[Athen] Alternate text question

Matson, Eric (ecmatson at uidaho.edu) ecmatson at uidaho.edu
Thu Dec 16 08:42:05 PST 2021

Specific question for the group on this topic - how do you all handle students using books on reserve at the library. Our library doesn't currently have a way to offer an accessible format for reserve books. In my mind, it's not fair to make a SWD purchase a book when students without disabilities have access to the reserve copy.

Eric Matson | Assistive Technology Specialist
Center for Disability Access and Resources
Division of Student Affairs
The University of Idaho

From: athen-list <athen-list-bounces at mailman12.u.washington.edu> On Behalf Of Butler, Brandon (bcb4y)
Sent: Thursday, December 16, 2021 8:30 AM
To: Access Technology Higher Education Network <athen-list at u.washington.edu>
Subject: Re: [Athen] Alternate text question

Hi all,

In a world where publishers make their works available in universally accessible formats, we could all close up shop and let the market work. I don't think anyone would see that as a bad outcome. That's not where we are right now, though, so we must balance the goals of copyright (to incentivize creativity by giving authors and publishers an opportunity to monetize their work) with the goals of civil rights (to provide equal dignity and opportunity to all).

Forcing students who need accessible formats to jump through hoops and get special dispensation in order to access learning materials and participate equally in university courses is already unjust and wasteful (IMHO). Forcing them to buy inaccessible copies, too, undermines the copyright system because it removes the incentive for copyright holders to make their works available equally to all.

If we require purchase of useless, inaccessible copies before we provide students with copies in formats they can read, there's no reason for publishers to enter the market and provide accessible copies by default. They can keep on providing a broken, discriminatory product to the mass market and forcing folks with disabilities to seek special dispensation to get a special copy that (maybe) works for them. But if publishers lose revenue when they refuse to serve folks with print disabilities, they will have at least some market incentive to change their practice.

Imagine if publishers decided to publish books with DRM that somehow prevented left-handed people from reading them - books for Rights only. Then congress passes a copyright law saying that Lefties who want to read these books can get a free Left-accessible copy from a library or university if they provide a doctor's note certifying they are Lefties. Would you feel it was somehow unjust to the publisher to provide that free copy? And if you required Lefties to buy a Rights-only copy before you'd provide them with a free copy, do you think publishers (who apparently are not interested in making books that are Right-accessible) would ever change their behavior? It seems to me that forcing the Lefties to buy copies enables the publishers' discrimination by ensuring they pay no market penalty for doing so. I have a hard time seeing how disability presents a different moral calculus.


From: athen-list <athen-list-bounces at mailman12.u.washington.edu<mailto:athen-list-bounces at mailman12.u.washington.edu>> on behalf of Susan Kelmer <Susan.Kelmer at colorado.edu<mailto:Susan.Kelmer at colorado.edu>>
Date: Thursday, December 16, 2021 at 10:43 AM
To: Access Technology Higher Education Network <athen-list at u.washington.edu<mailto:athen-list at u.washington.edu>>
Subject: Re: [Athen] Alternate text question
I am not the copyright police, but I WILL do my due diligence to be sure the student has done their part (they sign an agreement, and they provide some form of proof of possession). I have several justifications for doing so:

1. Every student is expected to have a book for class. They have multiple ways of acquiring those books. While the occasional student may be using a library copy, the vast majority are not. Many of the required textbooks are only available on reserve from the library, they can't even check them out for the semester. So, every student, including SWDs, are expected to have some format of the book. This is not discriminatory against SWDs, or any student.
2. There are multiple ways to acquire textbooks, and often at reasonable prices. Hard copy, new, used, rental, bought from a roommate or fellow student or the thrift store, electronic (kindle, Nook, etc.) Books are easily available the vast majority of the time at lower cost; there are a ton of options and choices out there.
3. Authors deserve to (and earned the right to) be paid for their work! I'm an author. I don't give away my books for free and I don't know any author who gives out their books for free. And we should not expect an author to give away their stuff for free. There's the law, and then there's THE RIGHT THING TO DO. I opt for that second whenever there is any question.
4. Publisher agreements, although not bound by law, often require that the student (or someone) have a copy of the book. Most publishers are generously providing files to us and not requiring us to provide them with direct proof (exception: Law book publishers). They trust that we are doing the right thing, and I don't want to break that trust with them. Without publishers participating in the process, we will be back to the dark ages - having to scan every single book we need. Let's act with integrity, here, IMHO

I think my policy for student ownership of the book is pretty liberal (see number 2 above) and methods for proof of ownership are liberal as well. Can students cheat? Of course. But I'm doing my due diligence as a Disability Services Professional and doing right by both the student AND the author/publishing house.

This can turn into a very hot debate; but I try to see it from multiple angles, and do what feels like the right thing to do. And in my mind, SWDs don't get a pass on purchasing classroom-required materials that every other student has to purchase.

