Focus on Students with Print-Related Disabilities
The Center for Accessible Material Innovation (CAMI) is an ongoing study supported by a multimillion-dollar grant that was awarded to Georgia Tech and AMAC from the U.S. Department of Education in 2014. The First In the World grant was designed by the Department of Education to promote college access and affordability for students facing some of the toughest challenges. Former Secretary of Education Arne Duncan highlighted the First In the World grant during his keynote address at Georgia Tech’s Spring 2015 Commencement Ceremony.
The research project collects data from students with print-related disabilities, like blindness or dyslexia, and determines which technology plays a factor in their success. These success trends could include accommodations such as accessible e-book formats and text-to-speech screen reading software. With the help of major textbook publishers, AMAC’s research and development will pair government and college institutions with corporate organizations to design an accessible college experience for students with disabilities. AMAC will take the research and develop a tool for publishers to use in the digital marketplace that offers students the option of purchasing accessible versions of the same book. The tool would be used similar to nutrition labels on your groceries, providing data on accessible elements within a book.
One of the biggest issues is getting the small-to-medium sized publishers on board who may not have the resources to create accessible versions of their textbooks. A standardized model would require publishers to create the accessible e-book version in the design phase rather than converting the printed version to accessible digital formats. Standardized formats, like EPUB, could potentially change the way textbooks are accessed not only for students with disabilities, but for all students, including those who would rather access their textbooks on a tablet or smartphone instead of a physical book.