[Vabs] Project Works to Format Textbooks for Disabled Students

pajohns1 at vt.edu pajohns1 at vt.edu
Sat Dec 6 01:27:54 UTC 2008


        An interesting article in today's Wired Campus from the Chronicle of Higher Ed.    

@Virginia Tech

Project Works to Format Textbooks for Disabled Students 
It's tough enough to afford textbooks these days. Students with disabilities that make it hard to read standard type sizes face another challenge: getting textbooks in formats they can use. The Association of American Publishers and the Alternative Media Access Center, part of the University System of Georgia, have come up with a way to help: AccessText Network, a "membership exchange network" that will serve as a clearinghouse for publishers and campus-based disability-service offices. The idea, as the project's Web site describes it, 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. Campus disability offices will be able to convey that information to students, who can then order what best fits their needs. Eventually AccessText will charge a nominal membership fee. Several big textbook publishers -- including Bedford/St. Martin's, Cengage Learning, McGraw-Hill Education, Pearson, Reed Elsevier, and W.W. Norton -- have agreed to foot the bill for the next year or so. Christopher M. Lee, director of the Alternative Media Access Center, is leading the project. The lack of a coordinated network has been hard not just on students but on colleges' disability-service offices, whose staff members put a lot of time and money into converting standard textbooks, he said. "The cost, the time, the lack of a systemized approach, the lack of education on what is alternative media and what is assisted media -- the education piece needs to be better," Mr. Lee said. "I'd say we have a long way to go, and AccessText will definitely push us several steps forward." --Jennifer Howard

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