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Publishers Back Accessible Learning Materials Database.

A web database helping UK education institutions to obtain learning materials from publishing houses in accessible formats has been launched by educational IT access agency TechDis.

TechDis is funded by JISC, the education sector’s Joint Information Systems Committee, to support the sector in achieving greater technology inclusion. In an audio interview or ‘podcast’ published on the JISC website, TechDis director Sal Cooke said the Publisher Lookup UK service (http://www.publisherlookup.org.uk) had been developed in partnership with the Publishers Association.

The website allows people to search an online database in which publishers have entered a single point of contact for library staff or other staff seeking to support students with learning difficulties to obtain alternative formats. It is thought to be the first resource of its kind in Europe, Cooke said, though a similar service already exists in the US (http://www.publisherlookup.org/).

“It’s been quite hard for library teams to be able to know who in a publisher is the right person to speak to, how the library staff should request their materials, is it reasonable to ask for example for a word document, or what are the sorts of things they can ask for,” Cooke said.

Help in accessing materials in different formats would not only benefit people with learning difficulties or disabilities but a wide range of other students such as those with different learning styles or those who do not have English as first language and may prefer to listen to a text, she said. The podcast can be accessed at: http://fastlink.headstar.com/jisc1.

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