April 21, 2024

CDC Accessible Zombie Preparedness Manual

If you’ve been hanging around here at Blindgadget for any length of time, you might get the idea that we like comics. And you would be right. We love comics and so, apparently, does the National Center for Disease Control. In a rather brilliant move, the CDC has published an accessible graphic novella that illustrates the importance of emergency preparedness. Because you never know when you might find a zombie at your door (especially at this time of year!).

The graphic novella, Preparedness 101: Zombie Pandemic is available for download in either graphical PDF  or accessible text PDF. And it’s free! The art is well done, setting a suitably eerie tone and the accessible text is nicely descriptive without unnecessary details. The story centers on a young couple and their dog settling in for a nice, normal night at home. Little do they know they have entered…the CDC Zone.

Zombies, Zombie Apocalypse, and Zombie Preparedness are all part of the CDC’s tongue in cheek campaign to engage new audiences with preparedness messages. CDC director, Dr. Ali Khan, notes, “If you are generally well equipped to deal with a zombie apocalypse, you will be prepared for a hurricane, pandemic, earthquake, or terrorist attack.” While we at Blindgadget have yet to see a hurricane or an earthquake that can be quelled with a shotgun, we are willing to accept the general validity of the metaphor.

On a fright scale of one to ten, with one being “I heard a noise in the basement” and ten being an ice cold hand gripping your ankle as you get out of bed, Preparedness 101: Zombie Pandemic gets a solid five from Blindgadget.

Source: CDC website

Tracking Down Accessible Books


One of the challenges we face every semester is tracking down all of our textbooks in accessible media. It can be a real scavenger hunt picking through the wide variety of sources and formats available today. In a single semester, the mix may include recorded AccessText Searchaudio, plain text in PDF format, or any of the various indexed formats such as DAISY and epub. And then, when no other source can be found, there are the dreaded scanned textbooks that come with their own set of problems.

Most schools and universities have a professional who assists students with the task of procuring textbooks in accessible media. However, there are many times when it is necessary for us to do the leg work ourselves to ensure we have all the materials we need. A great resource for finding the books we need for school is the AccessText Network .

The mission of the AccessText Network is to help “college students with print disabilities by connecting their disability service offices directly with leading textbook publishers” to obtain textbooks in accessible media. Although membership to the AccessText Network is limited to educational institutions, the free search engine available on their web site is a very convenient way to search the catalogs of a growing number of textbook publishers and accessible media providers including the National Library Service, Book Share, and Learning Ally.

In order to search for textbooks, navigate to http://www.accesstext.org and click on the “Accessible Textbook Finder” link. Select “ISBN” or “Title”  and select the catalogs you would like to search (all are selected by default) and click on the “Search” button. The page is very accessible and easy to use with a screen reader.

Let’s give it a try. A search for the commonly assigned Computer Science textbook “Introduction to Automata Theory” found one result. Since the result was found in the AccessText Network catalog, the accessible media edition will have to be requested through the university’s disabled student services office. Had the book been found at Book Share or Learning Ally, we could have immediately downloaded from their web site using our personal membership accounts.

What about general reading titles? We decided to try a search for a title by one of our favorite Science Fiction writers, Jim Butcher. The first book in his Dresden Files series is called “Storm Front.” We clicked on “New Search,” changed the search type to “Title” and typed in the name. Scrolling down to the search results, we found that the book is available from both the National Library Service and Book Share. This means we have three accessible media format choices: formatted Braille (BRF), Digital Talking Book (DAISY) from Book Share, or  recorded audio from the National Library Service. The ability to search the National Library Service, Book Share, and Learning Ally in a single search is perhaps the best feature of the book finder for most individual readers.

What hoops and hurdles have you faced in your quest for higher learning? Leave a comment with some of your experiences with tracking down books in accessible media.