Cool • Et. Seq: The Harvard Law School Library Blog

Learning about Accessibility for Blind and Visually-Impaired Users (Accessibility Speaker Series #3)

On July 19, the HLS Accessibility Design team hosted a wonderful pair of speakers for a talk about accessibility for blind and visually-impaired library users. We were thrilled to welcome two colleagues from the library at the Perkins School for the Blind: Executive Director Kim Charlson, and Assistive Technology Specialist (and Perkins alumnus) Cory Kadlik.

The library at Perkins provides accessible reading materials to anyone with disabilities that prevent them from reading print books — not only the blind and visually-impaired, but also those who have double-vision, those who cannot read print because of severe migraines, those who cannot hold print books still or at all due to physical disabilities, and those who have reading disabilities.

Perkins library services are free to anyone who qualifies for it–the application form is available online.

Kim and Cory took us on a “lower tech to higher tech journey.” They started out by demonstrating an NLS Digital Talking-Book Player, which is the most widely-used device among Perkins Library patrons. This device is shown in the photo below.  It looks like a cassette player and has just a few large buttons, which makes it relatively easy for people with many types of disabilities to use.

A picture of an talking book player from the National Library Service (NLS) for the Blind.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A book for this player is recorded on a flash drive, which is then housed in a hard plastic case that is about the same size as as an audio cassette. The Perkins Library collection includes many audio books for use with this reader that have been read by local volunteers.

More information about NLS talking book players is available.

They also showed us what they called a “stream device.”  In the picture below, Kim is holding one of these devices.

Kim Charlson holds a streaming device for use by blind readers.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Several different types of content are available through this device, including books from the Library of Congress, internet radio from iTunes and TuneIn, podcasts, and the Newsline service from the National Federation of the Blind, in which newspapers are read aloud. Interestingly, when Kim demonstrated this device to us, an article from the Boston Globe came up about technology for older disabled Americans, which was highly relevant to our discussion!

For more information about the NFB-Newsline service, visit the NFB-Newsline website.

Cory and Kim discussed a few text-to-speech options that can help users with computer-based research and writing, including Kurzweil software,  JAWS, and NVDA for Windows computers, and the built-in screen reading capability, Voiceover, for Mac computers.

There are also Braille note-taking devices.  Although advancements in audio technologies have helped blind people gain access to more information, Kim made it clear that it is also very important for blind people to still learn Braille because, by doing so, they also learn writing, spelling, grammar rules, and math. She stressed, in fact, that there is “no excuse for blind people not to learn it.”

Kim showed us her own Braille note-taker (shown in the picture below), which has served her well for more than 20 years.

Picture of a Braille Note-Taker Device

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

She discussed the next generation of Braille note-takers, specifically mentioning the Orbit Reader, a relatively affordable new model that is compatible with iPhones.

Speaking of iPhones, Kim and Cory also demonstrated how blind people use touch-screen devices, since they cannot see the icons. There is a special setting on all major devices, including Apple and Android, that allows for this type of navigation.  Swiping the screen will prompt the device to read the icon names aloud. To select an icon, the user taps once. To perform a function, the user taps twice.  To use the keyboard, the user slides a finger around the screen to hear the letters read aloud, and then lifts up when he or she hears the desired letter (“drag and lift” technique).

Kim and Cory made several excellent points about how modern technological advances have really improved the lives of blind people. For example, accessible websites are easier to create now than ever if the W3C accessibility guidelines are followed. Cory pointed out that there is no reason you cannot have a good-looking website that is accessible if you work on it from the beginning.

Finally, they discussed virtual assistance options, like Siri for Apple devices and Echo/Alexa from Amazon. These technologies have completely transformed the lives of blind people, especially by making shopping so much easier for them. They no longer have to consider transportation barriers or other difficulties. Both Kim and Cory admitted, however, that the advantages these technologies have to offer to their community have overshadowed concerns they might have regarding data privacy.

This was such a rich and wonderful experience for the HLS Library colleagues who were able to attend! We learned so much about considerations that we should be making with regards to our blind and visually impaired patrons. We are very grateful to Kim and Cory for making the trip to the law school to offer us this excellent program.

