The Catholic University of America

Alternative  Formats

What is Alternative Format?

Alternative formats are auxiliary aids used to effectively communicate printed information to people who have functional impairments. This means, in real terms, books and other text-based materials are easier to read/listen, understand, and work with.  We hope this translates to more effective studying and a better education.

 

Portable Document Format (PDF)

A PDF is an image file that is a direct representation of what you would see if you printed out the document.   Many students who need the text larger or cannot hold a heavy textbook opt for this alternative format.  There are two types of PDFs, accessible and inaccessible.  If it’s accessible, that means the text in the document can be read by a screen reader or other reading program without the use of a special Optical Character Recognition.  An inaccessible PDF, the files produced by this office, are simply images and the text cannot be edited.

 

Rich Text Format (RTF)

An RTF file is very similar to the more popular .DOC produced by Microsoft Word.  An RTF is an editable text file that can be read by a screen reader, Kurzweil 1000/3000, Read and Write Gold, EasyReader or by your computer’s Text-to-Speech engine (such as VoiceOver on Mac).  Students prefer this format when they use a word processor other than Microsoft Word or they want to be able to manipulate the text, for example, to use with the Fact Folder in Read and Write Gold to create outlines.

 

Microsoft Word Document (DOC)

Most students are familiar with this file type.  It’s an editable text file and like an RTF, it can also be read by a screen reader, Kurzweil 1000/3000, Read and Write Gold, EasyReader or by your computer’s Text-to-Speech engine (such as VoiceOver on Mac).  Students are able to capture text to use the Fact Folder in Read and Write Gold to create outlines, or they have many other options with a range of learning software.

 

Hypertext Markup Language (HTML)

HTML files are typically known for being used to create webpages.  For some, HTML files are easy to read on the computer because the links allow them to easily jump through the pages of a larger document (such as a text book), and the file size is smaller so they take up less space on a computer (useful if you like to use a notebook computer around campus).  These files, like RTFs and DOCs, can be read by a screen reader, Kurzweil 1000/3000, Read and Write Gold, EasyReader or by your computer’s Text-to-Speech engine (such as VoiceOver on Mac).

 

MP3

MP3s, as you know from your iTunes, are audio files.  Your books can be made into audio files (usually one MP3 per chapter) and you can play these on your computer through iTunes or Windows Media Player, your iPod or other MP3 player, or even on your smartphone.  Many commuter students like to use these to listen to their class materials while traveling, or to have as an easy accompaniment to help you read anywhere you and your books go.

 

DAISY Talking Book (DTB)

DTBs are essentially digital books.  You can use software such as EasyReader, EclipseReader, or Read and Write Gold to read these books on the computer. There are Apps for your smartphone or iPad to read DAISY.   You can see all the text and images and have the text read aloud to you.  These books are also fully navigable, which means you can move by page, chapter, or section.  With a software reader, you can add highlighting while the book is reading, change the font type and size, and even add bookmarks or notes.  This is probably the simplest way, and most accessible, to read large textbooks.  There are even DAISY players that look like CD players (ie Victor Reader) or MP3 players (ie Victor Stream) that will read the book to you and on-the-go.

 

Kurzweil (KESI)

KESI files are readable audio and text files that are specifically made for the computer software programs Kurzweil 3000 and Kurzweil 1000.  With these files, you can see the text and images on screen while Kurzweil reads aloud to you.  Kurzweil highlights the text, allow you to take notes, and has useful dictionaries and other resource tools to help you study better.