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What is Alternate Media?

Alternate media gives students with disabilities access to materials in a format they can use. An example of alternate media is a book, originally published on a printing press, being re-created as a braille book. 

Cosumnes River College is dedicated to ensuring that students have the course materials they need in a format they can use. Our specialists have equipment to scan books and documents, software to convert scanned images to text, software for the conversion of text to braille or to audio files, and equipment to emboss braille and tactile images. 

Examples of Alternate Media

E-text (Electronic Text)

The use of electronic digital text (E-text) has emerged as a convenient and popular method of providing access for those who cannot use standard printed materials. Partially sighted individuals can use E-text by taking advantage of built-in options within many standard software applications (e.g. adjusting font size) or through the use of specialized screen magnification software. E-text can also be used with screen reading software to output the text to a speech synthesizer or refreshable Braille display. The main advantage of E-text is that it can be easily stored, can be searched and indexed, and can be converted to large print or hard copy Braille through use of a translation program. E-text exists in many formats such as Word, RTF, ASCII, PageMaker, Quark, TIFF, EPS, PDF, etc. We then take these formats and produce the format most suited for the student.

Large Print

For those with sufficient vision, large print is often desirable. Although they are somewhat bulkier, materials in large print have all the advantages of regular print. They are relatively portable, require no special equipment, convey all the graphic and spatial information contained in the original, and can be easily referenced. Producing large print copies of materials is simple if the document is not too lengthy and is available in electronic text, although some reformatting may be necessary. However, relatively few textbooks are available in large print and those that are tend to be expensive. We have the ability to recreate your books in large print as needed.


Braille is a system of reading and writing for blind individuals. The basic unit is the braille cell. From these six raised dots you can get 64 possible combinations. There are many more inkprint symbols than the 64 braille symbols. For example, most computer systems handle about 96 different inkprint symbols. This problem is solved by using contractions, assigning more than one braille cell to represent certain inkprint symbols, and in some cases, by using specialized codes for unique applications. Thus, learning to read and write braille requires considerable training and practice.

Audio Files

Providing materials in an audio format is one method of making information accessible to persons who are blind or visually impaired. Many individuals with learning disabilities also use materials in audio format because they find it difficult to process printed information. Audio material was commonly recorded on cassette tapes, also known as books-on-tape. New technology allows conversion of e-text into audio formats by having E-text read with a speech synthesizer to create MP3 and WAV files, which are then placed on CDs for students to use with their computers or MP3 players.

Other information

Policies and Procedures

Course materials must be submitted in a timely manner. Delivery dates are determined on a case by case basis. Upon review of material to be formatted and converted, the student will be notified of the projected completion date. Time required is determined by the original source material format, the conversion process, the scope of the project, and the project schedule and priority system.

Production will follow this priority order:

  • examination material
  • required text books
  • class handouts
  • required and instructor-approved supplemental course materials
  • general college materials

The college will not produce materials which are not directly related to instruction, or required to provide access to college public information.

Preference is given to the format specified by the student, but not guaranteed. The Alternate Media Specialist may consult with the student and the counselor/advisor to determine and recommend the specific media format.

Proof of purchase is required to obtain a publisher’s e-text copy for alternate media production of any materials which the college requires students to buy.

The student may not copy or reproduce any alternate media provided by DSP&S, nor allow anyone else to do so. Electronic files are copyrighted and may not be reproduced or distributed in a format other than that specifically provided for use by the student with a disability. Any further reproduction or use is a copyright infringement. Misuse of alternate media may result in disciplinary action and/or suspension of services.

Students will be provided with one alternate format for each material required.

Test accommodation services that include alternative media must be arranged with the test proctor one week ahead of the exam date, unless an exception is made through your counselor/advisor.

(916) 691-7275
(916) 691-7398


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Business and Social Science, BS104