[Athen] Success getting LaTex source files from textbook publishers?

Russell Solowoniuk SolowoniukR at macewan.ca
Mon Feb 13 10:34:58 PST 2017

Hi Brian,

If one is able to obtain the LaTex file from a publisher, would the math content in this file then be readable by a screen reader, or would the file need to be converted to some other format? I'm not at all familiar with LaTex, so apologies if this is a stupid question! :)



Russell Solowoniuk
AT Educational Assistant, Services to Students with Disabilities
MacEwan University
7-198 D4, 10700-104 Ave.
Edmonton, AB T5J 4S2
E: solowoniukr at macewan.ca
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>>> Brian Richwine <blrichwine at gmail.com> 2017-02-10 2:31 PM >>>


I'm wondering if any schools have been successful at negotiating publisher
contracts to allow quick access to LaTex or other publishing source files
for textbooks as needed to facilitate more efficient alternate media
conversion. I'm not talking about the PDFs that ATN always wants to send. I
mean the raw source files for the textbook that contain semantically usable
information that facilitates alternate media conversion.

Does anyone know of any higher ed groups working on such a project?

We were just successful at getting the LaTex source files for a advanced
mathematics textbook from a major higher ed textbook publisher. However it
took weeks and contact from many university officials to get them to
release the files. We just received the files and we are now 5 or so weeks
into the semester. Even still, it will literally save us thousands of
dollars in editing costs and will greatly increase the speed at which we
can produce the rest of the book in braille.

If the publisher would have responded earlier, we could have saved even
more money and provided a better result to the student by focusing our
staff energies on tactile diagrams and other efforts.


The LaTex source files for mathematics texts are great, because they can be
very easily (read quickly and accurately) converted into a format the
Duxbury Braille Translation software will process. This prevents the
laborious retyping of each equation into MathType. (we tried the most
recent Infty Reader with very frustrating and poor results; it crashed on
most every source page).

We originally requested a publisher copy of the textbook via ATN. ATN's
system did not offer LaTex as a request format choice (it only offered PDF).

However, it was fairly obvious to those familiar with LaTex that the
textbook had been typeset in LaTex/Tex. So, we tried a special instructions
ATN request for LaTex. ATN's response was a flat out the publisher does not
have a LaTex version of the textbook.

Through various channels we have directly with the publisher, we got them
to admit that they did indeed have the LaTex source, only we'd have to wait
until they could get their permissions department to release those. It took
us several weeks of contacting them repeatedly before their permissions
department gave permission to release the files.

Brian Richwine

Manager, UITS Assistive Technology and Accessibility Centers, Indiana


(812) 856-2757 [Direct Line]

(812) 856-4112 [Office Number]

brichwin at iu.edu

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