No. According to Section 32 (1) of the Canadian Copyright Act, “It is not an infringement of copyright for a person, at the request of a person with a perceptual disability, or for a non-profit organization acting for his or her benefit, to make a copy or sound recording of a literary, musical, artistic or dramatic work, other than a cinematographic work, in a format specially designed for persons with a perceptual disability”.
The formats we produce here at CILS are meant to fulfill just that—and to provide our clients with the opportunity to access their textbooks in a format that is right for them.
Welcome to CILS! You’ve got a great team of allies to rely on for your textbooks and any material need for your academic success..
First of all, the coordinator at your institution will register you with our services, and place the requests for your materials. One of our librarians will contact you to welcome you to CILS. Then, once we receive the requests for what you need, we’ll perform a search to see if we have those items already produced. If we don’t, we’ll ask you to send a copy so it can be produced. Learn more at the CILS Student page.
We rely on your coordinator to place the request for a number of reasons. For one, the coordinator is required to verify that you are a current student. For another, there are many other CILS clients at your institution, and your coordinator manages the requests for everyone. In order to make certain that you get the items you need, it is required that they place those requests themselves.
We appreciate your enthusiasm to be proactive about your textbooks, but this way, everyone involved has a vital role and can stay in the loop with each request.
Our service boils down to one fundamental fact: we want to make sure that you have the same access to your course materials as your peers. That makes it important to include you in the conversation when we respond to the request that your coordinator has placed.
By keeping you involved, we can let you know the progress of your requests, and communicate directly with you about your needs. In turn, you can let us know if something that we’ve sent isn’t working out. That way, we can help you in the most efficient way possible.
For more information on all the different types of materials we produce, check out the page, Learn About Formats.
Every student who uses CILS services is unique, with unique needs. Our different formats provide the opportunity for all of our clients to access the materials they need in the manner that works best for them.
We strongly recommend that you try as many different formats as possible. Not only will you find what works best for you, but you’ll be able to gain valuable experience working with many types of media. And that’s something that you can carry over into other areas of your life.
Need help getting an alternate format to work? Check out the Tutorials section of our website, or feel free to ask your CILS contact directly.
Some of our formats, such as e-text and DAISY, take longer than others to produce. To conserve resources, we produce them as they are requested. That way, we can get you the materials you need in a timely manner.
If we have an item in one format and not another, please don’t hesitate to ask us about it. We may be able to produce the format you need.
CILS operates on a policy of “something is better than nothing”, so we may send to you what we have available, even if it’s not what you’ve asked for, until we can produce the format you need. This may include provisional files, a format you’re not used to, or the last edition of the textbook, just so you can stay on top of your classes while we work on your request.
Over the course of your academic career, we may ask you to try a different format than the one that you’re used to particularly if you need the material right away. Please give it a try—especially if your course has already started—but if it’s really not working for you, then let us know and we’ll do our best to accommodate you.
Provisional files are the files produced, with little additional editing. They are provided as-is, and we may send them to you while we work on fully producing the textbook.
As mentioned above, provisional e-text has had very little editing. It may contain spelling mistakes and other errors, typically generated by OCR software as it tries to recognize parts of the page that aren’t actually text.
Some provisional files come directly from the publisher. These are sometime organized, but they still may require extra formatting so that they can be easily read with a text-to-speech program.
CILS’ fully-produced e-text is formatted to our standards, where we include page numbers, standard spacing between paragraphs and sections, and other pertinent features, such as sidebars and tables. Fully-produced e-text can easily be converted to digital audio.
At CILS, digital audio is produced using our text-to-speech conversion program with a high-quality computer voice. Typically, we only produce audio from materials that have already been fully produced in e-text.
PDF audio is used for simple books that require little or no editing, such as novels and single-column books with few added features such as figures, tables, and sidebars. Although PDF audio can be faster to produce than regular digital audio, it is not recommended for complex textbooks with many columns and boxes, because it has not been intensely edited to make certain all of the extra features are in correct order.
At CILS, we produce both DAISY digital audio and DAISY human voice formats.
DAISY digital audio is much like regular digital audio, with the DAISY navigation coded in. This format has the added benefit that, when listened to with a program such as AMIS, the text is highlighted as it is read aloud.
DAISY human voice is a format reserved for complex textbooks that would not be well-served by digital audio, such as advanced math and science textbooks, and textbooks for learning foreign languages. Because CILS hires professional readers who are educated in the field of the book they are reading for DAISY human voice productions, these books can be quite expensive and take a long time to produce.
