FAQ: GDRL Basics

FAQ: GDRL Basics

The following are common questions we get about the Global Disability Rights Library.  If you have a question that isn't answered here, please feel free to email us at gdrl@usicd.org.  

Who is the Primary “Audience” for the GDRL?

The GDRL may be deployed in a wide range of contexts, including at disabled people’s organizations (DPOs), universities, government agencies, and other places.  Users will include people with all disabilities, policy makers, government personnel, employers, students, educators, businesses, and families of people with disabilities.  All of these users are in places that lack adequate internet access to fully access the wealth of digital resources available in the internet-connected world. 

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How does the GDRL Work?

The Global Disability Rights Library is a large collection of digital resources inside an eGranary unit—an innovative, off-line digital storage technology.  An eGranary is a 2-terabyte server or hard drive about the size of a paperback book that contains many websites, electronic publications and videos, and other materials.  An eGranary is basically a piece of the internet inside a box.   It works similar to the internet—you open up the browser within the eGranary, type in search terms or a URL, and websites pop up instantly.  You can open documents, cut, paste, and share—all the things that people do on the internet.  And all of this happens at blazing speed – eGranary users can open up a 200-mB video in less than a minute where that same video would take days or weeks to download on local internet connections. 

Many eGranary users have no prior experience with the internet or with common search engines like Google.  Because of this, the eGranary also has a collection of “portals” that make it easier for users to find the materials they want.  Each portal focuses on a different thematic topic.  The Global Disability Rights Library (GDRL) portal is a new addition to the eGranary library.  The GDRL organizes websites, publications, and other content into a collection of pages and sub-pages by topic. 

The eGranary can be connected to a single desktop or laptop computer, to a LAN network to be shared with a university, or even connected to a wireless router to function as a free public wireless library for an entire community.

GDRL Librarians talk with authors and publishers to let them know about the lack of Internet connectivity in much of the developing world.  We ask their permission to make a mirror copy of their websites or documents to be distributed on the eGranary.  These resources are then catalogued, or organized to allow users to easily and quickly find the best toolkits, case studies, policy papers, and more on the issue of disability rights.  

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Do users pay for the content in the GDRL?  

Users pay nothing for donated content.  USAID has provided funding for 60 deployment sites to receive a free eGranary with the GDRL installed.  This funding allows for an eGranary unit, as well as technological advising to help organizations install the library on their networks and share digital content. 

Organizations that do not qualify for the USAID funded free eGranary, or are not selected, are welcome to purchase an eGranary unit that will include the GDRL.  This option costs $1,500, which covers the cost of the hard drive itself, the labor for loading content into the eGranary, technical advising, and shipping costs. 

 If someone wants to install the eGranary Digital Library and they have the equipment and expertise at hand, they can simply sign a subscription agreement and make a copy of the closest eGranary Digital Library. (Of course, our customized proxy and search software are Open Source and included in the eGranary Digital Library.)

WiderNet is currently working on a way to provide a smaller section of the GDRL inside a memory chip that would be much cheaper than an eGranary unit.  We will announce this in the GDRL newsletter when more information can be shared.

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Is the GDRL available in languages other than English?

Content for the GDRL is always being added, including materials in many languages.  Because the library is being primarily developed by librarians in the United States, many materials are in English.  But we include disability resources in all languages when available and already include many resources in French and Spanish, as well as materials in Arabic, Portuguese, Swahili and more. 

If you own materials in non-English languages, we would love to talk with you about content donation.  We are specifically looking for resources in Akan, Amharic, Arabic, Bangla (Bengali), Bemba, Dari, English, French, Hausa, Hindi, Kiswahili, Luganda, Mongolian, Orominga, Pashto, Quechua, Russian, Shona, Spanish, Swahili, Urdu, international sign, and national signed languages. These can be in Word, video files, audio files, or other formats.  We also welcome other languages not listed here.  Please visit our FAQ page for Content Donors to learn more about donating your materials to be included in the GDRL. 

We would also love to talk to you if you are interested in volunteering with the GDRL project to identify resources in non-English languages.  Email gdrl@usicd.org to learn more.

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Is the GDRL Accessible?

Of course, people with disabilities in developing countries are a crucial audience for the GDRL.  To accommodate a wide range of needs, the GDRL will include open source software to meet the accessibility needs of people with a wide range of disabilities.  For example, screen readers for people with print disabilities and software designed for people with mobility impairments.  We welcome suggestions for additional accessibility software programs to include in the GDRL.

Because the GDRL relies on donated content, we cannot guarantee that all resources are accessible to all users.  We are developing plans to review GDRL content to identify which resources are specifically suited to individual accessibility needs.  We welcome donations of accessible format content, including Videos with captions or audio description, as well as “easy-read” content.  

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Why is the eGranary even necessary? Can’t universities and NGOs just visit websites at internet cafes or through satellite connections?  

Many of the universities and organizations we work with have NO Internet connectivity. Those that have connectivity typically have 128K or less of Internet bandwidth. That's about the speed of two phone modems being shared by dozens or hundreds of people. 

At some organizations, staff and other users have to pay for every minute they are on the Internet to cover the costs of the satellite service. Either way, surfing is too slow and/or too expensive for many people to spend a significant amount of time on the Internet.


By placing relevant materials on a server, we provide their community access to hundreds of thousands of documents and web pages at blazing speeds with absolutely no bandwidth cost, and free up whatever connections that do exist for email or more time-sensitive web research.

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