What are Alternative Formats?
Alternate format materials are electronic, audio, Braille, or large print versions of standard print educational materials (e.g. textbooks, novels, student guides, etc.). Electronic versions include, but are not limited to, e-text, scanned text, and web-based text. Click on each link below to find out more information about these alternative formats.
Choosing alternative formats
When it comes to selecting and investing alternative formats in the education system, it is important to consider that there is no one format type that will meet the needs of all students. Formats that are accessible to some students with one type of disability are not necessarily accessible to others, even those with the same identified disability. In addition, formats that may be accessible to students at one point in time may not be beneficial later on- an example being if a student’s vision deteriorates to the point where they are no longer able to use large print textbooks provided at school. In-depth and updated knowledge of the student’s learning needs and preferences is essential as the requirements for alternative formats is highly individualized. Another important consideration is the technology available to support alternative formats. Equipment required to produce alternative formats may not be readily available in the school, and teachers or parents may need to seek alternate format providers in order to offer optimal alternative formats for students.
What are alternative formats relates to the following sections of the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA) Integrated Accessibility Regulation
1. Alternative formats refers to the ways in which information is communicated other than through standard text, including Electronic Text, Audio, Captioning and Braille. Learning about who uses alternative formats and how these are used, assists educators with using inclusive approaches to teach, communicate and share information.
2. People interact, learn and communicate in diverse ways. Learning opportunities are increased when flexible ways of engaging with learning materials are provided. Considering how people communicate is important for knowledge to be exchanged. Alternative formats take into account diverse ways of exchanging information.
3. The AODA legislates that educational institutions and its employees know how to produce accessible or conversion ready versions of textbooks and printed material. Educators, teachers and staff are to learn about accessible course delivery and instruction and be knowledgeable at interacting and communicating with people with disabilities who may use alternate formats.