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Alternate Format Text

Alternate (or alternative) Format Text is typically a request for a required textbook or article used in a class in a format other than standard print such as digital or electronic (e.g., PDF), braille or audio. Most alternative format texts require technology for access, such as screen reading software like Jaws or Kurzweil. The type of technology required depends on the format of the text and the user’s experience and preference.

Students requesting texts in an alternative format must be registered with Student Disability Services (SDS) and be approved for this accommodation. Students also must be enrolled in the course for which the text has been requested.

Students requesting alternate format text will need to do the following:

  • Contact the instructor/department/bookstore to find out what texts are required for each class you are registered in.
  • Check if your textbook is part of the Course Materials Initiative (CMI) or is provided in a digital format from the Bookstore.
  • Check as you may be able to purchase your text in digital format from the Vital Source Bookshelf. Publishers do not provide alternative format texts if it is available through Vital Source.
  • If your book cannot be obtained digitally through the steps above, please obtain the following information for each text: Title, Edition, Author, Publisher and ISBN# to submit your request through SDS.
  • Submit the above information through the following hyperlink Alternate Format Text Request form

Students should be advised that:

  • You are required to purchase a copy of each text book that you are requesting in alternative format and be able to provide proof of purchase/receipt (or rental) to SDS.
  • Depending on the format requested and where it is being created/sent from, texts in alternative format may take 1-6 weeks (or longer) to arrive in the SDS office.
  • SDS strongly encourages that requests are received 8 weeks in advance of the start of the course/semester you are taking the class.
  • You may request alternate format texts at any time during the semester, however you need to be aware of the above stated timelines for completion.
  • Alternate format texts obtained through SDS cannot be shared with other students as this behavior is a violation of copyright law.

SDS will make every effort to obtain texts in the student’s preferred format; however some texts may not be available in every format requested. In this case, SDS will contact you to discuss alternatives.

Please note: If a text is unavailable from the publisher or other resources, SDS can manually scan and convert texts into an electronic format from the hard copy. This process may take up to 4 weeks or longer depending on the editing involved and may require the spine of a hard copy textbook to be broken.

To learn more about UMBC’s Course Materials Initiative (CMI) please go to the bookstore website. If you need to opt out of the CMI you must submit the Consent for CMI Removal Form to the bookstore by the last day of add/drop.