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Alternate Format Textbooks or Course Materials

Policy and Procedures for Obtaining Textbooks or Course Materials in Alternate Format through Penn State’s Office for Disability Services at University Park

The Office for Disability Services (ODS) at Penn State provides alternate format of textbooks and course materials to students with disabilities who have been approved by ODS following the stated policies and procedures for requesting academic adjustments (See the following link for further information: Eligibility for Reasonable Accommodations. The use of alternate formats for course materials is to provide an academic adjustment ensuring students have equal access to educational materials.

Alternate formats are only provided for textbooks and course materials that are required for the course. (Leisure readings will not be provided by ODS in alternate formats.)

A. Student Responsibilities in Obtaining Alternate Formats of Textbooks or Course Materials:


In order to receive a textbook or course material in an alternate format, the students must:

  1. Officially register with ODS and have a documented disability that requires alternate formats as a reasonable academic adjustment supported by the documentation.
  2. Enroll in courses at University Park for the semester that the alternate format for texts or course materials is requested.
  3. Meet with their Disability Specialist from ODS and have approval for alternate formats for texts or course materials as an academic adjustment.
  4. Review the Chaffee Amendment.
  5. Sign the Student Acknowledge Form.
  6. Student may be referred to Assistive Technology Specialist
  7. Purchase a copy of any textbook or course packet for which an alternate format is requested (this is a copyright requirement), and retain sales receipt to provide to ODS as proof of purchase.
  8. Complete and submit the Alternate Format Request Form provided on the ODS website.
  9. Follow ODS procedures regarding obtaining alternative formats for textbooks and course materials listed below.


B. Procedures for Submitting Alternate Format Request Forms:


1. Alternate Format Text Request Forms Submitted by the Timeline Date:

ODS has determined specific timeline dates for submitting request forms, depending on the type of alternate format requested.

Requests for the following formats to be submitting two (2) months prior to the beginning of the semester:

  • Braille
  • Tactile Images
  • DAISY
  • STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics), if using a screen reader such as JAWS.
  • Word (if using a screen reader such as JAWS)

Requests for the following formats to be submitting four (4) weeks, one month prior to the beginning of the semester:

  • PDF
  • Kurzweil 3000 formatted files
  • MP 3 formatted files
  • Large Print
  • HTML


These timelines should provide ODS with sufficient time to contact instructors and other alternative media resources in order to request a copy of the text for scanning. If a copy of the text is available through any of these sources, the text will be processed into the requested format, and ODS will notify the student when the text is available either on the University's PASS space storage or within the Universal Library in the web version of Kurzweil 3000.

If ODS is not able to obtain a copy of the text through any resource, then ODS will need to use the student’s textbook for processing into an alternative format. The student will be notified by ODS and will be responsible for providing his/her textbook to ODS for processing. The same timelines as listed above should be followed when a student is providing his/her own text to ODS for processing into an alternate format. Student texts will be taken apart and rebound with a spiral binding.

2. Alternate Format Request Forms Submitted After the Timeline Date and Prior to the Beginning of the Semester:

Alternate Format Request forms submitted after the timeline date will be processed on a first come, first served basis. Submitting forms after the timeline date may delay the processing of the request and alternate formats may not be available by the beginning of the semester.

3. Alternate Format Request Forms Submitted After the Beginning of a Semester:

Alternate Format Request forms submitted after the beginning of the semester will be processed on a first come, first served basis.

Students submitting Alternate Format Request Forms after the beginning of the semester may choose to provide their text to ODS for processing. When a student’s text is used for processing, it may take up to fourteen (14) business days after ODS receives the text before the alternate format is available through on the University's PASS space storage or within the Universal Library in the web version of Kurzweil 3000. ODS will require the student submit the syllabus of the course and will attempt to scan chapters as needed. However, the entire book may not be available until up to fourteen (14) business days after receipt of the textbook or materials. Student texts will be taken apart and rebound with a spiral binding.

C. Changes to Academic Schedule:

New Alternate Format Request Forms must be submitted when any changes occur to a student’s schedule (drop/add/withdrawal from courses). ODS is not automatically notified when students change courses. Students must inform ODS of any changes.

D. Textbook Receipts:

Students must provide ODS with a receipt that shows the student has purchased the text in order to receive the alternate format requested. This is a copyright requirement. It is a violation of Federal Law to share, duplicate, or distribute the information provided as an alternate format (See Chaffee Agreement). Sharing, duplicating, or distributing electronic texts could result in legal action.

E. Other Course Material:

Students must provide ODS with electronic or typewritten copies of in-class handouts and other required reading materials in a timely manner. These materials will be processed on an “as needed” basis.

F. Problems with Alternative Formats:

Students must inform ODS of any problems using an alternate format. ODS will make every effort to resolve the problem, and if necessary, ODS will replace the defective material with a usable copy.

G. Return of Alternative Format:

Students should understand the alternate format is a personal copy, and it is a copyright violation to sell or reproduce the alternate format. If students plan to retain the textbook, then they do not need to delete the alternate format from their computers. If students plan on selling their textbook, then they will be required to delete the file from their personal computer.

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