Alternative Media Guidelines

[Table of Contents]

[For Alt Media Timelines at A Glance, click here]

The following guidelines are designed to assist the Disabled Students' Program (DSP) in providing you with timely and effective Alternative Media Services. DSP continues to be actively engaged in identifying ways to better serve students w/print disabilities. If you have questions about, or ideas for how to improve, any of the following guidelines, contact the DSP Director by email at hippolitus@berkeley.edu or phone (510) 642-0518.

Upon request DSP provides alternative media for required and recommended course reading assignments including course textbooks, readers, handouts, materials posted to bSpace and specifically required or recommended library materials. Please note there are also Library services for students with print disabilities.


Enroll in your Courses during the First Day Tele-BEARS Phases I and II Open

As a DSP alt media student, you receive priority enrollment, which gives you the opportunity to register for your courses during the first day of both Tele-BEARS Phase I and Phase II, (Two weeks before Tele-BEARS Phase I opens and two weeks before Tele-BEARS II opens, the Registrar's Office will notify you by email of the specific date/time of your appointment to register online for courses.) Enrolling the first day of Tele-BEARS Phase I means you may enroll in most courses as far in advance as nineteen (19) weeks before the first day of class. Your early course enrollment (if promptly followed by your alt media request) enables DSP to produce your complete alt media before the start of class.


Submit Your Request for Alternative Media as soon as you can

Submitting your alt media requests as early as possible makes it more likely you will receive all of your alternative media material prior to the start of a semester. Once the course materials are announced for any course in which you are enrolled, immediately submit an alt media request. DSP will send you an email acknowledging receipt and stating scheduled completion date.


Ask for Help if Classes Start in Six Weeks & Course Materials Not Yet Available

The University is aware that course instructors do not always identify course materials six weeks or more before classes start, and that materials are not always available as soon as they are announced. If six weeks prior to the start of the semester, course materials have not yet been announced/made available for a course in which you are enrolled, submit an Alt Media Notice. The instructor will be contacted to attempt to expedite identification and availability of course materials.


What is an Alt Media Notice? You may email an Alt Media Notice if it is six weeks (or less) before start of class and the reason you have not submitted materials to DSP is:
  • The course instructor has not yet announced course textbooks/course reader.
  • The bookstore/copy center does not have the announced course book/reader in stock.
  • You arranged for book to be sent directly to DSP by a bookstore or vendor, e.g. Amazon.
  • A source from which to obtain materials in an electronic format has been identified.

Note: If by three weeks before a class starts, you are registered for a course but have not submitted an alt media request or sent DSP an Alt Media Notice, DSP may not be able to provide that course's textbook or reader within the Standard Production Timeframes set out below.

To file an Alt Media Notice, send an email to dspamc@berkeley.edu with subject heading "Alt Media Notice." In the body of the email, identify course name and number, course instructor and instructor's email/phone (if available) and course materials (if announced). You may also send an Alt Media Notice to DSP by responding to one of the Alt Media Reminders DSP will email you six, five, and four weeks before the start of class.

Making a Request for Alternative Media

If you drop a course or an instructor changes your reading assignment, notify the Alt Media Assistant so that we may focus on alt media needed by you or others.

Use the Alt Media Request Form [PDF | DOC], which may be completed and submitted online (no printer required), or printed off the DSP website or obtained from the DSP receptionist. Usually the most important factor in how soon you will receive your alt media is how far in advance of the start of the semester you turn in your alt media request. An inaccurate or incomplete request increases the risk of a delay in providing you with your alt media. The Alt Media Assistant is available to help you complete this request form. Complete the Alt Media Request Form [PDF | DOC] online or email an electronic copy of the completed Alt Media Request Form [PDF | DOC] to the Alt Media Assistant at dspamc@berkeley.edu or give a hard copy to the DSP office receptionist. In addition to the Alt Media Request form, submit appropriate documentation (see below).

Identify Required and Recommended Reading Assignments

When available, the course syllabus (with due dates for reading assignments) should be submitted with your alt media request. If the reading is not listed on the course syllabus, a written statement (email or note) from the course instructor is sufficient for showing the reading is required or recommended for the course.


Submitting Materials for Conversion

Provide DSP the materials to be converted into your preferred alt media format at the same time you submit your completed alt media request form. If it is six weeks (or less) before the start of class and you do not have your course materials, you may want to send an Alt Media Notice (see above).

