Access to Academic Materials for Post-Secondary Students with Print Disabilities


Provincial and Local Governmental and Non-Governmental Organizations

This section considers alternate format services available through both government and non-governmental organizations in various provinces across Canada. These organizations have a mandate to co-ordinate the production and provision of alternate format materials within their home province specifically.

As with the previous two sections, the information gathered here is summarized from the organizationsí websites.

British Columbia College and Institute Library Services (CILS)


CILS is a library service available free to print-disabled students and staff at publicly funded colleges and institutes in British Columbia. CILS is supported by the provincial government through a contractual agreement with Langara College, and offers texts in alternate formats, support and research materials, and reference services upon request.

CILS houses a collection of materials in audiotape, Braille, large print, digital audio, electronic texts, tactile graphics, DAISY books and computer files. When the organization does not have a requested book in its own collection, it searches other collections of alternate format materials for texts available to borrow or purchase. CILS also produces texts when it is unable to find requested materials in existing collections.

The CILS collection is searchable online, and requests for materials can be made online by alternate formats co-ordinators at provincial colleges and institutes. A detailed submission by British Columbia College and Institute Library Services (CILS) is included in this report in the appendix.

Manitoba Department of Education

Citizenship and Youth Ė Special Materials Services

The Special Materials Services (SMS) program offers a collection of titles, comprised mostly of school texts. Texts that are requested but not available through the onsite collection are searched out and made available through inter-library loan sites across Canada and the United States. Books are loaned, free of charge, for the school year to any student attending school in Manitoba.

Students registered as being visually impaired or who have certifiable print disabilities, and who attend Manitoba colleges or universities, have access to Braille, large print and electronic format texts. Texts are borrowed for those who are visually impaired and print disabled, and production of texts for school is extended to students with visual impairments.

Students, special needs co-ordinators and post-secondary instructors work with the SMS programís co-ordinator of post-secondary alternate format textbooks. All parties involved in a studentís education are asked to submit lists of required textbooks as far in advance as possible.

The SMS program website includes an online order form for required textbooks, as well as a searchable database of the onsite SMS collection.

W. Ross MacDonald School for the Blind

Brantford, ON

The school, which opened in 1872, serves Ontario students who are blind and deaf-blind. In 2002, more than 200 students attended the school.

The school also provides resources to help other students in the province who are blind and deaf-blind, as well as those with learning and physical disabilities who cannot read printed texts. It has co-ordinated the provision of alternate format texts for students with print disabilities in Ontario since 1983, offering a centralized transcription service.

Each school in Ontario is asked to assign a contact person, working either within the school library or the disability resource centre, to co-ordinate placing textbook orders for students.

Materials that can be transcribed into alternate formats include: course texts, articles, course packs or workbooks and chapters or parts of chapters of books, up to 120 pages. Course handouts and examinations cannot be transcribed by the service. Alternate formats available include audiocassette, E-text, Braille and large print.

The amount of time required to transcribe a text into Braille through W. Ross MacDonald is considerable (a 500-page text converted into Braille typically takes six to eight months). Therefore, requests for original texts in Braille are only considered for mathematics, statistics, and computer science and language texts. Braille is also the standard format provided for students who are deaf-blind.

The school asks that orders be placed at least one month before the start of a course, in order to facilitate an order being filled on time, and given the volume of requests received.

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