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Disability Resources for Students

Accessible Instructional Materials

Accessible Instructional Materials (AIM) is an accommodation for required or supplemental academic curriculum to be provided in an accessible format to a student. 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. This accommodation is centrally managed and operationalized by the DRS Seattle office for all DRS units across campuses. Examples of AIM include, but not limited to:

  • 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

Per the Services Request Timeline table, it could take 4 weeks to convert non-STEM materials and at least 6 weeks to convert STEM and Braille content.

General workflow process for Accessible Materials

  1. DRS approves students for AIM
  2. Student meets with Assistant Director of DRS Seattle (in person, by phone, or virtually) for an AIM orientation and assessment
  3. Student activates accommodation by checking the appropriate box in student myDRS profile per the services timeline OR as soon as possible once approved by the DRS Coordinator
  4. Instructional personnel posts information to UW Bookstore, by campus, about reading materials; or DRS retrieved content via course canvas sites to obtain hosted material
  5. DRS may need to partner with student and instructional personnel 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.
  6. DRS attempts to locate a pre-existing accessible version
    • Checking repositories
    • Asking publisher for electronic version
  7. DRS converts the materials in-house if no pre-existing accessible version is found:
    1. Purchase copy of the textbook
    2. Debind book (remove the spine and covers)
    3. Scan the entire text into an image file
    4. Use Optical Character Recognition Software (OCR) to produce desired product
    5. Edit files manually
  8. DRS reviews and proofreads materials for quality
  9. For Braille and tactile graphics requests, DRS sends an electronic version to the UWIT Access Technology Center to emboss (print or make) physical copies of the material
  10. DRS notifies student of converted materials. DRS may distribute the book in its entirety or in sections, depending on the timeliness of receiving book information
  11. Student downloads and reviews materials

Most electronic files will be delivered through myDRS, using DropBox as the storage mechanism. The student is able to download the files directly to their 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.

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.

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.

Students are made aware that US Copyright Law prohibits sharing any accessible files that are created by DRS:

 
“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.”

Washington State RCW 28V.10.916; US 17 USC 121;

Implementing AIM accommodations

Student Responsibilities

  • Activate accommodation by checking the appropriate box in student myDRS profile per the services timeline OR as soon as possible once approved by the DRS Coordinator.
  • May be asked to assist DRS with accessing needed texts.
  • While DRS will provide outreach to faculty in the implementation, the student is responsible to know the assigned instructor and any relevant course materials. DRS will assist wherever possible if the student is experiencing difficulties in determining course information.
  • Produce a receipt for course textbooks upon request.
  • Update DRS on any and all changes regarding reading assignments, course syllabus, etc.
  • Discuss any concerns regarding this accommodation with assigned DRS Coordinator.

DRS Responsibilities

  • DRS will ensure that appropriate accommodations are provided per stated timelines based on submission dates of requests. DRS will communicate and engage the student and instructional personnel as necessary in acquiring course materials and information about the process.
  • Any cost directly related to providing/creating Accessible Instructional Materials is covered by DRS. This includes the cost of: source files for DRS to convert, labor, hardware, and software.

Faculty Responsibilities

  • Ensure that course package materials are available as soon as possible before the start of the quarter, ideally as soon as known or submitted to unit department. It is the responsibility of the faculty to email DRS.
    • For hard copy coursepacks, readers, and lab manuals, the faculty must email the source files to printdrs@uw.edu, or provide the name of the course pack and the location where it can be purchased (i.e. UW Bookstore, RAMS Copy Center, etc.). DRS will purchase a hard copy and convert it.
  • Implement activated accommodations in a timely manner, consult with DRS as needed.

Instructors are encouraged to connect with an IT Accessibility Specialist to learn how to proactively make documents accessible. This includes any PDFs, Word documents, PowerPoints, Excel documents, Pages, KeyNote Presentations, Google Docs, text files, etc. that are used in the curriculum.

FAQs

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 books when ready.

How are coursepacks and lab manuals 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 coursepacks when ready.

How are files distributed electronically (through Canvas, etc.) 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 distribute files when ready.

Why do materials get 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.

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

(Updated 1/2020)