Texas A&M Joins Pilot Project to Improve Access for Instructional Material

By Marketing and Communications | 02-27-2019

COLLEGE STATION (Feb.2019)- “Federating Repositories of Accessible Materials for Higher Education” is a two-year project newly funded by a $1,000,000 grant from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation to the University of Virginia which aims to reduce duplication of remediation efforts across participating universities, allow the iterative improvement of accessible texts, and decrease the turnaround time for delivering those texts to students and faculty.


Because of Texas A&M’s history of leadership on accessibility, the university will be one of six universities to participate in this pilot group also being funded by the grant. A&M will be represented by a collaboration between the University Libraries and the Department of Disability Services.


In higher education, the number of students with print disabilities has increased considerably over the past few decades. Since fall 2014, Texas A&M Disability Services had a nearly 300 percent increase in requests for accessible textbooks by students who cannot access traditional print materials, including students with visual, learning and physical disabilities. Remediating text involves both human and automated processes that reformats the text for screen readers, text-to-speech software, text manipulation, or other modifications.


The role of participating libraries and disabilities service offices will include remediating material and developing or implementing workflows to get remediated material from the DSO to the library to the appropriate repository. “Libraries have a long history of contributing works to shared repositories,” said Associate Professor Beth German, the Libraries’ representative for the grant. “We’re excited to help facilitate the description, discoverability, and broad access to these materials”.


Texas A&M University will be joining George Mason University, Northern Arizona University, the University of Illinois, the University of Wisconsin-Madison and Vanderbilt University as the other schools in this project.


Participating in the pilot will be three major digital repositories - HathiTrust, Bookshare, and The Internet Archive - to provide technical infrastructure and increase the amount of material available. All three currently provide service to students with print disabilities including, through the University Libraries’ membership in HathiTrust, access to in-copyright material within HathiTrust.  The Association of Research Libraries is also in the fold as they will provide support for a meeting of legal experts at the beginning of this pilot.


For more information: Beth German, Associate Professor, Texas A&M University Libraries, 979.847.5846 or egerman@library.tamu.edu


About Texas A&M University Libraries
Texas A&M University Libraries house a rich array of resources assembled to support the research, learning, and teaching at Texas A&M. Made up of five unique libraries, the University Libraries serve the entire diverse student, staff, and faculty population through physical and online resources leading to discovery, creativity and innovation. To learn more about the services and materials available visit http://library.tamu.edu.