Accessible Readings - Faculty
Students with reading disabilities, blindness, and some with low vision need high quality electronic copies, or e-text, of their readings for equal access. They may use software that can give them equal access to their readings, but only if the e-text is prepared correctly. Disability Services is responsible for ensuring students have equal access to their required textbooks. All other course materials are the responsibility of faculty and their departments. Disability Services is happy to serve as a resource to faculty in this endeavor.
How to do it wrong
1) Scan an old Xerox that has been through multiple generations.
2) Scan a hard copy without making it searchable.
3) Scan a hard copy with shadows, underlining, highlighting, and/or marginalia.
How to do it right
1) Don’t create a new, possibly flawed, copy if a perfect one is already out there. Google it and/or search the library databases. Librarians can assist with this. If requesting a document through Interlibrary Loan, be sure to note that you require a "clean and searchable" copy.
2) If your copy is clean (no marginalia, underlining, highlighting, etc.), a new searchable PDF can be created with a scanner. Just be sure the scan is clean and complete—no shadows between pages obscuring the text or text cut off where page was larger than scanner. If you have an existing clean image-based PDF, you can easily make that searchable as well. Instructional Technologies and Design Services can show you how to create searchable PDFs through OCR in Adobe Acrobat.
3) If your original does not allow you to create a clean scan, borrow one from the library or a colleague.
4) Put electronic copy on reserve in library or in Blackboard so all students may access it. Alternatively, it may be e-mailed or transferred via flash drive to an individual student.
Accessible Readings and Handouts Have Other Benefits Too
- It’s easier for all students to read cleaner copies.
- Electronic copies save paper and trips to duplicating
- Electronic copies are easier for students to access and impossible for them to lose.
- As this technology becomes more widespread, more students will use it—even those without disabilities. One student without a disability who uses text-to-speech software says, "Like most students, I have trouble concentrating on long (sometimes boring) reading assignments. Fatigue, a noisy environment and a heavy workload often add to my inability to focus for extended periods of time. I have found that using the text-to-speech capabilities which now come standard on most computers to read a passage out loud while following along not only significantly increases the length of time I can attend to a reading, it also increases my comprehension of the material."