Rock Valley College

Chapter 11: Accessible Media

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 seeking alternative format materials should present documentation that clearly supports the need for the request. The same format is not right for everyone and some formats require the use of specialized hardware or software in order to access the materials.

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.

Electronic Text (E-Text)

The most frequently requested format is electronic files (or E-Text) that can be converted into alternative formats, such as MS Word documents, PDF’s, Braille, audio, or Daisy (advanced features beyond a traditional audio book) files. Word documents, text files, image files, sound files and webpages, all are electronic formats and as such, they can be accessed with adaptive software. It is possible 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 on page 11.

Creating Electronic Text (E-Text)

At DSS, when materials are not available in an accessible format, we use an in-house production process. Students who are using digital materials that have been created in-house are required to sign an agreement form with the DSS office indicating they understand their rights and responsibilities as related to copyright law. (Please note that accessible materials are intended to be used by the eligible student only and are not to be duplicated and/or redistributed).

The E-Text process often involves the following steps

  1. In instances where a digital publisher file is not available, textbooks are unbound and scanned. Each page is now an image. These images can be viewed on a computer monitor and magnified or printed in large format, but not read out loud or edited. The original book is rebound with coil binding.
  2. Image files can be loaded into an Optical Character Recognition (OCR) program that recognizes the characters and turns PDF files into text that can be read out loud. DSS staff edit, format, and clean up the book prior to providing the final file to the student.


Guidelines for Requesting Alternative Formats

Students requesting textbooks in alternative format are encouraged to do the following to ensure that materials are processed as quickly as possible:

  1. Submit a request for books in alternative format via the DSS Accommodations Portal. Requests should be made as soon as the student registers for classes — and preferably at least six (6) weeks prior to the date that materials are needed.
  2. Provide the DSS office with proof of purchase (copy of your bookstore receipt or rental   agreement) and your course syllabi at the time of request. In some situations, it may only be possible to convert the chapters or portions of the book that will be referenced   in class.
  3. Notify DSS immediately if a course is dropped or changed.

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.