Alternative Format Materials


Students with disabilities that impact access to printed material have a right to alternate formats of the materials that are not accessible. This includes not only textbooks, but also content and documents that are loaded into Blackboard or made available within class sessions. Students must make timely requests and understand that it may take time to convert material for their accessibility needs;however, in general, after receiving specific requests made by qualified students, DSS will try to find the most usable format in the shortest amount of time.

UAA uses an online accommodation system for DSS students who are eligible for alternate format materials (AFM). DSS students must make requests for Alternate Format books through the DSS online system.

Proof of Purchase is Required for Alternate Formats.

Steps taken by DSS to provide alternate format materials often include: 

  • Contacting the publisher of a textbook, or author of a course document to obtain an electronic version that is compatible with assistive technology.
  • Converting materials in-house.  As described at the bottom of this page, DSS can also train students in how to convert material independently which can be especially helpful for class handouts and other supplemental materials.
  • Converting Word or accessible PDF files (often available from the publisher with proof of purchase and DSS confirmation of verification of documented disability)

Electronic Text

Electronic text (eText) can take many forms. Word documents, text files, image files, sound files, webpages, all are electronic formats. As such, they can be accessed with adaptive software. It is possible to magnify diagrams and small print, search documents and embed notes, have material printed out in large format, sent out for conversion to Braille, or have words read out loud.

Creating Electronic Text

At DSS, when materials are not available in an accessible format, we may use an in-house production system. Students who are using digital materials that have been created in-house are required to sign an agreement form with the DSS office indicating they understand their rights and responsibilities as related to copyright law.

The process often involves the following steps:

  1. Textbooks are debound and scanned. Each page becomes an image. These images can be viewed on screen and magnified or printed in large format, but not read out loud or edited. The original book is rebound with coil.
  2. Image files can be loaded into an Optical Character Recognition (OCR) program that recognizes the characters and turns PDF files into text that can be read out loud.

Partial Listing of Online Sources for eText