Skip to main contentSkip to footer content

Access Technology Center

Alternate Media

The Alternate Media Program changes the way you approach your studies and provides tools that give students in need an alternative approach to achieving success. The purpose of Alternate Media is to allow access for students who cannot use standard print materials. Alternate Instructional Materials and textbooks are converted into accessible formats. An assistive technology service is defined as any service that directly assists an individual with a disability in the selection, acquisition, or use of an assistive technology device.

Types of Alternate Media

  • Electronic text (e-text)
  • Braille
  • Text to speech
  • Speech to text
  • Audio files in MP3 format
  • Large print

Contact Us

For Staff Only

ATC Loan Agreement

Assistive Technology

A software program that helps students develop ideas and organize thinking.

A software program that helps students develop ideas and organize thinking.

Web-based version so students can access anywhere with an internet connection. Learn how to install Kurzweil Read the Web (Chrome extension).

Magnifies items on the computer screen for students who have low vision.

Speech recognition software. Talk and your words appear on the screen.

Allow you to take notes while simultaneously recording classroom lectures or discussions.

Echo Smartpen

With a built-in microphone, speaker, and high-speed infrared camera, the Echo Smartpen captures your notes, simultaneously records audio and then plays them back – all by itself.

DSPS students that have Smartpen as an approved accommodation can check one out for the semester at no cost.

If you are unsure of your approved accommodations, email us at or call our front desk at (707) 256-7345.

How to Check Out a Smartpen
  1. Make sure you have attended an Assistive Technology training session (If not, please schedule an appointment at (707) 256-7345.
  2. Read and sign the DSPS Equipment Loan Agreement. (A copy of the Equipment Loan Agreement will be sent to your address.)
  3. Check out Smartpen for the semester.
  4. Return Smartpen during or after finals.

Please note: If you want your electronic version of your notes, bring by your SmartPen and USB/Flash drive to our Access Technology Center (ATC). Our team will assist in the transfer.

Video Tutorials (SF State)
Other Helpful Links

A software that captures full recordings of classes and offers a visual and interactive form of notetaking.

This device allows users the capability to instantly capture and process printed text.

Specifically developed with productivity and assistive technology for reading and learning in mind, C-PENs allow users the capability to instantly capture and process printed text. They are comprised of patented camera technology and an in-system Optical Character Recognition (OCR) software.

With dictionary and recording features, the ReaderPen helps promote active and independent studying.

Helpful Links

A free tool to help convert digital files into alternate formats.

Instructional and other informational materials may exist in a variety of formats that prevent a student with a print-based disability from engaging and interacting with the information. While colleges should strive to adopt instructional materials that are accessible, it is necessary for colleges to develop document conversion strategies to produce materials in alternate formats.

CCC Document Converter

The CCC Document Converter is a free tool for the California Community College alternate media specialists and staff to help convert digital files into alternate formats.

The CCC Document Converter helps you generate different file formats that might be difficult or time-consuming to produce otherwise. The converted file may need only minor editing before being ready to use, or it may be ready to deliver to students as is, if the source file was clean and well prepared.

The CCC Converter allows you to submit files via the following options:

  • an uploaded file
  • an URL for an online document
  • manually entered digital text.

Once a file has been uploaded and processed, an email will be delivered with the selected file type.

Please Note:

  • Source files need to be of good quality in order to maximize conversion accuracy.
  • Some file outputs may require additional editing after conversion.
  • PDF documents that are locked for security purposes will not be processed.
  • The file upload limit is 64MB.
  • Copyright law of the United States (Title 17, U.S. Code) governs the making of photocopies or other reproductions of copyrighted material. The person using this equipment is liable for any infringement. This service is provided only for non-commercial instructional and educational use, and any other use is prohibited.
Steps for Usage

CCC Converter utilizes a dynamic input form that will respond with custom options based on the information you provide it. Here are the steps to convert a document:

  • Visit the CCC Converter Website
  • Determine your source file. Supported file types include MS Word, PDF, PowerPoint, and most image formats.
  • Determine your output:
  • Accessibility Conversion supports conversion of image and PDF files into: MS Word, RTF, PDF, and HTML formats
  • MP3 Audio, with speeds of: normal, slow, slower, slowest, fast, faster, and fastest
  • E-book, including ePub and DAISY
  • Enter your college email address to receive your finished file once it is completed. Document conversion is limited to recognized California Community College email accounts.

Please email the CCC Accessibility Center at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. if you have any problems or questions.

Common Output Options

While there are many file formats you can submit, not all file types can be converted directly to a target format. Here are some of the more common paths towards alternate formats:

Target Format Input Format
PDF Word, PDF, image file
Word PDF, image file
MP3 Word, plain text, image file
HTML PDF, image file
RTF PDF, ePub, image file
ePub Word, PDF, RTF, image file


Optical Character Recognition

Documents that exist as a scanned image or a picture of text must undergo optical character recognition (OCR) In order to convert the scanned image of text into actual electronic text. Such OCR programs can turn image files into documents that can then be further edited for improved accuracy.

