Assistive Technology and Alternate Format Materials (E-text)

You must first register with Disability Services (DS) in order for DS to determine your eligibility for this accommodation. Refer to the registration page for further information.   

Assistive technology is any item, computer software, hardware or piece of equipment that is used to increase, maintain or improve functional capabilities of individuals with disabilities. Assistive technology may be provided as reasonable accommodations for students whose disabilities affect their ability to access information and products. Assistive technology available through Disability Services includes:

  • Alternate format materials (refer to next section for further details)
  • Reading and Writing software
  • Screen Magnification software
  • Voice Recognition software
  • Video Magnifiers
  • Braille Translation software
  • Screen Reading software
  • And more!

Disability Services has an Assistive Technology Specialist who works with students, faculty, and staff to provide Assistive Technology Services, which include:

  • Assessment, demonstrations, and/or introductory training for specific technologies
  • Referrals for assistive technology instruction or comprehensive training
  • Trouble-shooting and technology assistance

Please contact Disability Services for more information, or to schedule an appointment with the Assistive Technology Specialist, if already registered with Disability Services.

Alternate Format Materials (E-Text)

Alternate format is a form of assistive technology.  Alternate format refers to the conversion of textbooks or other reading materials (such as class notes, articles, or magazines) into a format other than standard print.  
Alternate format materials may be provided as a reasonable accommodation for students with print-related disabilities, including visual and reading disabilities, or physical disabilities that make it difficult to carry or hold standard reading material.

Alternate formats available through Disability Services include:

  • Large print
  • E-Text (electronic text – structured PDF or Word format)
  • Audio file
  • Braille

The Assistive Technology Specialist also coordinates the provision and creation of alternate format materials for students.
 
Students who are approved for textbooks in alternate format are responsible for requesting this accommodation prior to the start of each semester. Disability Services recommends that students inform the office of their needs at least 5 weeks in advance of the new semester, as alternate format materials must be requested from publishers.  
 

 

FAQs

What is assistive technology and what is available at Columbia?

Assistive technology is any item, computer software, hardware or piece of equipment that is used to increase, maintain, or improve functional capabilities of individuals with disabilities. Examples of assistive technology include screen magnification software, screen reading software, voice recognition software, Braille translation software, accessible computer or laboratory stations, reading and writing software, and electronic textbooks. Disability Services has a full-time Assistive Technology Specialist who works with students, faculty, and staff to assess their need for assistive technology. The AT specialist also trains students, faculty and staff on such software and/or equipment.  
 

What formats are available?

Most students often request alternate formats such as PDF, Microsoft Word, large-format in print, and DAISY (Digital Accessible Information System used for “talking books”). If there are other formats that you are more comfortable using that were not mentioned above, please let us know. We would explore a student’s request to determine if the preferred format is possible.

How can I obtain the reading lists for my classes before the semester begins?
  • Students are encouraged to go to course works to obtain the required readings from each syllabus as soon as possible.
  • If the syllabus is not available on course works, students are encouraged to contact his or her professor directly or check with the campus bookstore.
  • If the student’s reading list is still unavailable, the student’s coordinator will assist the student in obtaining a copy of the reading list, so that alternative formats can be requested for the student as soon as possible
Who uses assistive technologies?

Students with physical disabilities, psychological disabilities, chronic medical conditions, Learning Disabilities, Traumatic Brain Injuries, AD/HD, students who are Deaf or Hard-of Hearing or students who are blind or have low vision all use assistive technologies. Additionally, students with temporary injuries may use assistive technologies during their recovery.
 

How do I request assistive technology and/or alternate formats?

Students not registered with Disability Services: If you have a disability and believe that you could benefit from accommodations involving assistive technology and/or alternative formats or other accommodations, please fill out a Registration Form.

Students registered with Disability Services who are approved for such accommodations: Once you are eligible for this accommodation, please speak with your coordinator. Your coordinator and the AT specialist will work closely with you to provide you with the necessary materials to accommodate you.

Students registered with Disability Services who are not approved for such accommodations: If you are interested in using alternative formats and/or assistive technology devices, you should fill out a Request for Supplemental Accommodations form. Your coordinator will then review your eligibility for the aforementioned accommodations.

Faculty and Staff: If you are interested in using assistive technology and/or alternative formats as an accommodation, please contact Hana Bloch at hb356@columbia.edu. Hana will be able to work with you to make sure that your accommodation needs are met.

Does DS have a “lending library” or an AT loan program?

Students not registered with Disability Services: If you have a disability and believe that you could benefit from DS’s “lending library” or other accommodations, please fill out a Registration Form.

Students registered with Disability Services who are approved for such accommodations: DS often lends assistive technology to students who are approved for various assistive technology devices. If a student is interested in borrowing AT devices, he or she would then meet with the AT specialist for training and to borrow the equipment.

Students registered with Disability Services who are not approved for such accommodations: If you are interested in using alternative formats and/or assistive technology devices, you should fill out a Request for Supplemental Accommodations form. Your coordinator will then review your eligibility for the aforementioned accommodations.

Faculty and Staff: If you are interested in borrowing assistive technology as a disability accommodation, please contact Hana Bloch at hb356@columbia.edu. Hana will be able to work with you to make sure that your accommodation needs are met.

What AT is available at Columbia?

DS’ current inventory includes digital tape recorders, CCTVs, Pulse and Echo Smart Pens, ABBY Fine Reader, TextHelp, Dragon (standard version, for Mac, Medical and Law versions), Math Type, Kurzweil, large print keyboards, JAWS and Mac Speech.

Last updated April 07, 2014