Accessible Textbooks/Media

A core function of the RCPD is disability-related services to the MSU community. This includes the production of alternative format materials for people with print-related disabilities. Alternative format materials include: Braille (literary and scientific), audio, large print, tactile graphic, and electronic. These formats provide access to information and knowledge for persons with print-related disabilities including blindness, visual impairment, learning disabilities, and certain motor disabilities. Such services are provided at no cost to RCPD registered students with print-related disabilities, who are both deemed eligible for alternative formats and using the material in MSU credit-granting courses. Production of these materials requires the establishment and maintenance of production capacities that ebb and flow with semester academic schedules. During periods when student needs have been met, the RCPD may experience extra production capacity allowing the unit to assist other programs and institutions to meet their goals and obligations for programmatic access by persons with disabilities. The summaries that follow are relevant to students enrolled in MSU credit-granting courses. The Alternative Format Production for Non-RCPD Programs and Institutions document describes production services of relevance for non-student needs.

Please note: RCPD alternative format users are required to follow the Terms and Conditions for accessing alternative format materials. Be sure to review this information carefully.

Frequently Asked Questions


Kurzweil 3000 Can Now be Accessed on Personal Computers by Students and Staff Members

The Resource Center for Persons with Disabilities is pleased to announce that as of 2016 MSU has obtained a campus-wide license for the award-winning technology Kurzweil 3000 (K3000+firefly). Individual accounts are now available to any MSU student, faculty, or staff member for free! K3000+firefly is a learning software that can convert a multitude of documents into audio to be read aloud by the program. This software offers many supplementary study options including audio, visual, translation, and text-based study tools. It is ideal for those with reading difficulties or those acquiring language skills (English as another language), as it can read aloud and highlight active text. Kurzweil 3000 also provides definitions for words, making text more accessible.

The MSU campus-wide license allows students and employees to access K3000+firefly through desktop download on your personal computer, online anywhere with internet access, or on the app for iPads. To download your own copy, send a blank email message to You must send this message from an MSU email account. An automated server will send you complete links and instructions.

We encourage the MSU community to take advantage of this amazing software designed to deliver highly-customizable support anytime, anywhere via multiple platforms.

Training for using this and other learning tools is available to all RCPD students. Contact the RCPD at (517) 884-7273 to set up a training session.

A former student smiling in front of a computer as he uses Kurzweil 3000.

Bob, a former Agriculture student, utilizes Kurzweil 3000 for all of his required reading.


Procedure for Obtaining Alternative Formats

Prepare a list of textbooks you will need for each course in which you have enrolled (including the syllabus) four to six weeks before the beginning of the semester to enable timely production and delivery of materials for the start of classes. This list can be obtained in several ways:

First, access the bookstore web page and search for required text by semester. Be prepared to enter data such as: department, course, section number, name of instructor, and semester.

Bookstores serving MSU: Spartan Bookstore, Student Book Store , Collegeville Texbook Company, Ned's Bookstore

  • Call the bookstore and request a list of books for each course. Be prepared to give the department, course number, section number, name of instructor, and semester.
  • Contact your instructor to verify that each reference from the bookstore is correct. Errors or omissions in this step can jeopardize your receipt of appropriate books for your course and can result in wasted time and effort on the part of RCPD staff and volunteers. (If the instructor cannot be reached, call the secretary of the department offering the course to request or verify the list of books.)
  • If you have any trouble getting the list of books contact your Specialist at RCPD for help.

After you obtained the textbook information, search each book's publisher website to see whether the publisher sells the book in E-text (or E-Book) format. If the publisher sells the book in E-text format, buy it direct from the publisher. RCPD will not re-produce a textbook that the publisher already has in E-text format for sale. The most common E-text formats are accessible PDF, Word or Text format. You can usually find publisher's website address by using common Web search engine such as Google, Yahoo, etc.

