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Transcription and alternative format guidelines

Materials available electronically in Word

If you receive a request for materials to be provided in an alternative format, members of staff should adapt their own materials held electronically in Word e.g. lecture notes, meeting notes.  In most cases this is quite straightforward, for example changing the font size. 

The DSO can provide guidance about this and can assist with the adaptation of more complex materials if required.


For textbooks, the library can sometimes assist to arrange inter library loans of large print books where these are already available.  Please contact the JRULM disability co-ordinator Gavin Park in the first instance who will liaise with the subject librarian.  They need a copy of the students reading list as soon as possible.

If it is not possible for the library to obtain the book in the required format, in some cases it is possible to obtain an electronic copy of the book from the publisher, however this can take several weeks. 

If it cannot be obtained electronically, the DSO alternative format unit would need to use software to scan each page and then edit it.

Other staff correspondence

It is also important to note the employee’s required format for all other written correspondence e.g. routine letters, registration forms etc.  School administrative staff will need notifying of this.

Transcription guidelines

If you are sending materials through to the DSO for transcription e.g. scanned pdfs of articles or books, it is important to follow the guidelines below, or we may have to re-request the materials.

Provide Electronic Material

Materials should be electronic, even if these are scanned photocopies.

Ensure that the scanned copies are of sufficient quality

Scanned material should contain no extra writing, underlining and black shadows down the middle of the page. The character recognition software that picks out the characters doesn't distinguish between a letter and a scribble so it tries to match it to a letter thus creating discrepancies in the document. The black shadow can take out the last word of every line which means they would have to be manually entered.

Provide descriptions of table and pictures

All tables and pictures should be transferred/described in text. The transcriber will not possess the required knowledge to be able to do this in the best way. If someone uses a large font size, a table that's the size of an A4 sheet can get quite confusing when blown up to a font size of 36.

Ensure that no material has been omitted

Ensure that copies contain all the information on the page. Sometimes the DSO receives copies where the whole page has not fitted on the photocopy, meaning that the bottom line is missing or one side is cut short. The transcriber would then need to possess the original text to find out what should be written.

Provide materials at least 3 months in advance

The transcription team are working on materials for several students and have to allocate equal time to each person whilst trying to meet deadlines. They require at least 3 months notice and if it's a large quantity of transcription even longer.