For two years, NAU has been part of a multi-institutional project aimed at streamlining the process of providing resources for students with print disabilities. Now that collective effort, known as “FRAME,” will continue for another two years, thanks to a grant of $1,175,000 from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation for a second phase, “Federated Repositories of Accessible Materials for Higher Education II.”
The participants in the original two-year, $1 million grant from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation worked to create a web-based infrastructure that allows disability support offices to share remediated texts, reducing nationwide duplication of effort and making it possible for staff of disability support offices (DSOs) to achieve better outcomes for students in higher education.
The second phase will concentrate on expanding and improving EMMA (Educational Materials Made Accessible), a membership-based secure repository for remediated texts, and developing workflows in which librarians and DSO staff cooperate in uploading texts to the repository.
“The objective of the project is to provide students with timely and effective access to the instructional materials they need to participate in their courses,” said NAU Disability Resources Director Jamie Axelrod, who has been involved with the project since its start in 2015. “The repository would allow member schools to obtain and contribute accessible versions of materials so that schools are not duplicating efforts like they are today.”
Axelrod and representatives from Cline Library will join their counterparts from George Mason University, Ohio State University, Texas A&M University, the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, the University of Wisconsin, Vanderbilt University and the University of Virginia for the second phase.
For the past two years Kelly Phillips, Cline Library’s archivist for digital programs, and Morgan Mason, program coordinator at Disability Resources, have worked together providing feedback to the EMMA development team and uploading NAU’s initial contribution of more than 700 text files from all disciplines.
“In the second phase we’ll be creating collaborative workflows for continuing contributions to EMMA,” Phillips said. “We’ll also be looking at other opportunities for DR and the library to work together to improve services for students here at NAU.”
Partnerships are an important element of the project. Three major digital repositories – Bookshare, HathiTrust and the Internet Archive – continue to support it. They now use a federated search interface to provide EMMA users with texts that have already been remediated for users with print disabilities or that are machine-readable and suitable for further remediation by DSO staff — a big advantage over having to scan a printed book.
In addition, five university presses – George Mason, Illinois, Ohio State, Vanderbilt, Virginia and Wisconsin – have committed to contributing machine-readable versions of their publications to EMMA or one of its federated repositories.
Cline Library Dean Cynthia Childrey said the project is breaking new ground.
“It is encouraging natural partnerships between participating universities’ academic libraries and disability resources offices, with the strengths and expertise each brings to the table in the service of student success and retention” Childrey said. “At the same time, it is promoting efficiencies of scale at the local and national levels. We appreciate the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation’s support and the University of Virginia’s leadership to move this repository forward.”