With equity in mind, WMU is committed to providing accessible textbook services to our students and community. Many students use alternative format books, not just students with visual impairments. Persons with learning disabilities, motor disabilities, or different learning styles also rely on alternative formats for access to information and knowledge.
It is absolutely necessary to ensure that your textbooks are compliant with Section 508 and the WCAG guidelines. Providing flexible learning materials is also one of the cornerstones of Universal Design for Learning.
These services are provided at no cost to registered students who are both deemed eligible for alternative formats and using the material in WMU credit-granting courses.
Selecting accessible textbooks for your course
Alternative formats may include:
- Braille (literary and scientific)
- Large print
- Tactile graphics
- Electronic documents
Until recently, most textbooks have not been available in alternative formats to purchase directly from university bookstores or publishers. It is highly recommended that you proactively research and select textbooks for your course that already have alternative and accessible formats available.
If the publisher's website does not include information about alternative formats, try searching the websites listed below. Publishers are starting to provide more titles in accessible formats for purchase directly via platforms like:
- Read How You Want
- Accessible Textbook Finder
- Project Gutenberg
You can also start with a publisher's representative. Ask them about e-text when you begin negotiations to purchase materials.
Helping your students access alternative formats
Because the request and creation process for accessible textbook formats can take time, it is important that students have access to what texts are required for courses on time. The Higher Education Opportunity Act of 2008 (HEOA) requires all institutions receiving federal financial aid to "publish," in time for registration, a list of all required and recommended books and other course materials for all classes offered at the institution. Having the textbook information available at the time of course registration can better help students with and without disabilities to better financially plan and get textbooks that are in an accessible format before the start of the course.
If an accessible version of the book cannot be purchased or acquired from the publisher or other 3rd party source, the student will have to purchase a copy of the inaccessible book to have one created. The Disability Services for Students office has information for students to request textbooks in alternative formats; they will scan and process the book in-house to make a readable PDF of the text. This process can take anywhere from a few hours to several days, depending on the length and formatting of the book.
Additional Information and Contacts
Student responsibilities, textbook information, and student request forms can be accessed on the Disability Student Services Textbooks in Alternate Formats page
For questions or concerns about Textbook accessibility, contact Kellie.L.Skiba@wmich.edu
For questions about purchasing and testing digital courseware and applications, contact email@example.com