AALL Conference; Lex Baioariorum – Law of Bavaria

I will be joining several of my colleagues at the annual American Association of Law Libraries (AALL) conference in Baltimore this year, which begins on Sunday.  I missed last year’s conference, so I am really looking forward to connecting with my law library colleagues from all over the country.  I’ll be posting about a few of the conference programs on the DipLawMatic Dialogues blog, which is maintained by AALL’s Foreign, Comparative, and International Law Special Interest Section (FCIL-SIS).

Before heading out to the conference, I wanted to write a quick post about a fascinating little book related to Bavarian historical law that I found in our collection recently:

Lex Baioariorum: Das Recht der Bayern
Roman Deutinger (Ed.), 2017
http://id.lib.harvard.edu/alma/990150173540203941/catalog 

This is a bilingual Latin-German version of the Lex Baioariorum, which is the law that was in place in Bavaria during the early middle ages. As my Latin is a little, well, insufficient to get through a text like this, I am so grateful that Dr. Deutinger took the time to translate and publish this book.

This code is divided into 23 subjects, and has a total of 270 chapters.  Its content includes “regulations for every possible aspect of human co-existence and the conflicts that could arise within it” (“Regelungen zu allen möglichen Bereichen des menschlichen Zusammenlebens und zu den Konflikten, die sich dabei ergeben können”) – everything from religious institutions and family relationships to personal injuries, criminal offenses, and the ownership of property.

Within the code, there are separate sanctions defined for offenses against “free people, liberated people, and slaves.”  Penalties are defined in great detail.  For example, hitting a free person on the nose results in a penalty of nine Schillings, whereas a strike to a free person’s ear meant only a three-Schilling penalty.  The latter was one of a host of penalties related to the ears of free people: cutting off a free person’s ear meant a 20-Schilling fine, but that penalty was doubled to 40 Schillings if the action resulted in an injury severe enough to render the person deaf.  If, however, you committed a similar action that resulted in a slave’s deafness, the fine was only four Schillings.

I spent my recent professional development leave at a university in what is today the German state of Bavaria, which is a beautiful area full of castles that has interesting and rich history and traditions.  Unfortunately, I was not able to take a course on the legal history in Bavaria, which is a shame because I think I would have enjoyed it a lot.

In any event, I hope to explore our library’s resources related to Germany’s legal history in more detail in future posts.

“Are You Good?”: Making the Law Library a Welcoming Space for Military Veterans

Today the HLS Library’s Accessibility Design Working Group kicked off its summer lecture series with a presentation by Alicia M. Reddin, Director of Veterans Services for the town of Andover, MA.

Alicia, after completing her service in the Navy, graduated from Lesley University with her Bachelor’s degree in 2012.  She is currently working toward a Ph.D., focusing on veterans services, also at Lesley.

During her talk, Alicia provided a number of helpful insights to the unique needs and challenges of providing academic and library services to military veterans.

Veterans Services Officers (VSOs) like Alicia have four priorities when it comes to offering support for veterans: (1) preventing homelessness; (2) assisting in finding gainful employment; (3) facilitating the receipt of government veterans benefits; and (4) preventing substance abuse.

VSOs like Alicia employ what is known as a “three-hat strategy” in meeting these priorities.  The “Chapter 115 hat,” is named for for Chapter 115 of the Massachusetts General Laws, under which the state “provides a uniform program of financial and military assistance for indigent veterans and their dependents” (http://www.mass.gov/veterans/benefits-and-services/financial-medical-assistance.html).  The “Referral Hat” represents the work that VSOs do to acquire local resources for the benefit of veterans.  Finally, the “Grand Marshall Hat” represents participating in social events that celebrate the military and veterans, such as Memorial Day parades.

Alicia cited some sobering recent statistics about military veterans.  Only 10% of current veterans are considered to be “post-9/11,” since it is a relatively recent trend for so many members of the military to serve multiple deployments.  Alicia also reported that an estimated that more than 5 million veterans suffer from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) (https://www.ptsd.va.gov/index.asp).

