Supporting diversity and equality through improved access
Groundbreaking work will provide support for delivery of resources to disabled students and staff
The JISC TechDis Service has joined forces with the Publishers Association to provide resources which have the potential to transform the delivery of learning materials to disabled students and staff.
These two resources, developed in collaboration with the RNIB (Royal National Institute of Blind People) and several major publishers, will support the delivery of materials in alternative formats to meet the needs of people with a range of disabilities, a crucial requirement for equality of access for all students and staff in education and research.
One of the resources – Publisher Lookup UK - will enable education providers and publishers to source electronic formats of textbooks for students with disabilities more quickly and efficiently than existing processes allow. Currently publishers generally provide one of two digital formats – either an e-book or a PDF – but sourcing more accessible formats can be a complex undertaking both from the publishers’ and the users’ points of view. Publisher Lookup UK provides mechanisms for simplifying request, delivery and access processes between the education and research sectors and UK publishers. The site currently provides links to over 150 imprints and additional guidance on making PDFs accessible to users with a range of disabilities.
Director JISC TechDis
The second resource – Guide to Obtaining Textbooks in Alternative Formats – is designed to provide guidance to teaching, learner support and library staff or anyone who needs to provide text books in alternative formats for reading-impaired learners. Disability law protects disabled learners by requiring institutions to make adequate provision for disabled students, including the provision of alternative formats in a timely manner. People with a range of disabilities benefit from alternative formats and many learners with disabilities are struggling with traditional printed texts despite alternatives being available.
The new guide not only helps institutions fulfil their legal obligations, but also supports staff to better understand and provide for the needs of their disabled students. JISC TechDis will be disseminating the guide to both higher and further education institutional Library teams across the UK by the end of July.
These resources have grown out of JISC TechDis’ long-standing engagement with publishers and The Publishers Association. The ultimate aim of this work is to integrate accessibility into the publishing workflow and thus improve access for disabled people to all publications in a way that is both cost-effective and sustainable. "JISC TechDis is delighted to be working with The Publishers Association to help enhance the learning experience of disabled students."
Sal Cooke, Director of JISC TechDis, said: "JISC TechDis is delighted to be working with The Publishers Association to help enhance the learning experience of disabled students. This work has combined JISC TechDis’ expertise on accessibility with publishers’ determination to make their texts available to all those who need them. It also takes a step towards making the production of a variety of formats part of the publishing mainstream rather than a specialist or ad hoc activity.
Institutional library teams and organisations such as SCONUL, Open Rose, ALIS and CLAUD have been instrumental in highlighting this issue, and will also play a vital role in embedding these resources in the workflow of library and information professionals throughout the education sector, and potentially beyond. This collaborative undertaking exemplifies the synergies between the work of JISC TechDis, library associations and The Publishers Association, and we hope that this collaboration is the first of many.”
Graham Taylor, Director of Educational and Academic Publishing at the Publishers Association, said: “Publishers want to play their part in making learning material available in accessible formats. To achieve this we need to work with the agencies supporting disabled learners, in a climate of collaboration and mutual understanding. These two resources are the result of our work so far – a website to help support staff contact publishers, and a guide on how to approach publishers for alternative formats. This work will continue and we look forward to building on the positive progress achieved so far.”
Dominic Knight of publisher Palgrave said: “Palgrave Macmillan is delighted to have been involved in the scoping and development of these important resources. Publisher Lookup UK and Guide to Obtaining Textbooks in Alternative Formats are practical tools that will help publishers and academic institutions work together to provide publications in accessible formats in a timely manner. We look forward to continuing to work alongside The Publishers Association, JISC TechDis and other stakeholders, to investigate ways in which we can further help bring about a significant improvement in the availability of accessible formats for the reading impaired.”
These resources are launched as part of JISC’s ongoing ‘Libraries of the Future’ campaign.
Publisher Lookup UK
Alternative formats guide