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Disability Resources for Students

Accessible Instructional Materials

General Information

What are Accessible Instructional Materials?

Accessible Instructional Materials (AIM) is an approved DRS accommodation. Any text that is required or supplemental for academic curriculum need to be accessible. Accessible Instructional Materials are print- and technology-based readings and core materials that are designed or converted in a way that makes them usable across the widest range of user needs. 

What are some examples of Accessible Instructional Materials?

  • Digital materials printed for students who cannot use electronic materials.
  • Large print for students with low vision.
  • Image files that can be enlarged for students with mobility limitations or low vision.
  • Main text in documents, that may STEM content (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math), contain that can be read aloud by a computer using text-to-speech technology.
  • Documents containing text, images, tables, STEM content (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math) that can be read aloud, and navigated, by a computer using screen reader technology.
  • Contracted or uncontracted Braille
  • Nemeth Braille (math braille)
  • Tactile graphics

How long will it take?

The Services Timeline Request outlines it could take 4 weeks to convert non-STEM materials and at least 6 weeks to convert STEM and Braille content.

What is the general process?

  • DRS approves students for Accessible Instructional Materials
  • Student meets with Assistant Director for Accessible Instructional Material Orientation.
  • Student makes request for accessible instructional materials for a class.
  • Instructor posts information to UW Bookstore about reading materials.
  • DRS may need to partner with student and instructor to obtain needed information. Custom versions of textbooks may require additional communication. A meeting may be needed, specifically for STEM or Braille conversion. DRS will coordinate this meeting.
  • DRS attempts to locate a pre-existing accessible version.
    1. Checking repositories
    2. Asking publisher for electronic version
  • DRS converts in-house if no pre-existing accessible version is found.
    1. Purchase copy of the textbook
    2. Remove the spine
    3. Scan the entire text into an image file
    4. Use Optical Character Recognition Software (OCR) to produce desired product
    5. Edit files
  • DRS reviews materials for quality.
  • For Braille requests, DRS sends an electronic version to the Access Technology Center to emboss (print or make) the hardcopy Braille.
  • DRS notifies student of converted materials. DRS may distribute the book in its entirety or by chapter, depending on the timeliness of receiving book information.
  • Student downloads materials.
  • Student reviews materials.

How do people use this?

Varying in disability and preferred technology, the student could be using accessible text in a variety of ways. Some students will use text-to-speech software that will read main text aloud. Others may use a screen reader technology to navigate, control, and work a computer and all electronic content, which will read content. And some students read braille and tactile graphics.

Example: Using Text-to-Speech with Accessible Word Doc on Mac (YouTube Video)

Who pays for this?

Any cost directly related to providing Accessible Instructional Materials is covered by DRS. This includes the cost of: source files for DRS to convert, labor, hardware, and software.

Does the student still need to purchase their textbooks?

Yes. If they do not, they are subject to Copyright Law of the United States and the UW Student Conduct Code.

Can the student share their accessible materials with their friends?

No. Doing so would be a violation of Copyright Law of the United States and the UW Student Conduct Code. The student is required to sign a Copyright Agreement for Accessible Instructional Materials form in myDRS which states:

“Under US Copyright law, accessible files (also known as alternative format), provided to the student can be used solely for eligible student’s own educational purposes and cannot be copied, shared, or distributed for use by others. The receipt of any alternative course materials from the University of Washington’s Disability Resources for Students office is a declaration by the student that:

  1. The student qualifies as having a disability that is certified by the University of Washington’s Disability Resources for Students office, and that disability requires the use of these alternative course materials.
  2. The student is currently registered at the University of Washington or registered at a participating consortium membership institution at the time of the student’s request for text in alternative formats.
  3. The student will not copy, reproduce or share any of the specialized formatted texts, nor allow anyone else to do so.
  4. The student already possesses the course materials he/she is requesting in an alternative format, and will provide proof of such possession if required to do so by Disability Resources for Students on behalf of the copyright holder.”

How can STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math) content be read with text-to-speech?

Student

How can Accessible Instructional Materials help me?

This accommodation often helps 3 main groups of students:

  1. Students who need an enlarged version, or a version of text that is electronic. Typically students with low vision, students who use wheelchairs, etc.
  2. Students who need the main content readable by technology. These students can read but often take a long time to read print materials due to slow reading speeds or the need to re-read something several times. These students often find having an audio version of their texts fills in gaps created during the reading process.
  3. Students who need the main content, images, tables, STEM content (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math) readable by technology. These students rely on screen reader technology to navigate, control, and work a computer and all electronic content. Or these students may use a Refreshable Braille Display, which is a device that creates Braille from electronic documents, allows the user to create documents, check email, surf the web and so and much more.

How do I get it? What do I have to do?

New Students

  1. Become a registered student with DRS.
  2. Enroll in classes during priority registration/registration period I.
  3. Request your accommodations in myDRS.
    1. Sign Accessible Instructional Materials Agreement when prompted in myDRS.
    2. Select Accessible Coursepacks, Textbooks and Articles in myDRS.
  4. Schedule and attend an Orientation with the Assistant Director regarding Accessible Instructional Materials.
    1. Bring your laptop and/or tablets in case if software needs to be installed.
  5. Review the books DRS is converting in myDRS.
  6. Purchase textbooks and coursepacks, if the class is required to purchase.
  7. Respond promptly to any correspondence you receive from DRS. Notify DRS of any concerns.

