Alternate Media at College of San Mateo - Types of Alternate Media Available
skip directly to Main Content Navigation Search A-Z Index Find People Top Story Breadcrumbs Footer
Assistive Technology Center

Types of Alternate Media Available

Braille AlphabetWhat is Alternate Media?

Alternate media refers to printed materials produced in a different format.
  • E-text (electronic versions of instructional materials that can be read on the computer using a screen reading program like Kurzweil or JAWS or Free Natural Reader)
  • Large print
  • Braille
  • Tactile Graphics
Read legislation authorizing the production of instructional materials in alternate formats.

Alternate Media Resources at the High Tech Center Training Unit (HTCTU)


E-text is a simple text file that can be accessed by many programs such as MS Word, JAWS screen reading program, Kurzweil text-to-speech program, Duxbury Braille Translation program. It is very important because it is the basis for generating many other forms of Alternate Media.

Who uses it?
Blind, visually impaired, and learning disabled who use speech output.

How is it made?
Documents may have been created originally by a word processor or scanned using an optical character recognition (OCR) program, imported into a word processor then saved as text.

Large Print

Print that is enlarged to at least 14 points.

Who uses it?
Visually impaired, far sighted.

How is it made?
From e-text, the type is enlarged on the computer, then printed.
Enlarging photocopier increasing size to 140% or above.
On the computer, screen magnifying program such as ZoomText.


Tactile written language.

Who uses it?
Blind and visually impaired. Note: not all non-sighted people can read Braille.

How is it made?
Manual Transcription: Braille Transcribers using a Perkins Brailler
Electronic Transcription: Using eText in conjunction a Braille translation program.
Refreshable Braille displays: Electronic display attached to the computer.
Tactile Graphics

Simplified graphical images that use raised lines and textures to convey information.

Who uses them?
Blind, visually impaired, learning disabled and kinesthetic learners (especially children).

How is it made?
p.i.a.f (Pictures in a Flash): Special paper can be heated or "toasted" to produce raised images.
Computer and Tiger Embosser: Tactile graphic programs can send simple images to a Braille embosser.
Manually: Transcribers draw in reverse on thin aluminum to create raised/textured images.