2003 Conference Proceedings

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THE ALTERNATE TEXT PRODUCTION CENTER OF THE CALIFORNIA COMMUNITY COLLEGES: AN UPDATE

Presenter
Dee Konczal
ATPC Specialist
71A Day Road
Ventura, CA 93003
Phone: (805) 648-8927
Email: dkonczal@atpcnet.net

Robert Martinengo
ATPC Supervisor
71A Day Road
Ventura, CA 93003
Phone: (805) 648-8927
Email: rmartinengo@atpcnet.net

This presentation will give a brief history of the Alternate Text Production Center of the California Community Colleges, a report on the progress made since becoming operational, and a look at the challenges we face.

AB422 is a California law enacted in January 2000 that requires publishers of instructional material used in California state, community and university colleges to supply E-text files of their books to the colleges for use by students with print-disabilities. The Alternate Text Production Center (ATPC) was created by the California Community Colleges Chancellors Office to coordinate the production and distribution of E-text, Braille, tactile graphics, and large print for the California Community Colleges, which, at 109 campuses, is the largest post-secondary educational system in the world. One of the main functions of the ATPC is to act as a single point of contact for textbook publishers in the implementation of AB422.

A grant to operate the ATPC was awarded to Ventura College, located about 60 miles north of Los Angeles, in June 2001. The ATPC began accepting requests for e-text and Braille services in June of 2002. The ATPC was able to utilize and add to an existing network of Braille transcribers to produce textbook and Nemeth Braille, as well as developing a method for producing tactile graphics using a graphics program to combine illustrations and Braille in separate layers, which are then printed on heat-sensitive paper.

The ATPC also began requesting E-text directly from publishers under the auspices of AB422. Until that point, colleges had been contacting publishers themselves, which led to some duplication of effort on the part of the colleges and the publishers, as some books may have been requested more than once. The colleges share resource information on email listserves, but were still responsible for making their own contact with publishers.

In the Fall semester of 2002, the ATPC requested over 200 books from 67 different publishers. Only 58 books, or about 30% of total requests, were received within 3 weeks. E-text files were received in a variety of formats, including Word, PDF, ASCII, Quark, and variations thereof. During the presentation, we will describe our experience with the Spring '03 semester.

Several trends emerged in our initial experience of working with publishers. One was that some publishers do not consider their publications 'textbooks', as they are not marketed for that purpose. These include reference works, literature, vocational and technical works. Another trend is the popularity of PDF as a file format. PDF has evolved to become more accessible, but still has several challenges.

A very positive trend is that the ATPC is forming partnerships with publishers who would like to make all of their books accessible to students with print-disabilities at the same time as they are available in print. This is a completely voluntary program that goes beyond the intentions of AB422, aiming for a standard of universal accessibility. We will provide an update on this encouraging development.

We know that there will be many exciting challenges between the time this was written, September 2002, and the time it will be presented. We look forward to sharing our progress with you.


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