Several months ago, we discussed a new initiative known as AccessText Network that will soon make it easier for colleges to provide course materials to students with disabilities. The initiative was developed by the Association of American Publishers and the Alternative Media Access Center, and is funded by several publishes including: Pearson Education; Bedford, Freeman & Worth, Wiley; McGraw-Hill Higher Education; Cengage Learning; CQ Press; Reed Elsevier; John Wiley & Sons; and W.W. Norton. The initiative will help improve access and reduce cost of textbooks for disabled students because it will aggregate publisher information and allow students to order the content in the format that meets their needs.
According to a recent article from The Chronicle of Higher Education, the service is now in beta testing at 367 offices and expected to launch in July 2010. Dawn V. Adams, digital-media-accessibility specialist at the Alternative Media Access Center at the University of Georgia and participant in the beta testing, has found the service useful because she has been able to get the required books easier and it is streamlining her work. When the service officially launches next year, it is hoped that colleges will be able to share materials that are not available in electronic format to reduce duplicating the scanning efforts across campuses.