Adding Accessible Readings to bCourses

First, Check the Library Database for Existing Materials:

The Library recommends linking to public domain, library-licensed, or open-access online content rather than uploading copyrighted materials to your course site when possible. If you wish to upload copyrighted materials rather than linking to them, please consult the Course Instructor Guide to Copyright & bCourses for best practices.

Linking from existing readings from the library has many advantages.

  • Saves time for the content creator
  • Most, if not all, the files are already accessible
  • Will not violate Copyright 

Follow the steps below to find and add library-licensed online readings to bCourses:

  1. Locate the library resource online 
  2. Copy the permanent link for the resource 
  3. Add the permanent link to your bCourses class

For more information, please see the Add Course Readings to bCourses: Add "Reserves" to bCourses help article.

If you can not find a particular resource online in the Library, you can contact a librarian to see if the item is available elsewhere or if it's available to purchase.

Create Accessible Readings

If you find that the desired reading is not available at the Library and you are ready to create accessible content, follow the steps below.

Already have a digital file/scan?

Once you have a clean scan or file available, the file is ready to go through OCR. Students registered with the Disabled Students Program can submit a request to the DSP team to have reading assignments converted to more accessible formats, depending on their need. Without a clean scan, DSP has a more difficult time accommodating the needs of our students.

If Yes: Check the quality of the file/scan. Is it an accessible file/scan?

  1. Legible?
  2. Page not slanted?
  3. Free from a dark binding, due to a bad scan?
  4. Free from specs, writing?

To gauge whether your scan is accessible, please see the two examples below:

Non-Accessible Version

Accessible Version

If it is a clean scan, go to "Run the File Through Optical Character Recognition (OCR)".

If it is not a clean scan and you'd like to rescan, go to the step below and watch the video for tips and tricks on how to create a clean scan.

If No: If you do not have a digital copy of the reading material and have the rights to copy the content, please watch the video below with tips and tricks on how to make a scan of the reading content.

Please note: self-service scanners are available in libraries across campus to all UC Berkeley affiliates to scan, email, print, and/or save accessible files to one's USB drive or various cloud accounts.

Alternative Media Best Practices at UC Berkeley

Run the File Through Optical Character Recognition (OCR)

Once you have a clean scan/file, it is ready to go through OCR. Students registered with the Disabled Students Program can submit a request to the DPS team to have their reading assignments converted to more accessible formats depending on their need.

Please note that running a file through OCR, will not always generate a 100% accessible file. As the instructor, you have a couple of tools in bCourse that can help you in making documents more accessible: SensusAccess and Ally.

Prior to uploading, you can run a file through SensusAccess, a conversion tool to create more accessible files prior to posting on bCourses. When running your file through SensusAccess, select the "Accessibility Version" option for Step 2. It may take a few hours for the file to arrive in your email.

Upload Files to bCourses

Once you've received your submitted file back from SensusAccess, you can then upload your materials to bCourses. See the guide on How to Upload a File to a bCourses Site. If you run into difficulties uploading files to bCourses, you can contact the bCourses Team by submitting a ticket

Check File Accessibility Within bCourses

You might already have course reading documents that you previously uploaded to bCourses. Here is where Ally can help.  Ally is a set of tools within bCourses that helps you find ways to make your course content more accessible.  Ally inspects uploaded documents and provides instructors with visual indicators next to each uploaded course document so instructors can see accessibility scores and learn how further to improve the accessibility of source files (note: students cannot access the visual indicators).

*There are other OCR software such as ABBYY FineReader, OnmiPage, and IRIS ReadIRIS. However, these software will come at an additional cost while SensusAccess is available free to email address holders.