Filling the National Gap in Educational Texts Repositories for Students with Print Disabilities

Vanderbilt is participating in the national FRAME (Federated Repositories of Accessible Learning Materials) Project, designed to fill the gap in higher education materials by building a widely accessible repository of remediated educational texts for students with print disabilities in higher education. The project, sponsored by the University of Virginia, is funded by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation with two grants of over $2,000,000. Designed as a multi-year project, FRAME is nearing completion of its two major phases:

    • Phase I (2019-2021) built a secure repository named EMMA (Educational Materials Made Available) for higher-ed institutions to share remediated educational materials and address the copyright issues associated with sharing these materials.
    • Phase II (April 2021-March 2023) will add more searching and submission functions to EMMA and expand the program beyond the Mellon grant. Vanderbilt, as one of the original seven member institutions, is participating in both phases and has contributed hundreds of mediated course texts to growing the EMMA repository.

FRAME brings close collaboration between the Jean and Alexander Heard Libraries and the Office of Student Access Services. Students Access Services is responsible for providing the remediated texts that were requested by Vanderbilt students with disabilities and the libraries adds the required metadata descriptions, packages, and submits both the texts and metadata files to EMMA. The libraries’ Director of Metadata Services Dajin Sun and Student Access Services Educational Consultant Bill Burgess have together led Vanderbilt’s participation in the FRAME/EMMA project. The opportunity and outcome of this project has not only enhanced the university’s services in support of the special learning of those students with print and/or other disabilities by leveraging more accessible resources of higher educational materials, but it has also advanced nationwide services for students with the same needs in other higher education institutions. Since participating in the FRAME/EMMA project, Student Access Services can tap the available remediated texts provided through EMMA and fulfill requests from more students on campus, especially benefiting from the EMMA unified searching functions to find requested materials through its educational texts’ partners. To date the FRAME/EMMA project has been successful by accomplishing its primary goal of establishing a fully functional EMMA repository for all students with disabilities in higher education. In addition, this project functions as a model of support for a graduate level educational program in information services for special-needs students that will facilitate the training of future information professionals. Although FRAME/EMMA is nearing its completion of the Mellon grants, the program plans to grow continually, and Vanderbilt Libraries, with its gained valuable experience, can continue its collaborative endeavor to further advance the national services for more students with disabilities across higher educational institutions.