Returning Students

  1. Request your accommodations in myDRS.
    1. Sign Accessible Instructional Materials Agreement when prompted in myDRS.
    2. Select Accessible Coursepacks, Textbooks and Articles in myDRS.
  2. Review the books DRS is converting in myDRS.
  3. Purchase textbooks and coursepacks, if the class is required to purchase.
  4. Respond promptly to any correspondence you receive from DRS. Notify DRS of any concerns.

Do I still need to buy my textbooks?

Yes. If the class is required to purchase class books and materials, you will need to do the same. This is part of the Copyright Agreement for Accessible Instructional Materials form.

How will textbooks be delivered?

Most electronic files will be delivered through myDRS, using DropBox as the storage mechanism. You will be able to download the files directly to your computer OR save the converted files to a free DropBox account for easy retrieval. Sometimes, electronic files will be emailed directly to the student if using DropBox would cause a barrier. Please watch the Receiving Accessible Texts from DRS YouTube video for a step-by-step process.

Do I get to choose which formats I receive?

Students may indicate their preference to DRS. Sometimes their preference may be limited by content of the material, specialized content, length of text, technology the student is using, timeliness, and other factors.

What if I request late or change my classes?

All requests will be processed in the order received. Submitting a late request will take longer to fulfill, and requests may take longer than the time-frame outlined in the Services Timeline Request. Changes to accommodation requests should be made in myDRS as soon as possible.

Can I share with my friends?

No. Doing so would be a violation of Copyright Law and the UW Student Conduct. You are required to sign a Copyright Agreement for Accessible Instructional Materials form in myDRS which states:

“Under US Copyright law, accessible files (also known as alternative format), provided to the student can be used solely for eligible student’s own educational purposes and cannot be copied, shared, or distributed for use by others. The receipt of any alternative course materials from the University of Washington’s Disability Resources for Students office is a declaration by the student that:

  1. The student qualifies as having a disability that is certified by the University of Washington’s Disability Resources for Students office, and that disability requires the use of these alternative course materials.
  2. The student is currently registered at the University of Washington or registered at a participating consortium membership institution at the time of the student’s request for text in alternative formats.
  3. The student will not copy, reproduce or share any of the specialized formatted texts, nor allow anyone else to do so.
  4. The student already possesses the course materials he/she is requesting in an alternative format, and will provide proof of such possession if required to do so by Disability Resources for Students on behalf of the copyright holder.”

What if book information is not available through the UW bookstore?

DRS will likely not know what texts are required for a class if they are not posted on the UW Bookstore’s website. While DRS does their own outreach, sometimes students can connect quicker and more effectively with professor by reaching out personally.

What if my class does not have an instructor assigned?

While DRS does their own outreach, sometimes students can connect more quickly and effectively by reaching out personally to their adviser, program coordinator, or department chair to check on the status of assigned instructors.

Will I need to buy a new computer or software?

This will depend upon each student’s unique situation. DRS will always start with free or inexpensive solutions, but may recommend solutions that cost some money that would be a better fit for the student. DRS cannot purchase software for student’s long-term, personal use.

Instructors/Faculty

What are my responsibilities? What do I need to do?

  1. Provide a list of all texts used in your class to the UW Bookstore. If you are not using texts, please also indicate that to the UW Bookstore.
  2. Prepare your reading list/syllabus so DRS knows what to prioritize in conversion.
  3. Connect with IT Accessibility Specialist, Gaby de Jongh via email (gabyd@uw.edu) or phone call (206 685-6252) to learn how to make your documents accessible. This includes any PDFs, Word documents, PowerPoints, Excel documents, Pages, KeyNote Presentations, Google Docs, text files, etc. that you use in your curriculum.

What is the difference between Type 1, Type 2, and Type 3?

DRS has created a 3-min video to help explain the difference between Type 1, Type 2, and Type 3.

How do I know if my Word document is inclusive/accessible?

The Microsoft Accessible Checker is an easy tool to use to make the document more inclusive.

How do I know if my PDF is inclusive/accessible?

  • For each PDF, please ensure that one can highlight, copy, and paste the text into a separate file (like a Word document).
    • Doing this copy/paste check verifies if the document can be used with screen readers and text-to-speech technology. If it is not possible to copy/paste text from the PDF into another file, the document is a scan and is not inclusive.
    • Use the Free Online Conversion Tool: SensusAccess to convert it to a Tagged PDF. A Tagged PDF can be used with screen readers and text-to-speech technology.
  • Connect with IT Accessibility Specialist, Gaby de Jongh via email (gabyd@uw.edu) or phone call (206 685-6252) with questions about how to make documents accessible.

How do I learn to make documents accessible myself? What resources are there?

What if I use a hardcopy coursepack?

Please email printdrs@uw.edu with the name of the coursepack and the location where it can be purchased (UW Bookstore, RAMs Copy Center, Professional Copy ‘n’ Print, EZ Copy N Print. DRS will purchase a hardcopy and convert it.