Posted by: MandyS | November 1, 2011

Activity 17.1 – alternative formats

For this activity I have considered a number of alternative formats available for study material. There are numerous formats as set out in Making information accessible but these are some of the ones I have looked at in more detail:


Daisy is a format which can combine speech and text. It is an electronic file format which can be delivered electronically or more usually supplied on a CD.  


Readers are able to navigate by page number, chapter or section. Users can navigate through a DTB on-screen, by listening or both. There are different kinds of DAISY books, ranging from audio only to text only. It is even possible to produce hard-copy braille from a full text DAISY book.

DAISY books can increase reading speed and improve reading efficiency.

They provide flexibility; you can listen to a DAISY book on a computer while reading the text with a braille display. Or you can listen to a DAISY audio book with a special stand-alone player at home or when travelling.


Producing Daisy is a complex process and requires specialised software. Need to use a professional transcription service. Cost.

Technical resources:

Specialised software

Human resources:

Professional transcription required


2. Comb-bound Materials

Comb-bound books have a spiral binding to make them easier to handle and able to lie flat on a table or other surface.


This makes the material easier to use with a scanner, or other equipment such as a magnifier.


There may be instances when a book is not available because it is too thin for this kind of binding.

Bulkier making them harder to transport, although may have advantage that only need take part you need.

Technical resources:

Need comb binding machine or send away for it to be comb bound

Human resources:

Need someone to do it, time consuming.


3. Electronic Text (eText)

Printed materials that use a clear, easy to read style can help all readers. It is often a starting point for creating alternative formats.


Having the document in plain electronic text can be the most useful for working with their assistive technology. Many visually impaired people can access text using their computers.


Not maintaining aspects of the original document e.g. visuals, not keeping the layout simple to aid navigation.

Technical & Human resources:

Anyone can convert a document to e-text but technical knowledge is required i.e. to check:

File type, text layout, formatting of any tables, transcription of non-text items e.g. diagrams, graphs, pictures. May need professional assistance. Cost.


4.Tactile Diagrams

Tactile diagrams are created to represent a wide variety of documents ranging from maps, to drawings, shapes, and visitor plans.


Of benefit to the visually impaired as the document has raised lines representing the drawing or plan. These are sometimes accompanied with braille text to describe or annotate the diagram or drawing.


Haptic perception is not as reliable as sight. Training required for it to be effective. Tactile audio is a means of overcoming this but this needs to be linked to a computer, which restricts its portability.

Technical resources:

Specialist equipment is required.

Human resources:

It is difficult to produce tactile diagrams in-house due to the equipment required. Training users is also required.


5.Accessible PDF

Increasingly documents are being created and then publicly delivered or made available as Adobe PDF format documents.


They preserve the original author’s desired layout and look. They can also contain advanced features such as embedded links, forms, and data capture tools.


Need to be created as accessible versions. Features such as providing alt tags for images, a document language, and a document structure all contribute to the easier reading for people using assistive technology.

Technical & Human resources:

PDF documents in-house quite easily. Often common software packages will have an option to create a PDF version. Unfortunately, these do not always incorporate accessibility features and authors should check their documents for accessibility issues.





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