Alternate Media Services - Southwestern Illinois College

Alternate Media is an accommodation available to enrolled and eligible students with print disabilities who are registered with the Disability & Access Center.


The most common accessible media formats include the following:

  • PDF – Stands for Portable Document Format. A searchable PDF includes a full digital image of the textbook page along with text recognition, which can be “read” by using Adobe Reader as well as common screen reading software.
  • RTF – Stands for Rich Text Format. RTF is a Word processing format that can be accessed by screen reading software on both PC and Mac platforms.
  • MP3 files – An MP3 file is a digital audio format. Text is processed through conversion software; these files can be loaded onto portable devices such as MP3 players and iPods, as well as laptop and desktop computers.
  • xhtml – Audible mathematics can be read by JAWS software; additional options may be available.
  • Braille – The Disability & Access Center does not have a staff Braille Transcriber. However, the department can produce short course documents in Braille. Entire textbooks that need to be converted to Braille should be requested 3-4 months in advance so needed outside resources can be utilized. Early registration is imperative.
  • Paper Enlargements – Black and white copies of text can be enlarged; the Disability & Access Center additionally provides high technology magnification equipment for classroom, study and testing.
  • Tactile Graphics – Images that use raised surfaces; used to convey non-textual information, such as diagrams, graphs and maps.


  1. Meet with a Disability & Access Center Staff Member for Intake Services
    You and a Disability & Access Center staff member will meet and review your documentation and discuss possible accommodations, including alternate media for your classroom textbooks and materials. Accommodations need to be requested each semester.
  2. Orientation or Follow-Up Meeting with Alternate Media/Technology Services
    After your intake services meeting, or at another scheduled time soon after, you will meet with staff to discuss which accessible media format works best for you.
  3. Completion of Student Agreement
    You will be asked to complete the “Student Agreement with Southwestern Illinois College for Alternate Media Services.” Before staff can provide you with your classroom materials, you must show proof of purchase for each requested textbook in order to satisfy copyright law.
  4. Adaptive Technology Training, if Applicable
    Many of the accessible media formats require the use of Adaptive Technology. Adaptive Technology training is available through the Disability & Access Center’s Adaptive Technology Training Lab.

IMPORTANT: The creation of a textbook in an accessible format is labor and time intensive. Requests for this accommodation well before classes begin are critical.


Q. Is there a charge for having my course materials converted into an accessible format?
Answer: No. This is a free service; however, you do need to purchase or rent your own textbooks and provide a receipt to the Disability & Access Center.

Q. How long does it take to receive my converted materials?
Answer: Many factors could impact the timeliness of the production of alternate media materials. Some materials can be converted more quickly than others. It is important to stay in communication with the Disability & Access Center staff so we can ensure that production is on schedule to meet your needs.

Q. Do I need to have all of my classroom materials converted?
Answer: No. The Disability & Access Center staff will proceed with only the classroom materials and the textbooks you request. Optional or recommended materials for the classes you are enrolled in also will be processed by request.

Q. What will happen if I do not submit a proof of ownership for my requested materials for the semester?
Answer: Converted textbooks cannot be released to you until proof of purchase/rental has been provided to the Disability & Access Center.