The Alternative Media Access Center (AMAC) in partnership with CourseSmart and the AccessText Network (ATN) have come together to request funding in support of an innovative, e-textbook rental program entitled the STudent E-rent Pilot Project (STEPP). While STEPP is designed to meet the textbook rental needs of any postsecondary student, the program is unique in that its textbook offerings are specially modified for accessibility, and comply with Section 504 requirements under the Rehabilitation Act of 1973.
In brief, STEPP leverages the expertise of AMAC, one of the nation’s leaders in producing accessible educational text, with the established distribution network of CourseSmart, the nation’s number one electronic textbook rental service, and the reach of ATN, the nation’s only ―one-stop shop‖ for disability service providers with a need for alternative format text files. For the first time, students with disabilities will enjoy the benefits of significant cost savings inherent in a textbook rental program, as STEPP provides universally accessible e-textbook files for top titles.
The goals of the STEPP initiative are as follows: (1) To save students an average of 50 percent off the retail cost for purchasing textbooks; (2) To provide students with disabilities an equal opportunity to participate in textbook rental programs and experience cost savings; (3) To develop and demonstrate a viable business model for rendering e-textbooks for rent, which are universally accessible to all; (4) To create awareness of the availability of universally accessible e-textbooks for rent; and (5) To increase knowledge and awareness amongst all players in the marketplace of the need for and the profitability of providing universally accessible e-textbooks.
Over the next two years, CourseSmart, ALternative Media Access Center, and AccessText Network will utilize a $1.1 million grant awarded them from the U.S. Department of Education to support STEPP.