Resources for Disabled Students

Alternative Text Services

 Policies and Procedures

Resources for Disabled Students (RDS) provides alternative text services as an auxiliary aid/ accommodation for students with visual limitations, learning disabilities or other cognitive or physical limitations that significantly affect the ability to read and/or comprehend print material. Alternative text services converts print material into a format that is more compatible to a student’s limitations in order to provide adequate access to information. Due to limitations in resources and/or technology, it may not be possible to convert all print material into the most preferred format for access.

Eligibility and Approval Conditional Status Approval
Provision of Services Responsibilities
Options of Conversion Requesting Print Material in Alternative Formatl
Return of Converted Material Exceptions
Eligibility and Approval

Eligibility for this service is determined by an assessment of a student’s individual needs by the RDS Accommodations/Advocacy Specialist or other appropriate RDS staff. Students must have appropriate documentation of a disability in order to be eligible for alternative text services. The affects, or limitations, of the disability must also support the need for alternative text services as assessed and verified by the RDS Specialist or other appropriate RDS staff.

Alternative text services may be requested by a student and/or be recommended by the RDS Specialist or other appropriate RDS staff as an appropriate auxiliary aid/accommodation after an assessment of needs. All students who request alternative text services for the first time must meet with the RDS Specialist or other appropriate RDS staff for approval and a referral to the Assistive Technology Resource Center (ATRC) will be necessary in order to assess a student’s particular format needs.

Once approved and/or assessed by the ATRC, alternative text services must be requested by a student each semester to continue this service. The initial student request for alternative text services should be submitted through the Student Information form to the RDS Specialist or other appropriate RDS staff as part of each semester accommodation request process. A student is also required to submit a Request for Materials in Electronic Format form directly to the RDS Alternative Text Services Coordinator for each semester in which this accommodation is needed.

Conditional Status Approval

The RDS Specialist or other appropriate RDS staff may also recommend and approve alternative text services under conditional status for a student who presents a strong indication he/she may need this auxiliary aid/accommodation but does not have supporting disability documentation. Strong indication includes but is not limited to: prior history of support services in school, indication the student is in the middle of a diagnostic process, or other clear indicators that a student likely has a disability that would significantly affect his/her ability to read print material. These indicators will be documented by the RDS staff member as part of the recommendation and approval for services. Conditional status is limited to no longer than one semester. Continuation of service is dependent upon provision of supporting disability documentation.

Students who are temporarily disabled due to injuries affecting their ability to read may also be eligible for alternative text services. Students who are temporarily disabled due to injuries or other acute conditions may be granted conditional status through their recovery but no longer than one semester of service.

Provision of Services

When first approved for Alternative Text services, students must meet with the Assistive Technology Resource Center (ATRC) for an assessment of appropriate technology and format as part of this accommodation. The student must then meet with RDS Alternative Text Services Coordinator for orientation to student options and responsibilities in securing alternative text. If a student is unfamiliar with alternative text methodology, he/she will be encouraged to try at least one method as an accommodation for one book to determine if the method chosen is appropriate before all print material is converted.

The student and the RDS Alternative Text Services Coordinator collaborate to determine the most effective conversion for the student to have access to print material, taking into account the recommendations from the ATRC, type of material to be converted and the resources available to support the conversion.


The process for converting text into alternative formats requires the student to actively participate in the process. Both students and RDS have specific responsibilities as part of this collaboration.


Students requesting alternative text formats are responsible for, but not limited to, the following:

a) submitting requests in a timely manner (at least three (3) weeks before the start of the semester)
b) picking up and returning materials including temporary loaned copies of textbooks
c) contacting the RDS Alternative Text Coordinator of any problems in receiving converted material


The RDS Alternative Text Services Coordinator is responsible for

a) monitoring the progress of all formatted material
b) notifying the student if significant delays occur

If needed, the RDS Alternative Text Service Coordinator will also work in conjunction with any faculty member who may play a significant role in providing print material for conversion to facilitate the process.

Options of Conversion

Electronic Auditory Output

The most common conversion of print is to auditory output. Text is scanned and converted to an electronic auditory file that is accessed through a computer speech synthesizer. Books are unbound through the Morgan Library for no charge as part of the scanning process. This step is coordinated through the RDS Alternative Text Coordinator. Students must purchase any books that will be converted. All books will be rebound in a useable manner and returned to the student once the conversion process is complete.   Students will be loaned a copy of their book during the scanning process if necessary.

