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College of Information and Communications

Equitable Access for Blind, Visually Impaired, and Print-Disabled Students: A Study Among Southeastern Conference Institutions

Blind, visually impaired, and print-disabled college students are often left waiting longer than non-BVIPD students to get access to course content in accessible formats. This study investigates how BVIPD students, academic libraries, disability service offices and instructors can partner to address this inequality.

Campus Accessibility Partnership Model

The focus of this study is to address the critical lack of, or significant delays in receiving accessible content for BVIPD students enrolled in college courses, content that is otherwise available to non-BVIPD students. The project is aimed at bringing equity to a historically marginalized group within higher education.This three year research project will develop a Campus Accessibility Partnership Model between Disabilities Services Offices (DSOs) and academic libraries at Southeastern Conference (SEC) Institutions of Higher Education (IHE)’s. The Model is built around the existing legal infrastructure for providing accessible content to BVIPD students. The proposed Model will specifically address the four steps of the RRDRS Service Framework, which were identified by Butler, Adler, and Cox (2019). These are: 

  1. Request – a BVIPD student requests an accessible copy;
  2. Remediation – the service provider prepares or creates an accessible copy
  3. Delivery – the service provider delivers an accessible copy;
  4. Retention and Sharing – the accessible copy is retained within a repository for future use by DSO approved students.

Little is currently known about how DSOs work with BVIPD students, academic libraries, and instructors in the SEC region to utilize the RRDRS Service Framework in order to better serve BVIPD students. DSOs, academic libraries, and instructors need to work together to increase accessible content for BVIPD students. If implemented, the Campus Accessibility Partnership Model has the potential to improve equity of access for BVIPD students and directly impact their degree completion rates and the overall quality of their educational experiences. BVIPD students will have accessible content at the same time as non-BVIPD students enrolled in the same classes. Once developed and adopted, the Campus Accessibility Partnership Model will significantly reduce the time lag between the beginning of the semester and when BVIPD students receive accessible content. Although the project will provide a deliverable in the form of the proposed model, the primary goal will be to improve the lives of individual BVIPD students, as increased and more equitable access to education can also positively impact their subsequent employment and income earning potential.


 This study has five objectives:

  1. Establish whether the DSOs at SEC Institutions are familiar with the current legal infrastructure to facilitate access for BVIPD students.
  2. Investigate how the familiarity with the legal infrastructure, or lack thereof, translates into services for BVIPD students. Specifically, the study investigates whether and how DSOs implement the four steps in the RRDRS Service Framework.
  3. Investigate steps DSOs and academic libraries have taken to establish databases and repositories for retention of accessible content for BVIPD students for current and future use.
  4. Examine BVIPD students’ lived experiences with current services and how these lived experiences can improve if the RRDRS Service Framework is implemented.
  5. Develop, pilot, and evaluate the Campus Accessibility Partnership Model based on the RRDRS Service Framework

The Campus Accessibility Partnership Model and research findings will be widely shared at professional and academic conferences, such as the Association on Higher Education and Disability (AHEAD) and the Association of College and Research Libraries (ACRL), and scholarly and popular publications. Findings will also be shared with SEC partner institutions and will be broadly available via this website. 

Butler, B., Adler, P., & Cox, K. (2019). The law and accessible texts: Reconciling civil rights and copyrights (pdf).

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