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Students with Perceptual Disabilities

Student sitting on the floor wearing headphones and reading from a tablet computer.Students with perceptual disabilities are a diverse set of learners with a wide range of access requirements. Section 32(1) of the Copyright Act of Canada defines a perceptual disability as:

"A disability that prevents or inhibits a person from reading or hearing a literary, musical, dramatic or artistic work in its original format, and includes such a disability resulting from:

  • severe or total impairment of sight or hearing or the inability to focus or move one’s eyes
  • the inability to hold or manipulate a book, or
  • an impairment relating to comprehension"

- Copyright Act of Canada [R.S., 1985, c. C-42, s. 2]

Generally, these refer to three groups of students:

  • Students with visual impairments
  • Students with physical disabilities
  • Students with comprehension (learning) disabilities. 

Under Section 32(1) of the Copyright Act, ARC-BC is able to produce digital alternate format versions of primary learning materials (e.g., textbooks, novels, worktexts) on behalf of students with perceptual (or print) disabilities. This copyright exemption in the legislation is intended to allow for meaningful access for learners who would not otherwise be able to access content via traditional formats (i.e., hard copy printed materials). 

ARC-BC Eligibility

Eligibility determination for the use of digital alternate format materials from ARC-BC is the responsibility of the school district, independent school or education authority, or distance/distributed learning program enrolling the student with a perceptual disability. Each ARC-BC District Contact certifies that only students meeting the school district's, educational authority's, or program's identification requirements for one of the groups listed above will have access to ARC-BC materials. Please see our Information page and review the introduction video on our Training page for more details on the appropriate use of digital alternate format files from ARC-BC.