Rock Valley College

Chapter 10: Books or Materials in Alternative Format

Receiving textbooks or course materials in an alternative format may be a reasonable accommodation for students who have vision, learning, or other disabilities which make accessing traditional printed materials difficult. Textbooks, class handouts and other materials may not be usable in their original form and thus need to be provided in alternative formats (ex., Braille, large print, electronic, etc.) as an academic accommodation.

Students with disabilities that impact access to printed material have a right to alternative formats of the materials that are not accessible. This includes not only textbooks, but also content and documents that are loaded into RVC’s Learning Management System – “Eagle” or made available within class sessions. Students must make timely requests and understand that it may take time to convert material for their accessibility needs; however, in general, after receiving specific requests made by qualified students, DSS will try to find the most usable format in the shortest amount of time.

Students can learn more about what types of alternative formats are available in the Explanations of Alternative Formats Guide.

Electronic Text (E-Text)

The most frequently requested alternative format is electronic files (or E-Text). Electronic files can be converted into subsequent alternative formats such as MS Word documents, Daisy, Braille, etc. that allow users to access the content via a variety of means. Some students utiilze special software to allow them to magnify diagrams and small print, search documents and embed notes, have material printed out in large format, sent out for conversion to Braille, or have words read out loud. (See types of software in Chapter 7).


  • Eligibility for this accommodation is determined via an interactive conversation between the student and the Accommodations Specialist (Note: students approved for this accommodation need to request it every semester that it is needed by contacting the DSS office). 
  • Students provide the DSS office with proof of purchase (a copy of your bookstore receipt or rental agreement) and the course syllabi. The process of converting materials into an accessible format cannot be started until proof of purchase is received. Please note proof of purchase is not required for course materials provided by the Professor
  • Students are notified by Email once their materials are complete and ready for pick-up
  • Students are responsible for contacting the DSS office regarding any questions or concerns they may have in relation to this accommodation

Guidelines for Using E-Text

The DSS office will make every reasonable effort to ensure that students receive alternative format materials in a timely manner. To that end, students should understand that: 

  • The DSS office can only convert materials that are in its possession, and is unable to purchase materials on the student’s behalf
  • Requests are processed in the order received
  • Many publishers state that their response time can be between six (6) to 10 weeks during peak periods, so early planning is essential
  •   If the course schedule or production schedule does not allow for the timely provision of adapted materials, DSS staff, the course instructor, and the student should discuss whether an alternative, reasonable accommodation is available
  • Due to the nature or the lengthy process of converting a text, we may be able to convert single chapters or sections of a book as they are needed