Alternative Text

Students with print disabilities, such as visual impairments and certain learning disabilities, may require textbooks and material in an alternative format. The following policy has been created to provide information and direction regarding alternative text services the Disability Support Services (DSS) Office provides, as well as guidelines relative to how these services may be obtained from this office. This policy is reviewed and modified on a regular basis to meet the ongoing needs of students with print disabilities at Canisius College.


Policy and Procedure

  • Alternative text accommodations are provided to students who are registered with DSS and have been approved for this accommodation by the Director.
  • Students requesting alternative text must be enrolled in the course for which the alternate text is being requested. Requests for alternative text must be received with each new semester as well as each new class.  It is recommended that requests be made at lest 4-6 weeks in advance of classes starting. If the student has trouble obtaining this information from the course instructor, the student must contact the Director of DSS as soon as the delay is known. The student is still responsible for purchasing the textbook(s) appropriate for each class.
  • In order to receive alternate text materials, the student must verify that the instructional materials have been purchased and/or ordered.  DSS will then or order materials on behalf of the student.
  • In order to secure your request for alternate text (e-text, Braille, tactile graphics, large print) please complete the on-line Alternative Text Request form.  Please complete one form per each alternate text service needed.
  • Alternate text requests should be submitted as soon as the student enrolls in a course. Late requests will be honored with the understanding that DSS will attempt to complete the work in a timely fashion. Turn-around times for alternate text requests are determined on a case by case basis. Upon review of material to be formatted and converted, DSS will notify the student of the projected completion date.

Textbooks previously recorded: 

  • Each student requiring an electronic version of their text will be encouraged to sign up with the Recording for the Blind and Dyslexic lending library (RFB&D) and/or other agencies as suggested by the DSS Office. The student is responsible for the lifetime membership fee.
  • Each student will be encouraged to contact RFB&D or other agencies immediately to inquire if required textbooks are available on cassette tape or computer disk.  If so, the student will be encouraged to order the books from RFB&D or other agencies. Information for RFB&D and other agencies are available in DSS, or by going to their website.
  • The DSS Office will explore the feasibility of having the textbook recorded on campus or make other accommodations.  The final decision as to which accommodation to use is the college's; student preference will be taken under consideration, but not necessarily determine the final decision.
  • If there is enough time to send the book out to be recorded, the DSS office will obtain the required copies of the book, if possible with funding from Vocational and Educational Services for Individuals with Disabilities (VESID).  The DSS Office will arrange for RFB&D or another agency to record the book and send the cassette tapes directly to the student as they are recorded.

Course materials recorded on campus: 

  • The student will deliver a copy of the materials and/or course syllabus and all "due dates" (a course syllabus is helpful for this purpose) to the DSS Office as soon as they can be obtained after registration for classes.  However, the deadline for getting materials to be taped to the DSS Office is at least two weeks before the student needs the first reading assignment on tape.
  • When course materials are delivered to the DSS Office with less than two weeks notice for taping, DSS will inform the student how much of the material can be recorded in the time available. Although every effort will be made to accommodate student needs, the DSS Office cannot guarantee recording of materials without two weeks’ notice.

Options for obtaining information in multi-media form:

An option for DSS students may be to request to have materials scanned and burned onto a CD ROM. The student then may request, providing his/her personal computer has enough memory (ideally 28 Megs of RAM) to obtain a copy of a speech program that will read the materials burned onto the CD ROM, at his/her own convenience. A mini disc player is also an possible option.  interested student should contact DSS.

  • Defective tapes/discs: If for any reason a cassette tape or disc is faulty, or the recording or reading is not of good quality, the student should tell the DSS Office immediately.  If needed, DSS will arrange for the tape/disc to be fixed or re-recorded as soon as possible.  If a reader's speaking voice is not clear for any reason, the student should explain the problem to the DSS Office immediately.
  • Copyright issues: Because DSS does not have copyright clearance for books, tapes and discs, they cannot be distributed to students unless they own a print copy of the material.
  • Returning Materials: The student will return all materials, including CD's, tapes, players, etc. borrowed from the DSS Office by the end of the semester.

Unformatted Text:

  • When students choose to request unformatted e-text (text in its native format from the publisher) hard copy materials will not be required. DSS’s ability to deliver unformatted text is directly impacted by the student’s timing of request to DSS and the publisher’s response to the request for e-text.
  • DSS will make every effort to work with publishers to receive e-text in a timely manner and in a useable format.
  • All requests for unformatted e-text will be made for a preferred and useable format.  Requests for formatted e-text will require the student to electronically submit the Alternative Text Request form online.

Formatted Text: 

  • Students may also have a need to request formatted/edited text.  Requests for formatted e-text will require the student to electronically submit the Alternative Text Request form online. The student will also need to deliver a hard copy textbook and instructor's class syllabus to the DSS Office.
  • Alternate text production for formatted text will begin when DSS has received the online request form, the hardcopy textbook and the instructor's course syllabus. Students will not their hard copy materials back from DSS upon completion of the conversion to alternative text.
  • DSS will request e-text directly from publishers for all requests. If the alternate text request is for formatted text and there is no response from the publisher, the College will scan the hard copy materials and begin production. The time frame will be established on a case by case basis based on student need.
  • In order to meet immediate needs of as many students as possible, formatted alternate text may be provided in stages based on the course syllabus and direction from the student making the request.
  • Students can produce hard copy alternate text, such as Braille, from electronic files provided by DSS or large print by using the copy machine.
  • In the event that a student drops the class, or there is a change in the alternate text need, the student is to notify DSS so the office can respond accordingly by either discontinuing or modifying the current and future job(s) in progress.

If further information is necessary or in the event of complaints, please contact the director of the DSS Office at (716) 888-3748.