Students with certain types of visual impairments and/or learning disabilities have difficulty accessing printed content. Students may request textbooks and other printed materials in alternate formats such as large print, Braille, electronic text, and/or audio recordings. Both procurement and in-house creation of these alternate formats are time-consuming. For example, even when publishers provide electronic formats of books, it may take several weeks for a student to obtain the materials. If the school is unable to obtain a book or article from the publisher in an electronic format, some disability services offices will scan the text and use optical character recognition software to produce the alternate format in-house. They may also produce audio recordings of printed materials. These processes, as well as the creation of alternative formats of graphic images, can take weeks to complete. For these reasons, if a student who requires alternate text is enrolled in a class, the disability services office may request that a faculty member send them the syllabus and reading list weeks before a term begins.
Providing these materials early helps the disability services office to obtain texts and other readings in alternative formats prior to the beginning of a class. This allows students with disabilities who request alternative formats to complete readings for class on the same schedule as other students.
To learn more about alternate text formats visit the Learning Ally.