The National Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics Education Digital Library (NSDL) holds enormous promise to enrich the interest and understanding of learners of all ages as they pursue education or careers in science, technology, engineering or mathematics (STEM). However, very little of this enriched and supported STEM content will be meaningful to learners, parents, teachers, researchers or trainers with disabilities without a concerted effort to infuse access considerations into the priorities, practices and policies of the NSDL community.
The Access NSDL project will build the capacity of the NSDL to meet the needs of users with disabilities. Project staff are providing the NSDL community with recommendations, tools and resources to guide the development of a universally designed infrastructure and accessible services and content. The project design leverages relevant work currently underway within the CPB/WGBH National Center for Accessible Media (NCAM) and the Internet Scout Project, and utilizes resources available at the IMS Global Learning Consortium and the Web Accessibility Initiative (WAI) at the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C).
The Access NSDL project furthers the goals of the National Science Foundation to facilitate the inclusion of people with disabilities in STEM education and careers. Project results serve the nation’s estimated 22 million deaf or hard-of-hearing people, 12 million blind or visually impaired people, and 8 million people with motor impairments, by making it possible for them to access the valuable science, math, engineering and technical content presented within the NSDL.
The CPB/WGBH National Center for Accessible Media (NCAM) is a research and development facility dedicated to the issues of media and information technology for people with disabilities in their homes, schools, workplaces, and communities.
NCAM’s mission is: to expand access to present and future media for people with disabilities; to explore how existing access technologies may benefit other populations; to represent its constituents in industry, policy and legislative circles; and to provide access to educational and media technologies for special needs students.
Since 1994, the Internet Scout Project has focused on developing better tools and services for finding, filtering, and presenting online information and metadata. Located on the University of Wisconsin-Madison’s campus, and part of the UW’s college of Letters and Sciences, Scout has access to highly-educated content specialists and a world-class array of computer science and library resources. The Scout research team creates and delivers practical Web-based information and software solutions for educators, librarians, and researchers.