Alternate Format Textbooks - Policy and Procedures

Binghamton University students whose disabilities prevent them from reading standard instructional materials may request assistance from Services for Students with Disabilities (SSD) in obtaining their academic readings in alternate format.

Comprehensive disability documentation from a professional licensed or certified to diagnose and treat the individual's disability(ies) is required.

Possible alternate formats include:

  • Digital format (PDF, MS Word, KESI) for use with text-reading computer software programs such as Adobe Reader and Kurzweil 3000.
  • Braille
  • Large Print

Please meet with the SSD Director or Learning Disabilities Specialist to discuss your interest in and eligibility for alternate format text accommodations.  If approved for alternate format text accommodations, it is your responsibility to initiate your request with SSD's Adaptive Technology Specialist.

Please follow the directions for requesting alternate format texts below.

How to request alternate format text course materials:

  1. Look up the required book(s) for each of your courses at the Binghamton University Official Bookstore web page.
  2. If no books are listed for a course, please email your instructor to identify required readings. If they do not respond within a week, let the Adaptive Technology Specialist know and we will follow up with your instructor.
  3. If book information is available, before you request any books, please note:
    • If you require a book (such as a classic literature or philosophy book) written pre-1923, please check to see if it is available as a free public domain download.
    • Check to see if your book is available at If you do not already have a free membership through Bookshare, please email the Learning Disabilities Specialist to be authorized for a free membership.
  4. If the book you need is not on the above websites, fill out SSD's Request for Textbooks in Alternate Format form.

In order for SSD to give you alternate format books, you must:

  1. Purchase the textbook and present a receipt to SSD.
  2. Read and sign the "Agreement on the Use of Recorded, Electronic or Other Alternatively Formatted Course material" copyright agreement form.
  3. Agree to comply with all provisions of the U.S. Copyright Act.

Tips to receive your materials in a timely manner:

  • Due to the nature of work and amount of requests submitted, it is critical that you submit your book requests at least 4 weeks prior to the start of a semester. Students who wait until the last minute to confirm their schedules or their need for alternate format text materials may experience a delay in receiving them.
  • Provide a receipt of purchase with your book request.
  • If SSD informs you that a digital copy is not available from the publisher, bring a copy of the book to SSD as soon as possible so we may create an alternate format version from the hard copy.

Campus-based Text Conversion Services

SSD attempts to obtain alternate format textbooks from the publisher or other approved resources. However, if a digital or audio version of the book is unavailable, SSD will offer to remove the binding from the student's purchased copy of the book so the pages can be fed into a high-speed scanner and converted into a digital format. The original paper copy of the book will be rebound in a readily usable format and returned to the student. The student will receive the textbook in the requested digital format (PDF, KESI, or MS Word) so that various computer software programs will be able to read the text aloud to the student. SSD works with students to teach them how to use these adaptive computer technologies.

Other Resources for Students to Obtain Audio Books

  1. Bookshare ( offers free memberships for qualified students to download textbooks through their accessible online library.
  2. Learning Ally ( offers fee-based student memberships and downloads of textbook audio recordings.
  3. Many of the major textbook publishers allow students the option of purchasing their textbook in paper or digital format, as seen on the individual publisher websites.

Text-To-Speech software programs

There are several ways to access your texts in an alternate text format: 

  1. Natural Reader( is a free online text-to-speech program that allows you to cut and paste into the reader, upload documents, and save written text to MP3 or WAV audio files.
  2. Balabolka ( is a free and safe download text-to-speech program.
  3. Adobe Reader ( reads aloud documents in PDF format.
  4. Kurzweil is a web-based educational text-to-speech software that allows students to access their files from anywhere. All SSD students can acquire a Kurzweil username and password. Please email the Adaptive Technology Specialist for additional information. 

Remember, you are always welcome to arrange a meeting with the Adaptive Technology Specialist to go over your book requests or how to use various assistive technologies.

Last Updated: 9/30/15