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Organising Student support using accessible electronic Documents, e-Books and Audiobooks: an Overview. Jan Engelen KU Leuven (Belgium) ULD, Brno 2013. Overview.

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organising student support using accessible electronic documents e books and audiobooks an overview

Organising Student support using accessible electronic Documents, e-Books and Audiobooks: an Overview

Jan EngelenKU Leuven (Belgium)

ULD, Brno 2013


Initial remark: taking support seriously is requested by the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities [article 4, paragraphs (f) & (g)]

  • Functional limitations – university students
  • Accessible documents
  • A role for e-books and audiobooks?
  • Video techniques and accessibility
  • Student support organisation
  • Some extra remarks
major functional limitations some background
Major functional limitations, some background

۞ Deafness

  • Books = OK, but mother tongue of deaf people often is sign language!
  • Following courses
    • Human interpretation
      • Audio to sign language (language dependent)
      • Audio to text: Velotype, Textreporting, Text-on-top, Premier Captioning…
    • Automatic interpretation
      • Liberated Learning Consortium (audio to text)
      • Automatic Sign Language generation (text to sign language), under development
    • Delayed teaching

۞Hard of Hearing

  • relatively simple solutions: earphones wirelessly connected to the public address system
liberated learning consortium
Liberated Learning Consortium
  • The Liberated Learning Consortium is an international research network dedicated to advancing speech recognition technology and techniques to create and foster barrier-free learning environments to improve accessibility. 
  • The Liberated Learning Consortium conducts research and development on two interrelated applications:
    • Using speech recognition to automatically caption spoken language and display it as readable text
    • Using speech recognition to produce and disseminate accessible, multimedia transcripts
reading impaired students
Reading impaired students
  • Who are they?
    • Students with low vision, blindness, a severe motor handicap not permitting them to handle normal books, or dyslexia
  • Reading techniques
    • Low vision
      • Large print, electronic enlargement (CCTV, magnifiers…)
    • Blind students
      • Electronic reading of documents
      • Documents converted into accessible formats (Braille, audio..)
    • Motor handicap
      • Electronic documents
    • Dyslexia
      • On screen documents (for overview) and speech output (for details)

۞ Low vision

  • Special enlargement systems needed
    • CCTV
    • Combining images (lecture, course material, own notes)
  • A few examples:
    • blackboard camera
    • electronic teaching boards
accessible documents overview
Accessible documents: overview
  • pure text files
  • word processing files: .doc, .docx, . odt
  • PDF/UA
  • KES & SPRINT formats (dyslexia), also Claro, Woody etc.
  • Talking books (mp3, Daisy…)
  • Multimedia books (Hybrid books 3.0, video with closed captioning, etc.)
production paths
Production paths
  • Common
    • 3 ways to start: converting publisher files, scanning/OCR, retyping complex documents
  • Specific
    • direct use of wordprocessing files
    • filtering pure text out of other document types (e.g. PDF or HTML)
    • PDF (tagged) or KES/Sprint formats [dyslectics]
  • Recently started by the Inclusive Design Research Centre (IDRC) in Toronto (Jutta Treviranus)
    • info on the use, usability and accessibility of Office type documents
    • “12 General techniques” (cf. website)
    • internationalization is progressing
students with dyslexia
Students with dyslexia
  • Need both visual and audio output
    • Visual output: mostly for overview
    • Audio output: for detailed reading
  • Two well known systems
    • Kurzweil (
    • Sprint (
  • ADIBIB software
    • Basically a PDF editor to improve usability of PDF books in an educational setting
e books audiobooks
e-books / audiobooks
  • Technicalities of e-books
    • E-books come in quite different formats and are often protected/plagued by DRM systems
    • Formats evolve slowly towards the ePub format (xml based); especially ePub3 is important
    • Specialised readers do exist and made e-books popular (Kindle, Cybook …) but are gradually overtaken by smartphones and tablet pc’s
e books audiobooks1
e-books / audiobooks
  • Technicalities of audiobooks
    • Audiobooks on audio cd’s (79,8 min. max. per cd)
    • also in protected formats, but often simple mp3 is used
    • Daisybooks
  • Important: future versions of an ePub document and a Daisy book will be easily converted into each other
video techniques in education
Video techniques in education

Recording courses has several advantages:

  • some editing still can be done afterwards
  • combining several video sources (video, audio, slides etc..) is possible without professional studio equipment (e.g. Hybrid book 3.0, Videolab…)
  • adding subtitles and descriptive texts (audiodescription) becomes possible
youtube 1
YouTube (1)
  • Subtitling/Closed Captioning (CC) via link between video and a separate file possible since 2009
  • several languages
  • automatic speech recognition (Google voice) ; recognised speech turned into captioning text (which can be finetuned afterwards)
  • YouTube search engine also searches subtitle text.
ku leuven support centre
KU Leuven support centre
  • Support for students with a functional limitation started in the early 80’s
  • Leuven had (and still has) a unique guidance approach: a whole group of volunteer-students is recruited for each student with a limitation. Often they do also live together in a couple of specialised residences
  • For this approach, KU Leuven got the EU Helios II award for Social integration in 1995
ku leuven support centre1
KU Leuven support centre
  • KU Leuven is co-organiser (together with the University of New Orleans) of the “International Conference on Higher Education and Disability” (next in July 2013)
  • 6 years ago, KU Leuven created a specialised support group to assure electronic accessibility (info, schedules, course materials etc.)
  • Currently: support is given by mainstream depts such as ICTS, the University Library, Learning support centre (DOeL) and the university library, together with specialised persons from the central support group for students with a limitation
recent developments
Recent developments

iPAD/iPhone accessibility

  • tablets are promoted as educational support device
  • iOS devices (iPhone/iPad) have accessible working modes built in (VoiceOver); Android devices still lagging somewhat behind
  • number of specialised software Apps is booming (over 120 inventorised by Visio-NL)
some ideas
Some ideas
  • Access to studies involves several types of accessibility, not only ICT accessibility
  • A university must make its infrastructure accessible but document accessibility is to be taken seriously by the teaching staff. Be prepared for a lot of arguing…
  • There is not such a thing as an accessible book: context of use and reading capabilities determine the format of the documents that should be offered
more ideas
More ideas
  • A university with a well organised support will be very attractive for the students with a limitation, sometimes giving other institutions an excuse for not doing it at all…
  • Technology is changing rapidly: a support service must take training, knowledge gathering and feedback from other specialists seriously


Jan EngelenKath. Univ. Leuven (Belgium) by the KU Leuven groups: DOeL, Cel Studeren met Functiebeperking, BIB & ICTS is highly appreciated)