So… What is the Definition of Assistive Technology?
Assistive technology (AT) is actually an umbrella term used to describe any item, piece of equipment, or system used to increase, maintain, or improve functional capabilities of individuals with disabilities or functional limitations. In the context of education, alternate media refers to hardware and software technologies that enable people with disabilities to use computers and/or other such electronic devices (tablets, phones etc.) more effectively. Alternative media is a broad term used to encompass a variety of formats in which printed text is converted for use with various software and computer technologies.
What does Equal or Equivalent Access Mean?
Equivalent access provides the disabled user with content identical to that used by the non-disabled user. For the disabled user, however, this content is presented in a different manner. Providing a course textbook in braille format, in audio mp3 format, or other accessible digital format are all examples of equal/equivalent accessibility.
What is the Goal of the Alternate Media Production Team?
The Alternate Media Production Team recognizes the importance of computer based assistive technology and the powerful role it plays in providing equal access to information across various platforms to students with disabilities. Our goal as a production team is to ensure that our students are able to use assistive technology in a more reliable and robust manner. As assistive technology continues to evolve and change the way individuals with disabilities access information we want to ensure that our students are not only made aware of these changes but are given the proper information and training to utilize these tools successfully.
How the Alternate Media Process Works?
Students who are eligible for this accommodation will receive their textbooks and other course materials in Kurzweil formats to use via the firefly (kurzweil 3000) cloud based system. For students who are blind, low vision or have any visual disability who choose not to use the Kurzweil 1000 (software for individuals with visual impairements) they may receive accessible formats commiserate with their specific needs.
Please note: This accommodation must be approved by a counselor, and is decided on a case by case basis based on the student’s disability.
Students who are approved for this accommodation must meet with the Alternate Media Coordinator to complete a separate intake before submitting an official request for alternate formats. During the Alternate Media Intake, the Coordinator will review Policies, Procedures and Guidelines for receiving alternate formats with the student. Students who are not familiar with or have never used accessible software will be introduced to various programs via a short demonstration during their intake. A more in-depth training of software and accessible apps approved and tested by the alternate media production team will be scheduled once the initial intake has been completed.
- Students must submit a new request for each class every quarter as soon as registration is completed. Student must complete and submit their Alternate Media Request form electronically via the SSD Website, Service Request Form.
- Requests that have been submitted to our office via the SSD website will be processed according to the order in which they are received. If for any reason you are unable to access the online Service Request Form, you may complete and submit a hardcopy Request Forms (hardcopy) to the Alternate Media Production staff via email at firstname.lastname@example.org, or at the SSD office, located in University Hall, Room 183.
- Students are required to show proof of purchase for each textbook received in an alternate format. Students must also sign a Copyright and Ownership Agreement form for each textbook they request in accessible format.
- Students who want additional course materials made available to them in an alternate format must submit an Additional Materials Request Form for each course. Students must, also submit hard copies of the materials to be converted via scanned electronic submission to email@example.com or hardcopy to the SSD Office located in the University Hall building (UH)-183.
Alternate Media Production
Our mission as the Alternate Media Production Team for the SSD Office is to provide quality products in accessible formats to our students in a timely and efficient manner. Our production team takes great pride in providing textbooks and additional course materials in various accessible formats including but not limited to Kurzweil 3000 (1000 for individuals with visual impairments) Adobe PDF’s, Microsoft Word documents/Docx files, Plain/Rich text files or MP3 audio files (when necessary).
So What Has Changed?
While alternate media production can be a time-consuming process, our conversion to Kurzweil 3000 (firefly cloud based system) has made the production of course materials a more streamlined and manageable process. As a result of this conversion the editing process for many of our projects can be produced in a more timely manner, and with greater accuracy. The SSD Office and it's alternate media production staff also believe in the importance of our students having access to their materials without having to physically be on campus. As a result our students receive their books via the campus approved File Sender Download Links (for individuals with visual impairements) and/or the Kurzweil cloud based system.
Our team further understands that assistive technolgy can be challenging from time to time and our students may require assistance to address these challenges on and off campus. Therefore, students approved for alternate media not only receive quality products but also have access to technical support should they encounter difficulties accessing their files. Any of our students requiring technical assistance regarding their alternate media may contact our office during operating hours (Monday - Thursday 8:00am until 10:00pm & Friday - Saturday 8:am-5:00pm) in order to receive technical support from an alternate media team member. We invite our students to contact the Services to Students with Disabilities Office should they have any questions or concerns regarding alternate media production or any other accessibility concerns.
The alternate media production team has created an Information & Resource page to help keep our students abreast of new and innovative ways technology can be utilized to provide equal access to their course materials. Please click on the Information & Resources page for the latest updates in accessible technology.