Adaptive Technology Centre

Queen's University
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Adaptive Technology Centre

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Alternate Format Services

Requests for textbooks or course materials in alternate formats (such as e-text, digital audio, Braille) can be made through the Library by emailing Carol Tennant at or visiting Carol in her office, Room 120c, the Adaptive Technology Centre. 

This service is available to students with a print disability who are registered with the Queen's Students Accessibility Services Office and have been given alternate format as an accommodation by a Accessibility Services advisor. A print disability or a “perceptual disability” is defined under the Canadian Copyright Act, as:

… a disability that prevents or inhibits a person from reading or hearing a literary, musical, dramatic or artistic work in its original format, and includes such a disability resulting from

  1. severe or total impairment of sight or hearing or the inability to focus or move one’s eyes,
  2. the inability to hold or manipulate a book, or
  3. an impairment relating to comprehension.

To facilitate the alternate format acquisition and transcription process, students are responsible for providing the material they need to have scanned, as well as other necessary information such as course outlines and reading lists.

Students interested in this service are urged to contact Carol as soon as possible.

Types of Alternate Formats Available

  • Readable PDF;
  • Microsoft Word;
  • Large Print;
  • MP3; and
  • Braille.

Purchase of Course Textbooks and Course Readers

All students are required by copyright law to purchase the textbook or course reader before they can receive their accessible formats. Therefore, students must first provide Carol with proof of purchase (e.g., a sales receipt) to initiate the alternate format process. Students are also required to read and sign a copyright agreement governing the usage of the alt-format materials.

How are Textbooks/Readings Produced?

Carol works with the students, faculty, and the campus bookstore to locate the textbook and reading information for each course the student is enrolled in. Once this information is acquired, there are a number of options to locate the textbook/readings in the accessible format the student requires. The following steps are undertaken:

  • Search of in-house collection of accessible formats from previous semesters;
  • Search of on-line repositories of accessible formats (such as AERO and ACE);
  • Search and request the textbook from the publisher in either PDF or Word on behalf of students;
  • Transcribe (convert into alternate format) and edit textbooks and course materials that are not available from external resources.

Sources for Alternate Formats

ACE: Accessible Content E-Portal 

ACE is a repository of accessible format texts available to users with print disabilities at participating Ontario Council of University Libraries (OCUL) institutions. 

ACE libguide for staff:

ACE libguide for students: 

ACE Tutorial: Getting Started

ACE Tutorial: Navigating & Searching

AERO: Alternate Education Resources Ontario

AERO is a web-based digital repository operated by the Ministry of Education in partnership with the Ministry of Training, Colleges and Universities.

Other Alternate Format Resources

The public library can help you find accessible formats through the Centre for Equitable Library Access (CELA). Membership with CELA gives you access to Bookshare, an accessible online library of over 185,000 titles.