12  ·  Survey Results:  Executive Summary
of multiple purpose public workstations with some
assistive technology is extremely variable. One li-
brary system reported 500 workstations, all with some
kind of accessibility software, including Zoom Text,
JAWS, and Kurzweil 3000. The largest number of pub-
lic workstations with assistive technology is 558; the
smallest units have one. The average is 114 worksta-
tions, but the median figure is eight. Clearly, the more
common approach is to provide assistive technology
on just a few of the general-purpose workstations. The
number of dedicated assistive technology worksta-
tions is low, commonly only two or three. The average
number of quiet rooms is also just two or three, but
one respondent reported 20 rooms available.
Disabled patrons have a variety of options for ob-
taining access to specialized workspaces. Seventy-five
percent of the respondents indicated that patrons
may approach any service desk. Almost half reported
that workspaces are self-service with signage point-
ing the way. Thirteen libraries have a special service
desk. Seven issue a key, code, or card swipe access
to special, locked workspaces, and most of the cor-
responding Web pages had quite specific directions
for obtaining and using these keys. The intent of these
libraries seems clear: to provide security for equip-
ment but also to provide access without intervention
for disabled persons so they can come and go as they
please. Only five have online reservations for special
rooms or equipment.
Specialized Software
The responses to the Specialized Software section of
the study reflect a still fairly limited pool of choices of
high-quality software packages. Existing options for
software can be cost prohibitive, and the technology
may not be as sophisticated as we might expect or de-
sire (e.g., screen readers still cannot interpret graphics.)
Sixty libraries reported use of text magnification
software. Of those, 78% use the Zoom Text magnifier
and reader, noted above as being ubiquitous in some
of the larger public computer labs. Adobe Acrobat
and the Microsoft Magnifier come in at 55% and 40%,
respectively. MAGic seems to have lost ground, used
for magnification by only twelve of the respondents.
Of the 52 responding libraries reporting use of screen
reader software, 47 (90%) have JAWS, 13 (25%) use
MAGic as a reader, and 13 have Narrator (part of the
Microsoft Accessibility package.)
The increase of awareness of learning disabilities
was noted in SPEC Kit 243 in 1999 and is reflected
in much of the current literature. As knowledge of
such disabilities has increased, the more sophisti-
cated scanner/reading/writing systems have gained
in popularity and usage. These systems are also very
useful for learners of English as a second language.
Twenty-nine of the 62 responding libraries report
using some version of Kurzweil, clearly the front run-
ner in this type of system. Survey respondents also
reported use of regular scanners plus OCR software
such as OpenBook (Freedom Scientific) and ABBYY
FineReader. Dragon Naturally Speaking dominates
the field of speech recognition or dictation software.
Eighteen respondents have word completion software
with Inspiration as the front runner.
Only 16 respondents reported use of the Microsoft
Windows accessibility package (now under “Ease of
Access” in the Accessories menu of Windows 7). Since
individual components of the Microsoft accessibility
package drew higher numbers in responses to other
sections of this survey, this low number could reflect
usage of only parts of the package and/or confusion
over the name of this suite. It is likely that most li-
braries have not explored all the components of this
toolkit, which may be readily available on their pub-
lic computers. Only three libraries reported using
the Premier Accessibility package, probably due to
the readily available Windows package. It should be
noted that software for converting text to Braille was
not included in the survey but is mentioned in the
open comments by at least three libraries. Several
libraries in this and other sections of the survey also
mentioned the services for Braille readers available
through the Library of Congress.
Specialized Hardware
The responding libraries provide a large array of assis-
tive hardware for disabled users. At the 53 responding
libraries, scanners (79%) and speakers (66%) are the
most common types of equipment, followed by micro-
phones, noise reduction headphones, and motor track-
balls. A third of the respondents provide some kind
of augmented keyboard and some provide joysticks.
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