What is the Alternate Format Accommodation?

Alternate Formats refers to printed materials provided in a different, accessible, format.  While this can mean braille or large print, it primarily referred to accessibly digital formats that can be read accurately by specialized software. (Like text-to-speech or screen reading tools.)

Due to the time-intensive nature of this process, if we are aware a student may be in your class next semester SAS will attempt to reach out to you before the start of class to gain access to course materials.

If your course already uses accessible material we might not need to convert any documents. The following information provides a guide for how to find and create accessible materials.

Providing Accessible Material

The legal standard is that instructional materials must be available in an accessible format at the same time, and with the same ease of use that materials are provided to students without disabilities. It is the responsibility of faculty, administration, and staff to provide accessible course materials for students. Accessible materials include:

  1. Readings, handouts, assignments, and exams
  2. Course websites
  3. Video and other media

Information about video and other media is provided on our Accessible Audio and Video page.

The most effective way for students to access accessible course material is if you plan your course to include material that is already accessible.

Finding and Creating Accessible Material

There are many ways to find material that is already accessible. Please note, however, that a document is not inherently accessible if it is in a digital format. It must be created using standard accessibility practices and guidelines.
  • IC Library – the IC library has thousands of accessible resources and open educational resources (OER) available.
  • Akademos – IC’s new tool for finding textbooks allows students to purchase electronic copies of textbooks. Purchasing an accessible book saves them the additional step of having SAS find a digital copy.
  • TopHat – if you use TopHat for your course, you will have access to their library of OER.
  • Online Articles – online articles are a good source of content but beware of access restrictions.
  • Online Journals
  1. Usability: provide a logical navigational structure that is consistent from page to page, use clear fonts, straightforward language, and lists where appropriate.
  2. Headings: use headings correctly to organize the page. Page structure should look like a table of contents. Do not use formatting (bold, larger text, underlining) to create page hierarchies.
  3. Color: be aware of your use of color. Make sure there is sufficient contrast and do not use color only to convey meaning.
  4. Links: give links descriptive names. For example, use "If you need accommodations, visit the Student Accessibility Services website" and not "If you need accommodations, click here."
  5. Tables: use tables for data, not for layout. Tables should be formatted to have rows, columns, and headers.
  6. Images: include alt text for images and other non-text content. Do not use text in graphics or images as the only way to access information (this is the equivalent of trying to get a screen reader to read a photograph).
  7. Linked documents: all documents and downloadable resources should be accessible.
  8. Videos: all videos should be captioned (to an acceptable standard) and a transcript should also be available.
  9. Forms: forms should be accessible.
  10. Keyboard access: page content and functions should be accessible using a keyboard only (i.e., navigation without using a mouse).
  • When creating new documents, use built-in accessibility checkers in Microsoft 365 products such as Word and PowerPoint
  • If you assign a pdf ask yourself: "Is it legible? Is it current? Is it accessible?"
  • Test your documents with a text-to-speech (TTS) reader
    • Visit the website: NaturalReader Online Text-to-speech tool
    • Try uploading one of the documents you assign to the class.
    • If the tool is able to read the text out loud (accurately), the document is accessible.
    • If the tool is not able to read the text or if the text is read inaccurately, the document is not accessible.