Alternative-Electronic Text Information for Students

The Learning Support Center (LSC) Staff are happy to help you in making the transition to using electronic text for college classes. First, there will be some differences from how you obtained books in high school. Textbooks are no longer provided to you for FREE; in college you will be expected to purchase or rent your textbooks, in hardcopy or electronic (kindle, ebook, etc.) form.

Purchasing or Renting Your Textbooks:

Electronic versions available from the publisher's website. Textbook companies rent and sell both hard and electronic versions. Be sure that the electronic version available is compatible with your screen reader or text to speech program. For example, CourseSmart / VitalSource has a policy of carrying only accessible electronic versions.

E-books are also available from Amazon Kindle (a plug in is available for reading from your computer or other device), Apple Books, and Google Books.

Free electronic versions from Bookshare, which are read using their speech to text program. To get an invitation to join Bookshare (if you don't have your own membership already), you will have to provide the LSC with documentation of your print disability.

Books no longer copyrighted may be available from online sources such as Project Guttenberg.

If not available through the above options, the LSC can try to request e-text copies of your books from the publisher or through AccessText Network. We will need documentation of your print disability and you will have to purchase a hardcopy and provide a copy of your receipt before we can give you the e-text. Please contact the LSC Learning Specialist, Nick Mourning at at least 3 weeks in advance if you require assistance from the LSC to request electronic texts.

Frequently Asked Questions About Electronic Text in College

How do you know which books you will need to buy?

As soon as you register for classes, you can go to the Albion Bookstore online and check for textbooks. Your faculty may not have sent over the list of books for the current semester so check back frequently or contact the instructor for an updated list of texts.

How do you know when to ask for a publisher's e-text version from the LSC?

First year students who use alternative text should receive a list of books and their sources from the LSC in mid-August unless you attend the last SOAR. We will let you know sources for books you should obtain yourself and those we will provide (with proof of purchase from you). All other students should use their experience with obtaining electronic texts and research if any books are necessary for the LSC to obtain. This would include checking the sources listed above. Please do so at least 3 weeks in advance of the first day of classes for each semester.

How will I receive the publisher's e-text versions from the LSC?

Google Drive. This is a good way for you to store all electronic books you obtain from any source since it allows you the freedom to access your textbooks wherever you are. We will share a Google Drive folder with your name on it. You can then access the books we put there for your use during the semester.

What screen reader or text-to-speech system is available on campus?

If you do not already use a screen reader or text-to-speech program, the college has a software license for Claro, a text-to-speech reading, writing, and research program. This allows our students to download the software to their own computers. It is also available in most computer labs on campus. Please contact our Learning Specialist, Nick Mourning at , for a tutorial about how to download and use this program.

How are course materials such as handouts and readings made accessible?

For articles or other lengthy reading materials we will:

  • Show you a number of different ways you can convert course texts into accessible files
  • Show your faculty how to convert course texts into accessible files for all students
  • And/or ask faculty to send them to us so we can prepare an electronic version for you

For materials the faculty member will prepare themselves, we will request that they send this to you in advance. You can bring your lap top or other reading device (phone?) to class if necessary to read along with the class.

What do I do about taking notes in class? Can I use my laptop?

Yes, as an accommodation we can let you use your laptop in class. However there are other options:

  • Student Notetaker: another student in the class can take notes for you with a notebook that has carbonless paper. After class the student will hand you a copy of that day's notes.
  • Various Smart Pens: You write notes and the handwriting is synched to an audio recording of the lecture. You then download the notes to your computer and as your read your notes, you can hear the lecture.

I use Dragon Dictation for speech to text. Is this available on campus?

We recommend that you purchase your own version if you plan to use Dragon for writing most or all your papers. (See below for possible way of getting financial help with this).

I am concerned about being able to afford my own PC, laptop or tablet device. Do you have any ideas?

Michigan Rehabilitation Services may help with these expenses if you have applied for student financial aid. You will have to pursue their services over the summer through your local Michigan Rehabilitation office.

Additional Resoureces

For More Information

For more information, please contact Pam Schwartz, LSC Director, by email at , or by phone at 517/629-0825 or Nick Mourning, Learning Specialist, , or by phone at 517-629-0411.