A new pilot program that aims to improve access to electronic textbooks for students with disabilities announced today that it has received a $1.1 million grant from the U.S. Department of Education.
The funding will be used over the next two years to support the Student E-rent Pilot Project (STEPP). STEPP is a collaborative program with support from electronic textbook provider CourseSmart, the University of Georgia Alternative Media Access Center and AccessText Network, a nationwide organization that supports the delivery of alternative textbooks to Disabled Student Services offices at colleges throughout the country.
STEPP is designed to offer electronic textbooks that are modified for accessibility in support of the Americans with Disabilities Act. And the program means that students with disabilities can take full advantage of the cost-savings of e-books, as well as their additional note-taking and search features.
Concerns about E-Reader Accessibility
In June, the Departments of Justice and Education penned a joint letter to university presidents, reminding them that in the rush to adopt e-readers on campuses, that lack of accessibility - such as text-to-speech options - for those with disabilities could not be overlooked.
Today's announcement follows last week's signing into law of the 21st Century Communications and Video Accessibility Act mandating better access to digital technologies for the vision and hearing impaired.