Before bringing textbooks to RCPD, call or inquire online at each of the following resources below to check on book availability. The edition is particularly important! Please note that RCPD does not produce alternative format materials that are already available in the needed format at other sources. Should your materials be available via one of these sources, you should order or download the needed materials directly.

For each book requested you will need:

  1. Complete title of text
  2. Author's full name
  3. Publisher
  4. Copyright date
  5. Edition number
  6. ISBN

Obtaining Electronic Text

Electronic text is a term used to describe print materials (often excluding graphics) available in machine-readable or computerized form. The text may be saved on media such as flash drives, hard drives, or CDs.

  • The MSU STAR Books Database is an online books database listing thousands of books made available by the RCPD. (Tip: Remember the STAR web address as: BOOKS.RCPD.MSU.EDU)
  • See instructions on how to access the RCPD books database
  • External Sources: If books you require are not listed on STAR, use the page with links to external sources for accessing APH/Louis Database, BookShare , Gutenberg , NLS , and RFB&D . Referenced via STAR, online books database include over 400,000 books. Follow directions to search, order, or download needed materials. (Membership with RFB&D, NLS, and BookShare are required to access books. Applications for membership are available online.)
  • Large publishing companies (McGraw Hill, Bartleby, Princeton Press, etc.) are another source that can be accessed to request needed materials. Recently, some publishers have also produced their books in e-book format. Again, RCPD will not produce a book that already has an e-text version. Publisher information is listed on the cover of the textbooks, and an RCPD Disability Specialist or Media Access Specialist can assist students in requesting needed materials.

If textbooks or other class materials are unavailable from any of the above sources, Tower Guard members and other volunteers may produce them at RCPD. Students may be asked to include a class syllabus when turning in the books for production. (Note: the production of Braille, large print, and electronic text requires the removal of book bindings and thus reduces or eliminates the potential for book resale at the end of the semester. While the textbook is being used for production, RCPD will give the student a completed "Book Loan for Student" letter to assist the student in obtaining a loaner book from the local bookstore. A receipt for the book must be presented with the letter to obtain a loaner book from the bookstore.)

Screenshot of e-texting

An example of a Tower Guard student utilizing e-texting software.

Each eligible student is expected to be familiar with and able to independently use STAR for textbook searching and file downloading functions. Contact your Specialist about scheduling a training session. Scanned text is saved in rich text format (RTF), and zipped before it is uploaded to STAR. Graphics and charts are usually not included as part of the e-text production. Files on parts of the book are usually organized in the sequence the text is presented in the printed book, for example, 00 Front Matter (Acknowledgement, copyright, table of contents, etc.), 01 Chapter, 02 Chapter (or 01 Part I, 02 Part II, etc),...and Back Matter (glossary, indices, appendices), etc.

Alternatively, STEPP, the STudent E-rent Pilot Project, is an eTextbook rental program offering cost-effective textbooks that all students can read. STEPP was launched by the Georgia Tech Alternative Media Access Center, in partnership with CourseSmart and the AccessText Network, through a grant from the U.S. Department of Education, Fund for the Improvement of Postsecondary Education.  The STEPP program is designed to meet the textbook rental needs of any postsecondary student and aims to help improve low-cost access to higher education textbooks for all students, including those with print-related disabilities.    

Accessible Textbooks and Media in the News:

Displaying 1-3 of 17 results.

Mobility Enhanced: The Road to the Guide App

“The challenge is designing an app so that anyone who uses it thinks that it was designed for them” so the app accommodates a wide array of abilities.

Department of Undergraduate Education Celebrates Tower Guard Induction in Article

Every spring, a ceremony called May Morning Sing celebrates the induction of a new Tower Guard which consists of a select few of the top 5% of Michigan State’s freshman class.

Independence in STEM Technology for All

The purpose of the RCPD is firmly centered on maximizing the opportunities at Michigan State for students of all abilities. In this spirit, we are working ardently to produce results with the help of a new grant. “The 2017-18 Creative Excellence Grant” supports our “Enhancing the Accessibility of Mathematics and Symbolic Content” initiative.