Disability Resources for Students

Accessible Instructional Materials

Description

Accessible Instructional Materials (AIM) is an accommodation approved by DRS on an individual basis through an interactive process between DRS and the student. It must be supported by the documented effects of the student’s disability. Any text that is required or supplemental for academics needs to be accessible. Accessible instructional materials are print- and technology-based educational materials, including printed and electronic textbooks and related core materials that are designed or converted in a way that makes them usable across the widest range of student variability regardless of format (print, digital, graphic, audio, video).

Examples may include:

  • Large print
  • Image files for students with mobility limitations or students with low vision.
  • Text selectable PDFs or Word documents that can be used with text-to-speech technology.
  • Text selectable PDFs or Word documents that contain STEM content (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math) that can be used with text-to-speech technology.
  • Tagged text selectable PDFs or highly structured Word documents that can be used with screen reading technology.
  • Contracted or uncontracted Braille
  • Nemeth Braille (math braille)
  • Tactile graphics

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

How to Use

Student Responsibilities

Upon approval of Accessible Instructional Materials, the student needs to

  • For new students: schedule an AIM Orientation with the Access Text & Technology Manger.
  • Enroll in your courses during priority registration/registration period I.
  • Sign Accessible Instructional Materials Agreement when prompted in myDRS.
  • Select Accessible Coursepacks, Textbooks and Articles in myDRS.
    • Submitted request per the Services Timeline Request. DRS needs 4-6 weeks’ notice depending upon preferred output.
      • Late requests will be processed in the order received.
      • Changes to AIM requests due to schedule revisions or cancellations should be reported to DRS as soon as possible to be processed in a timely manner.
  • Partner with the Access Text & Technology Manager to get needed information from professor.
  • Check list and status of books in myDRS.
  • Purchase textbooks and coursepacks. Provide proof-of-purchase to DRS.
    • DRS will start the prep work for a text without proof-of-purchase.
  • Respond promptly to any correspondence you receive from DRS. Notify DRS of any concerns.

DRS Responsibilities

Upon approval of Accessible Instructional Materials, DRS will

  • Evaluate student’s needs during AIM Orientation.
  • Partner with student and instructor to obtain needed information. A meeting between DRS, student and instructor may be needed. DRS will coordinate this meeting.
  • Locate a pre-existing accessible version, if available.
  • Purchase a copy to convert if no pre-existing accessible version is found.
  • Create an accessible version, if needed.
  • Distribute accessible materials upon receiving proof-of-purchase.

Instructor Responsibilities

  • To submit book information to the UW bookstore according to deadlines.
  • To respond to DRS or student inquiries about texts as soon as possible.
  • See if a file has accessible text by copying/pasting text from the source file into another document (like Word). If text can be copied/pasted, the text is 75% accessible and will meet most students’ needs.
  • Provide good source files for articles (DRS calls files distributed through learning management systems “articles” for simplicity and consistency).
  • Provide accessible versions of files (HTML instead of PDF) whenever possible.

How are textbooks/books converted?

  • Student makes request for accessible instructional for a class.
  • DRS seeks additional book info, if needed. NOTE custom versions of textbooks will require additional communication from the instructor or department.
  • DRS looks for pre-existing accessible versions. This often involves:
    • checking repositories
    • asking publisher if electronic files are available
  • DRS will convert source files into desired product. This often involves:
    • purchasing own copy of the textbook,
    • having the spine removed,
    • scanning the entire text into an image file
    • using Optical Character Recognition Software (OCR) to produce desired product
    • editing files further
  • DRS will notify the student when the complete text is ready OR if part of the text is ready.
  • DRS will distribute book once proof-of-purchase has been received.

How are coursepacks converted?

A coursepack is a collection of journal articles or chapters or book excerpts from a variety of sources. Many times, coursepacks are physically printed and students are required to purchase from a copy shop or the UW bookstore. Some times, coursepacks are available in electronic format to all students through a learning management system.

  • Student makes request for accessible instructional for a class.
  • DRS seeks additional book info, if needed.
  • DRS will locate a source file using one of the following methods:
    • obtain electronic version of coursepack, if sold through UW bookstore
    • purchase physical version of cousepack, if sold through copy shop other than UW bookstore
    • obtain source file from instructor
  • DRS will convert source files into desired product. This often involves:
    • scanning the entire text into an image file
    • using Optical Character Recognition Software (OCR) to produce desired product
    • editing files further
  • DRS will notify the student when the complete text is ready OR if part of the text is ready.
  • DRS will distribute book once proof-of-purchase has been received.

How are files distributed through learning management systems (LMS) converted?

Files distributed through LMS are called “articles” by DRS for simplicity and consistency. These files are typically PDFs, word documents, image files, powerpoints or other text-based files. Many times, instructors will require that these articles are read in addition to textbook or novels. These articles are typically shorter than a textbook or novel.

