Access to Textbooks and Other Print Materials
Students with qualifying print disabilities may request required textbooks and/or readings for their courses in Alternate Format Text (AFT). Examples of print disabilities may include dyslexia, blindness or low-vision, and some physical impairments.
AFT is typically either voiced (read out loud) by Text to Speech (TTS) software on computers or other digital devices, or rendered by a refreshable braille display. AR contacts the book publisher to request the AFT or, if none is available, to ask permission to create one by scanning.
Alternate Formats include:
- Word, text or PDF documents
- Specialized formats like DAISY or EPUB
- Online eBooks in formats that can be accessed by TTS software
Braille and large print books may also be requested for courses such as advanced math and foreign language. Please allow a minimum of six months for print braille requests.
US Copyright Laws make provisions for the use of AFT by people with disabilities. However, anyone who receives AFT is responsible for following all other relevant copyright laws. This means the student with the AFT files should not share, reproduce, or otherwise illegally distribute the files at any time.
If you are a student with a disability who has been approved for this accommodation by AR staff and would like to request AFT books, please complete the Alternate Format Book Request Form at the bottom of this page. If you haven't met with AR staff, please find out how to request an accommodation.
Students should request course books six weeks in advance of classes to allow for processing by the book publishers and/or AR staff. This may require contacting instructors before classes begin to ask for a reading list or syllabus.
Students who request AFT must still buy a hard copy of the book and present a receipt to AR as proof of purchase before receiving the files. Printed or forwarded email receipts for online purchases are sufficient. Please contact AR if you have questions about proof of purchase.
When a publisher does not have a version of a textbook in the alternate format the student requires, AR gains permission to scan the book using Optical Character Recognition (OCR) software. During this process, the binding of the book is removed. AR has the book spiral bound when the process is complete so that it can still be used, however, the book usually can't be resold afterwards.
The time needed to scan a book varies depending on the material. Most standard textbooks can be scanned, proofread, and rebound in 7-10 business days after AR receives the material.
Requests for scanned PDFs or Library Books should be sent directly by email to DSRVTextbooks@vpsa.buffalo.edu.
Accessible Math and Special Character Sets
Math and other special character sets pose unique challenges for accessibility. AR is able to process documents with mathematic formulas and other special character sets on a limited basis. Students in need of accessible texts containing math and/or special characters should contact AR as soon as possible after admission to UB or enrollment in a course that requires such materials.