Repository Services for Accessible Course Content

Time Frame


Total Funding to Date



  • J. Stephen Downie

Across the country, colleges and universities are struggling to meet demand for accessible forms of course materials for students with an array of disabilities. At present, each institution is addressing this problem individually, at great expense, and often without full campus coordination, much less consortial collaboration. Locating digital files is difficult and entails numerous sources. The resulting accessibility enhancement/conversion work creates a large corpus of digital files in varying forms to manage on each campus. Over the course of one year, this planning project will bring together experts from disability/accessibility services with librarians, IT professionals, advocates, and legal counsel, to develop shared infrastructure within which universities can support their students with disabilities.

The inquiry and planning will be led by Laura C. Wood, Tufts University, in partnership with John Unsworth, Brandeis University; Michael Furlough, HathiTrust Digital Library; Jamie Axelrod, Northern Arizona University and Association on Higher Education and Disability; and J. Stephen Downie, University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign and HathiTrust Research Center. From May 2015 through February 2016, this steering committee will conduct focus groups with disability services professionals to deepen understanding of needs; recruit participants for working groups that will recommend specifications for repository services; convene a colloquy of stakeholders to discuss complex aspects of the service needs; and consult with an advisory committee of subject matter experts quarterly. In March and April of 2016 they will synthesize the research, recommendations, and analysis to create three products: a white paper summarizing the findings, a project work plan for the repository services project, and a paper to submit for publication.

Funding Agencies

  • Institute of Museum and Library Services – $7,173.00