The Alternate Format Materials Program (Alt Format Program) assists students with perceptual disabilities in obtaining books in alternate formats, primarily in PDF format. For the purpose of this program, and in accordance with Canadian Copyright Law, Section 32, students with perceptual disabilities include those who have:

  • Visual disabilities
  • Difficulty processing print due to a learning disability
  • Difficulty reading due to illness
  • Difficulty with concentration due to short term memory loss, or
  • Difficulty physically handling books or turning pages

Please note that the sections in the Copyright Act which allow the creation of alternate format versions do “not apply if the work… is commercially available… in a format specially designed to meet the needs of the person with a perceptual disability referred to in that subsection” (as per Section 32(2) of the Copyright Act). If there is an alternate format version of the work available on the Canadian market and the person would be able to use it, then the commercially available version should be purchased instead of the university making an alternate format copy. 

The AltFormat Program is intended to offer assistance only when students cannot find the materials they require in existing electronic format that is accessible so that software may read the text. Students should search for existing accessible texts before contacting AltFormat for help. If there are no accessible texts available, students should purchase a copy of the material before contacting AltFormat.

Where students cannot find the materials they require they can make requests for AltFormat materials by logging into PAWS and navigating to the AES Alternate Format Service channel.

Students and Instructors should understand that receiving reading materials in alternate format may take several weeks. If the material is not readily available in an alternate format, the publisher will need to be contacted for an electronic copy. Instructional staff are strongly urged to finalize required reading material as early as possible so that, if necessary, students may order and receive that material in alternate format by the start of the term.

Requesting alternate format materials

  1. Make sure you are registered with AES as a student with a disability.
  2. Make a request for alternate format materials by logging into PAWS and navigating to the Alternate Format Channel located within the AES menu.

In order for AES to process a request for alternate format, you must purchase a print version of the textbook, and provide AES with proof of purchase (a receipt), which is in accordance with most book publisher regulations.

Receipts are required for ALL textbook requests and can be submitted the following ways:

If you submit a request without a receipt, the request will NOT be processed until the receipt is received.

If you bought the text second hand or it was given to you, you must provide us with a handwritten receipt that states:

  • The date and location of purchase
  • Text name, author, ISBN
  • Price paid
  • Signature of student purchasing the text (and seller if possible)

Textbooks not available in the Bookstore

If the Bookstore does not have books listed for your class/section, contact the instructor and ask for details about the textbooks that will be required. If you cannot find the instructor’s contact information, get in touch with the instructor’s departmental office. If there is no instructor yet assigned to the class/section you are enrolled in, ask for the department’s undergraduate chairperson, and explain your situation to that person.

It is important to start this process prior to the first day of classes, so that you can get your texts early in the term -- It can take 4-6 weeks for an alternate format textbook to arrive.

Other places to search for electronic texts

It is unlikely that you will find university textbooks at these sites, but they may have other books of personal interest to you:

Getting Help

Access and Equity Services is here to assist individuals requiring accommodations based on disability, religion, family status and gender identity.

The following services are available to students registered with Access and Equity Services: