Some publishers can provide digital copies of some of their books. You might think that they would have cupboard full of CDs with all their books which they can copy and send to you, but it's not quite like that: digital copies of older books may not exist at all; the print publisher may not have the rights to give you a digital copy; and there may be costs involved in obtaining digital copies (e.g. the publisher may have to pay the typesetter to convert from a desktop publishing program like Quark Express (which is really inaccessible) to another format).
If publishers can give you a digital copy it will probably be in PDF. The PDF may or may not be accessible for the print-disabled pupil and so you may need to adapt it or convert it from PDF into another format. Sometimes the publisher supplies a nice single PDF for the book, other times they give you a lot of separate files for individual chapters and sections. Sometimes the PDF files have 'galley marks' which are white borders with markings round the edge of the page that are used in the printing process - you can crop these out with Acrobat Pro. Sometimes the PDFs are image files (i.e. the text is not actually editable text) and so they need to be converted to text with OCR (Optical Character Recognition) software before you can edit them or read them with text-to-speech software. See the Making Books pages for more on adapting and converting PDFs from publishers.
Publishers usually provide digital copies for individual pupils only - i.e. you can't dish out copies to any pupil and you can't put it up on the school intranet or on Glow for anyone to access. Some may charge for a copy (e.g. if they incur costs themselves in producing the digital version); others will provide it for free; some provide it for free provided you have bought a print copy. The Publishers Association has guidelines for meeting permission requests on behalf of reading impaired people which has more information on what publishers can and cannot be reasonably expected to provide.
TechDis provide an excellent Guide to obtaining publications in alternative formats and also host Publisher Lookup UK, which has contact details for academic publishers.
The table below has links to some school textbook publishers, along with information about their terms and conditions of supply of files. This is a work in progress: we will expand and update it when we can.
When you contact the publisher to ask them for a digital file of a book, give them:
- the full, correct title of the book including which edition it is;
- a summary of why you need it, why the pupil(s) can't access the paper copy, and what you will do with the file.
|Publisher Lookup UK||Contact details for academic publishers in the UK. Primarily a list of FE/HE publishers.||Various||Print-disabled pupils and students |
|Publishing Scotland||Organisation representing publishers in Scotland. There is a list of Scottish publishers who are members on the site.||N/A||N/A|
|The Publishers Association||The Publishers Association represents book, journal and electronic publishers in the UK.||N/A||N/A|
|Scottish Qualifications Authority Past Papers||SQA Past Papers (free to download)||Anyone|
|Scottish Qualifications Authority Adapted Digital Papers||SQA Adapted Digital Question Papers. Past papers adapted with answer boxes for pupils to type answers on screen.||Anyone|
|Chemcord||Chemcord titles were published some time ago and so digital files are not usually available. Some scanned copies are on the Books for All Database.||Print-disabled pupils and students|
|Collins||Harper Collins can provide PDFs if they have them. Email email@example.com. ||PDF ||Print-disabled pupils and students |
|Heinemann / Pearson||Heinemann will provide PDFs free of charge if they are available. They will try and deal with any requests within one week. Email Permissions@pearson.com. ||Print-disabled pupils and students|
|Hodder Gibson||Most Hodder secondary textbooks are now available free of charge as accessible PDFs from CALL Scotland: see here for the list of the ones we have. ||PDF ||Print-disabled pupils and students |
|TJ Maths||All TJ titles are available as PDFs for pupils with print disabilities from the Books for All Database.||PDF ||Print-disabled pupils and students |
|Leckie and Leckie||Leckie and Leckie can usually provide PDFs of their books and most titles are available. There is no charge provided you have bought a paper copy and they usually ask you for proof that you have bought a paper book. If you can't find a receipt just buy another book and ask for the PDF at the same time. Ask for a 'VIP PDF' which will have editable text: an ordinary PDF is usually just an image file and so you will need to convert it to editable text with OCR software. About half the Leckie and Leckie titles are available as 'VIP PDFs'. Email firstname.lastname@example.org.||PDF ||Print-disabled pupils and students |
|Pulse Publications||Pulse titles were published some time ago and so digital files are not usually available. Some Pulse titles are available as scanned PDFs on the Books for All Database. |