[Athen] Foreign Language texts and inaccessible e-versions

Teresa Haven Teresa.Haven at asu.edu
Tue Feb 24 09:58:44 PST 2009

Could anyone from institutions/systems who are enforcing the equivalent
of Section 508 standards on textbook adoptions please share your
experiences on the issue of foreign language textbooks? I'm trying to
deal with McGraw-Hill, whose foreign language college texts (Spanish,
French, German, etc.) are being rendered as "e-books" which are
inaccessible to access technology. The main textbooks are still also
available as regular hardcopy print (at a higher price, at least at our
school), but the accompanying (generally required) materials such as
workbooks are now purely online and electronic - and inaccessible. When
I've attempted to request copies through Permissions, I'm told there is
nothing they can give me. I'm therefore stuck in the position of having
to tell students and professors that the required materials for the
course cannot be made accessible. I've complained to McGraw-Hill (who
is only the worst offender out of the three major publishers), and been
told "the product couldn't be made accessible when it was being
developed back in 2004-2005, and we can't afford to retrofit it now".
I've looked at the code behind a number of their pages and although the
Permissions department may swallow that story because they don't know
any better, I know it isn't accurate. Is anyone refusing to purchase
from McGraw-Hill (or any other publisher) on the grounds that they are
selling an inaccessible electronic technology? On the flip side, has
anyone figured out how to get access to those inaccessible online
materials and make anything accessible out of them, beyond visually
copying and re-typing everything from scratch?

I appreciate any info you can share; I don't want to make Bonnie Beacher
so mad that she'll stop cooperating with me, especially since it's not
her fault that another area of the company produced a stack of
inaccessible products, but given the number of foreign language students
I'm sure we all work with this seems like a growing problem that needs
to be addressed with the publishers.

Thanks, and thanks for letting me vent,


Teresa LW Haven, Ph.D.

Alternate Format Supervisor

Disability Resource Center

Arizona State University

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