OmniPage and Abbyy Finereader are two OCR solutions used by many colleges that support the conversion of scanned and image-based file types into text-based formats.

Abbyy FineReader

The following are suggestions for free and low-cost mobile assistive technology applications. Please note, costs and applications below are subject to change.


Applications to read your etext aloud. Features may include: highlighting text, ability to edit text, search capabilities, etc.

  Cost iOS Android
Speechify Free
ClaroPDF(Pro & Light) $5.99/Free  
Voice Dream Reader $9.99
Gltden Reader Free
Menestrello Free
Natural Reader Free
BeeLine Reader $1.99  


eText Distribution

An online folder for your files. Gives user the ability to access uploaded files anywhere with an internet connection.

  Cost iOS Android
DropBox Free
Project Gutenberg Free    
Box Free
Bitcasa Free
SensusAccess Free    



Apps to enhance notetaking, which may allow you to include recordings.

  Cost iOS Android
EverNote Free
Notability $2.99  
Voice Dream Writer $9.99  
SoundNote $4.99  



Applications to help you stay organized and on-task.

  Cost iOS Android
Pocket Free
Wunderlist Free
Google Task Free
Finish Free  



These applications offer fast and easy ways to add future events and reminders.

  Cost iOS Android
Any.DO Free
Toggl $5/mo
Stick It $0.99  
Fantastical 2 $1.99  


Communication (DHH)

These applications are intended to assist the Deaf and Hard of Hearing with communication.

  Cost iOS Android
Innocaption Free
Petralex Free
ClaroCOM Free/$19.99  



Applications designed for people with low vision.

  Cost iOS Android
ClariaZoom Free  


Math Writing

Applications to assist with mathematical writing.

  Cost iOS Android
ModMath Free  


Writing Support

Applications to help build writing skills.

  Cost iOS Android
Grow Grammar $4.99  

Students interested in training or receiving an orientation on the use of any software programs or assistive technology should schedule an appointment to meet with Alternate Media Specialist or Instructional Support Specialist at the DSPS main office (707) 256-7345 or ATC (707) 256-7453.

Alternate Media Request & Policy

Request Process
Step 1: Search for Texbooks
  • Bookshare -, is the world's largest online library of accessible ebooks for people with print disabilities. Upon approval this service is available for free membership through DSPS certificated staff. The e-text is free of charge. Let us know if you think you qualify.
  • Learning Ally -, Audio books read by human voices. Upon approval this service is available for free membership through DSPS certificated staff. The e-text is free of charge. Let us know if you think you qualify.
  • Internet Archive - providess free books for individuals with documented print disabilities.
  • Access Text Network Accessible, a network text finder with no membership required. You will need to purchase the accessible text.
Step 2: Request E-Text
  • If you do not find your textbook at the above resources, fill out the online Alternative Media Request Form. You will need to purchase your text book and upload or bring in your receipt as proof of purchase.
  • You will receive an email response in your NVC student email. Your e-texts will be available in your Kurzweil 3000 account. If you do not have an account please contact us or schedule an appointment with San T. Lu or Jason Bell.
Step 3: Install Kurzweil 3000 or use the Web-based Version/Firefly (Text to Speech Reader)

Media Request Forms

(For all requested books, you will need to bring the textbook and proof of purchase in order for us to process your request. Please allow up to seven (7) working days for delivery of alternative format.)

Audiobook Eligibility

Audio books read by human voices. Upon approval this service is available for free membership through DSPS certificated staff. The e-text is free of charge.

Who Qualifies?
  • Learning Disabilities
    A person with a learning disability such as dyslexia qualifies for Bookshare as long as a competent authority confirms that the learning disability significantly interferes with reading.
  • Low Vision/Blindness
    A person who is blind or has low vision and who is unable to read standard print qualifies for Bookshare as long as a competent authority confirms that the person is legally blind or has a significant problem accessing text.
  • Physical Disabilities
    A person with a physical disability who is unable to read standard print qualifies for Bookshare as long as a competent authority confirms that the physical disability significantly interferes with reading.
Who Doesn't Automatically Qualify?

People with disabilities such as:

  • autism
  • intellectual disabilities
  • attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD)
  • hearing loss
  • dysgraphia
  • dyscalculia

and people whose first language is not English DO NOT QUALIFY ON THESE CRITERIA ALONE under the laws and agreements that determine Bookshare eligibility. However, it is quite possible that a person with one or more of these disabilities could still qualify for Bookshare because of an accompanying print disability. For example, a person who is both deaf and blind, or who has ADHD and significant dyslexia, could qualify.

For more information about Bookshare, visit their website.

