The Student Disability Center (SDC) provides accessible text accommodations as to students with visual impairments, learning disabilities, or other cognitive or physical limitations that significantly affect their ability to read and/or comprehend print material. Accessible text accommodations include the conversion of print material into a format that is more accessible 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
Eligibility for this service is determined by an assessment of a student’s individual needs by an SDC accommodations specialist or other appropriate SDC staff. Students must have appropriate documentation of a disability in order to be eligible for accessible text accommodations. The effects or limitations, of the disability must also support the need for alternative text services as assessed and verified by an SDC Specialist or other appropriate SDC staff.
Accessible text accommodations may be requested by a student and/or be recommended by an SDC specialist or other appropriate SDC staff member as an appropriate accommodation after an assessment of their needs. All students who request accessible text accommodations for the first time must meet with an SDC specialist or other appropriate SDC staff for approval. A referral from an SDC specialist to the Assistive Technology Resource Center (ATRC) will also be necessary in order to assess a student’s particular format needs.
Once approved and/or assessed by the ATRC, accessible text accommodations must be requested by a student each semester to continue this accommodation. The initial student request for accessible text accommodations should be submitted through the Accessible Text Request Form to the coordinator of alternative text accommodations or other appropriate SDC staff as part of each semester accommodation request process.
Provisional Status Approval
The SDC specialist or another appropriate staff member may also recommend and approve accessible text accommodations under provisional status for a student who presents a strong indication they may need this 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
- Other clear indicators that a student likely has a disability that would significantly affect their ability to read print material.
These indicators will be documented by an SDC staff member as part of the recommendation and approval for services. Provisional status is limited to no longer than one semester. Continuation of service is dependent upon the provision of supporting disability documentation.
Students with a temporary disability 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.
Provision of Accommodations
When first approved for accessible text services, students must meet with the ATRC for an assessment of appropriate technology and format as part of this accommodation. The student must then meet with the SDC coordinator of alternative text accommodations for orientation to student options and responsibilities in securing accessible text. If a student is unfamiliar with accessible text methodology, they 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 SDC coordinator of alternative text accommodations 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 accessible formats requires the student to actively participate in the process. Both students and the SDC have specific responsibilities as part of this collaboration.
Students requesting accessible text formats are responsible for, but not limited to, the following:
- Submitting requests in a timely manner (recommended three weeks before the start of the semester.
- Students will need to contact each of their instructors to discuss accessible text needs for each course.
- Identify required textbooks, additional in-class handouts, and any other reading materials that will be provided by the instructor.
- According to copyright laws, textbook purchase is required for each request. Proof of purchase will be requested.
- Informing the SDC coordinator of alternative text accommodations of any problems in receiving converted material.
The SDC coordinator of alternative text accommodations is responsible for:
- Monitoring the progress of all formatted material
- Notifying the student if significant delays occur
If needed, the SDC coordinator of alternative text accommodations 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 for Conversion
Electronic Auditory Output
The most common conversion of print is to auditory output. The 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 SDC coordinator of alternative text accommodations. Students must purchase any books that will be converted. All books will be rebound in a usable manner and returned to the student once the conversion process is complete.
An SDC 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 need to be unbound and will be returned to the student. If the book is not available, the student’s book will then be unbound, scanned, and converted. Once the book has been scanned and converted to a digital file, the file will be transferred to a flash drive or sent via Google Drive in the student’s desired format.
Other Conversion Needs
The SDC will convert print material to Braille on a limited basis. Requests for Braille materials must be made directly with the SDC coordinator of alternative text accommodationss. The material must be unbound to be scanner ready. Once the material is provided to the SDC, it will be scanned, reformatted as needed, and embossed in Braille. Converting materials to Braille can be a time-consuming process, depending upon the type of text, the conversion may require 2 to 4 weeks (e.g., math/music requires 3 to 4 weeks, text handouts 2-3 weeks).
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 SDC coordinator of alternative text accommodations.
Requesting Print Material in an Alternative Format
All requests for accessible 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 two 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 materials are converted based on a first come, first serve basis.
Any book that is needing to be converted to auditory output or Braille should be requested as soon as the student knows it is needed. This time frame usually coincides with the registration period. Once the course and section number of a class are known, information about the particular textbooks that will be needed can be obtained from the University Bookstore or from the professor teaching the course, in most cases. All conversion requests for books will need the following information:
- Title of book
- Full name of the author(s)
- Copyright date or edition
- ISBN #
Those choosing the SDC to obtain accessible versions of material must complete an Accessible Text Request form for all material that needs to be converted. Depending upon the requested format, the material will be converted within 2 to three weeks depending upon the nature of the material and reformatting that may be required. (Note: not all books can be reformatted without errors. If a student encounters errors in the converted materials they need to contact the SDC coordinator of alternative text accommodations to inform them of the errors so that they can be resolved.)
Exceptions to the above policies may be made based on individual student need and circumstances only through the approval of the SDC director. Exceptions may be requested from the SDC director by the student, SDC specialists, and/or coordinator of alternative text accommodations.