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Accessible Course Materials

By Federal law, students with disabilities must be given "substantially equivalent ease of access" to course materials.  To ensure equivalent access, any course materials such as articles, Word documents, Powerpoints and any other media that are posted in Moodle, on course websites or distributed in class need to be prepared as accessible documents. Doing so not only supports our students who use screen readers and other text-to-speech software, it also improves usability for all students across multiple platforms including smart phones, tablets and desktop devices.  If you have questions about obtaining accessible books and course articles, please contact the college's Accessibility Team by emailing

Optimizing for Text-to-Speech

  • Word Documents [pdf]
  • PDF files [pdf]
  • Powerpoint and Keynote presentations [pdf]
  • Webpages [pdf]
  • "SensusAccess" **

    ** SensusAccess is an online service which converts text and image-based documents into different accessible formats ( searchable PDFs, audio, Braille, or e-text). It is available to all Swarthmore staff, students, and faculty with a Swarthmore College email address.

    Please note that the quality of the converted document depends on the quality of the original document. For example, a clearly structured Word document will yield a better result than a poorly scanned PDF.

    To begin converting a document, go to our "SensusAccess" interface, upload a file and select the appropriate format.

Captioning Media

Please purchase videos that contain captioning, a visual representation of audio with more than subtitles. If you cannot find a captioned video, consult with Jason Hamilton in McCabe Library. You will want to plan ahead as creating captions can take weeks. If your students are creating video, please ask them to include captions.


The National Center on Accessible Instructional Materials website focuses on print- and technology-based educational materials which are usable across the widest range of student variability regardless of format (print, digital, graphical, audio, video) and provides support for the development, selection, and use of accessible technologies.

Assistive Technology

Students, faculty and staff can utilize a number of assistive technology software programs through the college. For a list of those programs, please visit the Accessible Technology Software website


Swarthmore College respects the privacy of its students. The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act governs all student record information.