Accessible Book Formats

“Alternative format” refers to a book that has been converted from standard print (e.g., hardcover or paperback) to digital text, audio, large print, or braille. Receiving a book in an alternative format is an accommodation that is determined during the registration process at the Student Access Center. The appropriate format(s) are determined between the Student Access Center director/coordinator and the student at the time of registration with the Student Access Center.

Not all students, however, qualify for alternative formats. Eligibility for the accommodation of alternative format for required print materials is dependent on the nature and impact of a student’s disability.

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Digital Text

Also known as electronic text or etext, digital text commonly appears in word processors, websites, PDF readers, and ebooks (e.g., Word, TextEdit, Explorer, Adobe Reader, etc.). Digital text can be read aloud via speech synthesis by a variety of devices, software programs, and apps. Free text-to-speech technology (PDF) is available. The Student Access Center supports textbooks in digital text format through our Self Service (PDF) and Bookshare (PDF) options.

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Books in audio format are recorded via synthetic speech or human narration. Students listen to audio files on laptops or mobile devices. Free technology is available. The Student Access Center supports textbooks in audio format through our MP3 (PDF) and Learning Ally (PDF) options.

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Large Print and Braille

Students with low vision or blindness may prefer to receive their materials in large print or braille. The Student Access Center will coordinate this service on an individual basis.

Alternative Format Accommodation Student Responsibilities

The student will be responsible for collaborating with the Student Access Center to ensure they request alternative formats in a timely manner. Additionally, the use of an alternative format of a textbook requires that the student complies with certain copyright restrictions. Student responsibilities include:

  • Request your required texts as soon as the student’s Fall/Spring course registration is confirmed. Acquiring textbooks in an alternative format is time-consuming and labor-intensive. Requests must be made 4 weeks prior to the date needed to ensure the most timely availability.
  • Submit a separate Alternative Format Request Form (PDF) for each course. All textbook information must be provided before we can process a request.
  • Notify the Student Access Center within 24 hours of knowing a change in your schedule or required materials.
  • Purchase required textbooks from the University Bookstore or online vendor. If a digital version of a book is available at point of purchase, please contact the Student Access Center before purchasing it. A staff person will confirm that the digital format is accessible (e.g., readable by speech synthesis).
  • Show proof of purchase by bringing your receipt to the Student Access Center or emailing a photo/scan of the receipt to Dawn Jewett ( Proof of purchase is required before we can process your request.
  • Destroy all alternative format books at the end of each semester: If you are provided with your book on CD, return it to the Student Access Center. If your book was downloaded to a device, delete it from your system.

Fulfilling Your Request

Once the Student Access Center receives your request form and proofs of purchase, we’ll begin the search for your textbooks in an alternative format. The Student Access Center uses a combination of strategies to provide you with your books in an efficient and timely manner. To that end, we’ll typically search for the book in alternative format in the following order:

  1. Bookshare and Learning Ally: UNE has institutional memberships in these organizations. Both provide books in alternative format: Bookshare books are in digital text format and Learning Ally books are in human-narrated audio format. Both services require special (but free and easy to use) technology. This is an efficient process because books are downloaded online.
  2. Manually convert books to digital text or audio formats: This process is the most labor-intensive and time-consuming. The Student Access Center scans books to digital text and MP3 audio. The amount of time needed depends on the size of the textbook and how quickly it is received from the publisher.

The Student Access Center will make every effort to provide you with your preferred option. In many cases, however, a book may be available through only one source. Technical assistance and training on using the technology associated with each source will be provided as staff time permits.