Acquiring Digital/Text AEM

Student using iPad to readDigital or E-text are electronic files containing the content of textbooks and instructional materials in a format than can be viewed and accessed by a number of digital devices. When used with certain assistive technologies (AT) the digital text can be highlighted (selected with a mouse or a keystroke combination) and read aloud by synthetic speech (text-to-speech). For high quality Accessible Educational Materials (AEM) Digital Text, content should be appropriately “tagged” to identify the parts of the document including titles, headings, and alternative descriptions for images.

The following are sources of AEM Digital/Text:


Bookshare logoBookshare  is an online resource that includes a library of many digital textbooks for people with print disabilities. A grant from the US Department of Education allows Bookshare to offer FREE organizational memberships for U.S. institutions serving qualifying students, and FREE individual memberships for qualifying U.S. students of any age. When your school signs up for a free membership, you can easily acquire these books in accessible formats for your students who need AIM. Bookshare also provides a service to its members where they can submit a book to be scanned and converted into an accessible digitized format (includes DAISY, ASCII, HTML, and Braille Digital Format). For member schools and individuals, there is no cost to request and download the books in Digital Format. Bookshare has also been designated as a NIMAC Authorized User.

Learn more about how to acquire AEM digital text from Bookshare on their website…

Book Publishers:

Many publishers of instructional materials are now making their materials available in accessible formats. Schools are encouraged to ask sales staff from these companies for lists of AEM that they can purchase. When book orders are placed, schools should request that these materials be placed in the NIMAC.

If a publisher has a specialized format of a copyrighted material, such as a textbook or contemporary novel, available for sale, it can be purchased and used by any student. That is, it doesn’t have to be reserved for the sole use of a student with a print disability.

Free Online Collections Available for Use by All Students

The following are all external links:

Commercially Available eBooks

Other Options – Scanning:

Schools may choose, or may need to produce their own digital text materials. Standard print material can be converted to digital text by scanning with a scanner using Optical Character Recognition (OCR) software. Under federal law, copyrighted materials can be scanned and used by students with qualifying print disabilities. Materials in the Public Domain, licensed under Creative Commons, or teacher-created can be scanned and used by all students. We have provided a link to more information about OCR software for your use.

While scanning materials may appear to be a good and less expensive option, the quality of these instructional materials needs to be at least as good as the original. To produce high-quality AEM can take a considerable amount of time and require special resources. For high quality AEM, Digital Text should be appropriately “tagged” to identify the parts of the document including titles, headings, and alternative descriptions for images.



Photo credit: Image of student with iPad licensed through Creative Commons by Brad Flickenger

rev: 09/04/2020