According to Alicia, approximately 773,000 students in higher education in the United States receive educational benefits from the post-9/11 GI Bill (https://www.benefits.va.gov/gibill/post911_gibill.asp), including financial support for housing, books, and supplies.  However, Alicia stated that it is estimated that veterans graduate at 40% of the rate of traditional students.  She believes this could be because veterans face a number of barriers to assimilating as university students, including social differences, lack of technological expertise, differences in language and speaking style, trouble in navigating scenarios that include numerous choices or too much confusing bureaucracy, and what is known as “imposter syndrome” (http://www.apa.org/gradpsych/2013/11/fraud.aspx).  In addition, veterans in academic communities may also hesitate to self-identify because of these and other differences between themselves and more traditional students.

How can academic librarians optimize their services for the benefit of veterans in our libraries?  Alicia cited several factors to keep in mind in the work that we do with this community of users.  Veterans may be suffering from PTSD, and may also be struggling with the effects of Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI), Substance Use Disorders (SUD), migraines, and panic/anxiety episodes.  Therefore, library users who are veterans may require a space in a low-traffic area to which they can retreat, in which they can control both light and noise, and that has comfortable seating, grounding elements, and water.

Also, many veterans are looking to make connections to patient people whom they can trust, from whom they can get reliable and non-confusing help and information, and to whom they can speak plainly and directly.  Librarians may be ideal to provide this type of support in a university environment.

Among the questions Alicia was asked by the attendees was, “if we see a veteran in our library who seems to be in difficulty, what should we do?”  Alicia’s response was plain: (1) ask them, simply, “Are you good?” and (2) if they’re not good, do not hesitate to get them some immediate help: call the Veterans Affairs Benefits and Services hotline at 1-800-827-1000 and press “1” for veterans.

The HLS Library’s Accessibility Design Working Group will be offering other lectures throughout the summer.  Topics will include accessible space design and devices for blind and visually-impaired users.

The Royal Wedding and the Law: an Update!

Seven years ago when the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge (aka Prince William and Kate Middleton) tied the knot, we gave you an overview of the extra legal hurdles the royal couple were required to surmount beyond simply notifying the vicar or local register office.

There’s another royal wedding happening in just a few days, so we’re using this as an excuse to tell you about the new UK law that effected some changes after William and Kate’s big day, including a requirement that Prince Harry and Meghan Markle had to follow in order for their wedding on Saturday to be lawful. The Succession to the Crown Act 2013 repealed the Royal Marriages Act 1772 doing away gender inequity, a religious requirement for royal spouses, and a cumbersome hurdle for very distant royal relations.

The first provision of the 2013 act was in the news just weeks ago: it instated absolute primogeniture rather than male-preference primogeniture in the United Kingdom. When William and Kate’s third child, Prince Louis, was born on April 23, his sister Princess Charlotte became the first British princess ever to retain her position in line to the throne and not be leapfrogged by a younger brother. She remains fourth in line to the throne after her grandfather Prince Charles, father Prince William, and elder brother Prince George.

In making this change, the UK joined Sweden, the Netherlands, Norway, Belgium, Denmark, and Luxembourg in modernizing their monarchies. Fun side note: Belgium, Norway, Sweden, and the Netherlands all have one or more female heirs in direct line to their thrones! As we shared in 2011, the UK monarch is also the head of state in 15 Commonwealth realms (including Canada, New Zealand, and Jamaica). In order not to have different heads of state in these countries, during the biennial Commonwealth Heads of Government meeting (aka CHOGM) held in Perth, Australia in October 2011, these nations agreed to update their laws to match, which they all did in 2015. Alas for any ambitions of Princess Anne–Queen Elizabeth II’s only daughter–the UK and Commonwealth laws were not retroactive and she remains in her place after younger brothers Princes Andrew and Edward.

The second provision of the Succession of the Crown Act 2013 removed the provision of the Act of Settlement 1701 that those in the line of succession who married Roman Catholics be disqualified from the line of succession. This provision was retroactive, and restored the Queen’s cousin, Prince Michael of Kent, and his children and grandchildren, to the line of succession starting in position number 46. Read about the history of why Catholic spouses were forbidden for heirs to the throne in our earlier post.

As for Harry and Meghan, the Succession to the Crown Act 2013 requires–as did the defunct Royal Marriages Act of 1772–that they seek permission from the Queen in order to marry. The big difference here is the number of other people the new act affects compared to the prior act. The Royal Marriages Act of 1772 specified that:

No descendant of his late Majesty, [King George II] (other than the issue of princesses married, or who may marry into foreign families) shall be capable of contracting matrimony without the previous consent of his Majesty, his heirs, &c.

