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Future of TechDis service is unclear

Future of TechDis service is unclear

The future of access services currently supplied to students and staff in higher education by Jisc TechDis is in doubt following a decision to close down its operations at the HE Acedmy in York and to replace them with a centralised helpdesk.

Jisc has assured customers that there will not be a diminution of service. However, it is not clear how this can be achieved since the Higher Education Academy holds both the employment contracts and related intellectual property of the TechDis staff.

Services such as In-Folio, In-Book, the Xerte sandpit, Publisher LookUp, the TechDis voices and the TechDis Toolbox could be at risk not to mention the work carried out by Alistair McNaught in promoting standards such as Epub 3 and Edupub.

These standards will enable the publishing industry to make publications accessible to disabled learners to a degree not possible before. Alistair spoke very strongly at a recent conference BATA organised on exam accessibility and he has briefed BATA council members on several occasions.

BATA believes that the work of Jisc TechDis has been vital in opening up learning to disabled students and that its experience and knowledge will be sorely missed at a time when higher education institutions are expected to play a much bigger role in making course materials accessible to disabled students with the ‘modernisation’ of Disabled Students’ Allowances.