Why all the fuss?
Ten questions to help you understand what the altformat fuss is all about
- What is altformat?
Alternative format refers to the transcription of books or other content (such as notes or newspapers or magazines) into a format other than standard print.
- What are the main types of altformat?
The most common types of alt formats include: large print, Braille, tactile diagrams, audio, DAISY (Digital accessible information systems). Equally, altformat might just mean converting from one type of file format such as PDF to another such as Word.
- Who will altformat benefit?
People who are either visually or print impaired can have difficulty reading standard print and relate more easily to some of the other formats such as large print, Braille, audio or DAISY.
- What is DAISY?
DAISY is an international standard that prescribes how digital talking books are prepared. RNIB describes DAISY "as a better way to read - a better way to learn". A digital talking book will have a structure that can be navigated so the reader can steer from chapter to chapter, page to page etc. If it contains audio, this will typically be tied to the text. There are different flavours of DAISY. A DAISY book can be text only or audio only or a combination of audio and text. The audio can be recorded speech or computer generated speech. This is likely to vary depending on whether it is a recreation book or a text book.
- Who transcribes books or other learning materials into alternative formats?
If your child is blind then look to your national blindness organization to begin your search for books in alternative formats. Groups such as RFB&D in the states and RNIB in the UK will be able to give advice on the availability of books in alternative formats.
As a parent of a visual or print impaired student seeking access to curriculum materials in alternative formats you should contact your child's school. Schools are attached to local education authorities. Responsibility under disability acts tends to rest with the schools to make provision. Often the schools delegate this responsibility to local education authorities.
- What's the purpose of altformat.com?
Altformat.com is intended to be a knowledge base for people who are visually impaired or print impaired, their parents, professionals supporting them or anybody who needs to understand about altformat.
- If I'm a professional transcriber how will altformat.com help me?
Altformat.com will include lots of articles and exemplars on best practice in the industry. We will try to include articles from the US, Europe, Asia, Africa and the Middle East, covering different aspects of altformat and a variety of methods in so far as they exist.
- Can I create my own altformat materials?
Yes you can. Easy to use tools are now available to help you to transform your books or learning materials into alternative formats.
- Why has altformat suddenly become important?
People associated with trying to create material in alternative formats have been grappling with this problem for some time, using a mixture of archaic and creative methods to achieve their aims. The profile of altformat is rising because more people understand the importance of equal access to material for all. Initiatives such as NIMAS in the United States and Right to Read in the UK are raising the profile of altformat. Some very exciting work is also being carried out in Scandinavia and The Netherlands.
- Who is behind altformat.com and will it grow?
Altformat.com is being supported by blindness and dyslexic organizations across the world. Contributions, case studies and articles are welcome from anyone with a personal, professional or caring interest in altformat. We've tried to construct the site to be as informative as possible. However, we will continue to add content and in time we will also add a forum, but in the meantime if you have a specific question that we haven't addressed or perhaps you have identified an area where content is light, please send us an email outlining your issues and we will do our best to deal with it in a timely manner.
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