This might have been reasonable at the time, but over 200 years later there are so many descendants of George II that even dedicated royal watchers won’t recognize some names of recent couples on the list of consents for marriages under the Act who had to seek the Queen’s permission in order to have a valid marriage.

The 2013 Act stipulates that “a person who (when the person marries) is one of the 6 persons next in the line of succession to the Crown must obtain the consent of Her Majesty before marrying.” Since Harry is currently 6th in line, his marriage is likely to be the last such instance of permission sought and granted for a good 20-30 years–presumably when his nephews or niece marry.

Hand-illuminated Instrument of Consent

Hand-illuminated Instrument of Consent

Harry and Meghan’s consent to marry was officially approved by his grandmother the Queen on March 14. They will also receive a hand-illuminated Instrument of Consent on vellum, suitable for framing, just as his brother and sister-in-law did. Although this aspect of the consent isn’t law-related, it’s both fun and strange as an American to see some of our symbols included on such a document in honor of Markle’s American and Californian heritage. The left side of the document contains traditional emblems of the realms of the United Kingdom, and Harry’s coronet. On the right is a leek–an emblem of Wales (as son of the Prince of Wales aka Prince Charles, Harry’s formal title until his grandmother gives him the job title upgrade to Duke on the wedding morning is Prince Henry of Wales)–surrounded by a heraldic-style rose (national flower of the United States since 1986), California’s golden poppies, and olive branches adapted from the Great Seal of the United States. Heraldry geeks may also note the labels on both sides featuring shells or “escallops” from the Spencer coat of arms, the family of Harry’s mother, Diana. Read more about the art and symbolism and get some closeups at ye olde royal website.

In addition to all the other things that will change in her life, there’s one more thing the formerly politically active American bride will have to get used to: not voting.  Watchers of Netflix’s The Crown may have picked up on the requirement that the Queen be politically neutral, including not voting. This is a requirement that comes from tradition rather than law, and the rest of her family are presumed to follow suit. Read more about the Queen’s role in government.

Happy royal wedding watching to everyone who will be up at 4am this Saturday!

852 Rare: Feud in Wiltshire

This is the third in a series of five blogs about Historical & Special Collections’ English Manor Rolls (1305-1770). HSC was honored to have Eleanor GoerssPforzheimer Fellow ’17, with us last summer to perform research on and enhance description of this internationally-important collection, including authoring these posts. Stay tuned for more of what you’ll find, often unexpectedly, in this collection.

 

Here’s what a fourteenth-century English feud looks like, pieced together from court manor records. Warning: it involves blood.

Great Wishford, Wiltshire, Folder 162, Membrane HH (June, 1374)

Great Wishford, Wiltshire, Folder 162, Membrane HH (June, 1374)

The first entry in the section of the roll pictured above says that Gonne Brighamton, “unjustly and against the peace, drew blood from Margaret Conperes” [Gonne Brighamton iniuste et contra pacem traxit sanguinem de Margareta] and was fined four pence for it. In the next entry Walter Conperes and his wife Margaret bring a complaint against Gonne Brighamton for trespassing, saying that “she assaulted the said Margaret, who was beaten and badly handled against the peace, to damages of 50 s.” Gonne was fined three pence.

But we quickly learn that Margaret was not exactly a passive victim. The next two entries say: first, Margaret drew blood from the Gonne, and second that Margaret was fined for trespassing against Gonne, beating her and handling her badly, also for damages of 50 shillings.

In other words, Margaret and Gonne settled their bloody fight in court, loudly letting everyone know about it while also paying out a total of fourteen pence to the lord. An out-of-court settlement would have been much cheaper; in fourteenth-century Wiltshire the going rate for a “license of concord,” or permission to let charges drop, was only two pence!

Explore (and watch!) the history of the Ames Moot Court Competition!

The Ames Moot Court competition has been around for over 100 years, and thanks to a lot of hard work from both HLS Library and HLS Communications staff you can now explore that 100+ year history online!

