Disability Services

Self-Help Alt Media Resources

There are several “self-help” options available for obtaining reading materials in various digital formats. You may contact the Assistant Director AT & Access at j.dell@csuohio.edu if you need assistance using any of these self-help options. If under these Alternative Media Guidelines ODS would otherwise produce alt media for a required or recommended reading, using self-help options does not preclude you from obtaining further editing by ODS of the electronic copy you self-scanned or self-converted.

Purchasing Accessible Electronic Books

There are platforms for buying or renting eBooks that provide accessible documents that can easily meet the need of most student alternative media request. If students purchase or rent eBooks, we expect students to purchase the book through an accessible platform. Disability & Testing Services provides electronic files for print copies of materials and will not guarantee the provision of alternative formats for purchases of eBooks. If students purchase or rent from accessible sources, they will not need to request materials through Disability & Testing Services and will have an accessible product immediately. The following are a list of electronic textbook platforms that are known for providing accessible products.


There are many databases/inventories of electronic books/materials. You may be able to locate an existing electronic copy of the book you need on your own. Before submitting an alt media request for a book, you are encouraged to first check these primary e-book databases for availability of an existing electronic copy. The following list of sources may provide an accessible copy that will meet your needs.

  • BookShare – This is a repository of books that were digitized and uploaded by other users of accessible electronic files. Students are eligible for a free membership under a Department of Education grant.
  • LearningAlly – This is a service that provides human readers. It has many textbooks use din higher education. This service is not free, but if students are Opportunity for Ohioans with Disabilities clients the cost may be covered as part of your vocational plan.
  • National Library Service – The BART services through the Library of Congresses’ National Library Service provides audio books for patrons. This resource is great for novels and popular reading materials. They do not have textbook style materials.
  • Project Gutenberg – This is a free book repository for materials that are in public domain because copyright has expired. It is great for accessing classic literature.
  • LibriVox – This is a repository of audio books that, like with Project Gutenberg, are in public domain because copyright has expired.

If the electronic copy you locate via these databases requires additional editing or conversion, ODS will do such further editing or conversion provided a) it is a required or recommended course reading, b) the request was submitted in the Disability Services Online System, and c) the electronic document is not technically “locked” so as to preclude further editing or conversion (in which case you may have to provide a different version, e.g., hard copy, of the book/material to us).

If you need assistance, the Alt Media Specialist can help complete the paperwork for you to setup an account with BookShare or LearningAlly.


There are several options available that you may want to use to self-scan hard copy printed materials. Students can use Scanning apps like Microsoft Lens or Adobe Scan to digitize materials and apply Optical Character Recognition to be able to read the text. There are also hardware scanners in the Michael Schwartz Library, IS&T computer labs, and the Assistive Technology Lab (RT103). These scanners can be used to digitize materials from books or handouts to then use optical character recognition programs to prepare for reading.

Disability & Testing Services makes several OCR applications available for student use. It is common that documents are distributed as electronic files including PDF documents. Students can use OCR applications to read these documents or to recognize the text in documents they scan themselves. The Scan feature in Read&Write can apply OCR to documents and convert them into other formats like more accessible PDF or Word documents. The JAWS or ZoomText Fusion Convenient OCR utility can quickly grab and read text from inaccessible documents where the images of the document are of good quality. There are applications available in the Assistive Technology Lab like Kurzweil 1000, OpenBook, ABBYY Fine Reader, and Adobe Acrobat which students can use for recognizing text in documents as well. Ask the Alt Media Specialist or Assistant Director AT & Access for more information.

Students at the Assistive Technology Lab who are unable to use the AT Lab self-scanners, due to a disability, will be assisted at the AT Lab upon requested appointment. An advance appointment with the Assistant Director AT & Access is suggested, if scanning assistance/instruction is needed.

Video Magnifiers

If students are requesting documents through Alternative media requests to make text size or color contrast adjustments, they may be able to use video magnifiers to assist them with reading. Disability & Testing Services has a broad range of video magnifiers for students to borrow for both on and off campus use. Contact the Assistant Director AT & Access for additional information.