Letter to the Editor – August 2002

Requiring Alternative Format Material Remember when there were no curb cuts, ramps, or interpreters?  It took social, political, and legal […]

Requiring Alternative Format Material

Remember when there were no curb cuts, ramps, or interpreters?  It took social, political, and legal pressure to bring these issues to the attention of the public and policymakers.  Recent community events, such as The ADA Rights & Responsibilities Conference, have once again brought to light the need to ensure equal access for all.

Now, we are being challenged to accommodate visual disabilities.  Some are raising the concern that alternative format is an onerous requirement, especially for small organizations.  Let’s look at some of the options: 

1. Large print:  Most documents are prepared on computers, so all that needs to be done is to change the font size.  Time:  One minute.  Also needed:  Additional paper.

2. Braille:  Having a document transferred into Braille is possible through several local vendors at minimal cost.  Time:  10 minutes to find vendor and e-mail the document.

3. Audiotape (as an alternative to Braille):  Read the document into a tape recorder.  Time:  20 minutes to find a tape recorder and read the document.

4. Electronic format:  Simply copy the document as a text file onto a floppy disk.   Time:  Two minutes.

The real issue is our willingness to accept responsibility.  Some are complaining of burdensome requirements  special treatment… sound familiar?  This is what we heard about ramps, doorways, and curb cuts ten years ago.  Equal access is not a “gift” it is a basic right.  Those of us in the disability community need to be leaders on this issue.  I thank the ADA organizing committee for their clear standards and expectations, and I’m sorry they have been taking the heat.  I look forward to the time when alternative format is seen not as a requirement, but a responsibility.  It is not costly or overly time-consuming, and is only onerous if we chose to view it as such.

Chris Duff,
AXIS Healthcare