Accessibility Tools and Copyright

By Kate Vasili

For those in the community who don’t know me, I’ve been the Copyright Officer at Middlesex University since 2002 after joining the University as a Copyright Assistant in 1998. I’m also a member of the U UK Guild HE CNAC (Universities UK Guild HE Copyright Negotiation and Advisory Committee).

Although I graduated in law, I’m definitely not a practicing lawyer so any advice I offer is purely my personal opinion based on years of experience in dealing with copyright issues in Higher Education.

At the next Webinar on Friday 6th May, I’ll be talking on behalf of the ALT CoOL SIG Accessibility Group, about the copyright concerns raised with the implementation of online accessibility tools into educational institutions’ online platforms such as VLEs (Virtual Learning Environments).

As more online accessibility tools become available to educational institutions, copyright concerns naturally surface, particularly regarding the legality of allowing wider availability of these tools to all staff and students, as opposed to restricting access to only disabled persons. This enables anyone with access to a particular resource to download the content in any format they wish, despite not being eligible for accessible copies under the S.31 Disability exceptions.

But this doesn’t necessarily mean these copies infringe copyright for various reasons. During the webinar, we’ll explore some of these reasons and encourage an open discussion where you can share your own concerns and views. Hopefully, by the end of the session most anxieties will have been dispelled.


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