Students with disabilities comprise 11 percent of all undergraduate students and yet only 34.8 percent of them will complete college, versus 51.2 percent of the general student population. This is due largely in part to the limited availability of accessible digital instructional materials that students have at their disposal.
As part of the Department of Education's First in the World program, AMAC Accessibility Solutions & Research Center, a part of the College of Architecture, was recently awarded $3.8 million over four years to create the Center for Accessible Materials Innovation. This center, which will target students at minority serving institutions (MSIs), will expand access to digital content for students with disabilities, thereby improving their retention and graduation rates. Christopher Lee, director of AMAC, and Julie Ancis, associate vice president for Institute diversity will be the principal investigators.
The center will develop an informational application related to accessibility features of instructional materials and will produce and distribute accessible textbooks and assistive technology. In addition, researchers will examine the causes of under-utilization of accessible textbooks at MSIs and will develop a related Massive Open Online Course (MOOC).
The First in the World program is a new part of President Obama's initiative to drive innovation in higher education. Over 500 proposals were submitted, with 24 institutions being granted funding. For more information on the program, visit http://1.usa.gov/1ov0Qij.
Director of Communications
College of Architecture