to make the Web friendlier to the disabled. The Faucheux page avoids tables and other complexities. In the future the TeleRead area may undergo a major redesign; and suggestions from the disabled community are welcomed.

 HarperAudio Site for Talking Books. Includes RealAudio samples. You can even subscribe to a mailing list for updates.

 David H. Rothman, originator of the TeleRead proposal. E-mail