Process for Obtaining Alternate Format Textbooks

Copyright Information

Section 32 of the Copyright Act allows non-profit organizations to make a copy of a literary, musical, artistic or dramatic work in a format specially designed for persons with a perceptual disability. Perceptual disabilities include:

  • severe or total impairment of sight or hearing or the inability to focus or move one's eyes

  • the inability to hold or manipulate a book

  • an impairment relating to comprehension

Students with perceptual disabilities can obtain alternate format materials through the following process. Requesting, obtaining and producing alternate format versions of textbooks can be time consuming, so it is recommended that students begin this process 4-6 weeks before the beginning of the coming semester:

1. Meet with your Access Advisor

Meet with your Access Advisor to verify your eligibility for alternate format materials. Once verified, you will be referred to the Advisor, Assistive Technology and Services to discuss formats and possible additional technology supports (such as screen readers, text-to-speech software, and so on).

2. Find your textbook information

To verify your textbooks for the coming semester you have several options:

  • Visit the University of Calgary bookstore, either in person (located on the 1st floor of the MacEwan Student Centre on the main campus) or online. The bookstore website includes information on Continuing Education textbooks. 

  • Consult the specific department website for the class syllabus.

  • Contact the class instructor.

Please note: coursepacks are not available in electronic format through publishers. If you wish to have an electronic version of a coursepack the paper copy will need to be unbound and scanned. Given the quality of the paper version, be aware that the scanned version may be unreadable or of poor quality.

3. Provide the textbook information to Student Accessibility Services

Once you have verified your textbook information, you can submit an online Request for Alternate Format Textbooks.

4. Locating the files

  • SAS will contact the publishers to try and obtain electronic files for each title

  • Receiving a textbook from the publisher can take several weeks - remember, start the process early!

  • If electronic files are not available from the publisher, the textbook will need to be cut and scanned. The Assistive Services Coordinator will contact you to make these arrangements.

  • If electronic files are available, they will be provided to the student on a CD or DVD, free of charge. Students have the option of having the files placed on a USB key, which they must provide.

  • The Assistive Services Coordinator will contact you via e-mail when files are ready for pick-up.

  • The student must provide proof of purchase, in the form of a receipt, before electronic files are released