Alternate Formats for Print Materials

The Alternate Media Office of the Disabled Students Programs and Services provides alternatives to print materials such as textbooks, course readers, teachers' handouts, and examinations.

The Alternate Media Office can provide qualifying students with formats such as Braille, large print, audio, or electronic text.

The Alternate Media Office is located on the Ocean campus in Batmale 338. Please call 415-452-5481 to make an appointment.

In order to receive alternate formats, students must first be qualified and referred by a DSPS counselor.

Qualifying For Alternate Formats

Before requesting alternate formats, a CCSF student must meet with a DSPS counselor. The counselor will determine whether the student meets the legal requirements for print-related accommodations.

If you qualify for print accommodations, the counselor will refer you to the Alternate Media Specialist. The counselor will either schedule you for an appointment with the Alternate Media Specialist or the Specialist will call you to schedule the appointment.

In addition, the counselor may refer you to the Ocean or John Adams Accessible Computer Laboratories for training on adaptive technology.

To schedule an appointment with a DSPS counselor, please call 415-452-5481 (voice) or 415-452-5451 (TDD). You can also email

If you are not able to come to campus, telephone appointments are available.

Requesting Alternate Formats

If you qualify for Alternate Formats, follow the steps below to request and receive materials for your class. It is your responsibility to make a request for alternate formats. The request should be submitted as early as possible before the start of the semester. If the request is not submitted well before the semester begins, you may wait several weeks to receive materials.


Meet with your DSPS Counselor or Learning Disabilities (LD) Specialist to identify your need for Alternate Media as an accommodation.

Request an updated letter of accommodation (CATAV) every school year from your DSPS Counselor or LD Specialist, Alternate Media must be identified as an accommodation.

Before you request alternate formats for textbooks you should familiarize yourself with the textbooks that you will be using for your class.

For help with looking up your textbooks, please go to the Accessible Computer Labs on the Ocean Campus or John Adams Center when school is in session or schedule an appointment with a DSPS counselor during the inter-session.

The campus bookstore can also help you compile a list of books.

Once you know what books you'll be using, the next step is to submit a request to the Alternate Media Office. Contact the main DSPS office at 415-452-5481 to be put in contact with the alternate media specialist.

Email your request for alt media at least 3 weeks before the beginning of the semester. Requests can be made before you purchase your textbooks and/or course materials. Requests submitted after the semester begins will take longer to fill. Information needed:

  • Book Title
  • Author(s)
  • Edition
  • ISBN Number
  • Publisher

Note: If you add or drop classes after you submit a request, please inform the Alternate Media Specialist immediately.

Fill out the e-text contract and provide your Proof of Purchase (i.e., original receipts) for each textbook and/or course reader needed. The e-text contract can be signed in person, and you can bring your physical textbooks to the Alternate Media Specialist in order to provide proof of purchase.

Once you have submitted your book requests, the alternate media specialist will contact publishers and outside agencies that supply alternate formats. When a file is received, you will be contacted by phone or email.

In addition to these electronic formats, we can also provide embossed Braille, tactile graphics and large print.

  1. Students must have an Alternate Media accommodation listed on their CATAV for the school year. The CATAV must be up to date in order to have Alternate Media requested.
  2. Students are required to provide proof of purchase/rentals for textbooks or other materials that they need converted, unless the instructor has provided a public copy at no charge.
  3. Students must fill out e-text contract for each semester they will be requesting Alternate Media. Any further reproduction or unauthorized use is a violation of copyright law. Misuse of Alternate Media may result in college disciplinary action.
  4. Students must submit all requests in a timely manner and consider Alternate Media turnaround times depend on the:
    • Format of the original material.
    • Publishers can take anywhere between 3-7 business days to reply. In some cases, publishers take 2 weeks to reply.
    • Braille conversions take longer to acquire
    • Number of projects in priority order.
  5. Students need to contact Alternate Media staff at least one week after your request to check the status and/or to provide any updates on new readings that instructors may be assigning. Keep in contact with Alternate Media staff throughout the process. Check your email daily.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

Yes. Due to copyright laws that we do not want to breach, you will still need to rent/purchase your books and show proof of purchase in order to obtain copies of your course materials in alternate format.

We try our best to obtain all books in alternate format, however there are some cases where books are not available to us. If the publisher is unable to provide an electronic file of your textbook, or if the book is not available from one of our databases, the binding may have to be removed for scanning. Your book will be rebound with comb binding

Alternate Media accommodations are given to students by counselors depending on their disabilities. Although you may be granted one form of Alternate Media, you may not be able to use all. This should not cause a problem since you will still get the appropriate accommodations and will not need access to all platforms that fall under alt media.

