Alternate Text Formats Information for Instructors

Important Notes

  • Some students with a print disability (i.e., students who cannot read, see, or manipulate print on paper) may require textbooks in a format alternate to print (e.g. Braille, MP3, PDF, Word)
  • Where possible use of a text which previously exists in alternate format (alternate to print) is a sound practice in universal design.
  • A print text can be converted into many formats, including, but not limited, Braille, PDF, Kurzweil, MP3 and Large Print.
  • An electronic version (e.g. text PDF) may be accessible for some, but cannot be considered a universal format accessible to all.
  • Alternate text formats for any individual student is based upon individual student needs, nature of disability, and subject matter of a particular course.
  • Electronic versions (e.g. text document PDF, etc.) can more easily be converted to other formats (e.g. Large Print, Braille, and Kurzweil) making selection of an electronic text copy preferred.
  • Regardless of format of original text, any work to convert a textbook to another format can take a significant amount of time and human intervention (e.g. math or physics to Braille).
  • Early decision of textbook titles is strongly recommended at all times and in particular where it is known that an alternate version is required.

Sourcing Alternate Format Texts

  • You can search AERO to see if there are textbooks that are in an alternate format.
  • You can also search ATN, this database only shows the list of publishers; the publishers listed will have their books in the ATN database.
  • LibriVox: Contains free public domain audiobooks.
  • Project Gutenberg: Contains free ebooks.
  • Alex: A catalogue of Electronic Texts

McMaster Library Accessibility Services (LAS)

  • The student will arrange for alternate format texts through Library Accessibility Services.
  • Receiving text in alternate formats can take a significant amount of time (e.g. Braille can take up to three months or more to produce).
  • It is important that you provide textbook lists as early in the summer as possible to allow sufficient time for the conversion process.
  • For any questions related to accessing an alternate format of a textbook, contact Library Accessibility Services.

Last Updated: October 31 2019