Further Adventures in Alt Format
by Ron Stewart, Vice President for Operations at Dolphin Computer Access Inc.
This is the second, of several, columns on the efforts and endeavors related to Alt Format, Audio Publishing and E-Text production in the Dolphin World.
Alt Format production is a rapidly advancing and every changing world these days. Just when I think I have a handle on the current state of affairs a new twist is being introduced that sends us off on another promising and interesting tangent.
In this column we are going to take a look at the Alternative Format Solutions Initiative (AFSI), a project that is being sponsored by the American Association of Publishers (AAP). This project is complimentary to the efforts that you were introduced to in the last column, NIMAS and the AHEAD E-Text Solutions Group. In the next installment we will be investigating the activities of our friends in Canada and in the UK, and then moving on to other corners of the world.
Alternative Format Solutions Initiative
The Alternative Format Solutions Initiative is operating in cooperation with the AHEAD E-Text Solutions Group, and other advocacy organizations. The primary goal of the AFSI is to develop a cooperative solution to the provision of alt format materials in the US higher education space. This project grew out of several parallel activities, spanning the last decade or so, and clearly indicated a need for private sector leadership and coordination in any efforts to develop a sustaining solution to the complex issues of curricular access.
The first year's general focus was on the collection of data and related information to determine:
1. What was the extent of the "real" problem?
2. What were the challenges in development of a broad based solution?
3. The potential for the establishment of a cooperative and self-sustaining system involving all of the major stakeholder groups.
After a year of data collection, interviews and focus groups, in and out of the educational system, a series of recommendations were presented at the CSUN conference in March of 2007.
1. Establishment of an Information Portal/Clearinghouse of existing alt format holdings
2. Development of a capacity for the national distribution of 'Source' files from Publishers.
3. Development of a network of 'Established and Approved' third party providers of 'End User' or student ready files.
4. Develop and disseminate best practices based process and procedures for the operation of the "National" system.
The next step in the effort is the development of a comprehensive plan of action. To engage and involve all of the constituent groups and move forward with a model that is self-sustain, effective and efficient in meeting the ever increasing needs for quality access to curricular materials. It is my hope that this plan will soon be presented to the involved groups, and we can quickly move forward with its implementation