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  • By Paul Crichton
  • 5 Oct 07, 11:56 AM

It has recently been a busy time, so it's time to look at some of the stories hitting the headlines. Interestingly, the big news covers most of the major web 2.0 entertainment food groups – video, e-books and music.

Joost has finally come out of a marathon beta testing period and officially launched. This is one of the biggest of the video on demand websites, with more than a million users garnered in that beta testing period. Joost also has deals with in place with companies like Viacom, who are responsible for channels such as Comedy Central and MTV, so there should be plenty of content to view.

I need your help with this one. I’ll be taking an in-depth look at it in the coming weeks, but I want to know your experiences with Joost. Can you get the software to work with your screen reader? Can you find any subtitled programmes? Does its launch mark the dawn of the video on demand age? We want to know what you make of it.

Elsewhere, the British Library has announced that they will be digitising more than 100,000 books. Because of copyright issues, most of these will be unheralded 19th Century books. The first 25 million pages are expected to take two years to scan. The work is being carried out in partnership with Microsoft and will be available via their Live Book Search.

These books will initially be scanned images, and so not accessible to screen reader users and will be difficult to read for those people with poor sight who need to adjust the text size.

As we've noted in previous entries, there is a desperate need for books to be provided in accessible formats to the UK's 2 million people with sight problems. This has to go down as a missed opportunity to make a significant contribution to the number of books available, and provide access to a literary heritage that belongs to everyone.

Although Microsoft's Press office assures us that they will be, "implementing a solution which respects everyone's needs in the future," it will be of little consolation to visually impaired students that might find one of these titles on a university syllabus, or just someone with an interest in 19th Century literature.

To complete the wrap up, Amazon are the latest company to start selling individual songs for download in MP3 format. Providing songs in MP3 format means they can be played on any device, or burnt to a CD. Amazon has traditionally been viewed as a pretty accessible website, so this is another welcome alternative to some of the less inclusive music sites out there.

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