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Accessible Formats

For children with print-based reading disabilities, accessible formats provide alternate versions of print-based books that function in much the same way as a print-based textbook. Learn about the different kinds of accessible formats, including digital talking books, enlarged text, electronic publications, and more.

For children with print-based reading disabilities, accessible formats provide alternate versions of print-based books that function in much the same way as a print-based textbook. Learn about the different kinds of accessible formats, including digital talking books, enlarged text, electronic publications, and more.

Click on the links below to learn more about the features of each of the formats.

 

Audio Recording

Recorded Audio Books are human voice recordings provided to students through Learning Ally (formerly known as RFB&D). While most of the books are audio only, a select number of books have been converted to the VOICEtext format, which provides highlighted text that is followed while the audio is played.

Accessibility features

  • Learning Ally books are read by content matter specialists and are designed to be clear and understandable, with students who have disabilities in mind.
  • Speed controls allow students can speed up or slow down the rate at which the book is read.
  • Students can easily click to navigate by pages, chapters or sections as well as add their own digital bookmarks.
  • Can be read on Daisy players or PC, Mac, IOS, and Android devices using the free downloadable software or apps provided by Learning Ally.
  • Content is "Reflowable", meaning the text is optimized to fit the page regardless of font size.
  • For audio recordings in the “VOICEtext” format, the text will be highlighted as it is read which reinforces word recognition, improves fluency, builds vocabulary and develops decoding skills.

Works with:

  • Free Learning Ally Audio App (IOS and Android)
  • Free software from Learning Ally called ReadHear by gh
  • DAISY Devices (Cost depends on device; device can be ordered through Learning Ally)

Braille

Braille is a series of raised dots evenly arranged in quadrangular letter spaces or cells. The configuration of dots can be read with the fingertips by people who are vision impaired. Braille materials are provided by the Department for the Blind and Vision Impaired. For more information on Braille you can read this overview pamphlet provided by DBVI.

Accessibility features

  • Braille is unique written language the may be the most accessible option of reading and writing for students who are blind or have a significant visual impairment.

Note:(An average classroom textbook in braille usually weighs 8-10 pounds and is bound in sections for usability)

Works with:

  • Students who have been trained in the use of Braille.

Braille Ready File (BRF)

Braille Ready File (.brf ), often referred to as eBraille or web-braille, is a specialized digital text format used to create embossed braille or be read using a braille display or with a refreshable braille device. Braille Ready Files are provided by the Department for the Blind and Vision Impaired and by Bookshare.

Accessibility features

  • Braille is unique written language that may be the most accessible option of reading and writing for students who are blind or have a significant visual impairment.
  • Digital files on a refreshable display prevent the need to carry and store large volumes of embossed braille text.

Works with:

  • Refreshable Braille display
  • Braille embosser

Digital Talking Book (DTB) / DAISY

A Digital Accessible Information System (Daisy) Talking Book (DTB) is a digital or human voice recording of the full electronic text with the capability to navigate and bookmark sections of the book. A Daisy talking book is made up of a series of files linked together. A computerized text DAISY book can be read using refreshable Braille display or screen-reading software, printed as Braille book on paper, converted to a talking book using synthesized voice or a human narration, and also printed on paper as large print book. In addition, it can be read as large print text on computer screen. Learn more: Understanding DAISY (National Center on Accessible Educational Materials).

Accessibility features

  • Text-to-speech capabilities allow the text to be read aloud
  • Highlights text as it is read for improved comprehension
  • Built in bookmarks and electronic navigation
  • Images are tagged with alternate text descriptions that can be read aloud.
  • Page numbers of the Daisy correspond to the page numbers of the printed text.
  • Older Bookshare Daisy files did not contain graphics. Newer Bookshare Daisy files and Daisy files converted from NIMAS will have graphics with alternative text that can be read aloud.
  • Content is “Reflowable”, meaning the text is optimized to fit the page regardless of font size.
  • Most Daisy readers will have a series of additional beneficial features such as:
    • Dictionaries
    • Bibliographers
    • Contrast and color: Boost the contrast with various built-in color variations
    • Built-in graphic organizers
    • Pronunciation assistance
    • Highlighting of Digital Text for notes
    • Web access

Note: To open Daisy book use the (.opf) file, in a specialized Daisy reader.

Works with:

  • Text-to-speech programs such as Read: OutLoud
  • Kurzweil 1000 and 3000
  • Read and Write: Gold. Click these links for a comprehensive list of Daisy compatible hardware and software.
  • AIM-VA and Bookshare

Electronic publications (ePub)

ePub (short for electronic publication) is a free and open e-book standard by the International Digital Publishing Forum (IDPF). ePub files are simplified versions of the Daisy format and are usable on most all electronic devices. AIM-VA converts ePubs from Daisy, NIMAS, and word files.

Accessibility features

  • Compatible with text-to-speech programs.
  • Content is “Reflowable”, meaning the text is optimized to fit the page regardless of font size.
  • Readable on the computer as well as many mobile devices.
  • ePubs created by AIM-VA are available on the student’s bookshelf, can be streamed online and read aloud using Streamit!
  • Built in bookmarks and electronic navigation through “Table of Contents” often included
  • Publishers can tag images with alternate text descriptions that can be read aloud.
  • Page numbers correspond to the page numbers of the printed text if programmed by the publisher

Works with:

AIM-VA's Stream-It and popular eReaders. These include, but are not limited to; iPad, Kindle, iPhone, Android, Kobo, Nook, Sony Reader, Windows Phone, PC and Mac OSX notebook/desktop systems.

HTML

HTML, which stands for Hypertext Markup Language, is the predominant markup language for web pages. Books that are downloaded in HTML include many different files which can be opened from a central index file. They are extremely compatible from computer to computer and you only need to have a web browser such as Firefox or Internet Explorer to be able to open these files.

Accessibility features

  • Compatible with text-to-speech programs
  • Content is "Reflowable," meaning the text is optimized to fit the page regardless of font size.
  • Can be opened in any web browser, with or without internet access.
  • Built in bookmarks and electronic navigation
  • Publishers can tag images with alternate text descriptions that can be read aloud.
  • Page numbers correspond to the page numbers of the printed text if programmed by the publisher

Works with:

Read OutLoud; Kurzweil; Web browsers such as Internet Explorer, Firefox, Chrome; or a text editing program such as Notepad

Large print

Large print is defined as print for text passages that is larger than the commonly used print and font sizes from eight to twelve points in size. Large Print is created by AIM-VA and available on a first-come, first served basis. AIM-VA maintains its current large print library but is no longer printing new large print texts

Accessibility features

  • AIM-VA provides most large print books on black and white, spiral bound, 11x14inch paper.
  • Many large print books come in multiple volumes. No volume is greater than 270 pages.
  • Trade books come in 16 point or greater font and are available in a traditional book-bound fashion.
  • For most textbooks, large print will be 18 point font.

Note: If a student needs materials in Large Print, please order the materials in .pdf accessible and print the materials in the font size needed. AIM-VA maintains a large print library but is no longer converting materials into large print.

Works with:

Students who need larger text

Word

A Microsoft Word Document is the file type used with the commonly known program Microsoft Word. This format is optimized by using the Microsoft sans serif typeface in black; unless a font color is needed for instruction and active hyperlinks. Due to special character limitations, math, science, and music texts are not available.

Accessibility features

  • Includes content related graphics which are programmed with alternate text descriptions that can be read aloud.
  • Font style matches the original text (i.e. bold, italics, underline).
  • Page numbers correspond to the page numbers of the printed text.
  • Footnotes are positioned within text to provide greater understanding of content.
  • Headings are created for navigation and can be viewed in the document maps.
  • Microsoft Word files can be easily saved as RTF files

Note: This format requires a compatible text-to-speech program to have the text read aloud.

Works with:

Best if used with Microsoft Word

NIMAS Format

NIMAS is the National Instructional Materials Accessibility Standard. NIMAS means the standard established by the Secretary of Education to be used in the preparation of electronic files suitable and used solely for efficient conversion into specialized formats. This format is only available for text copyrighted in or after 2006. These files are stored in the NIMAC, a virtual library which can only be accessed through AIM-VA.

