[Athen] Time to Convert STEM Book for B/LV

Susan Kelmer Susan.Kelmer at colorado.edu
Fri Apr 13 07:08:03 PDT 2018

That is a very loaded question, Rachel.

Much depends on what kind of material it is. How many STEM things need to be converted? Is it all math? Or are there graphs and images that need to be tactiles or described/alt-texted?

We have spent as much as 800 hours converting a computer science book on algorithms (book was 600 pages, there were 15-20 equations on every single page). We’ve spent as little as 100 hours on a small calculus book. It really does depend on the content and how much of that content there is to convert. It also depends on what the final output is. If it has to go to Braille, you have to consider the time needed to emboss. The same for any tactile images. And who is going to write your content, aka, the image descriptions? That should not be done by anyone but a content expert. We refer those to faculty – they are content experts, we are only formatting experts.

We do everything in-house, we do not send out anything to be done. Sometimes the work is just done all through the semester, with a goal to keep about two weeks ahead of the student’s needs for material. And we definitely work with the instructor to pick out which parts of the book they are actually going to use, and which images are absolutely critical, and which are just eye candy and don’t need to be created in a different format.

The last thing we did for a student here was a calculus book. We did about 2/3 of it (based on what the professor was going to be using) and that included MathML and some tactile images. We finished the material about 6 weeks into the semester and the combined hours for the MathML/Word formatting and he graphics production was about 150 hours. Most of that work was done by my student staff although I produced the final output (BRF and MathML files).

Susan Kelmer
Alternate Format Production Program Manager
Disability Services
University of Colorado Boulder

From: athen-list <athen-list-bounces at mailman13.u.washington.edu> On Behalf Of Kruzel, Rachel
Sent: Thursday, April 12, 2018 7:14 PM
To: Access Technology Higher Education Network <athen-list at u.washington.edu>
Subject: [Athen] Time to Convert STEM Book for B/LV


How long, on average, does it takes you/your office to convert a STEM textbook for a student who is blind/low vision? Of course, each textbook is different, as well as the needs of a student. But, for an average sized textbook, with average difficulty of content, and an average number of symbols, graphs, charts, and pictures, approximately how many hours would it take to do the following:

a. Convert and make the text portion of the textbook accessible and

b. How long would it take to make the pictures, charts, graphs accessible using descriptions, tactiles, or other media to make it accessible?

Obviously, many schools send this work out to be done due to complexity, time, expertise, etc. I'm only looking approximate numbers for one book if it's done in-house on your campus.

I’m writing on behalf of a colleague doing research on a new accessible math software program called EquatIO.

Thanks in advance!


Rachel Kruzel, ATP | Assistive Technology & Accommodations Specialist
Assistive Technology Practitioner, RESNA Certified

CLASS Office (Disability Resources) | Augsburg University
Direct: (612) 330-1353 | Appointments: (612) 330-1053
2211 Riverside Ave CB 57 | Minneapolis, MN 55454

Website: http://www.augsburg.edu/class/
Pronouns: She/Her/Hers


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