2000 Conference Proceedings

Go to previous article 
Go to next article 
Return to 2000 Table of Contents


E-text; the Promise, the Myth, the Reality

Vince Tomassetti
Adult Service Program
Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada
Email: vtomassetti@aspbc.org 

Deanna Kemp
Adult Service Program
Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada
Email: dkemp@aspbc.org

The presentation "E-Text; the Myth, the Promise, the Reality" offers a practical look at creating and using electronic text from a student's perspective. From this perspective the presenter discusses which types of materials may be better suited for scanning and which materials might be better suited for other mediums such as audio recording or reader/scribe assistance. Besides considerations relating to the physical appropriateness of the source text, the presentation touches on other important considerations such as the user's computer skills, the users learning style, and the user's motivation to produce the electronic text.

The presentation's format consists of a series of examples showing a variety of text sources before and after undergoing the OCR process. The method of demonstration will be a combination of PowerPoint slides, word-processor documents, and speech output. The PowerPoint slides present the scanned image of a print source as the scanner sees it. This is the image that the OCR program converts into electronic text. Then, the word-processor presents the actual e-text created by the OCR program. Finally, the presenter will demonstrate how a user experiences and navigates the electronic text with screen reading software.

The sources for these examples come from textbooks and handouts spanning over a range of academic disciplines. Many of these examples illustrate types of document attributes that pose particular challenges for the OCR software which may result in compromising the text's accuracy. Since accuracy is a critical factor, the presentation will also include a discussion of strategies for optimising scanning results as well as exploring other sources for obtaining electronic text versions of course materials.

The intent of the presentation is to offer the participants a first-hand look at a user accessing scanned text with a screen reader and point out the benefits and limits of scanning technology. By demonstrating which types of printed text converts into acceptable electronic text, demonstrating the level of skill needed for creating acceptable electronic text, and demonstrating the amount of effort needed for creating electronic text, it is hoped that the presentation enables participants to better to determine whether using a scanner to access printed materials is an appropriate accommodation for their clients.


Go to previous article 
Go to next article 
Return to 2000 Table of Contents 
Return to Table of Proceedings


Reprinted with author(s) permission. Author(s) retain copyright.