Assistive Technology and Alternate Format Materials (eText)

Assistive technology is any item, software, hardware, or equipment used to increase, maintain, or improve the functional capabilities of people with disabilities. Assistive technology may be provided as a reasonable accommodation for students whose disabilities affect their ability to access information and products.

You must first register with Disability Services to apply for eligibility for accommodation.

Who Uses Assistive Technology?

Students with physical, learning, and psychological disabilities, chronic medical conditions, traumatic brain injuries, and ADHD, as well as students who are deaf or hard-of hearing or students who are blind or have low vision—all use assistive technology. Additionally, students with temporary injuries may use assistive technology during their recovery.

Registration and Eligibility

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

Students registered with Disability Services and approved for accommodations: Once you are approved as eligible for accommodation, talk with your coordinator, who will work closely with the assistive technology specialist to provide you with any necessary materials.

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

Faculty and Staff: If you are interested in using assistive technology or alternative formats as an accommodation, contact Hana Bloch in Human Resources at hb356@columbia.edu.

Assistive Technology Available Through Disability Services

  • Alternate format materials
  • Reading and writing software
  • Screen magnification software
  • Voice recognition software
  • Video magnifiers
  • Braille translation software
  • Screen-reading software

Disability Services often lends assistive technology to students who are approved for such devices. The assistive technology specialist can answer questions about how to borrow and train to use the equipment. The assistive technology specialist works with students, faculty, and staff on:

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

Students already registered with Disability Services should schedule an appointment with the assistive technology specialist.

Alternate Format Materials (eText)

Alternate format is a form of assistive technology and refers to the conversion of textbooks or other reading materials (such as class notes, articles, or magazines) into a format other than standard print. Such 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, eText (structured PDF or Word format), audio file, and Braille.

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 five weeks in advance of the new semester, as alternate format materials must be requested from publishers.

Reading Lists for Classes

To obtain reading lists for classes before the semester begins:

  1. Log in to CourseWorks to obtain the required readings from each syllabus as soon as possible.
  2. If the syllabus is not available there, contact the professor directly or check with the Columbia University Bookstore.
  3. If the reading list is unavailable at the bookstore, the student’s accessibility services coordinator will assist in obtaining the reading list so that alternative formats can be requested.