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College students now have a wide variety of format choices for their textbooks and course materials. Software to assist with academic tasks is widely available for desk and laptop computers, as are applications for tablets and smartphones.

Disabled Student Services (DSS) is committed to working with students with disabilities to ensure that they have accessible learning materials and can fully participate in course requirements and activities.

Students requesting alternatively formatted materials should contact DSS early in the semester prior to enrolling at MSU. Documentation of disability that supports the need for alternative formats should be submitted. For more information about the documentation guidelines and process, please click here. Once documentation has been reviewed, students then meet with a DSS staff member to set up a plan for academic accommodations.

If the accommodations plan includes alternatively formatted texts, students should be prepared to take an active role and work in partnership with DSS to choose software and usable versions of printed materials. (ATextbook Policy)


Our staff is available to meet individually with students regarding accessbility. We consider what type of hardware the student is using, what software might be appropriate, and the best sources for alternatively formatted materials. Please contact drv@montana.edu to set up an appointment.

Desire2Learn, the campus's electronic course management system, is fully accessible.

Montana State University Bookstore offers electronic versions of many required texts. Lists of required texts and materials for all classes are available prior to the start of each semester.

Campus computers in labs, the library, and the Strand Union Building all are equipped with Kurzweil 3000, Adobe Reader and Magnifier.

Renne Library has scanners for student use and an accessible work station in the Common area. More information about library accessibility can be found by clicking here.

Disabled Student Services has Kurzweil 3000, JAWS, and Dragon Naturally Speaking (Version 10). Students may schedule time to work with these programs during our normal business hours, 8 AM to 5 PM. LIveScribe Pulse SmartPens may also be checked out to students after meeting with a DSS staff member.

Useful Applications for your iOS(Apple) or Android devices. A list of useful applications recommended by our staff to accomodate students in the classroom or during individual study.


Recognizing that students need consistent, reliable information about options for learning materials that accessible and affordable, DSS offers the following information about academic technology. This information is not comprehensive, and DSS does not endorse particular products or vendors.

Alternative Materials

  • Montana State University is a member of AccessText Network and can order electronic texts for qualified students with print disabilities. Students can search the Accessible Textbook Finder to see which textbooks are available from the network, and then submit a book request to DSS.
  • CourseSmart is the nation's largest sources of eTextbooks and digital course materials. Their website is fully accessible, and students can get a free universal reader when they create an account.
  • Bookshare and Project Gutenberg both have vast libraries of accessible reading materials. They tend to be a better source for literature than for technical fields.
  • Learning Ally, formerly RFBD, is an excellent source for individuals with print disabilities. Yearly membership is $99.
  • Cafe Scribe offers digital textbooks for purchase. Built-in study features allow students to take notes, highlight and share ideas with other students or professors. Students can try for free for three days, rent for 180 days, or purchase them to keep. Students can save 40 to 60 percent over the cost of new books.

Text To Speech Software

  • Kurzweil 3000- Kurzweil provides access to most common digital text formats; has excellent research and process writing tools and bilingual dictionaries; and has an MP3 encorder for audio file creation. Kurzweil can be purchased for $795.
  • Natural Reader - This popular software is available for free download and allows a student to hear any text on their computer screen, spoken in natural voices. The Personal and Professional versions are scanning compatible and allow for audio file conversion.
  • Claro Read - Available in both Mac and PC versions, there are three versions of Claro Read: $195 for the Standard version; $295 for Plus; and $425 for Professional.  It is compatible with Dragon Naturally Speaking.  The Plus and Professional versions allow for scanning, easy conversion of PDF files, and perform OCR editing for on-screen images.
  • Read and Write Gold - Version 11 of this popular software is $595 for Windows and Mac.  It has a wide range of expressive voices, subject-specific word banks, and many tools for reading writing and research.
  • Balabolka - The Windows version of this text-to-speech reader from the UK is free.  On-screen text can be saved to an audio file.