Susan Kelmer
Alternate Format Production Program Manager
Disability Services
Division of Student Affairs
T 303 735 4836

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From: athen-list <athen-list-bounces at mailman12.u.washington.edu<mailto:athen-list-bounces at mailman12.u.washington.edu>> On Behalf Of Robert Spangler
Sent: Thursday, December 16, 2021 7:42 AM
To: Access Technology Higher Education Network <athen-list at u.washington.edu<mailto:athen-list at u.washington.edu>>
Subject: Re: [Athen] Alternate text question

As far as I'm concerned, if they are asked to sign a statement that they bought the book, they're responsible for being truthful; I have documentation they signed saying they've bought the book. Clearly I'm not a lawyer, so someone please let me know if this is not sufficient, but it's not the only example in society where we sign things indicating that we are telling the truth, so it seems appropriate.


On Wed, Dec 15, 2021 at 6:37 PM foreigntype at gmail.com<mailto:foreigntype at gmail.com> <foreigntype at gmail.com<mailto:foreigntype at gmail.com>> wrote:
I respectfully disagree. I'm going to throw out Jamie Axelrod's NAU info page on what's necessary to fulfill copyright requirements: https://in.nau.edu/disability-resources/alternate-format-program/#:~:text=Publishers%20currently%20have%20a%20requirement,proof%20of%20purchase%20on%20file<https://urldefense.com/v3/__https:/in.nau.edu/disability-resources/alternate-format-program/*:*:text=Publishers*20currently*20have*20a*20requirement,proof*20of*20purchase*20on*20file__;I34lJSUlJSUlJQ!!JYXjzlvb!xn5RqfC4zYs9iXjHBFRKMBopJFIWNlSiAdNoRukXg56RyLpCxbXBdcjCh_48SBUbVg$>.

If textbooks are required for classes and the expectation is that all students must have the books (or access to the books) for class, why should students with disabilities be exempted from the requirement? This is federal copyright law. Among the gods we serve in alt-text production and accommodations, OCR is god#1 and copyright is god#2.

My 2.5 cents for a rainy bleak midwinter's day in the PNW.
Wink Harner
Accessibility Consultant/Alternative Text Production
The Foreign Type
Portland OR
foreigntype at gmail.com<mailto:foreigntype at gmail.com>
This email was dictated using Dragon NaturallySpeaking. Please forgive quirks, misrecognitions, or errata .

On Wed, Dec 15, 2021 at 1:33 PM Lissner, L. Scott <lissner.2 at osu.edu<mailto:lissner.2 at osu.edu>> wrote:
The short answer is, in my opinion, no. The long answer with supporting documention can be found at https://www.arl.org/resources/the-law-and-accessible-texts-reconciling-civil-rights-and-copyrights/<https://urldefense.com/v3/__https:/www.arl.org/resources/the-law-and-accessible-texts-reconciling-civil-rights-and-copyrights/__;!!JYXjzlvb!xn5RqfC4zYs9iXjHBFRKMBopJFIWNlSiAdNoRukXg56RyLpCxbXBdcjCh_7tYTLKzA$>

[Block "0" Logo: The Ohio State University]
L. Scott Lissner,
Americans With Disabilities Act Coordinator and Section 504 Compliance Officer
Office of Institutional Equity

(614) 292-7024(v); (614) 688-8605<tel:(614)%20688-8605>(tty) (614) 688-3665<tel:(614)%20688-3665>(fax); Http://ada.osu.edu<https://urldefense.com/v3/__http:/ada.osu.edu/__;!!JYXjzlvb!xn5RqfC4zYs9iXjHBFRKMBopJFIWNlSiAdNoRukXg56RyLpCxbXBdcjCh_4jSuiXag$>

"The American story is about the slow, yet steady widening of opportunity. Make no mistake: too many dreams have been deferred for too long. We must make the promise of the country real for everybody - no matter their race, their ethnicity, their faith, their identity or their disability."
- President-Elect Joe Biden, 11/7/20

On 12/15/21, 1:56 PM, "athen-list on behalf of Kluesner, Bryon" <athen-list-bounces at mailman12.u.washington.edu<mailto:athen-list-bounces at mailman12.u.washington.edu> on behalf of Bryon-Kluesner at utc.edu<mailto:Bryon-Kluesner at utc.edu>> wrote:

Hi all,

When you work with students who have been approved for alternate texts, do you require proof of purchase or proof of having a copy of the text, such as purchase from Amazon, having a "physical copy", whether used or bought from a friend?



Bryon Kluesner RhD, ATAC
Adaptive Technology Coordinator
Disability Resource Center
University of Tennessee at Chattanooga
615 McCallie Ave., Dept. 2953
Chattanooga, TN 37403

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Robert Spangler
Disability Services Technical Support Specialist, Office of Learning Resources (OLR)
University of Dayton
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