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Listed below are our most frequently asked questions; click on the question to reveal the answer. For questions around a specific topic you will find more information on our Training page. If you cannot find the question you have in mind listed here or on the training page, please contact the ARC-BC team at

ARC-BC (Accessible Resource Centre - British Columbia) is a Ministry of Education funded provincial response to the increasing demand for digital or alternate format alternatives to print for students with perceptual disabilities in BC classrooms. Educators in all school districts who are registered with ARC-BC are able to search this online repository to find and download alternate format resources related to the BC curriculum. Production and distribution of the alternate format materials is centrally coordinated and duplication of effort in resource creation is minimized. ARC-BC is tasked with providing BC educators with timely access to high-quality digital alternate format materials to enable learners with perceptual disabilities to have equitable access to learning opportunities in inclusive settings.

Registration for ARC-BC is limited to only those working on behalf of students who have perceptual disabilities and who are enrolled in a BC school district, independent school/education authority, or distance/distributed learning program that is currently part of the ARC-BC Community. Visit our page on learners with perceptual disabilities for more information on qualification.

In joining the ARC-BC community, districts sign an Appropriate Use Agreement. The terms of this agreement outline the district's responsibility in overseeing implementation of ARC-BC in the district and adherence to the relevant statutes within the federal Copyright Act limitations. The authority of this agreement can only apply to the employees of the school district or education authority and cannot be extended to include students or parents.

Each ARC-BC user account contains information on the students that the user is supporting with digital alternate format materials from ARC-BC. To ensure that data privacy is maintained and student data from one district is not ported over to another, ARC-BC users are required to create a new account when they become an employee of a new school district, independent school, or distanced/distributed learning program.

Each school district is responsible for determining which students would be identified as having a perceptual disability. The ARC-BC District Contact is responsible for informing their users as to how that determination is made within the parameters in the federal Copyright Act. Please see Section 32 of the Copyright Act for more information. Many school districts choose to use the existing Individualized Education Plan (IEP) process - identifying the need for alternate format materials in the student's IEP and listing materials from ARC-BC as an accommodation. Some districts also require additional test results or documentation. Whatever the district process, users should be aware of what level of documentation is required at district level in order for a student to receive learning materials in digital alternate format from ARC-BC.

In order for a new user's profile to be forwarded to the District Contact for review, the user must first view the short instructional videos on the ARC-BC Training page. After viewing these videos the user must complete a short Knowledge Quiz in order to demonstrate their understanding of ARC-BC policies around access and appropriate use of digital alternate format materials and then the user will be able to complete the registration process. The new user's request for registration will then be forwarded to the appropriate District Contact. The District Contact then reviews the pending registration and makes an approval decision which is communicated to the applicant via an auto-generated email.

There are a number of ways in which students can access digital alternate format materials from ARC-BC. Some formats can be accessed through a number of software options. For example, PDFs can be opened by several installed programs (e.g., Adobe Reader), cloud-based programs (e.g., Read&Write for Chrome), and mobile applications (e.g., Claro PDF). Other formats are proprietary and must be opened using a specific software option (e.g., .KES files are opened with Kurzweil software products).

There are a variety of alternate formats available in the ARC-BC repository. Linked here is a listing of popular formats. If a specific ARC-BC alternate format is required for an existing title and it is not currently in the repository, users can request this supported format via the Request a Format or Title Form.

The federal Copyright Act does not permit the production of an alternate format material of a copyrighted work if that format is available commercially. Users should avoid converting ARC-BC files to new formats for two main reasons:

  1. Converting files may result in the loss of important formatting or data features.
  2. The new format may be available commercially. If it is available commercially, this file conversion is in violation of copyright legislation.

ARC-BC requires that all users delete digital learning materials in alternate formats obtained from ARC-BC and stored on student devices at the end of every academic year. There are three main reasons for this requirement:

  1. The quality of alternate format materials is consistently being upgraded. The same title and format may be upgraded to include new features and functionalities. Users should delete and re-download files in order to ensure that students have the benefit of better quality materials across time.
  2. To sustain the viability of the ARC-BC repository, accurate user statistics are essential. Therefore, each instance of student access to a title in digital alternate format produced by ARC-BC should be captured through download statistics. Please help to ensure the sustainability of the ARC-BC repository by downloading new files for each qualifying student as needed.
  3. Deleting and re-downloading files ensures that the user keeps in touch with ARC-BC and stays up to date on policies related to appropriate use under the Copyright Act. Please check back with ARC-BC for updates and to obtain files and view new formats in the repository.

Alternate format materials are created for the purpose of supporting student access to the same curricular materials as their peers. The appropriate use of ARC-BC learning materials in digital alternate formats requires first that an original copy of a copyright work has been obtained commercially. This requires that users have a physical copy of the original copyrighted work when they download alternate formats of that work from the ARC-BC repository.

If you are a registered ARC-BC user who is supporting a student with perceptual disabilities and you can't find a title or the format your student needs, please fill out the Request a Title or New Format Form.

Tactile files (.cdr) open in CorelDraw X5 and newer version of CorelDraw. Ensure that you have Swell Braille font loaded on to your computer. Obtain the Swell Braille font from Duxbury and follow the instructions. The files can be modified and saved if necessary. These files are designed to be printed onto a special SwellTouch paper and put through a Fuser (PIAF machine or Image Enhancer) which raises the black lines for the visually impaired students.

Related Programs


PRCVI assists school districts in educating students whose access to the curriculum is restricted due to a visual impairment. PRCVI’s mission is to provide leadership, information, training and consultation to support school districts' goals of equitable access and enhanced learning opportunities for students with visual impairments. Services to school districts include provision of alternate formats of learning resources in braille and large print, a resource library, and outreach support.


SET-BC assists school districts in providing assistive technology solutions to promote access to the curriculum for learners of diverse abilities. Services to school districts include consultation, technology loans, training and resource support.

Archived News

Previous issues of the ARC-BC News can be found on our Archived News page.