Alternative Text Overview


Alternative Format Texts are textbooks that come in a format other than standard print. These formats can include: electronic (PDF & Word), Audio books (DAISY format & Tapes), Large Print and Braille.  Most alternative format texts require some kind of technology for access. The type of technology required depends on the format of the text and the user’s preference.

Electronic Texts can be listened to using screen reading programs. These programs essentially read aloud the text on the screen. Some screen readers offer advanced options such as highlighting, web capabilities, conversion to MP3, even, the ability to add notes. PDF files can also be accessed using some screen reading programs and the free screen reader available in Adobe Versions 7.0 and up. Word files can be accessed using screen reading programs such as Read&Write Gold, Read Please, Natural Voice or Kurzweil. Mac users can access the screen reader built into the newer Mac computers.

Digital Accessible Information System (DAISY): Formatted texts also called Digital Talking Books. These texts require a special CD player or DAISY computer software.  Read&Write Gold and Kurzweil can be used to read DAISY text.

Large Print Texts: Requires no special equipment, although there are special text magnifiers that will allow a student to enlarge the font of a standard print text on a special screen.

How long will it take to obtain my texts in Alternative Format?

Depending on the format needed and where it is being created/sent from, texts in alternative format may take 1 to 6 weeks or longer to arrive in the DSS Office. It is critical that students who receive this accommodation be proactive by obtaining the necessary information (Title, Edition, Author, Publisher & ISBN #) and providing it to the DSS office.  Some texts are available to the public in accessible format. Students can check the following resources to obtain their texts without going through DSS:

Bookshare - Free DAISY formatted texts (

Learning Ally (previously RFB&D) - Annual Individual Memberships for qualifying students (

Amazon - Audio, E-books and Large Print (

Policy and Procedure

Students requesting texts in alternative format must be registered with DSS and be eligible for this accommodation. Students who are not currently registered with DSS, as well as those who are registered but have not been approved for this accommodation must meet with a DSS staff member for eligibility.

An eligible student must be currently enrolled in the course which corresponds to the requested text. After you have registered for classes contact the professor/department/bookstore to find out what texts are required for each course. You will need to be sure to get the following information for each text: Title, Edition, Author, Publisher and ISBN #. Text requests are made by submitting this information in writing directly the DSS office in person or by email at Receipts for each text requested must be provided (scan or hardcopy). Only requests submitted with all required information can be processed.

Students are responsible for making Alternative Format Text requests to the DSS office and thereby activating this accommodation each semester. Due to the lengthy time it takes to obtain texts in alternative format and convert them if needed, we strongly encourage that requests are received 6-10 weeks in advance of the start of the course/semester. While text requests can be submitted at any point during the semester, students are encouraged to do so upon registration in the course. DSS will work to obtain texts in a timely manner. Texts requiring conversion to electronic or other formats, as well as those ordered from publishers may take additional time to acquire. DSS will communicate the current status of all requests and completion dates to the student making the request.

Students are required to purchase a copy of all text books that they are requesting in alternative format and provide proof of purchase with their request for an alternative text.  Some texts are available in alternative format in the marketplace; students are expected to check Bookshare ( and Learning Ally ( to determine if it is available. If a student chooses to order a text through one of these organizations, he or she shall be responsible for any fees.

The DSS office will work with students on an individual basis to determine what alternative format(s) are appropriate. DSS will make every effort to obtain texts in the student’s preferred format; however some texts may not be available in every format. In these cases, the final determination of which format a student will receive will rest with the DSS Office. If a text is unavailable from the publisher or other resources, a student may be asked to have his or her text’s chopped and scanned.  This is when the binding is removed for conversion to electronic format. Once the text has been scanned the book will be rebound and given back to the student. This process may take up to 4 weeks or longer depending on the editing involved.

Electronic texts may be available in an edited or unedited format. Unedited texts may contain minor spelling or grammatical errors due to the conversion process. The student will be given the option of accepting an unedited version of the text while waiting for the final version to be edited. 

Specialized equipment and software are necessary to access many alternative format texts. The DSS office and the Dimond Library both have screen reading software and screen magnifiers available. Read&Write Gold is available at any cluster computer on campus and for free download at from the UNH website to any current UNH student, faculty or staff. The DSS office can also provide students with information about downloading free screen reading software. Students are encouraged to look into obtaining and working with their own assistive technology for use with alternative format texts.

When there is a significant delay in obtaining or converting a requested text, the DSS office will offer a student the option to have selected chapters/sections converted to an accessible format and given to the student based upon priority according to the course syllabus. A student wishing to pursue this option will be required to bring a copy of the syllabus to the DSS office. The DSS office may require at least two weeks or more in order to complete this process. Students are also encouraged to use the scanners available in the UNH Dimond Library and free screen reading software (Read&Write Gold) also available for use in the Dimond Library or for free download, to keep up to date with course readings.

At the end of each semester students are required to return any loaned equipment. Failure to do so will result in a “hold” being placed on the student’s grades/account. 

*For more information on how you can scan your textbooks or classroom materials into an electronic format please click here!