Textbooks in Alternate Formats

Accessible Textbook Resources 

Ebooks are available through many sources, but be aware that not all electronic books are accessible to screen readers. Resources like VitalSource and RedShelf sell eTextbooks and indicate what assistive technology work with that book. DSS also recommends utilizing community resources like Bookshare or Learning Ally first to ensure accessible versions of materials. Western Michigan University students with print disabilities may work with Disability Services for Students to obtain alternative format files of textbooks if unavailable from other sources like Bookshare.

Students who do not have current accounts with Bookshare are highly encouraged to create one. Students will need to provide a proof of disability form signed by a qualified expert, DSS can serve in that compacity. 

Requesting Textbook Files from DSS

To request a textbook in electronic/digital format from DSS, please use the following procedures so books can be returned within a reasonable time frame. Please be aware that files provided by DSS are not audiobooks but most often PDF or Word files that are readable by a screen reader. 

  • First obtained a list of the textbooks required in your courses. WMU Textbook Alley has computers where you can print a list.  You can look up each course using the WMU Class Look up from any computer as well.
  • After you obtained the textbook information, search each book on Bookshare to see if it is already available or if it can be requested.
  • If materials are unavailable or cannot be procured in a timely fashion, then students should proceed with requesting textbooks from DSS. 
  • Textbooks are requested in the order in which they are submitted, so the earlier we receive the request and books, the faster we can get them back to you.
  • Complete and submit a textbook request form.  Please note, we have been unable to get this link to work in Firefox. It will, however, work in Chrome and Explorer. We apologize for any inconvenience this may cause. If this form is not accessible, please email kellie.l.skiba@wmich.edu with your request.

Textbook Request Form

  • Copyright laws require us to show proof of purchase. Please provide us with a copy of your receipt by uploading it to the form, emailing it, or dropping it off to our office.
  • Allow 14 business days after submitting the request for publishers to return the alternate versions, especially at the beginning of Western Michigan University's fall and spring semesters.
  • When a publisher cannot provide an electronic or digital copy of the book, we will ask you to bring in the actual book. Please be aware that we must cut the spines off books in order to scan them.  It may take DSS up to 14 business days during the beginning of fall and spring semesters to process the books. In off times, DSS may be able to provide the alternate format within five business days.
  • Pick up the print version of the books you submitted from DSS by finals' week of the semester or the books will be considered the property of DSS.
  • Watch your Western Michigan University email for updates regarding textbook files and confirmation that your materials are ready.  

Disability Services for Students makes every effort to provide the electronic versions of textbooks as quickly as possible, however, the timing of the publishers is out of our control.