The software that works best for you will depend on your needs, and what programs you have access to. At CILS, we will try our best to give you something that works for you and the adaptive technology you have. Even if you don’t have any, we’ll try to find a file type that works.
There are lots of great options for text-to-speech programs that don’t cost very much. While they may not contain as many features as JAWS or Kurzweil, they can be very useful for converting e-text to digital audio. Some of them are free, and others are relatively inexpensive (ranging from about $30 to $50 US).
Some examples of these programs are:
Please note that these examples are meant to be illustrative only. CILS does not recommend one of these programs over the other, or over Kurzweil or JAWS.
If you use any programs for text-to-speech, you may find the digital audio a bit strange at first. It may take some getting used to, but it is possible.
If you still find the voice too jarring, let us know and we’ll see what we can do. You may find that you want to purchase one of the commercial voices out there, such as the voices listed at the Textaloud website. These are generally more natural-sounding than the voice that your computer comes with.
You have two options: you can speak to your coordinator, or you can contact us directly at email@example.com. The best choice for you is probably whatever you feel most comfortable with, but please don’t hesitate to get in touch with us. Remember, we want to make sure you get access to your course materials, and we’re here to help.
From time to time books that you require for your course(s) may not be available at your institution's bookstore early enough to get the book produced by CILS for the start of your semester. If you need to send CILS a copy of a book quickly you might consider purchasing it from a source other than your institution's bookstore (for example, from Amazon.ca). We don't mind where the book comes from, as long as it is a good, new copy. The only exception to this would be for custom course material that only your institution produces in-house. In this case, the best thing you can do is try to get an electronic file of the book(s) from the instructor and send it to us in an electronic format.
At certain times of the year, it may seem like it’s taking a while for you to get your books. That’s because at busy times, like August, September, December, and January, there are many other requests in process at the same time as yours.
To ensure fairness to everyone, at CILS we have a queue system. We place textbooks for production in the order that we receive them.
Here are some tips to help you get your books sooner:
- Place the request a few months before the semester in which you’re taking the course. That way, we can get the process started on our end, and even see if we can obtain the publisher’s files to work from, even if we haven’t yet received your book.
- Send us the book as soon as possible. This is what will get it into the queue fastest. If you’re having trouble getting your book through your college bookstore, you may be able to get it faster by ordering it online, at a website such as Chapters or Amazon.
- Send us a course outline. Depending on the subject matter, it may be that your course only uses the second half of the textbook, chapters out of order, or certain selected readings scattered throughout. If you can send us an outline, then we can skip the chapters you don’t need, and get to the parts that you do require sooner.
- Stay in touch. This is especially true if you find that a format isn’t working for you. The sooner we know that you need your materials in a different format, the sooner we can get it to you.
- For more tips and information see Help us help you.
It’s true—PDF files are often the fastest type of format to produce. However, if we always produced the PDF files first, then we would be neglecting the other books that take more time. That’s why it is important for us to honour the queue, so that every book is treated on a first-come, first-served basis.
When we first produce a textbook, the original request may have asked for figure description. If we send you a book that we already have, you may find that sometimes the figures are described, and sometimes they aren’t.
There is no guarantee as to which books have the figures described, but if you find that figure description would help you, please speak to your contact at CILS.
Financial and Legal
As of April 1, 2012, CILS stopped offering textbook reimbursements.
Although CILS is not mandated to provide reimbursements for textbook purchases, the reimbursement program was begun in 2006 to help students who were not able to receive funding from other sources. In recent years, however, the reimbursement program has become difficult to sustain because of budget constraints: CILS has not received a budget increase since 2008 despite that over the same period the number of productions completed by CILS has almost doubled.
Institutions may have their own reimbursement policy. Contact your coordinator to determine if this is something available at your institution.
CILS was originally mandated to serve public colleges across British Columbia. Since then, some of those colleges have been granted university status by the provincial government, such as Capilano, BCIT, Emily Carr, and Kwantlen Polytechnic. Because of their original status, these new universities continue to be supported by CILS.
If your institution is not listed on our website (see Who Can Use CILS), please don’t hesitate to contact your Disability Services office. We may still be able to provide service to your institution on a fee basis.
Have a question not answered here? Just e-mail us at firstname.lastname@example.org!
Please note: any programs or websites listed in this FAQ are not intended to promote one over another, but are used for illustrative purposes only.