One of the primary document conversion services that the Disability Resource Center provides is the transcription of course materials into braille. The vast majority of the document conversion workload is textbooks. The unit has also transcribed exams, lab manuals, lecture notes, and overheads.
As the Disability Resource Center obtains textbooks to be used in the upcoming semester, the text is broken up into small parts--typically around 20 print pages each. Information for each of these documents is entered into a tracking database and is given a cover sheet containing a unique document identification number and a due date indicating when it is needed by the student.
An individual transcriber will have a number of documents from various courses in their possession at any one time. Each document will be at one of several stages in the production process: scanning, editing, transcribing, proofreading, final checking, embossing, and binding. The transcriber will complete the tasks for each document they have according to the due date listed on the cover sheets. For quality assurance a document will be transcribed, proofread, and final checked by three different staff members.
The first step in transcribing most documents is to convert the print into electronic form. The Disability Resource Center houses five high-speed scanners for use in converting course materials into electronic text. These scanners can scan at rates of up to 186 pages per minute. The electronic version of text is the raw material given to transcribers for conversion to braille. It can also be given to students with non-visual disabilities as an accommodation. When accompanied by ABBYY FineReader® software, the accuracy of scanned text obtained by this process is nearly 100%.
Once the material is in electronic form, transcribers use a combination of software to convert the material into a draft braille version. For material transcribed using Nemeth Code, the Disability Resource Center uses Scientific Notebook® by MacKichan Software and the Duxbury Braille Translator by Duxbury, Inc. Scientific Notebook is used to edit technical material in a format that can be imported into the Duxbury Braille Translator to produce Nemeth Code braille. Our staff is trained to proofread documents to find errors caused by the computer translation process, which tends to be 80-90% accurate on our high-level material.
Once a braille document has been proofread and final checked, it is ready to be embossed, bound, and delivered to the student. The entire process can take hours or days, depending on the complexity of the document. 72 hours (3 business days) is required to convert handouts, exams, overheads, etc. Larger sets of material will require more time.