Accessibility features

  • If graphics are present, alternative text that can be read aloud may also be available.
  • Electronic navigation through “Table of Contents”
  • Requires special software to read

Note: This format is traditionally used by Authorized Users such as AIM-VA and Bookshare to create other formats. This format is compatible with some software programs but is not commonly used by local education agencies.

Works with:

NIMAS files are source files and are not student-ready. For more information: NIMAS Files Best Practices (National Center on Accessible Educational Materials).

PDF Accessible

A PDF Accessible file is a digital scan of a book or document that turns printed text into an electronic format that is readable by a computer or portable device. These scanned files will look exactly like their printed counterpart and will maintain formatting regardless of screen size or magnification. PDF accessible is the most readily available format that is created by AIM-VA. AIM-VA users can order these files for any book not already in the AIM-VA library.

Accessibility features

  • Provides an identical digital representation of a printed book.
  • Compatible with text-to-speech programs
  • PDFs can be opened by using a variety of programs on the computer as well as many mobile devices.
  • Users can increase the page size without distorting the text; allowing PDF Accessible files to be used as digital large print.
  • Most PDF readers will have a series of additional beneficial features such as:
    • Highlights text as it is read for improved comprehension
    • Contains note taking features like in text highlighting and commenting
    • Bookmarking and electronic navigation

Works with:

Adobe Reader and text-to-speech programs such as: Read: OutLoud, Kurzweil 1000 and 3000, Read and Write: Gold.

Did you know

Did you know that your students can type their answers right on the page of a PDF, Accessible and PDF, and Fully Accessible Workbooks using the free Adobe Acrobat Reader?

  • Click on Comment tool on the right side of the screen.


    Click on Comment tool on the right side of the screen.

  • Click on the plain ‘T’ on the top Comment bar.


    Click on the plain ‘T’ on the top Comment bar.

  • Click on the page where you want to type your answer. Type it!


    Click on the page where you want to type your answer. Type it!

  • Print the page when you are finished!

PDF Fully Accessible

A Fully Accessible PDF is a PDF that was converted directly from a structured WORD document. These documents look exactly like word documents and are annotatable, readable by a computer, and are optimized by adding additional accessibility features to the file, like “tags”. A tag contains information such as header locations, hyperlinks, and alternative text descriptions for graphics. This allows PDF Fully Accessible documents to be bookmarked, navigated much easier, and provides detailed information about images in the text.

Accessibility features

  • Compatible with text-to-speech programs
  • Includes content related graphics which are programmed with alternate text descriptions that can be read aloud.
  • Font style matches the original text (i.e. bold, italics, underline).
  • Page numbers correspond to the page numbers of the printed text.
  • Footnotes are positioned within text to provide greater understanding of content.
  • PDFs can be opened by using a variety of programs on the computer as well as many mobile devices.
  • Content is “Reflowable”, meaning the text is optimized to fit the page regardless of font size.
  • Most PDF readers will have a series of additional beneficial features such as:
    • Highlights text as it is read for improved comprehension
    • Contains note taking features like in text highlighting and commenting
    • Bookmarking and electronic navigation

Works with:

Adobe Reader and text-to-speech programs such as: Read: OutLoud
Kurzweil 1000 and 3000, Read and Write: Gold

Rich Text Format (.rtf)

Rich Text Format (RTF) is a simple document file of text and graphics developed for easy transfer between applications, platforms (i.e., MS-DOS®, Windows, OS/2, Macintosh), and different output devices. RTF files are directly converted from NIMAS files with all original NIMAS features built in.

Accessibility features

  • RTFs can be opened by using a variety of programs on the computer as well as many mobile devices.
  • Requires a compatible text-to-speech program to have the text read aloud.
  • Easily editable size and color.

Works with:

Notepad, Microsoft Word, and other basic word processing software

Accessible Instructional Materials Center of Virginia (2016)

Reprints

For any reprint requests, please contact the author or publisher listed.

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