Individuals are unable to benefit from standard print materials for a variety of reasons. Some are unable to read the print due to blindness or significant visual impairment. Others are unable to manipulate the materials due to a physical impairment such as cerebral palsy or multiple sclerosis. More recently, persons who are unable to process printed information due to a learning disability resulting from a physically-based, organic dysfunction have been included among those eligible for some alternative format services. Regardless of the reasons why a person is unable to benefit from standard print materials, people require access to information in formats that will provide them with the same benefits to those who are able to benefit from standard print. Alternative format materials include Braille, audio cassette, large print, computer diskette, CD-ROM, or human readers. (Adapted from an article entitled: Guidelines for Accessing Alternative Format Educational Materials, by Barbara Nail-Chiwetalu)
Braille is a code of letters and symbols that is read by fingers moving across a series of raised dots. There are several forms of Braille. Information on a computer screen is sent to a Braille display, which is a tactile device that can raise or lower dot patterns. A person places their fingers on the display and reads the information. The result is a line of Braille that will change in accordance with the information sent from the computer. Because the pins appear and disappear, the display is known as "refreshable." Braille displays are the primary means of access to computers for users who are visually impaired. A Braille printer or embosser has the ability to reproduce the raised dots onto sheets of paper.
Although many vision impaired or blind people often prefer to have their electronic texts read aloud by a computer-based screen reader or Braille display, they may also require some texts to be read audibly. Some books may not be available electronically or cannot easily be scanned to text using Optical Character Recognition (OCR). Consequently, texts have to be read and recorded onto CD or Audio tape. Daisy, WAV and MP3 are popular audio formats.
Daisy DAISY (Digital Accessible Information System) is a universal standard format for reading and publishing digital talking books. DAISY technology allows for new ways to deliver information quickly and efficiently using high quality synthetic speech or human voice.
A DAISY book is a digital talking book, designed to allow the reader to move around the text as efficiently and flexibly as a print user. DAISY allows the reader to: make bookmarks, pause books, speed up or slow down, read or ignore footnotes and jump easily from chapter to chapter, heading to heading and page to page. Books and information published in the DAISY format can only be read using a DAISY player or DAISY software on a computer. A DAISY player is similar to a CD player where you can access tracks very quickly and flexibly. (Information source: RINIB)
Short for Portable Document Format, a file format developed by Adobe Systems. PDF captures formatting information from a variety of desktop publishing applications, making it possible to send formatted documents and have them appear on the recipient's monitor or printer as they were intended. To view a file in PDF format, you need either Adobe Reader, which is a free application distributed by Adobe Systems, or you could use one of the many alternative PDF readers available on the internet.
Making the most of PDFs (Source: TechDis)
Making the most of PDFs (Source: TechDis)
The following (edited) guidelines are taken from the Royal National Institute of the Blind’s guidelines on printed documentation:
- Disability Office, University of Edinburgh
- Abilitynet factsheet, 'Guidelines for Printed Material'
- Guidelines for Accessing Alternative Format Educational Materials, by Barbara Nail-Chiwetalu
Further information and resources
- Jisc TechDis guide to obtaining text books in alternative formats
- Adept-UK. Transcription and alternative formats
- Dolphin Daisy
- Microsoft has teamed up with DAISY to produce a new 'add-in' for Word.
REDMOND, Wash. — May 7, 2008 — Microsoft Corp. today joined with industry and advocacy group leaders worldwide to launch new software that will make it easier for anyone to create documents and content that will be accessible for blind and print-disabled individuals. The new “Save as DAISY XML” add-in, designed for Microsoft Office Word 2007, Word 2003 and Word XP, will allow users to save Open XML-based text files into DAISY XML, the foundation of the globally accepted DAISY Standard for reading and publishing navigable multimedia content (http://www.daisy.org).