The Ames Moot Court Competition website contains a history of the competition, the judges who have participated over the decades, best oralist and best brief winners, and recordings of many of the competitions dating back to 1974. One of the most exciting outcomes of this project is exposing footage of U.S. Supreme Court justices speaking from the bench—something that we don’t normally have the privilege to experience unless we’re at the Supreme Court in person!

The video below features Deval Patrick (HLS ’82), the former Massachusetts governor who won best oralist that year (skip ahead to 1:23:40 in the video to see him speak!), and a young Howell Jackson (HLS ’82) when he was also a student here. Professor Jackson was on the opposing team, which won best overall brief. The judges that year were Hon. Henry J. Friendly (HLS ’27), U.S. Court of Appeals for The Second Circuit, whose papers are held by Historical & Special Collections; Hon. Patricia Wald, U.S. Court of Appeals for The District of Columbia Circuit; and Hon. Nathaniel Jones, U.S. Court of Appeals for The Sixth Circuit.

Digital Wall Street Journal access is here!

Front page of the first issue of the Wall Street Journal, Wikimedia commons

We’re happy to announce that HLSL has, in collaboration with the Harvard Library, secured a subscription to the digital Wall Street Journal. Digital membership is available to all current Harvard faculty, students and staff, and includes unlimited access via WSJ.com or the WSJ app. Use this link to sign up for an account.

If you need technical assistance with the sign-up process, please contact the WSJ directly at 1-800-568-7625 as they will be better able to assist you with the sign up process.

For information about Harvard access to FT.com, NYTimes.com, Mass Lawyers’ Weekly, historical WSJ, other popular newspapers, and getting started with newspaper research at Harvard, visit our guide to newspapers for the HLS community.

HLS’s favorite fictional lawyers (a non-scientific survey!)

Post-it with fictional lawyer namesJust for fun, we asked those entering the HLS Library who their favorite fictional lawyers are. Because we asked via a bulletin board display and those who answered did so by adding a post-it note to the display, this was a completely non-scientific poll. But we always enjoy seeing the results. Here’s a summary:

First, the fictional HLS alums. You’d be surprised (or maybe not) how many fictional lawyers are HLS graduates. Favorites in our poll were Annalise Keating from How to Get Away with Murder, Olivia Pope from Scandal, Harvey Specter from Suits, and Elle Woods from Legally Blonde with 3 votes each. Miranda Hobbes of Sex and the City, Louis Litt from Suits, and Ally McBeal each received 2 votes. The West Wing’s Ainsley Hayes, the notorious Professor Kingsfield of The Paper Chase, and Rafael Barba from Law & Order: SVU got one vote each.

Leading the field overall were with four votes each were Atticus Finch of To Kill a Mockingbird, Alicia Florrick and Diane Lockhart in The Good Wife, Saul Goodman from Breaking Bad and Better Call Saul, and Alan Shore from Boston Legal.

Alan Shore’s life partner, Denny “two combustible words” Crane was among those receiving 3 votes along with Perry Mason, Matt Murdock aka Marvel’s Daredevil, and Jessica Pearson from Suits.

Receiving 2 votes each were Lionel Hutz of The Simpsons, Bob Loblaw of Arrested Development, Jack McCoy of Law & Order, Mike Ross of Suits and Elsbeth Tascioni of The Good Wife.

Rounding out the pool with one vote each were Rafael Barba of Law & Order: SVU, Fletcher Reede of Liar, Liar, Cleaver Greene of the Australian series Rake, Bartholemew Iz from the post-apocalyptic novel Fitzpatrick’s War, Lt Daniel Kafee of A Few Good Men, Romo Lampkin of  Battlestar Galactica, Maggie Lizer of Arrested Development, Benjamin Matlock, Foggy Nelson of  Marvel Comics, Commander Harmon Rabb of JAG, Chuck Rhoades of Billions, Eve Rothlo of How to Get Away with Murder, the doubly fictitious lawyer Dean Sanderson of The Grinder, Jefferson Smith aka Mr. Smith Goes to Washington, Tom the lawyer from Cheers, the eponymous My Cousin Vinnie, 
Phoenix Wright of the Ace Attorney video game series, Vivian Kensington (post-dumping Warner) of Legally Blonde, and the entire firm of Wolfram & Hart from Angel.

