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Alternative Text

Alt Text Defined
Information presented in a different format than its original. This includes textual information (letters, words, sentences), but also non-textual information such as images, whitespace, and charts.

Reader Services provides alternative text (hereafter referred to as "alt text") to students for course materials such as textbooks or coursepacks.

The Purpose of Alt Text

Because text most often comes in the form of ink on paper, not all users are able to access all of the information. Alternatives must be provided by LCC in those situations where an accessible format cannot be acquired independently by students.

For instance, a blind user may require text to be converted into Braille, a dyslexic user may require text simultaneous aural and visual access to text, or a user without the ability to physically manipulate the text may require the text to be converted into an electronic format

Types of Alt Text

Alt text comes in many varieties, and must often be customized for its user. Some of the formats provided by Reader Services are described below.

Electronic Text

Often shortened to just e-text, electronic text is text that has been converted or created for use on electronic devices such as computers, phones, tablets, or handheld readers for the blind.

E-text comes in many formats itself, including DOC, PDF, EPUB, and websites (HTML). Each format presents its own accessibility challenge, but they all share the key feature of being accessible to computers. This seemingly small feature allows computers and the computer users (you!) to do amazing things with the text, including:

  • Select, copy, and paste text.
  • Utilize voice synthesis to have the computer read text aloud.
  • Enlarge, shrink, stretch, or deform the text in other ways.
  • Index the text for quick searching.
  • Explicitly differentiate different kinds of text (e.g. headings vs. paragraphs).
  • Move around the text using a keyboard.

Braille is a tactile writing system that uses a system of raised dots within rectangular cells to represent letters and characters. A special machine is required to write Braille to special paper, often making the production of it very expensive.

In recent years, many Braille users have opted to utilize refreshable Braille displays to read electronic text rather than converting text to Braille.

Tactile Graphics

Tactile graphics, like Braille, are a way for visually impaired users to feel information with their hands. But unlike Braille, tactile graphics are used to represent images, graphs, charts, and other visual information rather than textual information.


Text enlargement is the process of increasing the size of text, images, or graphics to make it more readable. This is often done for individuals with low-vision when no other option is readily available.

Audio Files

Not long ago, Reader Services used student staff to record textbooks onto a cassette tape. While we do still have some tapes, mp3s, and wav files, it is no longer a service that we provide. Voice synthesizers, the technology behind screen readers, improved dramatically in the early 2010s, leading to the decision to discontinue our "books on tape" accommodation in favor of e-text.

How to Request Alt Text


In order to be eligible for alt text of any kind, the following two conditions must be true.

  1. You must be an LCC student.
  2. You must meet with a CSA consultant to discuss your needs. This can be done as often as you like, but at least once per academic year (3 consecutive semesters).
  3. A CSA consultant must approve your alt text accommodation.
  4. You must agree to the Alt Text Terms of Service.

If all of the above are true, feel free to fill out our online alt text request form for each book that you need.

Once you have turned in your alt text forms and other requested materials, Reader Services will begin processing your alt text request.

Center for Student Access

Center for Student Access
Gannon Building - StarZone
Phone: (517) 483-1924
Additional contact information »

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