On the surface, 18 books for £75 would seem good value when the paper version could cost over £300. The publishers also extol the virtues of the CD-ROM being 300 times more compact and therefore easy to transport between work and home. Despite this, and other advantages of the CD-ROM, the printed word is far from dead.
Overcoming Barriers offers four books on developmental disabilities, three about Down's syndrome, three about deafness, one on blindness, two about autistic spectrum disorders, two concerning the use of computers in disabilities, one focusing on mental disorders, one on rehabilitation and one about behaviour disorders. Authors include Hugh Morgan, Uta Frith, Robert Hodapp, Susan Gregory and Nick Boras.
Certainly due to the widely ranging topics Overcoming Barriers will be of interest to a multi-disciplinary readership. The psychiatrist of learning disability may be disappointed there is only one book about psychiatry and no specific book dedicated to epilepsy, forensic issues, behavioural phenotypes or psychotherapy. It is unlikely any single publisher can really provide a collection of books that is truly comprehensive or cutting edge and the future probably lies with collaboration between publishers.
From a technical point of view the ‘Dyna Text’ interface is fairly basic, but does incorporate hypertext, search facilities and a journal recording option which will repeat your browsing steps. Anything less than a 17″ monitor and 1024 × 768 resolution makes viewing a bit strained and awkward. The system requirements are 386 processor or higher, Windows 3.1 or above, greater than 4 MB of RAM, 2-speed CD-ROM, and 10 MB of disk space.
In summary, this is a useful CD-ROM and should be considered as a reference resource in a library with computer facilities. The use of hypertext can make finding information easier than wandering through reference lists and indexes.
However, I suspect few people will read the full 18 books on a computer screen. Personal users, unless they are particularly keen on this medium, are more likely to buy two or three of the books from the list which relate more closely to their area of interest.
- © 2000 Royal College of Psychiatrists