Category Archives: NUIM

It’s funny, but it also makes you think…

Not an Open University or disability-related post, but a congratulations to students on the Media Studies course at NUI Maynooth who bagged first prize in the DARE2BDRINKAWARE film competition for 3rd level students aged over 18. The competition aimed “to creatively explore the relationship between Irish culture and drinking through considering the values, attitudes and behaviours that young adults have in relation to alcohol.”

And didn’t they do well?

Text-to-speech- for free!

My colleague Martha alerted me to the presence of pediaphon, a site which will create an mp3 of a wikipedia entry. The voice is a little annoying, but it could be a useful way to get your hands on some listening material if you are away from the ATC or Assistive Technology Room in the Library.

Another very useful site is Scribd. On this site, you can upload virtually any text and have it converted to a range of different formats for download, storage or sharing. So, you could upload your say in Word format and have it converted to pdf. Or you could upload a PowerPoint presentation and convert it to mp3 for listening in the site or for download.

Norway to switch to open standards

The Norwegian government are to make it mandatory from 2009 for all documents published on their websites to be in open standard formats, reports The Inquirer.

From then, all documents will have to available in HTML, PDF (if layout must be preserved) or ODF (if the document is to be edited by the user e.g. a form). “Everybody should have equal access to public information. From 2009 the citizens will be able to chose which software to use in order to gain access to public information” said IT mister Heidi Grande Røys.

This is a good example of good practice in universal design. By making material available in these open standards, it is less likely that users will be unable to access the information. Similarly, this makes the information more easily accessible to those who use assistive technology such as screenreaders. The Access Office at NUIM strives to make all critical information available in HTML or PDF. We currently use rtf for editable text documents, but we are looking into ODF as a replacement.

Keyboard & Mouse R.I.P.?

Bill Gates Time MagazineBill Gates is predicting that the ‘second digital decade’ will ‘be more focused on connecting people’ and see machines being trained to react as people do as well as ‘natural user interfaces’ responsive to speech and touch. The era of the keyboard and mouse, the ‘first digital decade’, is over, he claimed at the International Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas last Sunday.

Whatever you think of the outgoing chairman of Microsoft, he is worth listening to. After all, when he addressed the ICES for the first time in 1994, he made the bold prediction that entertainment would move to being delivered through the home computer. At that time, very few people has a computer in their homes and the Internet was in its infancy.

I was lucky enough to get an iPod Touch for Christmas and I’ve been very impressed by the touchscreen capabilities. So much so, that even now using a keyboard and mouse to navigate the web seems slightly less practical! Bill is on to something.

Read more Gates logs out, predicting new digital era in The Guardian, January 8, 2008.

Hello NUIM

MAP logo

I’m opening the blog up to NUIM-related entries.

The Access Office, where I work as Assistive Technology Advisor, is having a new website developed and one of the features is a blog. The new site will be an interactive respository of information as well as a record of activities involving three main groups; mature students, students with disabilities and students entering through various non-traditional programmes.

The idea is that any blog entries that I tag with ‘NUIM‘ here will appear live on the opening page of the new site. Additionally anything I tag with ‘NUIM” and ‘disability’ should also appear on the relevant section on the site.

OU readers may be interested in some of the entries as I’m all about elearning, social networking as a pedagogical tool, etc etc.

There will probably not be any LOLcats. Pity.