[nabs] Accessible Text books and publishers
dornetta at gmail.com
Thu Dec 30 00:23:18 GMT 2010
I also agree with you about the wait for textbooks. It is a highly
frustrating process and often it causes us to fall behind in class not
mention sitting in class feeling lost is just not a great feeling. That huge
pdf file for the psychology in action textbook, now after reading your
email, I see the problem. I had a big headache trying to read that file at
first and now I know why. One problem that we had to tackle was when the
publishers would send a file and the IT dept would then have to "behind"
them and either re-scan the book or "fix" the file to make it accessible.
How I handle this was: I am the president of a student organization and
because this gives me a seat on the student government board, I used that
"power" to my advantage. I spoke to a friend of mine in FL and tossed some
ideas around him and decided to go into the next SG meeting and "complain"
or rather voice my opinion about dealing with publishers who still make it
difficult in providing accomodations for the print impaired. That was 1 year
ago and now 1 year later this is still a topic on the agenda. I am confident
that the president of the college is making attempts to only deal with
publishers who do not make life harder for students like myself as she has
said several times. I have had other problems in the past semesters with
reading files and when I go to I.T. to get help...it is instant!
I find that at time practicing patience with this situation is difficult but
more often I just get assertive with a smile of course and when that does
not work, I just send Dr. Thornley, the president a email Lol. So far this
college is great and I feel that faculty works hard to be accomadating
ewhich is a major reason why I am getting cold feet about transferring.
"Just because you are blind, does not mean you lack vision"-Stevie Wonder
----- Original Message -----
From: "Birkir Rúnar Gunnarsson" <birkir.gunnarsson at gmail.com>
To: <nabs at acb.org>
Sent: Wednesday, December 29, 2010 4:45 PM
Subject: Re: [nabs] Accessible Text books and publishers
> Hey Miranda et al
> I have a few additional thoughts on this, from my college days and
> later experiences:
> 1. It is very strange that we pay the same amount, for the same text
> books, as the rest of our class mates, and yet are expected to wait
> for weeks or months to get an "accessible" copy of the book from the
> publishers. In my classes, even if I selected the class early, we
> generally were not sure what text book and what version we would be
> using until just a few weeks before class started, if that. Professors
> often do not decide and often new versions of text books are published
> last minute, and these are always used for the semester, even if they
> are not that different from older versions (easy way for the authors
> to make more money of their work, which, you know, is capitalism and
> not a problem per se, but it creates a problem for us).
> 2. Often the books you receive are in untagged .pdf files. In order to
> make a .pdf file accessible to a screen reader, certain work has to be
> done with it, to tell the screen reader how the text is laid out on
> the page (if it is in two columns, for instance, you have to tell the
> screen reader to read first column one, and then column 2). This can
> be a decent amount of work and the file does not become accessible
> until this is done.
> As was pointed out, often the sheer size of the .pdf file can create
> problems, although it can often be solved using the settings in the
> Adobe PDF reader (choose to only render the visual part of the
> document, or only 5 pages at a time, not the entire document, you can
> do this in tools - accessibility settings).
> 3. It is strange that there seems to be no standard set as to what
> constitutes an accessible alternative format. I hope there will be
> work done around this some time, so everybody knows what is acceptable
> and useful alternative formats. Even if a publisher wanted to deliver
> accessible text books, it may be that they just do not know what needs
> to be done. It is something I'd love to see standardized in future.
> 4. PDF documents, currently, do not have accessible math, neither do
> Word documents or plain text files. The only way to get accessible
> math currently would be the Daisy/NIMAS format books (the ReadHere
> Daisy player can read math if it is created accessibly, with a
> standard called MathML), or if it is deliverred as a web page with
> math accessibly created. The other solution, that would work with
> plain text files and Word documents, would be to use the LaTeX
> scripting language for math and use the LaTeX source code in the
> document everywhere there is math or formulas. This works for some,
> but will require you to learn the code, it is a bit like html. It can
> be very lengthy so it is not a very easy thing to work with. A.T.
> companies, and others, can make more document types accessible, such
> as Word or ePub, and even PDF, but it will need standardization before
> they can use a lot of resources to work on the problem. After all, if
> there is no one way text is deliverred, there is no one way to create
> software to make it accessible to the student.
> 5. Publishers have set up a center called AccessText that is a bit
> like a warehouse for accessible books, and some DSS offices deals with
> this center directly, others deal with the alternative production
> center for the state (Georgia and California have such centers) and
> they deal with AccessText, who deals with the publishers. It seems it
> is only getting more complicated to request an accessible text book,
> sadly. But, no matter what, please find the publishers and write to
> them about the alternative formats you get, if they work or if they do
> not (also give them compliments when they do well, that is a good
> thing to do). I'd love to see a web site compare quality of
> alternative material from publishers and rate them based on their
> ability to deal with alternative accessible text book requests. May be
> that is something that could be done in future.
> 6. Google the author of the book and contact him/her directly if
> nothing else is working out. I have done this a few times and, almost
> always, got a good response and, in some cases, I got the actual book
> in a Word document from the author over email. Also remember that the
> scanner is your friend, for text books, OCR technology is wonderful
> and with a decent scanner you can scan a whole book in a matter of
> hours. It is not much fun, I'll admit, but it gives you nearly instant
> access. Even if you do this, still request something from the
> publishers, they need to know they have a duty to us as consumers.
> I know I feel strongly about this, but I had so many frustrations in
> college, and I feel that part of that was needless and new publishing
> technologies and internet books and eBooks can be accessible, out of
> the box, if we only work together to make them so, us, Assistive
> Technology people, schools and publishers.
> Have a fun meeting tonight, y'all. I'd love to join, but I am a family
> man and will be busy, but I hope to speak to you at a later meeting on
> the phone or at an aCB convention.
> nabs mailing list
> nabs at acb.org
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