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University of York Library
Subject Guides

Reading Lists: a Practical Guide





Students with a print impairment often require their reading in an alternative format. 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. The number of readings required will vary according to the individual student’s needs so if you're not sure you'll need to check with the student.

  Use the 'accessible format request' tag to let us know what items are needed

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. The tags will only be visible to list editors and Library staff and no students on your module will be able to view them. Any questions about this process should be sent to

This is exactly the same as adding any other tags to your list. For each item you want to request:

  1. click on the pencil symbol
  2. select 'Accessible format request'
  3. select 'save' 

7 things to consider when setting reading

1 The term print impaired covers a number of situations

The term 'print impaired' refers to people who cannot access printed text, usually due to a visual or physical impairment. We recommend you have a conversation with your student about what specific support they need.

2 Do you know what is a manageable amount of reading for that student?

Consider how many texts the student will realistically be able to read and engage with each week. 

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. As your module progresses, check with the student that the workload is right for them and adjust as necessary.

3 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. 

4 Think about the images you would like to include

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.

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.

5 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.

6 Transcriptions of historical documents do not always work properly with e-reading software

Pre-1700 texts without modernisation of spelling are unlikely to process properly. For example, Chaucerian spelling would not be recognised and the software would be unable to read the document. 

7 Remember to format handouts into accessible files as well

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.

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