  • Student uses SensusAccess to convert files, if source files are clean enough
  • Student emails printdrs@uw.edu if SensusAccess will not convert files accurately
  • DRS will convert source files into desired product. This often involves:
    • finding another source file online or with the instructor’s help
    • using Optical Character Recognition Software (OCR) to produce desired product
    • editing files further
  • DRS will notify the student when the text is ready

Reasons why texts may be delayed

  1. Student recently became registered with DRS.
  2. Student has not had AIM Orientation with the Access Text & Technology Manger.
  3. Student does not submit accommodation request on time.
  4. Student changes class.
  5. Instructor changed.
  6. Instructor is not assigned early enough.
  7. Information is not submitted to UW Bookstore in a timely manner.
  8. Instructor changes reading list.
  9. Source files of books, articles or coursepacks is very poor and requires reconstruction of the text.
  10. Not all required reading materials are listed on UW Bookstore.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is there a one resource where I can learn how to make files more accessible?

While the UW Accessibility page on Creating Accessible Documents is not a comprehensive resource, it is a great starting point.

How can I make MS Word documents more usable?

Use heading styles in instead of bold to indicate sections or titles. This allows a screen reader to skip through content instead of being forced to listen to whole page.

TIP: Using heading styles allows to easily generate a Table of Contents that can automatically be updated with page numbers. And if saved as PDF, it creates bookmarks, which allows for easy navigation for any user.

How can I make text searchable?

Use Optical Character Recognition (OCR). This turns image text into text that is searchable. This allows you to search for key words, ideas or sections you want to use in research.

TIP: This mechanism is available on some scanners as well as in Adobe Acrobat Professional called Text Recognition. Students who can search a document are more likely to interact with content more.

How can I get text to be read by a computer?

Use Optical Character Recognition (OCR). This turns image text into text that is searchable. Searchable text is often speak-able by a computer. Anyone can use free or purchased software/apps to voice content aloud. Instant audiobook for those commuting, multi-tasking or screen-fatigued eyes. The majority of students with disabilities at UW have a learning disability. This tip alone will allow them to consume the content you want them to read through audio.

TIP: This mechanism is available on some scanners as well as in Adobe Acrobat Professional called Text Recognition.

Should I share files via a link or distributing a file?

Choose the permalink (permanent URL) over downloading a journal file (like a PDF or ePub). This will save you time as you will not have to download, organize, re-name, store and upload a file to your course site. This will allow students to easily get to content from any mobile device without having to download, organize, re-name, and store files.

TIP: not sure.

How can I make links accessible?

Provide good text when including website links. For example, say “link to the academic calendar” instead of “click here”. This will help you remember where a URL will go. Users will know where the URL is going to take them without ambiguity.

TIP: Consider whether you would understand where a link is going if taken out of context.

Can I use color in my websites and documents?

Yes, but do not rely solely on color to convey information. This will allow you to be assured that all students got the information, perhaps twice, which allows for better retention/comprehension. Students with visual impairments (blind, color-blind, low vision) will be able to understand information.

TIP: not sure

How should I scan documents for optimum accessibility?

Avoid scanning documents where pages are crooked, where contrast is poor, or highlighting/handwriting/coffee stains exist. Good scanning helps to communicate professionalism and importance of document in curriculum. This allows for faster file conversion for students who need alternative versions like Braille or speak-able text.

TIP: Look at the scan before distributing. If you have a hard time clearly seeing the text, others will too.

A student needs accessible textbooks. What’s the first thing I should do?

Submit your booklist to department/bookstore according to deadlines. This will help you to be more organized and ready for the course. This allows for other departments on campus to obtain critical information to provide alternate versions like Braille or speak-able text in a timely manner.

TIP: not sure

What is a screen reader?

A screen reader is the “eyes” for a blind person using a computer. It will read everything aloud on the screen — the dialog boxes, the text in a webpage and even images (if these elements are created accessible). This will give you assurance that if you were to loose your sight, there are technological solutions where you could still operate a computer.

TIP: Link to DRS page

What is a text-to-speech tool?

Text-to-speech engines are software/apps designed to use computer synthesized voice to read aloud the content. This will give you the option to listen to text instead of looking at it. Helpful for those who commute, multi-task or have screen-fatigued eyes.

TIP: Link to DRS page

What else can I do to help with document accessibility?

Always save the source files for content you create. This allows for easy editing if you wanted to add or change content later. This is often a better starting point for students who need alternative versions like Braille or speak-able text.

TIP: Create a consistent file naming scheme that an outside party would understand.

Resources

Students approved for Accessible Instructional Materials may find the following resources helpful.

Creating Accessible Documents – UW Accessibility Page

Free online document conversion tool for UW students, staff, and faculty called SensusAccess

Link to myDRS Student Guide

Buy books online at UW Bookstore

Cool Technology: Text-to-Speech, Speech-to-Text, Notetaking

Accessible Computer Stations on UW Campus