For years, I have highlighted VitalSource’s goals for accessible content. Today, I'm very excited to share that, through thoughtful partnerships and collaboration with many partners, VitalSource is now able to solve a critical issue for our users.
Recognizing the challenges students face when seeking accessible digital course materials, VitalSource has launched a new initiative to enable and encourage its publisher partners to identify accessible content and highlight specific accessibility features. All eTextbooks and course content in the VitalSource catalog with one or more accessibility features will now be clearly designated with an icon.
This initiative encourages greater accessibility transparency in the digital marketplace, making it easier for students with disabilities to understand which eTextbooks and course materials offer valuable accessibility features.
For more than a decade, we’ve been working on initiatives like this and have repeatedly heard the cries from learners for ‘publishers to do the right thing' and deliver accessible content. That is happening now, and becoming the expected standard!
Many industry stakeholders have worked together over the years to help solve this problem, from Benetech’s “Born Accessible” program to the EPUB Accessibility 1.0 standard to the DAISY Consortium’s efforts to define guidelines and deliver the Ace Accessibility Checking Tool. All of this community work, along with many other efforts, have created a strong ecosystem that enables the creation, delivery, and verification of accessible content.
But despite all this progress, we still had a 'last mile' problem that needed to be solved.
If nobody knows about it all the efforts underway to highlight and define accessible content, how can it help solve real issues?
If an author or a publisher has no way to tell others what they have done, how will their customers know?
If an instructor who is looking for a title to adopt for a course can’t see the different accessibility features, how can they make the best selection for their print-disabled students?
If a student doesn’t know about the accessibility features of a title until after purchase, how can they make the right choice?
We needed greater transparency, I’m excited VitalSource took the initiative and, after 18 months of work and preparation, is now leading the industry in providing complete transparency into the accessibility features available on our platform.
For the first time, our publishing partners will have a clear ability to showcase the accessibility work they have done in the product detail pages that describe their content.
For the first time, faculty and instructors who are selecting content for adoption will be able to see the accessible features that a particular text provides for their print-disabled learners.
For the first time, a student does not have to self-identify as print-disabled or ask for assistance, but can know up front if the content offers the accommodations they need.
More than 6,000 titles from more than 50 of our publishing partners are already displaying their accessibility features on the VitalSource platform - and those numbers continue to grow each day.
VitalSource remains committed to doing everything possible to help all of our users and partners in solving their needs to access content, and we look forward to expanding our efforts to provide greater transparency and further empower users in the near future.
If you want to learn more, please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.