Sourcing Alternative Format Material
Information access is an essential requirement for all tertiary students. For those with a print disability, the access to essential and additional reading materials can be inhibited due to the difficulties in sourcing relevant and timely alternative format materials.
It is understood that only 5% of the world’s printed information is available in an alternative format. For this reason, individuals requiring alternative format material are dependant on its transcription through their own means or that of an external service such as a University.
Students requiring alternative formats due to a print disability include:
A person with blindness or low vision
A person unable to hold or manipulate books or to focus or move their eyes
A person with a perceptual disability
Alternative formats include:
Audio (Including cassette, CD, mp3, DAISY - Digital Accessible Information System)
Electronic (including html, Word, PDF)
Large Print (recommended size 16 / sans serif font such as Arial)
Electronic format is increasingly becoming the most common format for accessible material to be provided in. This is due to the emerging technologies allowing the manipulation of electronic text to enable accessibility for a wide range of needs. Technology enabling access for students with disabilities includes:
JAWS screen reading software
Refreshable Braille display
MAGIC magnification software
Read and Write Gold
Dolphin Easy Converter
There is also an increasingly wide range of free ware and low cost alternatives allowing the manipulation of electronic text into alternative formats. Please go to the Inclusive Technologies section of the NDCO website to find out more.
Sourcing alternative format material
Current processes to access alternative formats are based on individual demand and requests are placed on behalf of the student through the disability support services at the institute where the student is enrolled.
Once material is requested the onus is on the individual or the education institution to make reasonable attempts to determine that a copy of the material is not already commercially available at a comparable price.
Once it is identified that the material is not commercially available, a catalogue (CAL) is generally searched to determine whether this material is already in a suitable format. If not, the institution will follow through with their internal processes to arrange formatting of the text and then register this material with CAL so that it is on offer if the same request is made in the future anywhere within Australia.
Educational institutions including primary and secondary schools along with tertiary institutions fall within the compulsory Statutory License agreement in the Copyright Act. Where a request falls outside of this protection Division 4.47A gives provision for the production of material in an accessible format for individuals with a print disability. Under this provision, permission needs to be sourced from the copyright owner.
The institution then needs to be licensed with CAL (Copyright Agency Limited). www.copyright.com.au
Once produced in an alternative format, the literary or dramatic work can only be used for an individual with a print disability. A master can be kept by the institution, registered with CAL within 3 months of production and reproduced for additional students with print disabilities as required.
Click on the following links for further information on legislation and policies supporting access to alternative formats
Copyright Act (1968)
Blind Citizens Australia Library Services Policy
E-text Library Databases
All students registered with education institutions will have access to some degree to on line catalogues and databases. These enable the borrower to log on with their student log in and search for a wide range of journal articles and electronic text books. This is one of the most valuable points of access to material in an electronic format. Please keep in mind that much of the content will be in PDF so you may need to use some Optical Character Recognition conversion software such as Dolphin Easy Converter which will enable conversion into Word format or mp3 format.
For more information on searching for academic e-journals and e-books, go to your institutions library and ask to be taken through the online databases.
For more information on converting PDF to a more accessible format, go to the Disability Liaison Unit at your institution or the Disability Support Librarian within your institution’s library.
There are numerous websites that house publicly accessible or out of copyright material. Under Australian copyright legislation, 70 years following the death of the author, allows for the material to be considered as out of copyright. .
AltFormat is an independent portal focusing on how developments in the production of alternative format materials are transforming the education of visually impaired and dyslexic students of all ages.
[Click here to visit Altformat.org]
Project Gutenberg is the first producer of free electronic books (e-Books or e-texts) on the Internet. There is no strict format control as this project is supported by volunteers however there is a high attempt for accuracy and accessibility. Project Gutenberg houses many thousands of titles and content is updated daily.
Click here to search the Gutenberg database
INFOMINE is an American based catalogue of academic electronic material. Infomine can be used to search by author, title, subject and more. and is maintained by a large collection of American Universities. Much of the content is freely accessible.
Click here more information and to search for academic material.
This service holds over 2,100 free e-books through the University of Virginia Library’s E-text Centre. Subject areas include classic British and American fiction, children’s literature, American history, Shakespeare and the Bible.
Click here to search for e-text through the University of Virginia
This is a data base of a wide range of free electronic text books.
Click here to search for e-text through eBooks Adelaide