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C. Getting started

There are a number of preparatory steps to consider in producing multiple formats.

Publication development

Each publication should be produced in such a way that adaptation to another format can be accommodated easily and quickly. This is accomplished through the following steps.

Use Plain Language:

A recent survey by the Decima polling firm discovered that 75% of Canadians find information from government programs too difficult to understand.

Keeping your text as clear and as easy to read as possible is not only beneficial for clients with learning disabilities and low literacy skills, it improves comprehension for all clients and will make adaptation to other formats easier.

All technical terms and acronyms should be fully explained.

Produce a Full-Text Template:

At the same time a published product is developed, all of the graphical and multi-media elements should be fully explained in text by the original authors. This is called a "Full-Text Template." It is simply a text file that contains all the original text plus text that describes any non-text content such as pictures, graphs, and even multi-media if applicable.

The full-text template is used as the master document from which all other formats can be produced.

The template system has a number of advantages:

Accurate and seamless conversion to other formats.

No additional expenditures to create full-text explanations after a product is developed.

Compatibility with technologies that depend on text for information transfer.

Details on how to produce a full-text version are contained in the section entitled "Full-Text Templates".

Finding suppliers

Consult your institution's procurement office for multiple format suppliers.

You can also obtain sources for suppliers in the appendix. When contracting suppliers, follow the Government of Canada Contracting Policy.

Budgeting and inventory

Publication budgets should be flexible:

Use a cost-effective approach that includes multiple formats according to demand. Monitor the number of requests you are receiving for multiple formats to determine future budget requirements.

In some circumstances, it may be appropriate to combine two formats into one. For example, a print product could be produced in large print.

Remember to always budget for extra copies needed for the Depository Services Program.

Produce upon request:

Multiple formats are produced upon request. Consider multiple format production even before requests are made if you anticipate requests based on content, audience and promotion.

All requests for information in a format the client can access must be met. Consultation with clients on what format is accessible is the key to a successful transaction.

Catalogue filing and numbering

DSP Copies:

Quantities of Government of Canada publications must be sent to the Depository Services Program (DSP). Copies are then distributed to a network of libraries, Members of Parliament and Senators.

In the case of multiple formats, there are designated libraries that have indicated an interest in obtaining specific formats to better serve their clients.

Separate ISBN for each format:

The DSP is also contacted to obtain a Government of Canada Catalogue Number and ISBN (International Standard Book Number) or ISSN (International Standard Serial Number). Each format requires a separate number.

Pricing and promotion

All formats priced the same:

All formats of an information product must have the same price. Similarly, if the conventional product is free, so too must be all of its multiple format equivalents.

Promote availability:

There are a number of ways you can promote the availability of multiple formats.

Include a message in all products: "This publication is available upon request in accessible formats." This message can be produced in Braille and large print.

Include varied media in your advertising campaigns: Reach people with disabilities by using a mix of media advertising including radio, television, websites, Internet news groups and radio reading services.

Register with 1 800 O-Canada (1 800 622-6232): The Government of Canada's toll-free information line (TTY 1 800 465-7735) is used by many people with disabilities to obtain government information.

Preparing order desks

Integrating Multiple Format requests:

Multiple format requests should be accepted at all the same order points as conventional products, including product catalogues, toll-free numbers and websites.

Obligation to provide a format that is accessible:

Order desk personnel should ask clients what format they require for access. In some cases, a full-text electronic version can be emailed if the client has email access.

Avoid referring all clients to the web as a one-stop solution because, as popular as the web has become, not all clients have web access or the ability to properly navigate the web.

Accept requests sent in a Multiple Format:

Clients may use a multiple format to request a publication. Be prepared to accept orders in this way.

Inform everyone in the publishing process:

Share the Guide with everyone involved in the development and distribution of publications including front office people, authors and editors, graphic designers, webmasters, project managers, communications people and order desks.

Inform both staff and outside contractors.

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