Load2Learn (delivered by RNIB and Dyslexia Action)
|Sector||Accessible curriculum for learners with print impairments|
|Target Users||Educators in the UK|
|Nature of the initiative||Delivered by charities RNIB and Dyslexia Action with development funding in 2011-13 from the Department for Education.|
Senior Manager - Learning and braille, RNIB
+44 (0)1733 375178
Load2Learn provides accessible textbooks and images to support dyslexic, partially sighted or blind learners who have difficulty reading standard print. It was founded by RNIB and Dyslexia Action with development funding in 2011-2013 from the Department for Education.
Load2Learn enables learners who cannot read standard print, including those with dyslexia and who are blind or partially sighted, to read the same books, at the same time as their classmates, giving them the same educational opportunities. It is a free service, for use by staff who are supporting learners, in the UK, that have a print disability. Load2learn is able to provide this service at no cost thanks to partners and supporters. There are also members who have contributed their resources to share with others using Load2Learn.
Before the project started schools and support services were individually responsible for creating accessible formats of curriculum materials for the needs of their students, often involving the time-consuming process of scanning. It can take three to six months to produce an accessible large print edition of a textbook. With the structured Word files available on Load2Learn, it can now take educators as little as 90 seconds to modify the book to meet the needs of the individual learner.
'I opened the book as a structured Word file and it was easy to increase the font size to 36 - you have saved me hours of work!' Jane Dutton, Resource Technician, Leicestershire Vision Support Service.
'By reducing the amount of preparation required our Support Workers' time is freed up to support learners in the classroom setting, as opposed to spending long periods at the computer.' Phil Carrington, Resource Technician, Staffordshire Vision Impairment Service.
Previously there was no central resource for educators to access or input to, this resulted in unnecessary duplication of effort. At the start of the project Load2Learn received thousands of Word files from educators for uploading onto the site, however many of these were duplicated titles – strengthening the need for a central repository.
Load2learn is a rich and growing central resource of electronic files provided by publishers, including some of the biggest educational publishers. 35 publishers (plus 46 imprints) are engaged with Load2Learn, including Pearson, HarperCollins, Palgrave Macmillan and Hodder Education. Load2Learn are supported by the Publishers Association and they are working together to engage more publishers.
Members can access over 3,500 titles including textbooks and 3,000 images downloadable as accessible documents. These can be used by educators across the country enabling them to quickly meet the individual needs of learners. Each book title is available in one or more of the following formats: Word, PDF, EPUB, Kindle, DAISY audio. The accessible images are available in PDF and/or CorelDRAW.
Load2Learn offers its members a book request service for titles not yet available on the site. With teachers currently sourcing materials for the new school year we are receiving over 200 requests a month. 1,463 books requests were received in 2013/14, of which 80% were fulfilled. The remaining 20% were unfulfilled due to the book being too old or the publisher not yet engaging with Load2Learn.
The Automated Book Request Service (ABRS) allows members to simply enter the ISBN of the book needed, Load2Learn then talks to the Bibliographic Database Service (BDS) and pulls through the book title and publisher. ABRS then talks to Publisher Lookup UK to obtain the publisher’s contact details. An email is then automatically sent to the publisher, asking them to upload their file directly onto Load2Learn. Once the file is live on the site, Load2Learn check the 'fufilled' box on ABRS and the member is automatically emailed notifying them that it is available to download. This service has been developed with JISC TechDis, who run Publisher Lookup, and the Publishers Association.
'Sourcing accessible books takes much less time using Load2Learn, than when I had to approach publishers myself. The book also now usually reaches the learner when it's needed in class, which is great news.' Angela Bale, Sensory Inclusion Service, Telford.
The Copyright guidance on the Load2Learn website was written with support from the Copyright Licensing Agency (CLA) and Intellectual Property Office, to ensure the correct legal information was provided as clearly as possible.
The Training and Guidance section on Load2Learn helps members get the most out of Load2Learn and the resources they download. There is guidance on the different file formats; how to create and modify them, use them with their learners on various devices and where applicable convert them into other accessible formats. Guidance is provided via webpages, downloadable documents and videos.
The 'Creating and using accessible curriculum resources' self-study course introduces technologies that can be used to make reading more inclusive, and is based on some of the Inclusive Technologies for Reading course that was delivered November 2012 to March 2013 during the project phase of Load2Learn. The course materials are currently being revised.
'Daily I sing your praises more! Thank you for this superb website. There is real expertise and understanding of the issues for print disabled youngsters. The quality of training materials is first class and constantly being updated. Please continue with this wonderful contribution to children's education.' Sarah Cross, Teacher for Children with a Visual Impairment, Leeds
The project enables:
- educators to access the materials digitally in a range of accessible formats, instead of using painfully slow scanning processes;
- learners to use the most up-to-date accessibility features of devices and software to access the materials in formats which meet their needs.
The role of technology
The search engine is designed to be dyslexia friendly, for example, if you type in 'Rowmans' it will search for 'Romans' and 'frends' will search for 'friends' (as well as other variations such as 'Romany' and 'trends').
Once a structured Word version of a book is available, Load2Learn’s file conversion tool can automatically convert it into PDF, EPUB and Kindle formats, making the book quickly available in four accessible formats rather than one.
Batch upload tool
Load2Learn has a batch upload tool, which allows files to be added to the site in bulk, rather than invididually uploading each title, however at present each title still requires individual validation before being made live on the site. This tool is currently being developed further to make it easier for publishers to proactively and directly batch upload hundreds of titles in one go, skipping the validation process and making publisher files instantly available to members. This tool links to the Bibliographic Database Service (BDS) to pull through the book metadata.
Load2Learn received excellent feedback from educators and learners about the difference it can make to them. It's possibile to read some comments and case studies on the Load2Learn website.
'Load2Learn has become an invaluable resource for our visually impaired learners, our service and the schools we support. It is difficult to imagine life without it now!' Liz Cullen, Specialist Advisory Teacher, Hertfordshire.
'Load2Learn has transformed a dyslexic girls life. She told me 'I'll never grow up, I'll always have to have someone reading to me'. Now thanks to Load2Learn she is like all the other girls and her sensory advisor has never seen her so happy.' Wendy, SENCO, Secondary School.
Benefits for learners:
- Access curriculum more easily
- Choice of format
- More engaged in class
- Able to join in with peers
- Work independtly – class, homework, revision
- Improving self-confidence
Benefits for staff:
- Save time
- Get resources to learners more quickly
- Modify resources more efficiently
- Share scare resources with other educators
- Learn new skills and improve provision generally
Load2Learn also offers many practical benefits to publishers:
- providing direct request service to publishers for specific textbook files - faster, streamlined service for end users
- reducing preparation time and costs of providing accessible copies
- enabling publishers to market Load2Learn as a value-added service for schools
- providing an additional marketing channel to all primary, secondary schools and FE colleges in England
- supporting Load2Learn provides an opportunity to meet Corporate Social Responsibility objectives.