Making the future accessible

Written on |

For International Braille Day we talked to the head of TAU’s Sourasky Central Library about the future of accessibility

For many years, if you were vision impaired and wanted to read, you had to know Braille. Invented by Louis Braille, this unique form of tactile writing was introduced to the world in the 1830s and revolutionized access to information for people with visual disabilities. It allowed people the freedom to study, work, earn wages, and live independently, where before these options were extremely limited. By 1960, it was estimated that about 50% of children who were legally blind could read braille in the United States.

But in today’s digital age, new forms of accessibility have become more widespread. We wanted to find out – is Braille still relevant or on its way to becoming extinct?

From text to voice
When we asked the staff at TAU’s Sourasky Central Library about books in Braille, we realized we were asking the wrong questions. The library doesn’t have any Braille books, investing instead of more modern forms of accessibility.

 “We see accessibility as a very important issue,” says Naama Scheftlowitz, director of the Sourasky Central Library. “But Braille isn’t the most efficient solution these days. We offer students with disabilities more advanced forms consuming text, such as text-to-voice programs and audiobooks. Another benefit is that these forms of accessibility help not just vision-impaired people, but a wide range of students and library patrons. For example, students who don’t speak Hebrew and have difficulty reading, but listening makes it easier for them to study.”

Audio is the future

Every computer at the library comes equipped with “Kolfix”, a text-to-voice program that can read any text on the screen out loud for the user. The library also offers students a subscription to iCast, an Israeli company that provides audiobooks, including translations of foreign books into Hebrew. The library’s search engine, DATA, also has a brand new feature that allows users to “voice search”, meaning to say the search term into a microphone instead of having to type it out.

Putting accessibility in the center

In the lobby of the library lives the Mia and Mila Pinkas Accessibility and Learning Assistance Center, maintained by the Dean of Students. Being placed in the lobby of the building means it’s centrally located on campus, and the library is right there for any assistance. It’s a spacious area containing work stations with advanced technological equipment, including magnification and reading software, and ergonomic equipment, aimed at making studying as accessible as possible for students with disabilities.

 

Some of the work stations at the Mia and Mila Pinkas Accessibility and Learning Assistance Center

“The very fact that the Accessibility Center is located within the library,” Naama says, “raises awareness of the issue, and we keep up to date with new technologies and adopt them. We even serve as an address for various inquiries to assist with complex student needs.”

related posts

Be My Guest

September 19, 2021

Prof. Isaac Ben-Israel Receives the IEEE Leadership Award

August 13, 2021

See You at Naftali

July 22, 2021

TAU Medical Student to Swim for Israel at Summer Olympics

July 15, 2021

Digital Learning: TAU 1st in Israel According to International Ranking

July 12, 2021

Leading the Global Yiddish Renaissance

June 22, 2021

Celebrating 20 Years of Gender Studies

June 16, 2021

A Bridge to Clean Water

June 3, 2021

Joint Israeli-Emirati Water Research Institute to Open in Abu Dhabi, UAE

June 1, 2021

TAU and Columbia University Launch Dual Degree Program

May 31, 2021

Standing With The Tel Aviv University Community

May 13, 2021

Promoting Equality on Campus

May 12, 2021

TEL AVIV UNIVERSITY LEADS THE WAY IN ANNOUNCED RESEARCH PROJECTS GOING TO SPACE

May 11, 2021

“Arabic for Beginners” – TAU’s Most Popular Course

March 24, 2021

Add ‘Zoom w. Dubai University’ to Your Calendar

March 18, 2021

Dafna Meitar-Nechmad Tapped as Chair of TAU’s Board of Governors

March 8, 2021

TAU Launches Israel’s First Center for AI and Data Science

February 25, 2021

Ready for Launch!

February 17, 2021

TAU Announces First of Its Kind International Program

February 16, 2021

More than 20,000 participants on TAU’s Open Day 2021

February 15, 2021

Online Impact: TAU 1st in Israel, Among Top 100 Worldwide

February 9, 2021

Increased Diversity Secured On TAU Campus

February 3, 2021

Tel Aviv’s Ecological Oasis: The Yehuda Naftali Botanic Garden at TAU

January 31, 2021

See you in Dubai

January 17, 2021

Building Community during Crisis

January 15, 2021

Academic First Responders

January 14, 2021

Accelerating Jewish-Arab Entrepreneurship

January 10, 2021

Enemies: A Love Story

December 23, 2020

Twelve TAU Researchers among Top 50 in their Fields

December 20, 2020

COVID-19 Takes TAU’s Legal Clinics into High Gear

December 7, 2020

Attracting Students with “Fire in Their Hearts”

November 18, 2020

European Association of Law and Economics recognizes TAU President

November 17, 2020

Unique Collaboration Between Tel Aviv University And Local Fashion Designers

November 17, 2020

2020/2021 New Slate of National and Regional Board of Directors

October 7, 2020

New Program Fosters Well-Rounded STEM Graduates

September 17, 2020

“A Scientific Discovery Can Never Be Undone”

September 16, 2020

Chag Shavuot Sameach

May 26, 2020

TAU Embraces Australia after Bushfires

February 19, 2020

TAU’s Open Day draws over 17,000 visitors

February 10, 2020

TAU’s first-of-its-kind “Twitter conference”

February 10, 2020

Most cited: TAU 1st in Israel according to international ranking

February 5, 2020

TAU’s new center will combine medicine and food security

January 22, 2020

TAU Alumni lead The Marker’s 40 Under 40 list

September 18, 2019

TAU among top 10 universities for venture capital-backed entrepreneurs

September 17, 2019

The 50th International Physics Olympiad has opened in Tel Aviv

July 8, 2019

TAU one of top 20 universities worldwide in scientific impact

July 3, 2019

Tel Aviv University Ranks Among World’s Top 20 for Research Impact

June 20, 2019

BOG 2019: Yehuda Naftali Botanic Garden Dedicated

June 18, 2019

It’s Simple Math

June 14, 2019

BOG 2019: Practice Makes Perfect at Kreshek Center

May 31, 2019
Ontario and Western Canada

3130 Bathurst Street, Suite, 214, Toronto, ON | M6A 2A1 
Phone: 416.787.9930 | Toll Free: 833.32.CFTAU (22328)
Email: toronto@cftau.ca

Ottawa, Quebec and Atlantic Canada

6900 Boulevard Décarie, Suite 3480, Montreal, QC | H3X 2T8
Phone: 514.344.3417
Email: montreal@cftau.ca


© CFTAU  | all rights reserved
Charitable registration: 124035643RR0001

TO TOP