Electronic Textbooks and Accessibility

Joseph Straus asked me to post the following to the blog, in order to ensure the widest possible readership. You can respond with comments to the blog post, which Joe can access, or you can e-mail him (his e-mail is easily found via Google searches).

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Dear colleagues,

I need your advice.

Poundie Burstein and I are writing a new harmony text for Norton, which is eager to make the book fully accessible. For the ebook version of the text, Norton is looking into using alt text for the musical examples (i.e. text that a screen reader can read when a student reaches an example on the page). Apparently this is somewhat controversial and some people find recordings preferable to alt text.

Have you had experience with alt text for musical examples?
Would you be willing to share that experience with me and with Norton?
Or do you know someone who has had experience whom I might contact?

More broadly, can you think of accessibility issues you have faced with previous harmony texts you have used, and ways that Norton might effectively handle those issues?

I would be grateful for your guidance.

Joe Straus

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