Higher-Order Perl: The Quest for an Accessible Version, Initial Impressions (Long)

Higher-Order Perl: The Quest for an Accessible Version, Initial Impressions (Long)

Post by » Mon, 03 Apr 2006 09:12:43

This time a less technical post. Briefly put I managed to get a screen
reader accessible version of Higher-Order Perl, yes. For those of you who
are interested, including sight-impaired posters, here's the full story.
Please snip heavily if you do feel like replying. Here we go:

In a past thread about emulating generators in Perl the book Higher-Order
perl was mentioned. Having been interested in functional programming for a
while, and growing to like Perl more and more, I thought I'd give the book a
try. The table of contents convinced me that this is a book I'll definitely
want to read, if at all possible.

On some Googling the first promissing thing I hit was the Amazon product
page at:


It listed an electronic PDF version as being available for download.
However, I was a bit sceptical initially. AS long as a book is
programmatically accessible to a screen reader, there's nothing preventing
you from copying it by say writing a custom speech synthesizer or another
screen reader. This is a good enough reason for many e-publishers to
sacrifice accessibility for security.

So to make sure I wouldn't be wasting my money for nothing, I posted to this
group and alt.comp.blind-users asking if anyone would know about the
accessibility of this book or could try it out with some screen reader. I
didn't get too many replies but some off-list posts urged me to contact
Amazon which I did. They replied promptly if a little vaguely saing that
most of their e-books are not screen reader accessible at all, sorry. They
didn't mention Higher-Order Perl in particular but being a bit of a
pessimist, I thought I daren't risk it.

Another thing I did meanwhile was browsing the Higher-Order Perl Web-site


I saw the author's e-mail address on the site and wrote him about the
accessibility as well. He didn't know if the Amazon e-book was accessible
but told me that his publisher, Morgan Kauffman, has got a standard policy
of helping out sight-impaired people.

After this clue the rest was pretty easy. I ended up contacting the
publisher using the info that Mark gave me and told them about my situation.
Figuring out that my chance of getting an accessible copy was good enough, I
also ended up ordering a physical copy from a Finnish on-line bookstore at:


After negotiating with the publisher things went pretty smoothly. I got the
physical book I had orddered as expected and sent the publisher a scanned
copy of the receipt, though my initial mail would have been good enough,
too. In the end, they actually sent me a CD via postal mail containing an
accessible PDF version of the higher-Order Perl book. Mark, the book author,
also told me this is the version from which they print the book in the first
place. As a bonus, shipping the CD only took some days which is certainly
much shorter than what an ordder at Amazon's to Finland would have taken,

The last issue I had to deal with was formatting. Acrobat Reader's plain
text conversion is still pretty poor, especially in terms of getting the
heading contents just right and preserving indentation. Both are important
aids in reading code magnified or doing regular expression searches based on
the TOC, which is something I do a lot.

I discovered two solutions for the formatting problem. The first was to get
the example c

Higher-Order Perl: The Quest for an Accessible Version, Initial Impressions (Long)

Post by DJ Stunk » Tue, 04 Apr 2006 01:21:20

Did he mention the current state of his MediaWiki or an ETA?

http://www.yqcomputer.com/ #free



Higher-Order Perl: The Quest for an Accessible Version, Initial Impressions (Long)

Post by » Tue, 04 Apr 2006 05:48:11

Well, actually I noticed the bit about the Wiki and that in the future, once
the Whole thing is ready, he will publish a free on-line version as well. I
did ask about the Wiki and whether it would be possible to get a plain text
version of it, as far as I can remember. I think Mark skipped that
particular bit, liekly thinking that people ought to wait for the official
launch, but instructed me in getting an accessible version as I mentioned.

On a side note, I just wread the chapter on Iterators and it is very good. I
found the passage on the different kinds of exhaustion values enlighthing,
thinking with a Java background that a separate method or returning some
kind of null value (undef, that is), if feasible, Would be the only
sensible choice. But the book lists several other tricks. The explanation of
closures is one of the best I've read so far, too.

With kind regards Veli-Pekka Til?( XXXX@XXXXX.COM )
Accessibility, game music, synthesizers and programming:
http://www.yqcomputer.com/ ~vtatila/