How to Create Alternative Formats

Alternative Formats can be created a number of ways. In most cases, the original print version of the text is scanned and then converted into one or more file formats. Once converted to an electronic text (e-text), it can be then read aloud on the computer, translated to Braille, or converted to an audio file.

How to Create E-text from Printed Text?

To create an electronic text from paper based text, use of Optical Character Recognition software (turns picture of text into actual text) and scanner are required. If you are scanning larger volumes of paper, consider using an automatic document feeder or a high-speed scanner. It is important to note that OCR software is never 100% accurate and thus proofreading and editing is required.

For more information on the various electronic formats such as Word document, Portable Document Formats (PDFs), PowerPoint and Excel Spreadsheet, visit our page on E-text for general guidelines when creating these formats and how to make these documents accessible.

How to Create Braille?

Braille can be produced through a Braille machine such as a Perkins Brailler or by using a Braille embosser. Using the Braille embosser requires the use of Braille translation software which will take your original document and converts it into Braille code before sending it to the embosser for printing.
When needing to provide a document in Braille, consider the following:

  • Are there pictures and tables included in the text? There are limits to what can be converted to Braille. The pictures, tables and other visual elements of a print document will require descriptive text before the Braille production.
  • Do you require Grade 1 (uncontracted) or Grade 2 (contracted) Braille? Not all Braille readers know and use contracted Braille
  • It is unlikely for schools to own a Braille embosser and that is why most Braille production is outsourced. To learn about who can provide you with Braille, visit our page on Who Are the Alternative Format Providers?. 
  • If you are considering purchasing a Braille embosser with the translation software, it is important to determine what the demands are for creating text in Braille format. Braille embossers and the software are quite expensive.  Conversion of text file to Braille also requires time (and skill) in order to ensure accuracy. You need to become somewhat proficient with using the equipment, Braille transcribing and Braille proofing and editing.


How to Create an Audio / DAISY file?

Creating Audio files

There are two ways to produce audio files:

1. Human Read Audio: Using your own voice which will require a computer with a sound card and a good quality microphone; or

2. Computer Generated Audio: Using specialized software that converts e-text files to audio files. A synthesized voice is used instead of human voice. The cost of this software is relatively inexpensive. 


Take into account the following considerations before deciding how you would like to create the audio file:


Human Read Audio Considerations:

  • Includes inflection that only a real person can provide
  • Human readers can accurately describe tables, charts, and figures
  • Math and chemistry formulas are read for easy comprehension
  • Can be time intensive to produce


Computer Generated Audio:

  • Audio files can be produced with both male and female voices in most languages
  • Rate and pitch of speech can be set to the listeners’ preference
  • Able to navigate by chapter
  • While synthesized voices have improved quite significantly, it can be distracting to the listener
  • Typically doesn't speak math and chemistry formulas well
  • For best results computer generated audio must be produced from e-text that is very clean, i.e., content that is divided into discrete pages.


Creating DAISY audio files

DAISY audio files are created by a specialized DAISY software converter. The cost of this software can be high. Examples of DAISY software converter include Kurzweil 1000, Dolphin Publisher, Dolphin Producer and Easy Converter.

Consider the following if deciding on whether to create a DAISY file:

  • Able to navigate by page, section, sentence, heading or chapter
  • Easily read by screen readers
  • Text can be selected
  • Can be enlarged on screen for those with low vision
  • Require less computer space than traditional audio books
  • Can be tagged using alternative text descriptions
  • Requires some computer skills

How to Create Large Print?

Large print is created using word processing software and printer. Visit our page on Large Print for considerations when creating large print formats. When creating large print document for someone, it is good practice to ask what size of font they prefer. It is also important not to use a photocopier’s zoom feature to create large print documents. Photocopying can result in poor print quality and can cut off text making the document harder to read.



Helping you meet Ontario's AODA
AODA Significance: 

1. Learning about how to create alternative formats assists educators with using inclusive approaches to teach, communicate and share information. Alternative formats refers to information that is communicated in a manner other than standard text, including Electronic Text, Audio, Captioning and Braille. 

2.  People interact, learn and communicate in diverse ways. Learning opportunities are increased when flexible ways of engaging with learning materials are provided. Considering how people communicate is important for knowledge to be exchanged. Alternative formats take into account diverse ways of exchanging information.

3. The AODA legislates that educational institutions and its employees know how to produce accessible or conversion ready versions of textbooks and printed material. Educators, teachers and staff are to learn about accessible course delivery and instruction and be knowledgeable at interacting and communicating with people with disabilities who may use alternate formats.

Additional Resources: 

To learn of ways to innovate, develop & design for accessibility, visit OCAD University’s Inclusive Design Research Centre website.                                                                      
To learn how this section relates to the core principles of the AODA Customer Service regulation, visit the AODA page on SNOW.