Electronic Format Textbooks for Students with Disabilities

Textbooks in Alternate Formats

Students with print disabilities are able to request their textbooks in alternate format. Currently, Disability Services for Students (DSS) is able to provide electronic versions of most books. In order for DSS to do this, you must first purchase your textbook. Due to copyright laws, we must provide a proof of purchase to the publishers in order to receive electronic format. Electronic books can be in Word, Plain Text, Rich Text, or PDF formats. As a student with a print disability you need to do the following:

1. Purchase all of your textbooks as far in advance of the beginning of the semester as possible. The campus bookstore does offer a pre-order service. You can also request an early purchase because of needing to have the books prepared in an alternate format.

2. Bring your textbooks and your purchase receipt to DSS office, preferably before the start of the semester. DSS will contact the publishers first to see if an electronic version is available. That can sometimes take three or more weeks. If any publisher does not have the book available in an alternate format, or if you need the book more quickly, DSS can scan your book, process it and put in on a USB drive (also known as a thumb drive or jump drive). Depending on the semester, this may take one to two weeks. DSS would have to cut the binding from your book, but you can have it spiral bound at any printing/copy shop. Another suggestion would be to three-hole punch the book to put in a binder. That way you would only have to carry a couple of chapters at a time.

3. Download any of several free screen readers from the Internet if you don’t already have a computer screen reader. You can use the built-in Narrator on Windows-based computers and VoiceOver on Apple products. The free versions do not have all of the bells and whistles a higher quality for-purchase program will have, but they do the job. NaturalReader and TextAloud are examples of screen readers (also known as text-to-speech readers).

4. Pick up your books from DSS. You will be contacted, usually through e-mail, when your books are ready. They won’t do you any good if you don’t come and get them! You are encouraged to complete any tutorials that come with the screen reader programs. Using the program is the best teacher – the more you use it the easier it is to use. You can make an appointment to have some basic training on the software, if you
still have difficulty.




Disablity Services for Students
Western Michigan University
Kalamazoo MI 49008-5277 USA
(269) 387-2116 | (269) 387-0633 Fax