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Alternative Format Services

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Today's Hours: 8am - 10pm - All service hours

LAS staff can work with you to get you access to course readings in alternate formats if you are registered with Student Accessibility Services and your advisor has made a referral.

 LAS staff will:

  • Order textbooks in alternate formats (e.g., audio books, DAISY, Braille, Kurzweil, MS Word, or PDF files) from publishers and repositories
  • Digitize or transcribe textbooks and course materials in-house as required
  • Arrange for captioning or video description of audio-visual course content

Requesting alternative format materials

  • We can assist you at any point in the semester, however, we recommend that you contact us 4-6 weeks in advance of the semester in which you require alternative format by emailing or by phone at 519-824-4120 ext 58925
  • We will need your course codes, titles, section numbers, and preferred text formats when you contact us

Obtaining your materials

LAS staff will source and request alternative-format copies of your texts and contact you when they are available. Before receiving this material, you'll need to provide proof of purchase (if required) for your books, and also sign an agreement governing your use of the alternative format text.

Requesting captioning or video description of Audio-Visual materials

Video captioning or description requires substantial preparation time. Please provide LAS staff with your course codes and section numbers 4-6 weeks in advance of the semester in which you require this service.

You may contact us by emailing, or by calling 519-824-4120 ext 58925.

Student responsibilities

Students are responsible for:

  • Providing course selections to LAS staff as soon as registration opens
  • Promptly notifying LAS staff of all changes in course selections that will impact alternative-format text requirements (e.g., dropping/adding courses), or if your required readings change
  • Following any publisher and copyright restrictions on alternative-format materials

In-House scanning and transcription

  • LAS staff sources e-text (i.e., MS Word or PDF) copies of student textbooks from publishers and repositories where possible. LAS will assist with scanning or transcription of text materials if a publisher's purchase requirements are not met when alternative-format is not available
  • In-house scanning can be done much more quickly when the book spines are removed. Click Signs, located on the main floor of the University Centre, will unbind and rebind books for a small fee. LAS staff can also scan texts without removing the binding, but it takes longer and students may not receive all their e-text files at once
  • Access to scanners (including a high-speed scanner) is also provided to students in the Library Access Lab

Comparing publisher E-text files with locally-produced files

Some students may opt to use e-text files created in-house rather than files from a publisher. There are important differences between these files:

Publisher E-text file features

  • File size: Smaller
  • Text: Embedded, accurate
  • Acrobat text reflow compatibility: Compatible
  • Images: Identical to original text; zoomable
  • Turnaround time: Can be as soon as 1-3 days
  • Usage agreements: Student signs agreement directly with Publisher

Locally-produced E-text

  • File size: Larger, especially if the text is scanned in grayscale or colour
  • Text: Created through Optical Character Recognition software; accuracy affected by highlights or underlining in the original
  • Acrobat text reflow compatibility: Not compatible
  • Images: May be captured in grayscale or black and white; may pixelate when zoomed
  • Turnaround time: Processing time may be longer depending on scanning method and demand for service
  • Usage agreements: Student is subject to the Canadian Copyright Act

Please note that 'locally-produced e-text' does not refer to transcription support for individuals with visual impairments. LAS staff edit locally transcribed text and reading materials to ensure that they are accurate.

LAS Alternative-Format services and timeliness

  • LAS staff will work to provide students with their preferred format in a timely manner. However, due to factors beyond our control, we cannot guarantee that students will receive alternative-format materials within the timelines required for their courses (e.g., late requests, lack of course information, transcription difficulties raised by text quality or subject matter, unexpected workload, or the schedules of external suppliers and transcription companies). If this happens, students may have to seek an accommodation with their instructor or consider using formats other than their preferred one
  • In the event of high demand for LAS in-house digitization or transcription services, students may receive their text materials in parts and not as a complete text at the beginning of the semester. In these situations, the LAS staff will aim to provide students with course readings the week before they are required for class


Personal information provided to LAS is protected by University policies on the release of student information and the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act (FIPPA). LAS staff will treat your personal information confidentially when working with Guelph staff and instructors or with external institutions such as publishers and repositories. Any request for personal information from these individuals and institutions will be referred to you first for your approval.

The library is committed to ensuring that members of our user community with disabilities have equal access to our services and resources and that their dignity and independence is always respected. If you encounter a barrier and/or need an alternate format, please fill out our Library Print and Multimedia Alternate-Format Request Form. Contact us if you’d like to provide feedback: