CourseSmart, a leading supplier of e-textbooks for higher education, shared the results of a two-year study on the use of digital textbooks which had been commissioned by Alternative Media Access Center (AMAC) and AccessText Network (ATN) following a grant from the Fund for the Improvement of Postsecondary Education (FIPSE). The study tracked the reactions of 1,185 higher education students who participated in an ebook rental program, some of whom required accessibility that isn’t available in print editions.
“We could not be more pleased to be a part of the STEPP Project (STudent E-rent Pilot Project), an effort that should be applauded for its mission to level the playing field in higher education. The economic realities of earning a college education make it paramount that all students find savings, and this program ensures that students with print related disabilities can not only enjoy the cost benefits, but also capitalize on the countless digital efficiencies of eTextbooks that their peers have appreciated for years,” said Sean Devine, CEO of CourseSmart, in a press release today. “It is encouraging that so early in the program, we are already meeting our goals and we look forward to continuing to work with AMAC and ATN to help ensure all students can enjoy the benefits of eTextbooks.”
While the project’s main focus was to attempt to reduce the cost of student textbook expenses by 50% over print edition purchasing, an objective that the project achieved, an additional goal for the program was to drastically reduce the cost of textbooks for students who required specialized texts due to a disability.
According to the release, “the STEPP project, initially announced in October 2010 and designed to offer eTextbooks that are specifically modified for accessibility in support of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, Section 504, marked the first time students with disabilities could enjoy the benefits of significant cost savings inherent in an eTextbook rental program. The eTextbooks that are part of the program are digitally formatted for qualified students and distributed through CourseSmart.”
As the project results indicate, there are both financial and accessibility benefits to digital textbooks, especially when the rental option is available to students who would otherwise be required to purchase print.