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My original post included:
"Several of our special education students have Kurzweil use included in
their IEP's. My assistant principal wants to scan textbooks into the
program, and is confident that, with current special education laws, it is
not necessary for us to contact the textbook publishers for permission. Do
you agree?... "

As of today, our written request, as dictated by the publisher, is in the mail!  
Even though my assistant principal felt we were covered, I feel better having 
submitted a formal request.  My next project: writing a procedural checklist for 
future Kurzweil requests!

With thanks to all for the following support and responses:
No, I do not agree.  I checked into this a couple of years ago, and it is only 
allowable if the student/person has a visual disability.  Even then, there is 
special equipment which must be used. Having said that, my school is doing it 
I'm not sure, but I believe that if it is in the IEP then it is legal.  The purpose 
of the machine itself indicates what will be going on in libraries and classrooms.  
My wife has a Ph.D. in special education, and I did ALL of her typing for her as 
well as the dissertation.
Our attorneys said that it was fine for single use but needed to be destroyed after 
its use.  In other words, we could not keep files for future years.  I think it was 
a gray area, but that it was certainly only educational.  The problem arises when 
that text is offered in an audio format.  However, a book on tape or CD still is 
not the same as digitally read copy.  I am currently on maternity leave and will 
not be returning to that school.  I left it as use withcaution.  Kurzweil says it 
in no way infringes on copyright.  I still hesitate.

How about calling the LD support program at a local college/university/community 
college?  They often use this program and will know the rules here.
As I recall, our EC director said that the program was being used for textbooks.  
She was contacting textbook publishers through the vendors and received permission 
to use with students.
We have Kurweil also and I was concerned about this but the Kurzweil person assured 
me that it is legal if it is being used for a handicapped student.
Most districts have lawyers on retainer.  That question should be referred to the 
district's lawyer so it can be properly researched. Most lawyers err on the side of 
caution so if they give the go-ahead then you can be pretty confident you are ok 
doing it.
I think you may be looking at two issues here.  One is IF the material being
scanned (the textbook) is already available in a recorded format (through
Recordings for the Blind or Dyslexic or through the American Printing House
for the Blind or other services provided for handicapped students), then you
have already been provided with an alternative format that is available for
the student (an audio recording).  You shouldn't need to scan the material,
download it, and save for use by that student, and you can't do it for every
student who just "might happen" to need it in the future.  What you CAN do
is order the materials that are already in recorded formats for the student
to have access to while in class. (And repeat the process for EACH child
that follows...remind your assistant principal that's what IEP stands 
for....Individualized Education Program.)

If the book is not available in a recorded format, then you can use the
Kurzweil to allow for independent "reading" at the time of the lesson /
assignment.  This material can later be deleted / removed once the student
has progressed past that specific lesson.  This is what the machine is meant
to provide for the student--access to printed materials that are not
immediately available in the proper instructional / access format for the
blind / disabled.   This is NOT a "copy machine" for the blind / disabled
and it should not be abused by the school as such.  This is a machine that
provides the user / student with independent access to information at the
time of instruction or to provide for independent personal reading (letters,
books, newspapers, notes, etc.).   By choosing to download entire books, it
appears that the school plans to use the materials again and again (and
perhaps year after year) with any student that might "fit" the IEP.  This
would be a violation of copyright--and it may not be the best alternative
for the student with the special needs.

Don't assume that just because the print material isn't available in a format that 
meets the needs of the special needs student that the school can manipulate 
educational materials into any format that they need (regardless of copyright) in 
order to follow the IEP.  Anyone can write an IEP--- I did for years; however, I am 
not a copyright attorney and I do not have the right to require anyone to break the 
law in order to make materials / equipment / services available to a child who has 
special needs.  What we can do is exhaust all of our leads in locating the correct 
format for the child and then request permission from a specific publisher for any 
materials to be made available in a particular format.

Another reality check....most publishers have given organizations such as
the American Printing House for the Blind (and their cooperating agencies--
state libraries for the blind, prisons, etc., serving the needs of special
education students) the rights to modify their materials for education ---
individual schools are not generally given those rights to change instructional 
formats of published materials for use by the handicapped (and the companies won't 
be giving you the rights---believe me, I've asked.) Most of these formats (if 
recorded) will also require special 4-track cassette player that can only be 
purchased / loaned through special services for the blind or dyslexic.   If these 
materials are not available in a recorded format, then use the Kurzweil to teach 
the student how to become an independent user of the machine for not only the 
lesson at hand, but also for recreational or personal use later.  If the student is 
too young or is unable to manipulate the machine, then perhaps this is not the 
correct equipment for this individual---(and these are expensive machines!!)

---just remember to exhaust your leads in locating the materials in alternative 
formats!  We've come a long way with instructional materials, technology and access 
to information by the handicapped.  There's no reason to break the law just because 
we've become too lazy to model the correct behavior of information access.  There 
are resource individuals out there (and on LM_NET) who can give you leads for your 
educational materials, if you need them!  Good luck!

Betty Wolfe
Library Media Specialist
Avon Middle School
Avon, CT

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