[Athen] obligation to provide alt format for research/thesis work

Paul Harpur p.harpur at qut.edu.au
Tue Oct 6 15:18:06 PDT 2009

I am totally blind in Australia and I just completed my PhD. Instead of getting entire works I:

1. Looked on Barnes and Noble or other on-line sources for a copy of the contents page. If none was available I would ask the library to scan me a copy of the contents page.
2. I would pick out the chapters I really wanted and just get them. This avoids the problem. Also no one has endless resources so if I ask for 25 books in a semester I am likely to have problems. If I ask for 40 chapters though (which is easy on inter-library lones etc) then it is low cost and easy.

I have performed research on the support provided to USA students with print disabilities - Pilot in Boston MA and survey of 52 universities across the U.S. I am still writing this up and looking for a likely journal (if you have a suggestion I'd be happy). But some stats may be useful for your problem:

If a student with print disability is required to perform textbook-based research as a mandatory part of their course, is the student provided: (Tick as
many as apply)
Response percent
Response total
Access to a paid casual research assistant such as fellow student
Scanning or photocopying services funded/provided by the university
Assistance in negotiating with the student's school/faculty about alternate assessment
Access on campus to flatbed scanner
Access on campus to multi-feed scanner
No support

ESSENTIAL READINGS. How do students with print disabilities obtain their essential readings? (Note: Essential readings are readings that the student must
read, while recommended readings are texts which students can choose to read to obtain a better understanding of the course.) Select as many as apply.
Response percent
Response total
By the University managing the process
By the student organising with a person paid by the University to scan the material
By the student scanning their material
By the student contacting publishers directly
Don't know

-----Original Message-----
From: athen-bounces at athenpro.org [mailto:athen-bounces at athenpro.org] On Behalf Of James Bailey
Sent: Wednesday, 7 October 2009 5:48 AM
To: Access Technology Higher Education Network
Subject: Re: [Athen] obligation to provide alt format for research/thesis work

Hi Marla,

The University of Oregon believes it has an obligation to provide alt-text to graduate students working on theses or dissertations. And this includes material used in the process. We work with the student to devise a plan to edit down the list, this may include a sighted assistant or some other strategy. However, once the books, articles etc. are known, we would work to make them accessible.

I think there is a conflict between our 504 obligations and the copyright law. I’m not sure you can satisfy one to the letter without potentially violating the other. Good luck.


James Bailey
Adaptive Technology Access Adviser, University of Oregon
1501 Kincaid St.
Eugene, OR 97403-1299
Office: 541-346-1076
jbailey at uoregon.edu

On Tue, 6 Oct 2009 12:21:33 -0600, "Roll,Marla" <mcroll at CAHS.Colostate.edu> wrote:



> Hello all,


> A colleague from our library contacted me to solicit thoughts on

our satellite university’s obligation to provide all books potentially
used to write a master’s thesis in a digital format due to a
disability.  To summarize the situation.  The librarian at
this other campus is working with an undergraduate student that intends to
apply for graduate school.  She has been successfully acquired OCR capable
journal articles and  scanning articles for the student.  She is
trying to determine what reasonable accommodations are for books.  If she
has a book in print is she required to scan the book or purchase an
electronic/Braille copy of the book?  What if she borrows the book from
another library (interlibrary loan).  Can she legally scan an entire book
that the library owns or another library owns and give the student the
electronic file?  Is it reasonable to expect a library to purchase an
electronic/Braille copy of a book or scan any book that the student might need
in the course of their research?


> Can you all provide me input that I can share with this

librarian?  How are other campuses handling alt format for books and
resources used in the research process?  Students do not buy them so what
is the obligation on the part of the library?


> Thanks much,


> Marla Roll



> ___________________________________

> Marla C. Roll, MS, OTR

> Director, Assistive Technology Resource Center

> Assistant Professor, Occupational Therapy

> 304 Occupational Therapy Building

> Fort Collins, CO   80523

> 970-491-2016

> mcroll at cahs.colostate.edu






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