Audio books read by human voices. Upon approval this service is available for free membership through DSPS certificated staff. The e-text is free of charge.

Who Qualifies?

People with disabilities such as:

  • learning disabilities including:
  • reading disorders
  • dyslexia
  • visual impairments including:
  • blind
  • low vision
  • physical disabilities
What May Not Qualify?

Learning Ally services are limited to individuals with documented learning disabilities, vision impairment, or physical disabilities that impede the ability to process standard print. These requirements mean that by themselves, the following may not qualify for membership:

  • autism spectrum disorders
  • Developmental disability
  • Hearing impairment
  • ESL

Note: If a diagnostician can verify that an accompanying qualified disability exists, then membership can be made available.

For more information about Learning Ally, visit their website.

Alternate Media Request Policy

Eligibility for this service is determined by the Disability Support Programs & Services (DSPS) Counselors, or LD Specialist and is based in part on the professional documentation provided by the student. All new DSPS students approved for alternate media accommodations will be given referrals by certificated staff to schedule an appointment (707-256-7345) at their earliest convenience to meet with the Alternate Media Specialist. If the student is unable to utilize these accommodation(s) immediately, DSPS will send reminder emails or texts to all DSPS students a couple of weeks before each semester begins.

  1. Request for materials in alternative format will be considered on a case-by-case basis. Once a request is made, preference will be given to the format specified by the student. However, the recommendation of DSPS professionals will be used in determining the specific media format for each academic course.
  2. Alternate media must be requested each semester needed. For each title requested, the appropriate request form must be filled out online or completed using our fillable PDF and given to the student’s DSPS Counselor or DSPS Office who will forward the request to the college Alternate Media Specialist or Instructional Support Specialist.
  3. Alternative format requests must be submitted as soon as the student learns of their need: late requests will be honored provided that the student making the request understands that the Alternate Media Specialist will set the timeline for completion of the work accordingly.
  4. Turn-a-round times for alternative format requests are determined on a case-by-case basis. Upon review of material to be formatted and converted, the Alternate Media Specialist will notify the student’s counselor of the projected completion date. DSPS will make every effort to complete the request in a timely manner.
  5. Students requesting materials in alternate format must own a physical copy of the textbook and provide a receipt showing proof of purchase before alternate media will be given to them. (This does not include instructional media).
  6. The student will not copy or reproduce any material provided by DSPS, nor allow anyone else to do so. Misuse of this material may result in disciplinary action by Napa Valley College.
  7. Students will be provided with one alternative format copy for each material required for academic use. Materials provided in alternative formats may be copyrighted and may not be reproduced or distributed in a format other than a specified format exclusively for use by blind or other persons with disabilities. Any further reproduction or distribution in a format other than a specified format is in infringement of copyright law.
  8. Student questions regarding alternative format request completion should be addressed to the college Alternate Media Specialist (San T. Lu) at, or (707) 256-7429, or the DSPS Office, Building 1700 McCarthy Library, second floor, room 1766.

Standard Production Time: The Standard Production Time for producing edited alternate media for most textbooks (whether hard copy or electronic) will take ten (10) business days from the time permission has been obtained from the publisher, and for most course readers (whether hard copy or electronic) will take seventeen (17) business days.

“Rolling Basis” Production: When a shorter turn-around time is necessary to complete a required course assignment, a student may opt to obtain portions of their textbook or course reader as needed on a “rolling basis”, rather than at the end of the Standard Production Time. Producing edited alternate media under a Rolling Basis Production request is expected to take at least five (5) business days from the time permission is obtained from the publisher for portions of a textbook and eight (8) business days for portions of a course reader. Under a Rolling Basis Production request, DSPS will convert portions of the textbook, course reader or other instructional materials and provide the alternate media to the student on a “rolling basis” 24 hours prior to each upcoming due date. The student will identify the date the assignment is due (e.g., by submitting course syllabus). If a due date is not shown on syllabus, written documentation of due date from instructor is sufficient. The complete textbook, course reader or other materials will be provided as soon as reasonable.

Specialized Text: Some alternate format requests will take longer than the standard production time due to the subject matter, format type, or the quality of the source material. DSPS will make its best reasonable efforts to provide such alternate media as soon as possible. Specialized text may include:

  • Subject Matter: math, science (including computer science), foreign language materials, etc.
  • Paper Production: Braille or large print that requires reformatting and/or repagination
  • Scan Conversion: marked-up materials or illegible document reproductions requiring extensive text input by keyboard.

Recommended (But Not Required) Reading Assignments: Upon request, instructor recommended reading assignments will be converted into requested alternate media formats when needed for a class/course. The standard production turn-around times will not apply to recommended readings, which have lower priority than those requests for required readings. DSPS recommends to ascertain if the request for alternate media is for required or recommended instructional materials. Upon receiving a request for recommended materials, DSPS will provide an estimated date of completion.