Internet Archive helps make books accessible for students with disabilities

The Internet Archive will be part of a team that is working to address a key challenge for students with disabilities: getting books in accessible formats. This participation aligns with an existing Internet Archive program to make materials available and accessible to readers with disabilities.

The number of students with disabilities at colleges and universities has grown over the past few decades. Many of those students have print disabilities, including the largest subgroup, those with learning differences.  Students with print disabilities require text to be reformatted for screen readers, text-to-speech software, or other forms of audio delivery, often with human intervention. Universities are required to perform this reformatting on request but are rarely staffed to do that work at scale and this type of reformatting and remediation can cost hundreds or even thousands of dollars. Once the work has been done for a student at one university, the reformatted book is almost never made available for use by students with disabilities at other universities.  Without collaboration and coordination across campuses efforts are wasted and students with disabilities often wait weeks to get texts in a form they can access and use.

A newly-funded pilot project, “Federated Repositories of Accessible Materials for Higher Education,” aims to address this problem. This is a two-year pilot program that has recently been funded by a $1,000,000 grant from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation to the University of Virginia (as principal investigator) with a primary goal of reducing the duplication of remediation activity across the seve (7) universities participating in the pilot. It will also support the cumulative improvement of accessible texts and decrease the turnaround time for delivering those texts to students and faculty.

Within this program, the Internet Archive will participate as one of several repositories of digitized books, both to provide initial digital copies (for remediation) and to receive and hold remediated book files. Those improved books can then be shared with other schools and organizations that provide services to people with disabilities. They may also be used as a starting point for further conversion into additional formats (such as Braille) that may be needed to support specific reader needs.

The Internet Archive’s role in this pilot project dovetails with our existing program to make materials available and accessible to readers with disabilities. Our current program allows any organization that is already working with people with disabilities, known as Qualifying Authorities, to access the digital files of over 1.8 million books (about 900,000 of which are otherwise unavailable). Those Qualifying Authorities, especially Disability Student Service teams at colleges and universities, are then able to streamline their preparation and remediation of these digital books for people with print disabilities. Because they work directly with individual readers, Qualifying Authorities are also able to enable existing (and qualified) Internet Archive users for an account with disability access. With that access, these users can enjoy expanded and immediate access to the Internet Archive’s full collection of books (through or OpenLibrary).

We are excited to participate in and support the wider community of teams working to make books accessible for all.

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22 Responses to Internet Archive helps make books accessible for students with disabilities

  1. Pingback: Pilot Project: Internet Archive Helps Make Books Accessible For Students with Disabilities | LJ infoDOCKET

  2. Nemo says:

    Congratulations! Some day I hope you’ll get the 100 M$ you asked for.

    By “reformatting and remediation”, do you (also) mean transcription, to correct OCR errors? I’ve always wondered how existing open infrastructure for this (like Wikisource and PGDP) could join forces on it.

    • John Gonzalez says:

      When colleges perform remediations, the details of the remediations depend on the specific needs of the student involved. Usually, this involves at least correcting OCR errors, adding navigation information (chapter and heading levels, page numbers, etc), and adding alt-text for image descriptions. Once these are done, there may be further format changes needed, such as conversion to Braille or MP3 audio.

      Typically, the work is limited to only those portions of the book needed for the coursework, so remediation by a single school may or may not include the entire book. This is part of the reason that collaboration and good information about the remediations that have been completed are so important.

      • Federico Leva says:

        Thank you, interesting. A very important work.

      • As the Alternate format supervisor at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, I can say that during our few-and far-between downtimes, we do go back and complete any unneeded chapters and then compile, bookmark, and hyperlink to the TOC so that if it’s needed the next semester or another school needs it, we can provide a completed book. This is what we will be sharing with IA.

  3. interessante esse projeto,

  4. آهنگ says:

    Thanks …

    Great, You Are Amazing …

  5. jax says:

    Hi how can i contact with you guys?

  6. Drake says:

    this very much a nice idea, now i feel we are all equal no matter who or what youre. Keep it up.

  7. Sam says:

    Congratulations! thanks for sharing the post.

  8. Desde Argentina, Mar de Cobo, cuenten conmigo!!! tengo el software para pasar texto a voz sintética de la computadora para estas capacidades diferentes. Soy hipoacusico profundo bilateral me encanta ayudar a los ciegos. Abrazo

  9. آهنگ says:

    Great, You Are Amazing …

  10. ved says:

    Thanks to all team effort to think about students

  11. Chris Evans says:

    I m really impressed by your suggestions and it is very effective.
    Awesome article.
    Thanks for sharing this article.

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  12. stephen woodhams says:

    This is an excellent step in the right direction. Making print materials available to those of us unable to access libraries easily is something the state should be supporting. Well done for taking the lead.

  13. بلیط says:

    Great, You Are Amazing …
    Realy thanks to

  14. The post is good. The article says that the Internet Archive helps make books accessible for students with disabilities. It continues to state that the Internet Archive will be part of a team that is working to deal with a key challenge for students with disabilities: getting books in accessible formats.

  15. splendidcakes says:

    Good Job Internet Archive!

  16. musicmedia says:

    Congratulations! Thanks

  17. Deepak Gupta says:

    You’re really amazing. You guys at, bring good write up to us.


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