Alternative Format / E-Text - Information, Procedure and Request Form


At least 6 weeks prior to the start of the semester, students must contact their instructors to discuss any alternative text needs for their courses. Students must work with instructors to identify any required textbooks, in-class handouts, Sakai or other materials posted in a classroom management system, and any other required readings that will need to be made available in an accessible format.​

  • First students should investigate to see if the book they need is already in a digital/alternative format by searching the AccessText Accessible Textbook Finder. If the publication they are looking for is available in an alternative format the AccessText Accessible Textbook Finder may indicate the source and if that is available to the student then please go ahead and source the publication that suits their particular needs. The AccessText Network (ATN) helps college students with print disabilities by connecting their disability service office directly with leading textbook publishers to obtain electronic files. These files are used to create accessible versions of the textbooks. Please note that students must meet the qualification of having a print-related (i.e. mobility, visual and/or reading) disability in order to receive AccessText services and textbooks. UNC/ARS has a membership to obtain books found through the Access Text Network because students cannot order books themselves.
  • As more books in alternative formats become available commercially students should also search on-line vendors.

Books Available from Bookshare, the National Library Service, Project Gutenberg or Vital Source:

Books available via any of these sources or commercially available should be ordered direct by students; there is no need to submit the Alternate Textbook Request Form for that book. To order accessible electronic books directly from Bookshare, the National Library Service, Project Gutenberg or Vital Source, go to the relevant link below and order the book:

  • Bookshare:

    • "Is an accessible online library for people with print disabilities. Free memberships for qualified U.S. students and schools." To sign up for bookshare and obtain electronic books, go to the Bookshare sign up page -
  • National Library Service

    • "Is a network of regional and subregional libraries provides a free library service to persons who are unable to use standard printed material because of visual or physical disabilities. Library patrons can expect to borrow audio or braille books such as they might find in print at a local public library. Books and magazines in audio form (talking books) and braille are delivered to eligible readers by postage-free mail and are returned in the same manner. Specially designed phonographs and cassette players are also loaned free to persons who borrow talking books from their library."
  • Project Gutenberg:

    • "Offers over 40,000 free ebooks: choose among free epub books, free kindle books, download them or read them online. We carry high quality ebooks: All our ebooks were previously published by bona fide publishers. We digitized and diligently proofread them with the help of thousands of volunteers."
  • VitalSource:

    • "Is an e-textbook platform that uses VitalSource Bookshelf which can be accessed online or via download, and is not tied to any one type of device. Bookshelf apps are available for Windows, Mac, iOS, and Android. These applications are also industry leaders in accessibility for disabled students. Information about accessibility and VitalSource can be found at the VitalSource Accessibility Support page -"

Books Available from Access Text Network or Learning Ally:

ARS will order the book for a student after they complete and submit the Alternative Format Request Form. ARS will request the ordered textbook and if available this will be in the student's preferred format. If the book is not available in the preferred format, ARS will take steps to undertake a conversion or advise the student on steps taken to access it in the preferred format.

  1. If ARS staff discover an accessible version of the course materials are publicly and/or commercially available, students will be referred to that source and the request may be canceled. Please note that it can take time for publishers to respond and ARS has no control over the timeliness of their response, so requests should be submitted as early as possible.
  2. To comply with copyright law, students must obtain a copy of each title requested. Proof of ownership must accompany the Alternative Format Request including but not limited to requests for textbooks, course packets and lab manuals. Procuring the alternative text will not begin until proof of ownership is supplied.
  3. A scan or copy of the proof of ownership is preferred over the original. Acceptable forms of proof of ownership include:
    1. Dated bookstore receipt of textbook purchase or rental
    2. Shipment confirmation email or packing slip from online purchase or rental
    3. In lieu of the above, the student can present their textbook(s) to Accessibility Resources & Service (ARS) staff for in-person verification.
  4. Proof of ownership is NOT required for course readings supplied by the instructor whether in class or online via Sakai. If you have any questions regarding proof of ownership, please contact ARS at
  5. Students should submit their Alternative Format Requests and proof of ownership as early as possible. ARS will begin accepting requests for the upcoming term at the opening of that semester’s priority registration. Waiting until classes begin, when staff are at their busiest, could mean a significant delay in getting materials. Depending on the date of submission, ARS staff may also ask for a copy of the course syllabi.
  6. Students will still need to submit proof of ownership, which can be submitted in one of the following ways:
    1. Upload the proof of ownership to the request form
    2. Email the completed request and proof of ownership as attachments to ARS at
  7. All submitted Alternative Format Requests should include the course name and section number, text title name and edition, and the 10- or 13-digit ISBN. Incomplete information can result in conversion of the incorrect title and may delay fulfillment of an Alternative Format Request.
  8. Production of materials usually takes up to 2 weeks. Students must allow sufficient time to process the requests. To expedite fulfillment, a different accessible format may be provided as long as such format is effective in providing access for the student.
  9. Braille users must make arrangements to meet with ARS at least 8 weeks prior to start of each semester. Depending on the complexity of material, ARS may not be able to acquire the text with limited notice and some material will require a two-semester advance notice. Please note that braille materials will be sent to a third party for production.
  10. ARS will notify students via email when requested materials are complete. Students must retrieve alternative format materials in a timely manner and may be required to sign or reply to the email acknowledging receipt.
  11. Students must notify ARS immediately of any changes to class schedules, course syllabi, or if there are any difficulties with your alternative formatted materials.
  12. Students must return all alternative text materials and/or leased equipment to ARS on or before the last day of finals. Failure to comply may result in a flag being placed on your student record or fees associated with replacing equipment.
  13. Materials provided by the ARS may not be reproduced or shared. All alternative format files downloaded to a student’s computer must be deleted at the end of the semester.
  14. Students must adhere to the UNC Honor Code, set forth in the Instrument, in their use of alternative format materials.
Publication 1
Publication 2 (click to open)
Publication 3 (click to open)
Publication 4 (click to open)
Publication 5 (click to open)