Many of you are using, have heard about, or are
aware of the Access Text Network (ATN) and its work in providing
publisher files for the purpose of creating accessible texts.
It is a venture of the American Association of Publishers (AAP)
implemented through the Alternative Media Access Center at the
University of Georgia. This past year has been the Beta period.
The preliminary Beta period and free membership
with ATN ends this June. As such, institutions who seek to
continue their participation in the ATN will need to sign new user
agreements with the ATN and pay a modest fee.
During the past several months, AHEAD has worked
with ATN regarding its process and institutional needs/concerns,
especially with regard to the User Agreement requirements. The
ATN was receptive to AHEAD's comments and feedback regarding the User
and process relative to institutions, and the need to provide
effective services to students.
As people assess the utility and potential use
of the ATN and other resources, AHEAD is compelled to note certain
important points for our members' consideration.
ATN may be
a viable short-term solution for a number of members. Publisher
files provided will likely need to be converted as they are not
AHEAD as a
member of the Reading Rights Coalition (RRC) in combination with the
American Association of Publishers (AAP) and the Author's Guild is
working toward options that create equal access for all at the same
time. (see http://www.readingrights.org/2009-advocacy-update)
noted in its previous position statement (see: http://ahead.org/resources/e-text/position-statement), continues to acknowledge the rights of
institutions under the Chaffee Amendmentand the fair use doctrine, to
create and provide accessible formats of instructional materials as
an accommodation to students with disabilities. Therefore, AHEAD
advises members to seek advice of their own university counsel
regarding any question as to whether your institution may be
relinquishing rights it wishes to retain by signing the ATN User
Agreement allows ATN/Publishers to ask an institution to
"provide documentation evidencing its compliance."
The issues of what documentation is expected or required, and who
would have access to that documentation remain unclear. AHEAD
asserts that appropriate confidentiality and privacy of student
records and/or documentation needs to be maintained.
continue to focus on new ways to help institutions provide direct,
immediate access (as opposed to converting texts).
In summary, consistent
with philosophy and practice, AHEAD's involvement in the creation or
improvement of any resource that may be beneficial in providing
equity of opportunity to students with disabilities in postsecondary
education does not constitute or imply any endorsement of that
resource. That said, AHEAD feels strongly that its members and
member institutions should, in all instances, enter into
agreements that have been reviewed and approved by
institutional legal counsel and signed by an institutionally
AHEAD looks forward to
continuing to provide you with updated information and resources as
they become available. If you have specific questions about
this particular issue, please contact me at: email@example.com
Mike Shuttic, President