Within three business days of submitting hard copy materials for scanning/editing, the original materials will be returned to you for your use while waiting for your alt media. When DSP scans a bound book or course reader to provide alternative media, the book/reader will be cut into separate pages for rapid scanning, then re-bound. (At the semester end, rebound books may be returned to the campus bookstore just as other rental or used books.)

When the materials for which alt media is requested belong to the University Library system, please use the Library process for converting text into an accessible format so the materials can be scanned without damaging the binding. Be sure to notify the Library at the time of your request if the Library materials are required or recommended reading for a course assignment. Once the Library provides you the link where you may retrieve online the Library materials in a scanned digital format, you will have three business days to indicate you want DSP to further edit the scanned digital format of Library materials which are required or recommended for course reading assignments.


Verify your ownership of textbook/course reader (copyright issues)

DSP usually may not release to you the alt media version of the book/reader until you provide verification of ownership of the source material. Normally, this means submitting a copy of your purchase receipt. If you do not have a receipt, you may sign a statement certifying "I am requesting an alternate format of a textbook that I own or that has been purchased on my behalf." (When an electronic version of your materials is available from the publisher, a receipt of purchase may be required and there may be a delay in completing your alt media request while DSP waits for you to provide a receipt of purchase). Either hand your proof of ownership to the DSP office receptionist or email a scanned copy to dspamc@berkeley.edu.

When Will I Receive My Alt Media?

Below are timeframes generally required for DSP to provide alt media materials that require conversion and editing. You may get your alt media sooner than the schedule below, and on rare occasions some course materials may take longer. If the original scheduled date of completion must be adjusted, you will be sent an email with the revised estimated date of completion.


General Timeframes* for Obtaining Accessible (Edited) Alt Media

To be sure you have your alt media before the start of classes, submit your alt media request during Tele-BEARS Phase I or within the first three business days of TeleBears Phase II. For Tele-BEARS dates, see the Registrar's homepage. DSP will make its reasonable best efforts to provide full production of the material submitted by this time frame at least three days before the start of classes.


Note: bSpace Online Postings and Hard Copy Handouts vary widely in length and complexity. Such materials will be converted according to the standard production and expedited production time frames set forth below for textbooks or course readers, whichever format is most similar.

Standard Production Time*: Producing edited alt media for most textbooks (whether hard copy or posted to bSpace) takes ten (10) business days, and for most course readers (whether hard copy or posted to bSpace) takes seventeen (17) business days.

Expedited Production (Rolling Basis)*: When a shorter turn-around time is needed to complete a required course assignment, you may opt to obtain portions of your textbook or course reader as needed on a "rolling basis", rather than at the end of the Standard Production Time. Prioritize conversion of required portions of your textbook, course reader, or other material distributed by instructors by submitting the standard alt media request form, checking the box marked "Rolling Basis", and identifying the date the assignment is due (if due date is not shown on syllabus, written documentation of due date from instructor is sufficient). Starting within five business days of an urgent request for portions of a textbook, and starting within eight business days of an urgent request for portions of a course reader, those portions of the textbook, course reader or other materials that are due will be provided on a "rolling basis" 24 hours prior to each upcoming due date. The complete textbook, course reader or other materials will be provided as soon as reasonable.

*Specialized Text takes longer than the standard production time due to:

  • Subject Matter: math, science (including computer science), foreign language materials
  • Paper Production: Braille or large print that requires re-formatting/re-pagination
  • Scan Conversion: marked-up materials or illegible Xeroxes requiring extensive text input by keyboard

Please submit your request for Specialized Text as far in advance as possible. DSP will make its best reasonable efforts to provide such alt media as soon as possible.

Recommended (But Not Required) Reading Assignments: upon request reading assignments recommended to the whole class will be converted into alternative media when needed for a class/course paper. The standard production turn-around times do not apply to alt media requests for recommended readings, which have lower priority than alt media requests for required readings. The volume of pending alt media requests for required readings, the purpose for which the recommended reading is needed, and difficulty producing the alt media for the specific recommended reading, all affect turn-around time. You will be provided an estimated date of completion for recommended reading materials.

Requests for Extensions of Time: If a student promptly files an alt media request as soon as instructional materials are available, but nevertheless is unable to complete a course assignment or take a course examination because his or her instructional materials were not accessible at the same time as they were to non-disabled students, the student may ask the DSP Specialist for a Letter of Accommodation requesting the instructor grant the student an extension of time to complete the assignment or take the course exam.


