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Alternative Format Books


Alternate format books include instructional materials, textbooks, leisure books, and/or other reading materials presented in formats that are accessible by individuals with disabilities.

Alternate format books include large type print books, Braille, symbolized text, audio books, and electronic books.

Large type books provide standard materials presented in larger type. These can be located at local libraries and bookstores. Large type textbooks are printed in large type formats for visually impaired students and include exact replication of graphics, charts and graphs.

Braille - text can be converted into Braille, which is the expected medium of instruction for students who are blind (IDEA ’97).

Both large type and braille books can be obtained from the Georgia Instructional Materials Center (GIMC) and the American Printing House for the Blind.

Symbolized text provides access to text for struggling readers by combining picture symbols with the written word. Graphic word processors such as Writing with Symbols 2000 (Mayer-Johnson) enable the user to create symbols for the text typed into the computer. News-2-You ( offers a weekly newspaper that is presented in several different symbolized text formats for use in classrooms. It is available through a subscription.

Audio books are instructional, leisure and/or related materials that have been recorded either onto audio cassettes, compact discs or as MP3 files.

Books on tape or CD can be found at the local library or purchased through bookstores or websites. There are some websites that offer free audio books, such as Gutenberg ( and LibriVox ( Other sources offer memberships for students with disabilities. In order to use those services, the students must have verification of their print disabilities.

Audio textbooks are available to students with disabilities through the Recordings for the Blind and Dyslexic (RFB&D). RFB&D is the nation's educational library serving people who cannot effectively read standard print. In order to play RFB&D digitally recorded textbooks, the user needs specially adapted CD players or software. RFB&D offers a complete line of players, software and accessories for nonprofit sale.

Electronic books (eBooks) are digitized versions of books that can be read on a desktop, laptop, handheld device, or a dedicated text to speech reader. Benefits of this format include the ability to change how the text appears, by changing the font size, font color, spacing and background color. How text is presented can impact the students’ ability to read and comprehend materials.

There are an increasing number of books available in e-text format. These books can be purchased through various vendors, websites and bookstores. Many websites have a variety of eBooks available for free download such as Project Gutenberg ( where copyright for most of the books has expired. Other websites such as Bookshare ( and Accessible Book Collection ( make currently published books accessible for print disabled individuals. Both of these require proof of the individuals’ print disabilities. For more information about the subscriptions, go to the websites.

Some students who have difficulty reading traditional print books and related instructional materials may benefit from using electronic books to supplement the printed materials. They can also be a valuable assistance for students who are vision impaired, have difficulty tracking, can't turn pages, or who need to increase their reading speed.

Considerate texts have been written and edited for older struggling readers. The content and graphics remain age appropriate; however the vocabulary and text have been changed to support students at a lower reading level.

Students who have difficulty reading because of visual impairment, dyslexia or other physical disability and need access to traditional print books and related instructional materials may benefit from using alternate format books in place of or to supplement the printed materials.


Free Etext Sites

 Site Name Web Address
Electronic Text Center at UVa Library 
Project Gutenberg
Arthur's Classic Novels

Subscription Sites

 Site Name Web Address
Assessible Book Collection http://www.accessiblebook


 Resource Name Web Address
Teacher Tap
(Electronic Books)
Gutenberg: The Audio Books Project
(Free Audio Books)
Learning Ally
Free Classic Audio Books http://www.freeclassicaudio