[Athen] FW: Obtaining Alternative Formats Guidance Now Available

Ron Stewart ron.stewart at dolphinusa.com
Thu Jul 3 05:08:18 PDT 2008

Interesting news from across the Pond. I have found their Altformat guide
to be a great resource.


Supporting diversity and equality through improved access

Groundbreaking work will provide support for delivery of resources to
disabled students and staff

The JISC TechDis Service has joined forces with The Publishers Association
to provide resources which have the potential to transform the delivery of
learning materials to disabled students and staff.

These two resources, developed in collaboration with the RNIB (Royal
National Institute of Blind People) and several major publishers, will
support the delivery of materials in alternative formats to meet the needs
of people with a range of disabilities, a crucial requirement for equality
of access for all students and staff in education and research.

One of the resources - Publisher Lookup UK - will enable education providers
and publishers to source electronic formats of textbooks for students with
disabilities more quickly and efficiently than existing processes allow.
Currently publishers generally provide one of two digital formats - either
an e-book or a PDF - but sourcing more accessible formats can be a complex
undertaking both from the publishers' and the users' points of view.
Publisher Lookup UK provides mechanisms for simplifying request, delivery
and access processes between the education and research sectors and UK
publishers. The site currently provides links to over 150 imprints and
additional guidance on making PDFs accessible to users with a range of
disabilities. For further details see www.publisherlookup.org.uk

The second resource - Guide to Obtaining Textbooks in Alternative Formats -
is designed to provide guidance to teaching, learner support and library
staff or anyone who needs to provide text books in alternative formats for
reading-impaired learners. Disability law protects disabled learners by
requiring institutions to make adequate provision for disabled students,
including the provision of alternative formats in a timely manner. People
with a range of disabilities benefit from alternative formats and many
learners with disabilities are struggling with traditional printed texts
despite alternatives being available. For further details see

The new guide not only helps institutions fulfill their legal obligations,
but also supports staff to better understand and provide for the needs of
their disabled students. JISC TechDis will be disseminating the guide to
both higher and further education institutional Library teams across the UK
by the end of July.

These resources have grown out of JISC TechDis' long-standing engagement
with publishers and The Publishers Association. The ultimate aim of this
work is to integrate accessibility into the publishing workflow and thus
improve access for disabled people to all publications in a way that is both
cost-effective and sustainable.

Sal Cooke, Director of JISC TechDis, said: "JISC TechDis is delighted to be
working with The Publishers Association to help enhance the learning
experience of disabled students. This work has combined JISC TechDis'
expertise on accessibility with publishers' determination to make their
texts available to all those who need them. It also takes a step towards
making the production of a variety of formats part of the publishing
mainstream rather than a specialist or ad hoc activity.

Institutional library teams and organisations such as SCONUL, Open Rose,
ALIS and CLAUD have been instrumental in highlighting this issue, and will
also play a vital role in embedding these resources in the workflow of
library and information professionals throughout the education sector, and
potentially beyond. This collaborative undertaking exemplifies the synergies
between the work of JISC TechDis, Library Associations and The Publishers
Association, and we hope that this collaboration is the first of many."

Graham Taylor, Director of Educational and Academic Publishing at The
Publishers Association, said: "Publishers want to play their part in making
learning material available in accessible formats. To achieve this we need
to work with the agencies supporting disabled learners, in a climate of
collaboration and mutual understanding. These two resources are the result
of our work so far - a website to help support staff contact publishers, and
a guide on how to approach publishers for alternative formats. This work
will continue and we look forward to building on the positive progress
achieved so far."

Dominic Knight of publisher Palgrave said: "Palgrave Macmillan is delighted
to have been involved in the scoping and development of these important
resources. Publisher Lookup UK and Guide to Obtaining Textbooks in
Alternative Formats are practical tools that will help publishers and
academic institutions work together to provide publications in accessible
formats in a timely manner. We look forward to continuing to work alongside
The Publishers Association, JISC TechDis and other stakeholders, to
investigate ways in which we can further help bring about a significant
improvement in the availability of accessible formats for the reading

These resources are launched as part of JISC's ongoing 'Libraries of the
Future' campaign. For further information, please go to:

For further information please go to:

Publisher Lookup UK - <http://www.publisherlookup.org.uk/>

Alternative formats guide - <http://www.techdis.ac.uk/getaltformat>

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