[Missouri-l] FW: [leadership] New Program Seeks to Make Alternative Textbooks for Visually Impaired Students Available Faster (fwd)
paltschul at centurytel.net
Thu Aug 20 22:11:27 CDT 2009
New Program Seeks to Make Alternative Textbooks for Visually Impaired
Students Available Faster
By Marc Beja, Chronicle of Higher Education, August 19, 2009
While music-recording companies have been fighting people who illegally
share songs, book publishers are looking to expand file-sharing for
college students with print-related disabilities.
AccessText, a new service that rolled out a beta version this week, has
created an online database that makes it simpler for disability-student
services at colleges to track down alternative forms of course materials
from book publishers. When electronic versions don't exist for a
particular book, the college would get permission to scan the pages so a
student could either make the font larger, or use other text-to-speech
or refreshable Braille reading devices.
Bruce Hildebrand, executive director for higher education at the
Association of American Publishers, says the new service will maximize
resources and get students materials faster.
"The publishers have got billions of dollars worth of content. The DSS
offices are trying to get that out as quickly as possible, generally
with very, very tight budgets and small staffs, and the students
obviously need to get it in as timely a fashion as possible, so they're
not behind," he says.
While the program is in its beta stage until next year, 367 offices are
testing it free of charge, and eight publishers that are part of the
association are footing the bill. When AccessText goes live in July
2010, members will pay between $375 and $500, on a sliding scale based
on the institution's size. At that point, Mr. Hildebrand hopes that
colleges will be able to share materials with other approved
institutions, with permission, instead of several schools duplicating
efforts by scanning books that another member may already have.
Dawn V. Adams, digital-media-accessibility specialist at the Alternative
Media Access Center at the University of Georgia, has been the first
person to try out AccessText. With the new program, she says she is able
to get books easier than she has in the past, and the turnaround for
receiving an answer from a book publisher is as fast as before, if not
"It's streamlining the work that I do," says Ms. Adams, who serves more
than 877 students throughout the University System of Georgia. "All I
have to do is go to one Web site for five different publishers and click
a few buttons. It's a really big timesaver."
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