Alternate Text Formats

Alternate Text Formats

Alternative textbooks are an accommodation for students with visual limitations, learning disabilities, or other cognitive or physical limitations that significantly affect the ability to read and/or comprehend print material. This accommodation provides adequate access to textbooks in a format that is compatible with the student's limitations.  Please contact the DSO if you have difficulty obtaining e-texts.

There are several ways to obtain your textbooks in an alternate format.  

  1. Begin your search by accessing the Kutztown University Bookstore’s website ( You can log in with your Kutztown University login credentials to access the Virtual Shelf program. This will allow you to access the textbook information for the courses in which you are enrolled.

  2. You may purchase or rent your own electronic versions of your textbooks either through the Kutztown University Bookstore or through another preferred vendor such as Amazon or Chegg.

  3. For students who have print-based disabilities, you may access a wide variety of free, accessible textbooks from Bookshare. Bookshare is an accessible online library for individuals with print disabilities, such as blindness, visual impairments, or reading disabilities. To use this service, you will need to sign up for an individual Bookshare membership.  The individual membership requires a “Proof of Disability Form” which the DSO can help you complete.  Please email the DSO at for assistance with this process.

  4. If you need to have access to both an electronic and print version of your textbooks, or you have difficulty locating your textbooks through the sources listed above, email with a list of books that are needed. Please use the subject line Alternate Format Textbooks.  The DSO will assist you in acquiring an electronic (PDF or Word) version of the textbook from the publisher.  Please allow 4-6 weeks to obtain these alternate text materials through the publisher.  Late requests may result in a delay in receiving alternate materials.

Using Text to Speech Technology with Electronic Textbooks

Once you have an electronic version of your textbooks, you may use a text-to-speech program or app of your choice to listen to the text.  Below are some options:

  1. Most computers have text to speech technology built right into the accessibility features. Apple computers have screen reading technology called VoiceOver, while Windows computers have Narrator. Each of these programs has tutorials (linked above) that will help you set up the functions and will demonstrate how to use the features.

  2. There are some commercial vendors that provide free versions of their products such as Natural Reader. In most cases, these vendors offer an upgraded version of their software for purchase.

  3. Other commercial vendors such as Read & Write by TextHelp, and Kurzweil offer comprehensive text-to-speech software packages for purchase.