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Saturday, December 6, 2008

Textbook Accessibility for Disabled Students

A posting in yesterday's Wired Campus discussed an interesting new initiative to make it easier for institutions to meet the different format needs of students with disabilities: the AccessText Network. The network will be a clearinghouse of content created by the Association of American Publishers and the Alternative Media Access Center, part of the University System of Georgia. The idea is to "facilitate and support the nationwide delivery of alternative files for students with diagnosed print-related disabilities." AccessText will be a conduit for information about what is available and in what formats and allow students to order the content in the format that meets their needs. This initiative should help reduce the cost of textbooks for disabled students and institutions, while improving access.

Other resources on digitized books for the disable include a blog posting from last year that mentions Gooogle's efforts to make Google Books more accessible. That posting is based on an article from about the same time that discusses some of the issues and opportunities associated with technology and students with visual impairment.

Finally, check out Bookshare.org which offers books for free in different formats for the disabled. Their site also has other information on this topic.

There may be opportunities for college stores to work with some of these initiatives and reduce the costs to institutions for providing the materials to students.

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