This page provides guidance for SOAS staff and students on the aspects of copyright law which relate to copying for disabled people. It focuses on the production of accessible copies: copies which are designed to provide better access for disabled people. This guidance will assist:

  • Staff who want to produce copies for disabled students.
  • Disabled students who want to understand what copyright law means for them.
  • Services which SOAS may develop to produce accessible copies for disabled students.
  • Disabled staff who may be interested in accessible copies of materials
Making materials accessible for disabled users

New legislation introduced in June 2014 provides specific exceptions permitting an authorised body (such as SOAS) to make and supply accessible copies of works for the use of disabled persons, without infringing copyright. There is no restriction on when the copies can be made but the following conditions must be met:

  • Copies must be made only for the personal use of disabled persons who need the accessible version to enjoy the work to the same degree as someone without the particular impairment.
  • SOAS must have lawful possession or lawful use of the work and must continue to have such use as long as the accessible copies are held.

The above allows the provision of single copies on demand. For accessible copies to continue to be held for future use (eg for multiple copies to be made for other disabled users), the following conditions must also be adhered to:

  • A statement that the work is made under s.31B of the Copyright, Designs and Patent Act 1988 (CDPA) and sufficient acknowledgement of the author must be attached to the accessible copy.
  • Records must be kept of what copies have been made and to whom they have been supplied. These records must be available for inspection and must, within a reasonable time, be notified to the copyright owner or any body (such as the CLA) which represents the copyright owner. Please notify the Information Compliance Manager in the first instance at .
What is the definition of a disabled person?

Disabled person is defined in the CDPA as "a person who has a physical or mental impairment which prevents the person from enjoying a copyright work to the same degree as a person who does not have that impairment". This is a wide definition covering all disabled students, academics and support staff.

What is an accessible copy?

An accessible copy is one which has been produced in order to give a disabled person better access to a work, in terms of their disability. For example:

  • A Braille, large-print or audio version of a book for a visually impaired person.
  • A magazine article prepared for text-reading software for a dyslexic person.
  • A scanned copy of a work produced for a person who has a disability which makes it difficult for them to hold or manipulate a book.
  • An electronic version of a work with navigation features which make it easier for a disabled person to navigate around the document.

Accessible copies are intended to meet the needs of disabled people. A person who is not disabled should not receive an accessible copy, as this is not permitted by the exceptions. The accessible copy should be appropriate for the person's disability: eg a large print version of a work should not be produced for a student who is deaf, unless the student also has a visual impairment.

Non "accessible" copies made for disabled users

Library staff can make copies of extracts from items in the Library for disabled students or staff under the provisions in copyright legislation which allow librarians to copy works for their users. A copyright declaration must be provided in writing by the student or staff member, and there are standard limits on the amount that can be copied from published works (in general: one chapter or extracts up to 5% of a book; one article from a single issue of a journal or magazine). Copies produced in this way are not "accessible" copies, in that no special manipulation of the work is involved. Further information on this and other services which the Library can provide for disabled students and staff is available in the Library's Disability Support pages on the website.

For further advice, contact the Information Compliance Manager at . The Student Disability Office provides general advice and assistance for disabled students.


Page last updated: February 2020