In recent months, open access course materials and textbook accessibility have been two important topics in the news and now two companies are joining forces to make open textbooks available to students with print disabilities. Earlier this week, Flat World Knowledge announced a partnership with Bookshare, the largest free online library for people with print disabilities. Bookshare currently has agreements with many trade publishers but Flat World will be the first publisher of higher education materials to supply digital textbooks to the organization.
According to the press release, Flat World will provide Bookshare with XML files so that the files can be converted to DAISY (Digital Accessible Information System) and Braille formats. Students will be able to access the texts in multiple formats directly from Bookshare’s website which will eliminate the conversion efforts required by individual campuses for those specific titles. Students will also be able to access the texts when the semester begins rather than waiting weeks for the titles to be converted. According to the agreement, eleven business and economics textbooks will be available initially and within the next two years, an additional fifty titles in several subjects will be added.