Persons with disabilities or reading challenges often use non-traditional media (accessible formats) to access information. The most common are:
- accessible websites
- large print
- audio (CD or DVD)
- full-text templates
Accessible formats must be produced upon request. Therefore, budgeting for all publications produced should include funds for accessible formats.
You should consider producing accessible formats right away for material that:
- is in the national interest where there is a duty to inform (such as the Constitution)
- contains essential or important information affecting health, safety, social and economic well-being, and legal rights and obligations
- is specifically of interest to persons with disabilities
In a full-text template, all of the graphical and multimedia elements of a publication are fully explained in text. (This is best done by the client or author, but firms specializing in accessible formats can also help.) The full-text template is the master document from which all other accessible formats can be produced and is itself a useful format that can, in certain circumstances, be used for distribution.
See the Manager's Guide to Multiple Format Production for detailed information.
When accessible formats are required, follow these steps:
- Work with a supplier specializing in accessible formats.
- Provide the supplier with a hard copy and an electronic version of the full-text template in the supplier's preferred format (WordPerfect, Word, HTML, QuarkXPress, etc.) (If the publication has already been published, also include a print copy.)
- Contact the Depository Services Program to obtain ISBN and catalogue numbers for each of the formats being produced, and forward these to the supplier.
Allow at least two weeks for the production of accessible formats. If the accessible formats are needed at the same time as the print publication, production should begin as soon as the printer's proofs are signed off.
Consider producing at least five copies (in each official language) of any publication in accessible formats:
- one for retention and/or reproduction
- one to fulfill a request
- one for the Depository Services Program
For a detailed list of references that can help you in producing accessible formats and ensuring accessibility, see Accessibility.
Availability of Accessible Formats
Multimedia Services will forward all requests related to publications to the authoring branch, which will be responsible for follow-up with the original requestor.
If the request is for an audio format such as MP3 or M4B (audio book), please note that Multimedia Services can help with the conversion of any text file to an audio version.
Communicating the availability of accessible formats is crucial to meeting the information needs of persons with disabilities and learning challenges:
- Ensure that the copyright page of the print and/or electronic publication contains information about the publication's availability in accessible formats (see the Manager's Guide to Multiple Format Production for suggested messaging).
- Remember to inform the Communications and Marketing Branch about the existence of accessible formats.
If you receive a request for a publication in a format other than that of the original product:
- Suggest the accessible format(s) that you have on hand.
- If the person wants a different format from what you have available, offer to send one version now and inform the person that you will produce the format needed immediately.
- Ensure that the requested format is delivered within a few days.
- Provide an official printed copy of the document as well when you send the requested format.
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