Learner Experience

Praise a publisher month

Bottle of champagne pouring into a glassThe students leave. The library staff have a chance to breathe, reflect and plan ahead.  August is an excellent month to take the opportunity to say ‘Well done’ to those who have made a difference in supporting disabled students.

Using a simple online voting tool Alistair McNaught asked the LIS-Accessibility Jiscmail list who they wanted to commend for accessible publishing and why.

Here is the summary so far – this is a snapshot at the end of July. If the suppliers you love are not on here you can add them using this link. If we have enough new publishers appear we will do an update for September.

Thankyou so far to….

Sage – commended for their speed and responsiveness as well as the way “Sage resources are fully plugged in” to the RNIB book share collection. Their Library Advisory Board is a “great way to work together on improving accessibility”. One respondent simply described Sage as “Gold standard”.

Oxford University Press – were also commended for quick responses and helpfulness. There was praise for the OUP online platforms being “generally accessible… as they do not overdo the DRM (Digital Rights Management)”. Also appreciated was the ability to “request multiple titles on a single license.”

Cambridge University Press – have made “improvements to their platforms” and “generally improved accessibility to their resources”. Their responsiveness to alternative format requests was ‘speedy’, though one comment said that response times “can vary but the request process is easy.”

Taylor and Francis – have worked with the Open University “to improve accessibility and…make improvements to their platform.” They were commended for their work with RNIB bookshare, but are also “quick to provide files” directly if required.

Open University Press / McGraw-Hill education – were commended for their “super fast” turnarounds and “really good” customer service. Their online forms are “not as easy as requesting via RNIB but much easier than printing scanning documents”

Palgrave Macmillan – were noted for being “always helpful, always fast”. They also have “most things available on RNIB book share which is really convenient”.

Also honourably mentioned were:

Kortext (for responding to feedback and trying hard to “make improvements to their platform”).

Jessica Kingsley (for responses to social media comments on provision of alternative formats).

McGraw Hill (good communication and providing PDF within a couple of days).

What they have in common

Three things stand out from the feedback: accessible publishing depends on…

  • Responsiveness. Quick turnaround times are vital in education. If a disabled student gets the textbook two weeks after everybody else they are doubly disabled. Publishers who understand this deserve to be on the top of reading lists.
  • RNIB bookshare. The majority of commended publishers work with RNIB bookshare. A disabled student independently accessing an accessible version of a book has complete equality with their peers. Publishers also have fewer disability request to process. The university/college has fewer physical books to scan and OCR .
  • Willingness to listen and learn. A common thread in the comments was the willingness of the supplier to understand issues and attempt to address them. Libraries understand that accessibility is multilayered and complex. Delivering files that are 100% accessible to 100% of people 100% of the time is unrealistic. What matters is that a supplier is actively engaged and that their product improvement plans includes accessibility.

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