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Subject Guides

Reading Lists: a Practical Guide

Reading for print impaired students

Reading for print impaired students

Students with a print impairment, or another condition that might affect their reading, often require their reading to be digitised so that their screen reading software can read the texts. If you have a student with a print impairment taking your module, you will need to ensure that we know which readings they need so that we can provide them with an accessible copy. In most cases this is 3 items per week although it will vary according to the individual student’s needs. Please check with the student if you are in any doubt.

You will need to identify the individual items in your reading lists using the tag ‘Accessible format request’ which will alert us to the items that need scanning. There are instructions on how to do this below. One of the main benefits of this change is that you will no longer need to provide the Library with a separate list. The tags will only be visible to list editors and Library staff and no students on your module will be able to view them.

If you've never had a reading list for the module then you can use our online submission form to send it to us and we will create the list for you. Any questions about this process should be sent to 

How to add the 'Accessible format request' tag

This is exactly the same as adding an ‘Essential’ or ‘Digitisation’ tag and you can find the full instructions on the 'Add items' page

For each item you want to request click on the pencil symbol :

Then select the tag ‘Accessible format request’:

Then select ‘save’. Remember that only list editors and Library staff will be able to see the tags.

Accessible reading guidance

Below are 7 tips which explain a bit more about the types of software a student might use and what this might mean for your reading recommendations:

  1. It takes longer to listen to a text than to read it.

It may also take print impaired students longer to make notes about a text. Consider how many texts the student will realistically be able to read and engage with each week. As your module progresses, check with the student that the workload is right for them and adjust as necessary.

  1. The way print impaired students access texts will vary.

Some students use magnification software whilst others might use e-reading software. This could affect what types of resources you can recommend and there may be occasions when you need to think of an alternative.

  1. If a student is using magnification software, providing images will be possible. Graphs, images overlaid with text, equations and images will all work in an accessible pdf with magnification software.
  2. If the student is entirely reliant on e-reading software:

This tends to be those with significant sight impairment and there are more limitations on what the software will be able to process for them.

  • Facsimile documents, overlaid text, graphs and equations will all be processed as images and will not work on e-reading software.
  • If there are important visual data or images in the text, you would need to provide a description of these. Whilst in some cases images can be edited out, a text with many embedded equations, graphs or images is typically unsuitable for processing by e-reader.
  1. Historical facsimile documents will not work with e-reading software

They are a great way of introducing students to original sources but unfortunately they will not work with e-reading software because they are either processed as an image, or the font cannot be recognised.

  1. For historic documents, transcriptions will not always process successfully with e-reading software e.g. Chaucerian spelling would not be recognised and the software would be unable to read the document. Pre-1700 texts without modernisation of spelling are unlikely to process properly.
  2. Format handouts into accessible files

If you need to format handouts or documents for class teaching into accessible files, the easiest way to do this is via SENSUS. Again you would need to consider how images, graphs etc would be processed.

If you would like more information about our provision for print impaired students, please contact or your Academic Liaison Librarian.

Accessible format requests - FAQs

How should we tell you which chapters or pages need scanning?
What should I do if I only want to recommend 3 chapters of a book for scanning but I don’t want the whole class to see this?
I've got a PDF of the reading I can share with the student or there’s an ebook available in the Library, so why do I still need to tag the item to let you know?
I have already specified a chapter or pages needed in the citation, do I need to tell you again about this?
Are there any copyright restrictions that I need to be aware of?
I’ve found out at last minute that I need to do this, how quickly will you be able to do the scanning?
What other services do you offer students with a disability?