Access to course materials a priority for Department of Education

As the number of students filling out college applications continues to rise, a new report published by the Department of Education's Advisory Commission on Accessible Instructional Materials in Postsecondary Education is urging Congress to ensure access to educational materials for all students, particularly those with disabilities, reports Inside Higher Ed.

Digital course content, such as that included as part of some digital textbooks, is of particular concern by the report's authors. Copyright laws and the rights to reproduce existing texts by college faculty are some of the considerations that the report is urging Congress to consider. The study also suggests that third-party developers of academic web applications and software become more actively involved in making course materials more accessible to students.

"There is general confusion over the application of the existing [copyright] law and regulations – especially as [the law] applies to students with learning disabilities — and specific uncertainty as to which organizations are permitted to reproduce instructional materials," the report reads, as quoted by the news source.

According to the Battle Creek Enquirer, technology can help students with disabilities access materials that they may not be able to read in a traditional textbook format. One such solution is BookShare, which enables students to listen to text being spoken aloud on a digital device, adjust font and text sizes, and highlight certain passages as they are read by text-to-voice software.

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