May 18, 2022

Andrew W. Mellon Foundation Awards $1,000,000 Grant to “Federating Repositories of Accessible Materials for Higher Education” Project

From the U. of Virginia Libraries:

The population of students with disabilities at institutions of higher education has increased substantially over the past few decades and many of those have print disabilities, including the largest subgroup, those with learning disabilities. Students with print disabilities require text that has been reformatted for screen readers, text-to-speech software, or other forms of audio delivery, often with human intervention. Universities have few staff to do that work. Without collaboration across campuses, wasted effort and delayed service are certain.

“Federating Repositories of Accessible Materials for Higher Education” is a two-year project newly funded by a $1,000,000 grant from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation to the University of Virginia which aims to address this problem. Led by University Librarian John Unsworth, this project will reduce duplication of remediation efforts across participating universities, allow the cumulative improvement of accessible texts, and decrease the turnaround time for delivering those texts to students and faculty.


The pilot group funded by this grant includes six other universities with a history of leadership on accessibility: George Mason University, Texas A&M University, the University of Illinois, Northern Arizona University, the University of Wisconsin-Madison, and Vanderbilt University. At all of the participating universities, the library and the disability services office will be included in the work, and at four of them (GMU, UVA, Wisconsin, and Vanderbilt), university presses will also participate. “By providing digital source files and participating in the creation of new workflows,” said Dennis Lloyd, Director of the University of Wisconsin Press, “we can identify potential implementation challenges from the inside of the publishing process.”

The pilot also depends on HathiTrust, Bookshare, and The Internet Archive—three large digital repositories, each of which already provides service to users with print disabilities—to provide a federated network of storage and delivery and to draw on their individual networks of social commitment and technical expertise. The Association of Research Libraries will also provide support for a meeting of legal experts at the outset of the project.

The grant from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation will fund the creation of library infrastructure at UVA called EMMA (Educational Materials Made Accessible) which will handle authentication, search, selection, and download, while also providing an upload path for texts produced or remediated on the campuses of the seven participating universities.

Learn More, Read the Complete Announcement

About Gary Price

Gary Price ( is a librarian, writer, consultant, and frequent conference speaker based in the Washington D.C. metro area. Before launching INFOdocket, Price and Shirl Kennedy were the founders and senior editors at ResourceShelf and DocuTicker for 10 years. From 2006-2009 he was Director of Online Information Services at, and is currently a contributing editor at Search Engine Land.