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Accessible Formats Policy

The Accessible Formats Service is provided by the Library to support staff and students with disabilities and specific learning differences in using learning resources.

The Service provides copies of published materials in appropriate accessible formats to those staff and students who have been assessed to have specific learning needs.

The Service is provided to UCA staff and students who have been assessed as a having a disability or specific learning difference that requires the provision of learning resources in an alternative accessible format. A needs assessment must be carried out via People & Culture (P&C) for staff and Disability & Specific Learning Difference (DSpLD) for students before a request can be made to the Alternative Format Service.

The Service can generally only provide copies of resources in accessible formats to those staff and students who have been assessed as having needs that cannot be met through use of Assistive Technology with existing library resources (for example - accessibility features within electronic books; screen-reading software; individuals' own assistive technology; and use of physical aids with print books).

Staff and students who are eligible to use the Service should contact the Gateway at their campus, with details of the publication(s) which they require in an accessible format.

For students who have disclosed a disability, the DSpLD team will assess the need for the Accessible Formats Service as an agreed reasonable adjustment as part of the provision and agreement of the student's Individual Learning Plan.  DSpLD will inform the Library who will add a note to the student's library record indicating the format requirements.

For staff who have disclosed a disability and request an Accessible Format, the P&C  team will make a referral to the “Access to Work” service, who will undertake an assessment and confirm if a reasonable adjustment is required.  People and Culture will inform the Library who will add a note to the staff library record indicating format requirements.

If the staff member or student has already been assessed, and has previously used the Service, the request will be passed to the Library for processing in accordance with the note on the library record.

The Library will keep a record of all requests to monitor progress and for service reporting and planning purposes.

The Service provides accessible copies of academic publications such as books and journals. The required publication must already be held within the University library collection in either print or online format in order to be provided through the Service.

Publications may be provided in various accessible formats depending on assessed needs and external availability. Examples of accessible formats include -

  • electronic books with accessibility features built-in (where these are available and not already in the library collection)
  • PDFs (either sourced externally or scanned from print library resources with Optical Character Recognition)
  • Word documents
  • EPUB electronic book files
  • DAISY audio-book files
  • Standard audio files (e.g. MP3)
  • Paper copies on coloured paper or with large print

Format availability will vary depending on the specific resource required.  Electronic books will be the preferred format wherever these are available and they meet the assessed needs.

The Service uses several different sources to obtain accessible copies of publications including -

  • ebook suppliers
  • RNIB Bookshare
  • original publisher of the resource
  • In-house scanning by the Digital Services

Accessible copies of publications supplied by the Service are for the personal study of the staff member or student they are supplied to only. These copies remain protected by copyright law and must not be passed to other anyone else under any circumstances.

The timescale to supply an accessible copy of a publication will vary considerably based on the required format and the sourcing location. It is impossible to guarantee timescales, but the following estimates are provided for guidance -

  • Electronic books: approximately 10 working days
  • PDFs and Word documents from RNIB Bookshare: approximately 10 working days
  • PDFs and Word documents from publishers: up to 2 months
  • PDFs from in-house scanning: approximately 10 working days
  • Staff and students are advised to submit requests at the earliest opportunity in all cases.

The Library will keep the requesting staff member or student updated on the status of each submitted request. Updates will be provided on a weekly basis by email until an accessible copy is provided.

Unavailable Publications
Although publishers have a legal obligation to provide accessible copies of publications on request, there may be occasions where an accessible copy cannot be obtained by the Service. If this situation becomes unavoidable then the Library will work with the staff member or student concerned to investigate alternative sources.

The Library will review this Policy every year and any significant changes will be considered and approved by the Director of Student Services.


January 2024
Review: January 2025