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There is an exception to copyright for the benefit of disabled people. The exception covers people who have a physical or mental impairment which prevents them from accessing copyright protected materials.

The exception allows the disabled person, or someone acting on their behalf, to make a copy of a lawfully obtained (ie. bought copy or borrowed from a library) copyright work in a format that helps them to access the material. It  covers all formats of works including films and sound recordings and contract terms will not override the exception.

Making of an accessible copy is not permitted if an accessible copy is commercially available.

The exception permits acts such as:

  • Making Braille, audio or large-print copies of books, newspapers or magazines for visually-impaired people
  • Adding audio-description to films or broadcasts for visually-impaired people
  • Making sub-titled films or broadcasts for deaf or hard of hearing people
  • Making accessible copies of books, newspapers or magazines for dyslexic people or people with a print impairment.

Please note that no-one can make a profit out of helping a disabled person make an accessible copy, but they are able to charge a fee covering any costs they incur in making and supplying such a copy.

An accessible copy:

  1. may include facilities for navigating around the version of the work, but
  2. must not include any changes to the work which are not necessary to overcome the problems suffered by the disabled persons for whom the accessible copy is intended.

An accessible copy made under this section must be accompanied by—

  • a statement that it is made under this exemption (Section 31B Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988 as amended), and
  • a sufficient acknowledgement (unless this would be impossible for reasons of practicality or otherwise).

If staff create accessible copies for students this should be reported to scanning@copyright.ac.uk.