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Adaptations of educational materials

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Adaptations of educational materials in the "Hamlet" programme

About the programme

The programme called Hamlet authored by the Jagiellonian University Disability Support Service came into being in order to prepare educational materials and transfer them in electronic format free of charge to students whose disability makes reading standard texts impossible or difficult for them. The programme is named after the first book prepared in electronic format for a blind JU student in 2005. Since then, the scheme has been in continuous operation, with more students using it year on year. Since last year, the programme has also been part of the Academic Digital Library administered by Warsaw University whose collections have been compiled by several Polish universities.

Each student with sight disability or some other disability which makes reading standard printed text difficult or impossible for them who has expressed the need to have educational materials adapted and accepted the conditions as well as the Rules of the Hamlet programme becomes its participant and as such enjoys the right to receive monthly:

a) 1,000 pages of scanned materials
b) 400 pages of simple text (that is books without many photographs, tables or charts) and 200 pages of difficult text (i.e. foreign language textbooks, low-quality scans, books with multiple footnotes, photographs requiring descriptions or tables), 75 pages of very difficult text (i.e. materials whose adaptation requires consultation with an expert in a given field, e.g. exact sciences or Oriental philologies) as well as 5 tactile graphics and 10 descriptions of graphics. The difficulty level of the material is defined by the coordinator of the team responsible for the adaptation of educational materials.

Under the programme conditions laid down in the declaration signed by the student upon joining the programme, the student is obliged to comply with the provisions laid down in the Rules of the Hamlet programme.

 

Which formats are fit for adaptation?

The materials can be provided in paper format by bringing them to the office of the Disability Support Service for attention of programme coordinator or in electronic format (by e-mail, on a pen drive, a CD/DVD, external disk hooked up to a PC, a virtual disk like Dropbox, etc.).

 

What does the process of adapting educational materials to the student's needs look like?

The Hamlet programme coordinator transfers the materials to be adapted provided by the student to staff who scan and develop the materials into accessible electronic format. Before starting as an adapter, each team member is trained in handling OCR (Optical Character Recognition) software, rules of adapting materials of various levels of difficulty and verification of the finished work by an accessibility specialist. More information concerning the particular stages of such work can be found in an article by Joanna Dzięglewska, an IT expert at the JU DSS entitled "Preparation of Teaching Materials Adapted to the Needs of Persons with Disabilities" published in the bulletin "Equality News", issue 1 (2)/2013. After the adaptation process, the materials are sent back to the coordinator complete with a report which clearly specifies how long it took to prepare a given text and which possible issues appeared. This is helpful in perfecting the operational rules of the programme. Then the coordinator emails the student attaching the finished adaptations. If the materials in question are full books, they will also go to the database of the Academic Digital Library, or a nationwide database of e-materials administered by Warsaw University which comprises publications prepared by several Polish universities. The adaptation standard of the materials is consistent throughout the Hamlet programme.

 

Can I bring textbook photocopies or scans for adaptation, or just the original?

In order to adept text to accessible format it is not necessary to provide the original of a given book; it may be its scan or photocopy, yet the adaptation process may take longer due to the lowered quality of the source material.

 

What materials are adapted most often?

The most frequently adapted materials are textbooks and exercise books used in foreign language learning, photocopied materials from academic teachers and broadly understood literature of a given subject pursued within the student's university programme.

 

Why must I wait as long as a month for an adapted book?

This is a result of the ever-growing number of students who use that adaptation format as well as the time consumption of the entire process. For example: 2.5 pages of a foreign language textbook are adapted within an hour, which means that the adaptation of materials in a foreign language takes much longer than of texts in Polish. Moreover, adaptation of certain materials requires consultation with specialists in given fields, which prolongs the adaptation process even further, even to two months. If it is necessary to quickly adapt vast material, the programme coordinator will divide a given textbook into smaller sections and send them to several persons working on them in parallel and so the adaptation process can be accelerated.

Can I bring more than one books for adaptation at the same time?

Certainly. It will be necessary to prioritise communicating which books should be adapted as first and which ones can be processed later.

Can the students have say as to how adaptations are made? Will their individual requests be taken into consideration?

Yes. The student may or even should make comments as to the adaptation process so that the next time around the adapted texts are even more to his/her satisfaction suiting his/her needs better. This can be done by entering the comments in the declaration the student signs under "Comments and Suggestions". If the student has some non-standard request which has not been covered as part of the adaptation (e.g. a specific rendition of the table of contents), it will be sufficient to mention it to the programme coordinator when submitting the materials and the request will be taken into consideration.

Can students take examinations in adopted format?

Yes. The student may or even should make comments as to the adaptation process so that the next time around the adapted texts are even more to his/her satisfaction suiting his/her needs better. This can be done by entering the comments in the declaration the student signs under "Comments and Suggestions". If the student has some non-standard request which has not been covered as part of the adaptation (e.g. a specific rendition of the table of contents), it will be sufficient to mention it to the programme coordinator when submitting the materials and the request will be taken into consideration.

Note:

The Hamlet programme is an offer for students who find it hard to adapt difficult material, quite a challenge for blind persons, were they to do it themselves. However, the adaptation process is time consuming and very costly and so it was necessary to define a monthly limit of pages of adapted materials. Nonetheless, all the materials should be directly linked to the educational process.

Students are requested to provide just such materials and to check in advance whether a given publication does not already feature in the collections of the Academic Digital Library or the Internet resources of the Jagiellonian Digital Library.

Given the reasonable accommodation criterion stemming from Ordinance no. 150 by the Jagiellonian University Rector of of 22 December 2020, the above-described limits have been set for materials processed in the context of the programme. Such limits do not deviate from the standards applied at, for instance, Scandinavian universities and they are very rarely exceeded. However, if a given student fails to reach the allocated number and some other student needs more materials, transfers within the limits are admissible.

Please remember that on top of the entire educational support offered by the Jagiellonian University, the student also receives a special bursary of PLN 200-750 and pursuant to the Higher Education Act such funds should cover the enhanced expenses related to being a university student. Such expenses, regardless of the bursary amount, are also covered from the Aktywny samorząd programme which is the source from where each student can receive another funds. The details of the programme are available on the website of the institution that manages it (in Polish). The financial assistance offered supplements the University’s offer and the students should not treat it as an income but a means of meeting the additional needs related to education.

Download files
docx
Hamlet programme declaration: participation consent
docx
The Rules of the Hamlet programme