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Alternative Formats

"Alternative format" means a specially formatted version of an original print book or document such as Braille, tactile graphics, large print, digital "e-text", which will give a user access to the material that they did not have with the original copy.


Ally Plugin in Canvas

Try the Ally Plugin in Canvas! Ally is an OCR software that can quickly convert documents posted on Canvas into accessible text html, ePub, audio, even a Beeline Reader enhanced Document. 

Go to the Alternative Formats menu after clicking the down arrow after documents posted on Canvas Pages, or on an open document in the Canvas Files section. Read the downloaded documents with your browsers text-to-speech plugin or screen-reader software.

screenshot shows the ally logo next to a pdf posted on a canvas page. Ally "Alternative Formats" logo in the Files section of Canvas

More help for the Ally Plugin


Find your Books Online!

If you are looking for digital or audio books, check these sites to see if a digital version is already available before purchasing a print copy. Many of these e-books and their apps have built in text to speech readers.


 Other eBook Sites


Inclusive Access - campus bookstore

Inclusive Access through the University Bookstore gets you online access to many required course textbooks in digital format. Many are accessible or screen-reader/text-to-speech friendly, and many have built in audio readers as well as other study tools and interactive features. 

Lookup your textbooks at the University Bookstore's Textbook Lookup Page or contact your course instructor for info on required texts.


CDA Textbook Requests

CDA will provide accessible options for textbook and course materials to qualified students. Students must be registered with CDA to receive these services.

Departments may also contact us for assistance with accessibility questions and document conversions.


Requesting course materials

Students requesting for the first time must first be approved by their CDA Advisor before requesting alt format materials. Advisors often schedule follow up appointments with us to talk about our process, technology supports available to you, and to start your requests. 

Returning students please submit requests to

For textbook requests please provide detailed info with requests such as:

  • Title
  • author
  • edition number
  • ISBN number


For course material conversion requests students should meet with CDA alternative formats staff to arrange.

Publishers and CDA require students to provide proof that they have purchased or own a copy of the textbook requested.

Please be prepared to provide us with your receipt of purchase.


Speech to Text

Have your computer type for you!




COVID-19 Accessible Materials for People with Disabilities




In this webinar sponsored by 3PlayMediaJanet Sylvia, Web Accessibility Consultant, provides 10 Tips for building an accessible online course. This presentation is for anyone involved in the web-based delivery of academic classes, continuing education, employee training, professional development or other programs. How do you ensure your online course is equally accessible for people with and without disabilities?



How can you help make your course and materials accessible?

  • Be familiar with what it means for content to be accessible
  • Connect with the student in your course about what best works for them and how you can help
  • Use Microsoft Word documents if possible
    • A simple Word doc is the preferred format of most students with a visual impairment.
    • If you are able to post a word doc along side a pdf, please do!
  • Be consistent about where and how you post material in Canvas.
    • For students using screen reader technology, Canvas (and the web in general) can be very difficult to navigate and searching for course materials in many different locations very time consuming.
  • Create or adopt only accessible content for your course
    • Find alternative materials for your student if you cannot find an accessible copy.
    • contact the Center for Disability and Access Alt Formats team if you need more support.
  • Be aware of inaccessible PDF's
    • If you have scanned/photocopied readings, make sure they are high quality. Re-scan documents with a lot of underlining, writing, or highlighting in the originals, text that curls up and fades into the black book crease, pages that are skewed, out of order, or just low quality, etc.. Documents with these issues 
  • Encourage students to use the Ally Plugin(links) in Canvas for converting posted PDF or PowerPoint files that are mainly text based. 
    • Instructors can also download Ally files, try it out on some of your posted readings.
    • Which of your pdf's would read well by OCR technology? Which would not?
  • Consider alternative text needs
    • If your course has complex visual diagrams or other materials, be willing to provide students with effective written descriptions of these and how they illustrate the concepts you are teaching. 
    • Create short or long descriptions of complex visual materials. Complex diagrams, flow charts, graphs, or the like, may be very difficult for students with a visual impairment to understand. You as the content creator know best the concepts you are trying to convey.
    • Learn more about image description at the Benetech Diagram Center.





Chris Green
Associate Director, Assistive Technology and Alternative Formats
Phone: 801-587-8316

Center for Disability & Access
Main Office: 801-581-5020

Last Updated: 6/18/21