Audio Material -- There are two primary sources from which printed material is converted to electronic auditory output: through in-house conversion of materials and through Recording for the Blind and Dyslexic (RFBD).

In-house Electronic Conversion: The conversion process begins with a completed Request for Materials in Electronic Format form and the student’s copy of the textbook to be converted. Students submit these forms and books to the Alternative Text lab.

A RDS staff member will check with the online database to see if an already converted copy is available. If it is, the student’s book will not be needed and returned to the student. If the book is not available, the student’s book will then be taken to the Library to be unbound for the scanning process. While a book is being scanned and converted during the semester, the Alternative Text lab can request copy of the book to lend to the student, if needed.

Once the book has been scanned and processed, the text will be transferred to a CD in the student’s desired format. Books that are scanned and converted will be rebound once the conversion process is completed. This process can take up to three or four weeks during high volume times.

Recording for the Blind and Dyslexic: Recording for the Blind and Dyslexic (RFBD) is a national, non-profit, volunteer service organization that provides recorded books free on loan to its subscribers. The books from RFBD are professionally recorded, from beginning to end, and arrive either in consecutive installments or in a complete set of CDs.

To become a subscriber, a student must send a completed application to RFBD with verification of disability from an approved specialist. The cost for a subscription is $25.00 annually plus a $50.00 one time registration fee. Applications for RFBD are available from their web site:

Material from RFBD is produced in DAISY format and access to this material requires a DAISY player or appropriate software on other devices. A DAISY player may be purchased through RFBD or borrowed from the ATRC (limited supply). Computer software designed for the DAISY format is also available in various sites on campus or can be purchased by students for their own computers.

Other Conversion Needs

Braille: RDS will convert print material to Braille on a limited basis. Requests for Braille material must be made directly with the RDS Alternative Text Services Coordinator. Material must be unbound to be scanner ready. Once the material is provided to RDS, it will be scanned, reformatted as needed, and printed in Braille. Depending upon the type of text, conversion may require 2 to 5 days (e.g., music/math requires 3 to 5 days, text handouts 24 to 36 hours).

Size and Tactile Representation: Some print material may need to be enlarged or embossed to provide effective access. Any requests for enlarging, embossing, or other conversions necessary to allow access to print material should be made directly to the RDS Alternative Text Services Coordinator.

Requesting Print Material in an Alternative Format

All requests for alternative text formats must be made in a timely manner. Requests received prior to the beginning of a particular semester will have priority over those that come in after the first day of class. Requests made during the semester (after the first 2 weeks) will be completed as time and staff allow. Priority is given to requests by students who are blind/low vision as this is the primary means to access print material. Beyond this priority, other material is converted based on a first come, first serve basis.

Any book to be converted to auditory output or Braille should be requested the semester preceding the semester it is needed. This time frame usually coincides with the registration period. Once a course number and section of a class is known, information about particular textbooks can be obtained from the University Bookstore in most cases. All conversion requests for books will need the following information: Title of Book, Full Name of Author(s), Copyright (or edition) and ISBN #.

A student has the option of

a) requesting the book be converted by RDS
b) having RDS order the book from RFBD
c) ordering the book directly from RFBD if a member of RFBD
d) purchasing two copies of the required book and sending it to RFBD for recording.

Those choosing RDS to obtain alternative versions of material must complete a Request for Materials in Electronic Format form for all material to be converted. Depending upon the requested format, the material will be converted within 1 to 3 weeks depending upon the nature of the material and reformatting that may be required. (Note: not all books can be reformatted without errors during the school year.)

If it is essential a converted text reformatted (e.g., error free), a student must meet with the RDS Alternative Text Services Coordinator when the request is submitted.

Return of Converted Material

All materials must be returned by the end of the semester including RDS and RFBD CD’s and any loaned copies of textbooks. Students are able to pick up the rebound copies of their textbooks at this time if they have not been previously returned.


Exceptions to the above policies may be made based on individual student need and circumstances only through the approval of the RDS Director. Exceptions may be requested from the RDS Director by the student, RDS Specialist, and/or Alternative Text Services Coordinator.

(Revised 2/14)



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