Course Reserves and ADA

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  • I am trying to work with our Disability Support Services (DSS) department to make our reserves more accessible. Currently, our electronic reserves are in pdf format, as this is a fairly common standard format. However, the programs the visually impaired use for reserves don't work well with pdfs. Long story short, DSS wants us to convert all of our electronic reserves into dual formats, thus making two electronic versions of every one of our hundreds of documents. I remember seeing or hearing somewhere that this cannot be done wholesale to an entire collection, but must be looked at on a per document basis as needed. I can't seem to find any documentation to support this interpretation. Any help would be greatly appreciated.
  • I think you might be mixing this up with the idea that you cannot transfer an entire video collection to DVD.

    What kind of format does the DSS want? Does Section 121 (exemptions for blind and handicapped) apply? Will DSS make the copies using special formats designed particularly for the handicapped?

    If Section 121 does not apply, I think fair use applies.
  • Our DSS would like us to convert all of our electronic reserves to HTML and post for the entire class that way, as HTML is easier for JAWS to read than PDF. Our reserve files are not publically posted on the Internet, but are housed on our Docutek server and accessed with a course password. My impression was that if we did this for the entire class and all its documents that fair use would not apply, but that we had to do this just for the impaired student (i.e. convert all documents but only for that student not the whole class). We wish to retain the PDF format for our reserves for technical reasons. So in essence if we converted we would have two digital copies of every electronic reserve, one HTML and one PDF, whether a visually impaired person was in the class or not. Is this still fair use?
  • I would say yes, it is still a fair use.

    Would you feel better if you made the HTML versions only available to the DSS students - say give them their own special password? Then you could give the rest of the class access only to PDF.
  • I have the ability to restrict on the document level, but hate to be that restrictive if it's not necessary. Since I feel confident now that such conversion should count as fair use, I'm comfortable with just restricting them like other reserve items (at the course level). Even if non-ADA students are using the conversion files, it is still a limited number of educational uses. Thanks Carrie, for easing my mind.

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