While You are Waiting for Your Alt Media…

If you anticipate needing access to information within the materials during the three business days DSP has possession of your hard-copy materials for purposes of creating alternative media, you may self-scan for yourself in advance (before submitting to DSP) that portion of the materials you anticipate needing during these three business days. See below if you need assistance with self-scanning.

While waiting for your alt media, you may need interim support to meet course expectations in your ongoing classes. In addition to self-help options, you may want to ask your DSP Specialist for additional support, such as arranging for a reasonable extension of a course deadline for an assigned reading or other appropriate interim accommodation such as a personal reader. Contact the Alt Media Assistant at dspamc@berkeley.edu if you believe an unedited electronic version would be helpful while you are waiting for the edited alt media (unedited scanned material has not been proof-read for errors occurring during scanning).


Where to get Your Completed Alternative Media Materials

When your request for alt media has been completed, all electronic text materials will be posted to your DSP bSpace unless you make arrangements with the Alt Media Assistant to pick up digital text on a disk or portable drive. Alt media in a hard copy paper format, e.g. Braille or large print, will be made available for student pick-up at DSP Office (call DSP at 510-642-0518 ahead of time to be sure DSP receptionist will have the materials on hand when you come by).


Immediately Notify Us of Any Problems

Promptly inform the Alt Media Assistant of any problems with alternative media provided to you. DSP will investigate the reported problem and take appropriate steps to resolve.


Appropriate Use of Alt Media

DSP will ask you to affirm online that you will handle your alt media materials appropriately.

Any materials provided to you by DSP may not be copied or distributed in any manner that violates copyright law. For example if you sell the original hard copy version of a copyright protected text, you must promptly return the converted alternative media version to DSP or self-delete your electronic version.


Self-Help Options

There are several "self help" options available for obtaining reading materials in various digital formats. You may contact the Alt Media Assistant at dspamc@berkeley.edu if you need assistance using any of these self-help options. If under these Alternative Media Guidelines DSP would otherwise produce alt media for a required or recommended reading, using self-help options does not preclude you from obtaining further editing by DSP of the electronic copy you self-scanned or self-converted.

Self-Search: there are many databases/inventories of electronic books/materials (some in an accessible format, others not). You may be able to locate an existing electronic copy of the book you need by yourself—many electronic books are available for free, e.g., BookShare, or for a nominal fee, e.g., Learning Ally. Before submitting an alt media request for a book, you are encouraged to first check these primary e-book databases for availability of an existing electronic copy. If the electronic copy you locate via these databases requires additional editing, or conversion to hard copy Braille or Large Print, DSP will do such further editing or conversion provided a) it is a required or recommended course reading, b) an alt media request form is submitted, and c) the electronic document is not technically "locked" so as to preclude further editing or conversion (in which case you may have to provide a different version, e.g., hard copy, of the book/material to DSP). If you need assistance, the Alt Media Assistant can help you:

  • set up an account with these e-book databases
  • retrieve an electronic copy from an e-book database
  • convert an electronic copy into your preferred alt media format if the material is for a required or recommended course reading

Self-Scan: There are several options available that you may want to use to self-scan hard copy printed materials when the amount of material involved is small, and you want the materials very quickly. To make this as easy as possible, scanners (with multiple formatting choices) are located in almost all libraries and in the Alternative Media Center (AMC). DSP students with print disabilities may use any of these scanners at no charge (ask Alt Media Assistant for more information). You may also be eligible for a funding grant to buy a personal scanner. More information on this program is available at http://dsp.berkeley.edu/grants. Students at the AMC who are unable to use the AMC self-scanners due to a disability will be assisted at the AMC self-scanners (limit 20 minutes/day scanning assistance). An advance appointment with the Alt Media Assistant is suggested if scanning assistance/instruction is needed.

Self-Conversion: SensusAccess is a self-service solution that automates the conversion of documents into a range of alternative formats including mp3, e-books, Braille, and Daisy. The service can also be used to convert otherwise inaccessible documents such as image-only pdf files, scanned images, lecture notes or other educational material into more accessible formats.

SensusAccess is open to all staff, students, or faculty with an @berkeley.edu email address and is meant to complement the accessibility services offered by the Alt-Media Center and the Library.

Last updated: September, 2013