Yesterday Macquarie University launched an eBook, 10,000 books 10,000 miles: The journey towards wisdom by Steven Schwartz our Vice-Chancellor. The eBook developed by Macquarie University Accessibility Services (MQAS) , uses the principles of universal design to ensure that content can be accessed by the widest possible audience.
Universal design ensures that products can be used by all users, independent of their ability or access need. When products are designed using these principles, they become better products for ALL users.
Publishing content using these principles will allow all students access, as vision impaired students can listen to their content and hearing impaired students can read their lectures. Using these principles gives all students a choice of how they can access and engage with their learning materials. Many students prefer to listen to their content whilst travelling or prefer to skim through and underline lecture transcripts when revising.
MQAS believes the advance of the eBook, gives publishers the opportunity, to use universal design principals, and publish content that can be accessed by all, by using their preferred mode of access.
We predict that universally designed eBooks will become the default format for all published content in future. This is partly because eBook content is reflowable and optimized for the users’ display device, whether this is a smart phone, computer tablet or laptop.
iPhones, iPads and similar devices, have an inbuilt functionality that converts content to speech or enlarges the text or interface to suit the user. Previously this functionality was only available to people with disabilities using specialized equipment. Now assistive technology has become mainstream and content developed in the eBook format can be accessed by all users independent of their sensory capabilities.
Other notable advantages of eBooks are:
- the embedding of audio and video within the text to create a rich learning experience
- students need only carry one mobile device for all their eBooks instead of a bundle of textbooks
- they are cheaper than textbooks, even after the initial cost of the smart phone or computer tablet,
- students can download study texts, when and where they want, instead of waiting in long queues at the University bookshop
For more information on eBooks for Accessibility!