Requesting Alternatively Formatted Books

Students with a documented disability that results in their inability to effectively utilize print materials, including blindness, certain learning disabilities or the inability to hold a book, may be eligible to receive alternatively formatted text.*

For example, if you have low or no functional vision, you may encounter the functional limitation of difficulty reading. If you have problems with fatigue or manipulating objects, you may be limited in your ability to hold a book. If you have a specific learning disability, such as dyslexia, it may functionally limit your ability to use printed material.

In any of these situations, the accommodation you may find helpful in overcoming your functional limitation(s) may be alternatively formatted course materials and textbooks.

Students must follow the procedure outlined here to request textbooks in alternative formats. This procedure ensures that the Office of Collegewide Disability Services receives all of the necessary materials in order to process your request and document compliance with federal and state laws.

  1. Purchase the required textbooks.
    Whether you purchase your books through the Empire State College online bookstore or privately, New York state law requires that students purchase a hard copy of the book requested in alternative format.
  2. Download and complete the Application for Alternative Textbooks.
    This form gives the Office of Collegewide Disability Services information regarding a student’s preferred file format and information about the textbooks required, including the name of the publisher, author, title and ISBN number.

    The application also contains the ‘Agreement on the Use of Recorded, Electronic or Other Alternatively Formatted Course Materials’, which informs students of their responsibilities regarding alternative textbooks and serves as proof of purchase of a hard copy of the book requested in alternative format.

    While the college will make a reasonable effort to provide the textbook in the student’s preferred file format, a reasonable and effective alternative will be made available when it cannot obtain the preferred format.

  3. Locate a copy of your documentation of a disability, print or otherwise.
    Read more about documentation in this student handbook.
  4. Submit your materials directly to the Office of Collegewide Disability Services.
    Contact information, includes the office’s mailing address and fax number.
  5. Students requesting alternatively formatted books must complete this process each term they need books in alternative formats.
    Your courses and books change with each new term and you are responsible for submitting the application for alternative textbooks to the Office of Collegewide Disability Services every term. However, students are required to submit documentation only in the first term in which they are requesting alternatively formatted books.

Students are advised to submit their request two months before they need their books. It may take our staff as long as six to eight weeks to obtain or convert textbooks into an appropriate, accessible format. The Office of Collegewide Disability Services will accept late requests; however, late submissions reduce the likelihood that you will receive the alternative formats when you need them.

Upon receipt of a request, staff in the Office of Collegewide Disability Services will confirm that documentation of a disability and a completed application for alternative textbooks have been received and will contact students if their application is incomplete or to verify the information if necessary.

On receipt of the application, staff in the Office of Collegewide Disability Services:

  1. searches the Learning Ally, Bookshare’s and other third-party inventory of electronic text files for the requested texts if the student is eligible to receive electronic text files from these providers
  2. locates the contact information for each publisher through the American Association of Publisher’s look-up service and requests the textbook in electronic format directly from the publisher
  3. after 10 business days, will provide an update to the student via email regarding:
    1. the availability of textbooks from the lending libraries, i.e.: Learning Ally, Bookshare, etc.
    2. the response from the publishers regarding the availability of text files requested
    3. any alternative textbooks received, to date.
  4. If the textbooks are not available from external sources within 10 days of the college’s request, the Office of Collegewide Disability Services will need to scan the hard copies of the textbooks in order to complete your request for alternative text in a timely manner.
    • Scanning the hard copies requires that the college obtain permission from the publishers to scan your books and create the electronic text. To facilitate scanning (if needed), have the seller (Empire State College Bookstore or other retailer) ship your books directly to the Office of Collegewide Disability Services in Saratoga Springs when you purchase your books.
    • If you must ship the books to the Office of Collegewide Disability Services yourself (rather than having the seller ship them directly to the college), the college will reimburse you for shipping costs. Reimbursement could take 30 days or longer to process.
    • Please note: The binding of your textbooks will be cut off in order to scan the book. The books will be rebound prior to shipping them back to you. In many instances, paperback books can be rebound using the original binding.
    • Hardcover textbooks may need to be bound using other materials and will not be restored to their original condition. Original copies of textbooks purchased by the student will be shipped to the student’s home address.
    • When the textbooks have been converted or received, the staff in the Office of Collegewide Disability Services will email the student notifying them that their electronic text is now available. The office will email the student each time an electronic text becomes available.

Electronic text will be made available in the following ways:

  • uploaded into Mahara in an accessible format
  • through Victor Stream, Learning Ally’s Player, which may be loaned to the student
  • occasionally, if the file is very large, on a CD or flash drive, shipped to the student’s home address.
  • The college will make a reasonable effort to provide the textbook in the student’s preferred file format; however, a reasonable and effective alternative will be made available when the preferred format cannot be provided.

*Alternatively formatted text is developed in conjunction with resources available for Postsecondary Disability Service Providers, including the Alternative Format Materials Handbook for Postsecondary Disability Service Providers in New York state and Implementing Chapter 219 of the Laws of 2003 memo.

Return to Student Handbook or continue to ADA Part Time TAP: Financial Aid for Students with Disabilities.