Requesting Alternative Formats on the SOAR Dashboard

What are alternative formats?

“Alternate (or alternative) Format Text is typically a request for a required textbook or article used in a class in a format other than standard print. These formats can include: electronic (e.g., PDF) and audio books.” – Office of Student Disability Services, UMBC

Do I have to use special software to use this accommodation?

Some students arrive to campus already using specific text-to-speech software like VoiceOver, Jaws, Kurzweil, etc. We can provide you with a version of the book that is most compatible with the software that you currently use. We also recommend other apps such as VoiceDream which can be downloaded from your app store. We are happy to do a one-on-one training with you so that you feel comfortable using the technology.

Do I have to purchase my books if you are already providing them digitally?

Yes, per U.S. Copyright laws you are required to purchase a copy of the book and show proof of purchase before we can release a digital copy to you. You also must sign an agreement with our office acknowledging your responsibility as a permitted user of the electronic copy that you will not share or redistribute it.

How do I access my books?

We use three major textbook repositories to request accessible versions of books (LearningAlly, Bookshare and AccessText).  Each of these repositories deliver the materials to us in a different fashion. They may share the book with us as a download in which case we would share the book with you as a Box folder that you can conveniently access.  Learning Ally and Bookshare have their own websites where students can access the book and listen to them directly from the sites provided they have valid login credentials and an account, which we will provide.

Speech Recognition and Speech-to-text Dictation

Speech recognition is the capability of an electronic device to understand spoken words. A microphone records a person’s voice and the hardware converts the signal from analog sound waves to digital audio.  The audio data is then processed by software, which interprets the sound as individual words.” –Tech Terms

Many of today’s devices have built-in accessibility features such as speech recognition and text-to-speech. This is especially useful for students who find it helpful to dictate their initial draft of their essay where they can speak their thoughts aloud and then edit the text document later. There are several free and low cost apps on the market that can turn your spoken words into text. Some apps have greater accuracy than others as well as interact with other programs such as Microsoft Word. We typically recommend the app Otter which can be downloaded for free from your app store. The app allows 600 minutes per month of free dictation service and will store your recordings and dictated notes that you can share into other platforms like text messages, email, or a word document. We can provide you with a one-on-one training of how to utilize the software best.

Student Alternate Media Agreement and Request

Interested in having your textbooks in a format that can be read by a screen reader or text to speech reader?

Document Conversion Request

Want a document in another form?