|An open book on brown leaves|
During his talk, Harpur used phrases such as book famine and digital apartheid, which really convey the severity of the problem. He spent a good portion of his talk on who to sue when texts are not available for those with access to print disabilities. The two choices in higher education are the publisher and the university. While suing is not the first option, when it is the only recourse, Harpur noted that a resolution can take years. Those years can set the student back in terms of graduating, employment, and salary. For a faculty member, it could stall the person's research and scholarship.
Harpur also talked about the difference between the various types of ebooks and what people really need. For example:
- While a digitized work will be readable by screen reading software, it may be hard to navigate. Can the person move from section to section easily?
- An ebook may work well with a screen reader, but what about with enhancements like videos? Are they usable by someone with visual disabilities?
- Is all of the same information from the print version available in the digital version, and in a way that is accessible to all (e.g., tables, graphs, pictures)?
- Can a person cite from the digital version so that the citations make sense to someone looking at the print version?