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Alternative Formats Service


The aim of this guide is to inform you of a service available from the library, which can help students who have difficulty with our print resources. If you have a visual impairment or other learning or physical condition that makes the use of printed texts difficult or impossible, you may find this information useful.

This information is also available as a PDF here:


What is the Alternative Formats Service?

Solent Library provides a service for the provision of alternative formats of items on course reading lists for use by print-impaired students. The service aims to cover required core and recommended items.

What is already available?

The library endeavours to provide electronic access to resources wherever possible to ease off-campus and out-of-hours access. There are lots of LibGuides available to give you guidance on the resources for your subject and tell you how you can contact your Information Librarian. They are packed with useful information and tips, so check out the LibGuides relevant to your studies.

Your Information Librarian can help you to find resources for your studies and explain how to use ebooks and other electronic resources. There is an Information Librarian for each school - find out who your Information Librarian is and say hello!

Final year students, postgraduates, staff or 2nd year students working on their dissertation can request items not available in the library via the inter-library loans service. Electronic items supplied by this service will have optical character recognition (OCR) as standard, as will any material digitised by the library for your unit reading list.

There are also many self-help options available online. Please note: The use of free online tools is solely at your own discretion and the installation of anti-virus software is recommended before downloading free or open source software or plug-ins.

Who is eligible for this service?

Any Solent University student who has difficulty using print books through visual impairment, dyslexia or any other condition that makes use of a printed text difficult. The student must register for this service through Access Solent.

What does it involve?

Upon receipt of a request, the library will endeavour to source a suitable format for the student either via an electronic version, a PDF from the publisher or digitisation. For a publisher PDF to be obtained or for digitisation, a copy must be held by the library. Any restrictions on the use of the material must be followed. Students referred to the service will also be signed up to RNIB Bookshare UK Education Collection.

How do I access the service?

Students must make initial contact for the alternative formats service through Access Solent. This facilitates a full discussion of the student's needs and how these needs might be met with existing help options. If alternative formats are found to be necessary, the student is referred to the service by Access Solent and the service will contact the student by email to discuss what is needed.

How long do I have to wait?

We aim to acknowledge requests within 2 working days. We aim to provide electronic versions of texts or digitised copies as soon as possible, but it may take several weeks to navigate the required channels to obtain PDFs. Requests for PDFs from publishers are subject to publisher timescales. Orders for new titles are subject to supply times and digitisation times will vary depending on the size of the book or amount of digitisation needed.

Students are advised to give as much advance notice as possible to help us provide alternative formats in good time.

How do I contact Access Solent?

Email or telephone 023 8201 3201.