Ideally, placing your requests at least 3 weeks before the start of the semester will ensure that you’ll have most if not all your books in alternate format before classes begin. Check for required books as soon as you register for your classes. If you are not able to obtain book information 3 weeks before the semester, please place your requests as soon as possible. You can view your books on the CCSF Bookstore website. All you need to do is input your CCSF ID number and it will provide you with the required books for your class. If your book is not listed, you can email your instructor to ask for book information.

The amount of time you have to wait before receiving your textbooks in alternate format varies. It is depending upon when you submit your Request for Alternate Media. Submitting your Alternate Media requests as far in advance as possible (i.e., right after you register for your classes) makes it more likely you will receive your Alternate Media at the start of the semester.

If you submit your request for Alternate Media during the busiest Alternate Media production time of the semester (i.e., during the first 4 to 5 weeks of the semester), you should speak with the Alternate Media Specialist in order to submit everything they’ll need in order to try to speed up the request. You must keep in mind that there may be students in line ahead of you who have already submitted their requests and who will have priority.

In order to add any accommodation to your CATAV, you will need to speak with a counselor. To make an appointment with one, please reach out to our DSPS front office at or by calling 415-452-5481 (currently voicemail only). With your message, please provide your full name, student ID number and your phone number.

Reach out to the Alternate Media Specialist as soon as you start having trouble with any resource given to you. They will be able to direct you towards the best help for the matter at hand.

Alternate Formats and Software Available

There are several electronic formats--usually called "e-text"--that you will receive. Here are a few of the most common:

PDF (Adobe Portable Document Format)

This is the most common format sent by textbook publishers. The advantage of this format is that it retains the look of the book and typically includes pictures. This is an excellent format for students who do not have major vision impairments because it looks like the book.

Microsoft Word

This is a text format sometimes used by publishers. If the alternate media office scans your book, we may also give you Microsoft Word.

DAISY (e-text from is an organization that we work with. DAISY files from Bookshare are in text format and have good navigation. You can get your own account at

DAISY (audiobooks from LearningAlly)

LearningAlly, formerly known as RFBD, is another organization that we work with. LearningAlly files are in audio format. You can get your own account at

We have many software programs in the Accessible Computer Laboratories on the Ocean Campus and John Adams Center that will play these files. In addition there is a smaller selection of software at the Rosenberg Library on the Ocean campus and at the Mission campus library. Ask a DSPS staff or faculty member for assistance in choosing the right program for you.

Suggested software in the Accessible Computer Labs

  • For PDF files for students with learning disabilities or minor vision impairments: Kurzweil 3000.
  • For PDF files for students with major vision impairments: Kurzweil 1000, ZoomText.
  • Microsoft Word files for students with learning disabilities or minor vision impairments: Kurzweil 3000.
  • Microsoft Word files for students with vision impairments: Kurzweil 1000, Zoomtext, JAWS.
  • DAISY files from LearningAlly or Bookshare for students with learning disabilities or minor vision impairments: Check with the instructor.
  • DAISY files for students with major vision impairments: JAWS.

Students can also get apps for their iOS and Android devices. Check with the alternate media specialist.

Access Your Own Alternate Formats

You can become more independent in your use of alternate formats by downloading or purchasing your own software for use at home, getting your own membership in LearningAlly or and by signing up with Department of Rehabilitation.

Yes, you can study at home. There are many software programs that can be downloaded either for free or for a small cost. Here are a few that have free versions and low cost pay versions with more features:

  • Kurzweil 3000: Available from the DSPS. Ask a DSPS counselor for details.
  • Natural Reader: Download from
  • TextAloud Download from

In addition to these, there are some more expensive ones with more features. For example:

These programs are just some of the many programs available. To learn more about these programs view their websites and discuss your needs with one of our Accessible Computer Laboratory staff or faculty.

Windows OS, Mac OS and Chrome OS already have built-in text-to-speech features. So do smartphones and tablets. Search the help menu for "accessibility" or "speech" to find out what you may have on hand. offers free memberships to college students. With the free membership you can download free software. This is a good option if you expect to use these services frequently. Ask your DSPS counselor or the alternate media specialist for more information.

Many DSPS students are clients of the State of California Department of Rehabilitation. By becoming a Department of "Rehab" client you can usually get a free computer and software or other devices.

Check with a DSPS counselor to find out more.

For Faculty:

The Alternate Media Office facilitates captioning of videos and advises faculty members on the accessibility of online distance education materials. CCSF faculty members can contact the Alternate Media Specialist at 415-452-5333 to inquire about captioning and accessibility of online materials.