Textbooks and Course Readers

Finding or creating an accessible textbooks or converting course packets of photocopies to an accessible format can be very time-consuming. In order to manage the volume of requests and provide equal timely access, students need the cooperation of faculty and the DPRC.


We want to provide instructional materials, including online course materials, to students with disabilities at the same time it is available to any other enrolled student. To achieve that goal, sufficient time needs to be allowed for obtaining or creating alternate formats.

If publishers are unresponsive or uncooperative at providing an electronic version of the textbook (e-text) intended for those needing an alternate format to the standard print version, then the Disability Programs and Resource Center (DPRC) is tasked with essentially creating e-text.

This re-creation involves a timely conversion process: scanning, converting the image to text, correcting misread characters, reapplying format styles and reordering elements that were jumbled in the conversion, explaining images and figures, and sometimes recreating tables. If books don’t arrive in the bookstore until a couple weeks before class begins, then it becomes difficult to process the bottleneck of 150-200 books at once in a timely manner.

Academic Senate Policy #S08-249 recognizes this need and details the rationale via timely textbook adoption. Please submit your textbook orders to the SF State Bookstore by the Provost's deadline to allow sufficient time for the DPRC to obtain electronic copies and modify them as needed. This deadline is generally mid-October for the Spring semester and mid-April for the Fall Semester.

Open Educational Resources (OERs)

We encourage the use of Open Educational Resources (OERs) since the text is usually easily available for students (or DPRC) to manipulate to meet any accommodation or learning needs. For example, a student who prefers an audio version of a textbook can download a PDF, run it through the Accessible Media Quick Converter and obtain an audio version to listen to. Some OERs also offer multiple format options to download the resource, so a student can obtain the book in a format they prefer. OERs provide opportunities to create flexible learning experiences for all students!

Course Readers

If using a course reader, please ensure that source materials are in a clean, legible format for digital access or photocopying. If you are scanning course materials for distribution, please review the guidelines below.

Photocopy Guidelines

Critical factors for converting to other formats

I. Resolution/ Contrast

Goal: Text contrast should be sharp (black on white with a distinct background)

Quality Control Check: Is the text legible? (not faint or blurred?)

If you have to strain to read the letters, then a character recognition software program will not read the text any better.

Tip: With colored or shaded pages, increasing the brightness setting will help rid the background shading. Decreasing the brightness will help provide a greater contrast for faint text.

II. Orientation

Goal: Text should be at 90 degrees and flat.

Quality Control Check: Is all the text visible?

A common problem with photocopies is that the text is curved, skewed or cut off at the margins based on the placement of the book.

Tip: Press down the spine of the book to the glass when copying and visually note where the border line of the margins is on the glass.

Further Guidance

Please email us at access@sfsu.edu for assistance or to discuss unique circumstances.