16.3 Until recently, the predominant way for people with print disability to access text was via Braille and sound recordings. However, access remains poor, with only 5% of all books produced in Australia being published in accessible formats such as large print, audio or Braille, a situation that the Disability Discrimination Commissioner, Graeme Innes, describes as a ‘book famine’.[1] The digital era creates the potential for vastly improved access to copyright material for people with disability, using digital technology including:

  • online databases of digital versions of books, such as Bookshare or the HathiTrust Digital Library;

  • portable mp3 players to listen to an audio description of a movie;

  • portable scanners to format shift a purchased copy of a work;

  • computers, tablets or smartphones with built-in screen reading software;

  • electronic texts read via a digital Braille display, copied to a portable Braille note taking device or sent to an embosser to produce hardcopy Braille; and

  • screen access technology that provides tables of contents and allows the user to adjust the font size or colour.

16.4 While the older technology—that is, Braille and sound recordings—was resource intensive and relied upon institutions to create accessible formats, some of the newer technology empowers individuals to convert material to a suitable format for their own use.

16.5 However, the full benefits of digitisation are not yet available for people with disability, partly because of the current legislative arrangements, and partly because of the widespread use of TPMs on digital material, particularly ebooks. TPMs are intended to discourage the making of infringing copies, but they also inhibit the use of screen readers and the creation of Braille versions.[2]