Before you start making an accessible book, check first to make sure a commercial copy doesn't exist or that someone hasn't already made a book that would suit you (see the Finding Books page). Making a book takes a lot of time and it is illegal to make a copy of a book if a suitable commercial version exists.
You can only make copies of someone else's copyrighted material if you have permission from the rightsholder or if you do so under an appropriate Copyright Licensing Agency licence or the provisions of the Copyright and Visually Impaired Persons Act 2002. See the Legal Duty page for more on copyright licences and the law.
Assuming you can legally proceed, the basic workflow for creating accessible copies is shown below.
1. First you need to:
- Source a digital copy of the book from the publisher (see our list of publisher contacts or the Publisher Lookup website) or from another provider, or
- Scan the printed work into digital format, or
- Record an audio version.
Often this process involves using a word processor or DTP program to edit and then convert into the required accessible format, but not always: if you are making an audio book, for example, then you may be using Audacity to record and organise your audio files; or if you are making a Clicker talking book, you might be scanning images, copying and pasting them into Clicker, and re-typing text from the book. In these situations you won't be working on the book in a word processor.
2. Once you have a digital or audio copy, you need to make it accessible, for example by:
- changing font, type size, spacing or layout, to create a Large or Adapted Print version;
- creating structure and navigation facilities, so that readers can quickly find and go to particular sections of the book;
- setting the reading order, so that text-to-speech programs read the text in the correct order;
- adding text descriptions for images;
- splitting audio files up into chapters or manageable chunks.
3. Lastly, you save or convert it into your chosen accessible format.
Central to this process is an understanding and appreciation of the editing process: if you use the right techniques when you edit the book, you will be able to create many different accessible formats quickly and easily. If you don't use the right editing techniques, you will find yourself re-working the entire book every time you want a version in a different accessible format.
For example, once you have created a structured Word file you can convert it into:
- Large Print;
- eBook formats such as Kindle or EPUB;
- audio (with a synthetic computer voice).