Finally, honorable mention goes to Jean-Luc Picard–a starship captain, not a lawyer–who was nominated for his defense of his colleague and friend Data in Star Trek: the Next Generation. In case you missed it, Dean Martha Minow discussed the episode in question in her 2011 graduation speech.

If you didn’t get a chance to vote on the display version of this poll, feel free to tell us who your favorite fictional lawyer is in the comments!

852 RARE: Speak, Memory* – Law Student Study Aids, circa 1674

In our occasional series of posts about games in the HLS Library’s Historical & Special Collections, we’ve covered playing cards describing notorious trials and educational flash cards for students of civil law. With exams around the corner, it’s a good time to shine a light on mnemonic devices – centuries-old techniques that aid in learning and retaining information in memory.

We have a beautiful first edition of Johannes Buno’s (1617-1697) work, Memoriale Codicis Iustinianei (1674). It features elaborate fold-out engravings, each corresponding to one of the books in Justinian’s Codex. The Codex is part of the Corpus Juris Civilis, the codification of Roman law ordered early in the 6th century AD by Emperor Justinian I.

Johann Buno, Memoriale Codicis Justinianei (1674), p. 58. HOLLIS no. 4299003.

Johann Buno, Memoriale Codicis Justinianei (1674), p. 58. HOLLIS no. 4299003.

Buno, an educator and theologian, distilled this massive trove of Roman law into a brief 83-page study aid. Taken together, the summaries and the engravings helped students master the contents of the Codex by combining fables, images, and letters. Buno called this the “Emblematische Lehrmethode,” or “Emblematic Teaching Method.” Let’s give it a try.

Here is the engraving that helped students master Book 9 of the Codes, which covers criminal law and procedure.

Johann Buno, Memoriale Codicis Justinianei (1674), Engraving for Book 9, after p. 36. HOLLIS no. 4299003.

Johann Buno, Memoriale Codicis Justinianei (1674), Engraving for Book 9, after p. 36. HOLLIS no. 4299003.

A detail from Buno’s distillation of the text, Title 9.1, “Those who may not accuse,” (Qui accusare non possunt”) is shown here.

Johann Buno, Memoriale Codicis Justinianei (1674), Beginning text for Book 9.1, p.37. HOLLIS no. 4299003.

Johann Buno, Memoriale Codicis Justinianei (1674), Beginning text for Book 9.1, p.37. HOLLIS no. 4299003.

Presumably, a glance at the corresponding image in the upper left of the engraving, shown in detail here, would jog a student’s memory.

Johann Buno, Memoriale Codicis Justinianei (1674), Engraving for Book 9, detail, after p. 36. HOLLIS no. 4299003.

Johann Buno, Memoriale Codicis Justinianei (1674), Engraving for Book 9, detail, after p. 36. HOLLIS no. 4299003.

Or perhaps not. Things may have gotten lost in translation over time. At any rate, it is worth remembering that study aids for law students go back centuries, and that yesterday’s magnificently engraved book is today’s handwritten law student notebookelectronic casebook, or commercial outline. However you learn the law, good luck with your exams!

 

* with apologies to Vladimir Nabokov

 

 

 

 

 

NEW! HLS Library Bicentennial Exhibit Now On View

Collections | Connections  

Stories from the Harvard Law School Library

HLS Bicentennial Exhibit PosterThe Harvard Law School Library’s new exhibit celebrates HLS’s Bicentennial through the stories of some of the Library’s 2 million items and the people behind them. On view are historic photographs, striking rare books and early manuscripts, books published all over the world, fun glimpses of HLS Library history, and even an Awesome Box!

Collections | Connections documents the evolution of the Harvard Law School and its Library in response to the School’s evolving role in relation to society, legal education, and technology. Yet it is the people who make a place. Groups and individuals highlighted throughout this exhibit have cultivated the life and ethos of the Harvard Law School. Learn how the Library preserves this continuing story of the HLS community: faculty, students, alumni, and staff who are moved to question, prepared to reason, and called to act.

The exhibit is arranged around six themes: Keepers of Memory, Global Citizens, Promoting Justice, Supreme Court Clerks and their Justices, Library as Lab, and Preserving Legal Heritage. Curated by many members of the HLS Library, it is on view daily 9 to 5 in the Caspersen Room, fourth floor of Langdell Hall, through June 2018.

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