Electronic Audio Files
In recent years, there has been an increase in the use of audio files such as CDs rather than hard copy formats. Students, educators and staff are able to download audio files such as recorded lectures online and listened to them on computers. They can also download articles, lecture notes, or create their own study notes on the computer, convert them into electronic audio files, and transfer to portable listening devices.
There are a variety of different formats in which audio information can be stored, and each having their own advantages and disadvantages depending on the applications being used. Below are common formats for use with spoken audio, as a means of accessing information for people who prefer auditory learning, or who have visual impairments.
MP3 (Click here on how to create and use MP3s)
- Developed by the Moving Pictures Expert Group (MPEG)
- Compressed audio - which means a trade off in the quality of sound or file size
- Can store additional info such as authors and track names to assist students in organizing their files
- Enables some navigation – If a student recorded a lecture, they can navigate between tracks on a CD
- Can be played on a computer or CDs
WAV (Click here on how to create and use WAVs)
- Stands for Waveform Audio Format
- Has a large audio file size which may not be suitable for recording long lectures, or transfers over the internet (approximately 10Mb for 1 minute)
- Offers good uncompressed audio quality. This is beneficial if students want to provide samples of music for others to work on and don’t want to lose the audio quality, or if younger children are learning to pronounce letters/words and need quality audio
- Suitable for access via a computer, but not suitable for CDs
WMA (Click here on how to create and use WMAs)
- Windows Media Audio created by Microsoft, and is part of the Windows media framework
- Compressed audio format that has a high resolution and is suitable for recording your voice/ music; created to compete with MP3
- Older versions of MP3 players may not support WMA files
DAISY (Click here for the section on DAISY format)
- Stands for Digital Accessible Information System
- Designed with accessibility in mind
- Enables multimedia/ multi-format presentations
- Provides ease of navigation
- Utilizes MP3 audio compression
Important considerations when using electronic audio formats
Some digital audio players have inaccessible features and as a result some students with disabilities may experience challenges with accessing these players. Due to the portability of audio players, some feature very small buttons or digital displays which may not be accessible. However, progression in technology means there are already mainstream audio players which provides verbal feedback or tactile buttons, enabling students who have difficulty seeing or manipulating audio players the same access to the latest technology along with their peers.
Some students and educators/staff may be new to accessing and using various technology, therefore support and training may be required to feel comfortable with the move from analogue to digital audio.
1. Electronic Audio Files are auditory versions of printed documents and provides individuals with an alternative way to access information and educational resources. Alternative formats refers to information that is communicated in a manner other than standard text, including Electronic Text, Audio, Captioning and Braille.
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 and be knowledgeable at interacting and communicating with people with disabilities who may use alternate formats and devices.