OU study materials are delivered in a variety of formats that may already be accessible to you, such as print, online or audio-visual.
See Choosing the right qualification, which gives examples of study aspects that some students might find particularly difficult, and will give you an overview of the types of formats that you may encounter.
Also check the online prospectus to find out what materials are provided for your subject.
Apart from what is already provided, additional materials are also available that might suit you better: audio, Adobe PDF, comb-bound books, transcripts. If you require any of these for your study, type in your module code below to find out what is available.
Please contact the OU for specific advice if you have any queries about the formats that would suit you best.
Printed study texts may also be available in the DAISY Talking Book audio format, and if you ask for this service you'll automatically receive recorded study materials from the Disability Resources Team.
A mobile DAISY player
DAISY Digital Talking Books (DTBs) are audio representations of print publications with built-in additional features such as a navigational structure that makes it easy to move or skip to different parts of the book. They are produced to the internationally recognised DAISY recording standard. Digital Talking Books may be audio-only recordings with a navigation structure, or an audio recording synchronised with electronic text plus a navigation structure. The audio can be a human or a synthesised voice.
The DAISY Digital Talking Books we send are provided with software for use with a computer but they can also be played on a DAISY hardware player: the MP3 files can be used on other mobile devices but some of the functionality of the DTB is lost. DAISY hardware players could be paid for by your Disabled Students' Allowance award if you are eligible (try our eligibility quiz), or you may be able to borrow one from the OU equipment loan scheme.
You can download the DAISY software and find some examples of OU DTBs on the Digital audio samples.page.
Adobe PDF (Portable Document Format) files, provided on CD-ROM together with a copy of the latest Adobe Reader, allow you to adjust the text size and background colours.
You can also use software known as a 'screen reader' to convert text into speech in some study materials, although not all PDF files are as accessible to screen readers as we would like them to be. This is mainly because of requirements of the subject, for example showing mathematical or scientific symbols. Additionally the files that we do have are not all equally accessible, due to some documents being produced when accessibility in printing technologies was still evolving.
If you want to check which documents are available in PDF, contact the Student Registration & Enquiry Service or your regional or national centre.
We have three levels of accessibility for PDFs.
Level 1: alter text display (magnification and colour). The document may not be searchable or selectable.
Level 2: alter text display (magnification and colour). The document is fully searchable or selectable but may not work with screen readers.
Level 3: alter text display (magnification and colour). The document is fully searchable and selectable and is screen readable by most screen reading software.
Find out more about PDF accessibility from the Adobe Accessibility Resource Centre.
Comb-bound module materials
Comb-bound books have a spiral binding to make them easier to handle and able to lie flat on a table or other surface. This makes the material easier to use with a scanner, or other equipment such as a magnifier.
Many printed study materials are also available in comb-bound versions, but there may be instances when a book is not available because it is too thin for this kind of binding.
Please note that if you ask for a comb-bound version of your materials, you will not be sent a standard version of the books as well - just the comb-bound version.
Example of printed transcript
Printed transcripts are available for material that is not usually produced in printed form, such as television programmes or audio-visual material on study DVDs. Transcripts may be provided via the module website or on a DVD.
Want to use a format that is not listed as available for your module? Note that not all formats are relevant: for example transcripts would not be made available if PDFs are already provided or there is no audio material. Check with an adviser at your regional or national centre.
Questions about the delivery of your accessible materials? We aim to send your additional materials to you at least four weeks before your study starts.
You will still receive the main study materials (unless you have requested a comb-bound version): see materials despatch.
If there's a problem, contact an adviser at your regional or national centre.
We recognise that for some students other alternatives such as Braille or Large Print materials may be more suitable. It is best to discuss with your regional or national centre how we can meet your requirements - please note that some of these services require several months' notice.