Scanning Service for Blind Scholars Launched at UC Berkeley Library ⋆
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Scanning Service for Blind Scholars Launched at UC Berkeley Library

A new scanning service is now in place at the UC Berkeley Library.  The service started in October and aims to turn printed materials into digital versions, making them more accessible to everyone, particularly disabled students.

UC Berkeley Library

In October, students registered on the University’s DSP (Disabled Students’ Program) could ask to have any printed work transformed into a digital format.  Now this service has been extended and is available to any faculty member, instructors or visitors who have print-related disabilities.

The move aims to take away a lot of the frustration experienced by blind scholars, researchers, and professors by opening up access to all of the university’s materials.  It means that they can now use the library on the same terms and sighted students.

In practice, this allows students who would previously either been denied access to literature or had to scan the materials themselves can now go through the catalog, pick the books they want and have them scanned.

Extending the Service

Although some students have had access to the system since 2012, it is only recently that the service has been extended to faculty members and others.  While the DSP handles all the issues of eligibility and confidentiality for Disabled Students, there was no such provision in place to allow for the extension of the service.

UC Berkeley Library

In 2017, however, Elizabeth Dupuis, who is the senior associate university librarian for educational initiatives, built a team to overcome that issue.  The barriers to the service have now been removed for all users, creating a much more inclusive and accessible service for all.

The main benefit of this level of accessibility will ultimately be the wider community as increasing numbers of researchers, academics and others get access to more knowledge.  The public can now also access the literature to the benefit of society as a whole.

It is easy to enroll in the service simply by completing a request form.  Once the user is approved they can go through the online catalog (OskiCat) or they can attend the library in person.  The service is available for all print materials except those that are too large to scan, but also items that have been borrowed via Inter-library Services.

Scanned materials are emailed in the form of searchable Word documents and PDFs and then run through SensusAccess, which is the free software that Berkeley uses to produce MP3, e-book or Braille versions of the materials.