FAQ

Grant

What is STEPP?

STEPP stands for STudent E-rent Pilot Project and is an eTextbook rental program launched by AMAC in partnership with CourseSmart and the AccessText Network. Through a grant from the Fund for the Improvement of Postsecondary Education (FIPSE), U.S. Department of Education (DOE), this program is designed to meet the textbook rental needs of any postsecondary student.

STEPP aims to help improve low-cost access to higher education textbooks for all students, including those with print-related disabilities. Through STEPP, students will be able to save an average of 50% or more off the retail cost of purchasing a new print textbook.

How long is the grant period?

After two no-cost extensions the grant concluded on 9/30/2013.

What are the goals of STEPP?

The goals of STEPP are:

  • to save students an average of 50% off the retail cost of purchasing a new printed textbook;
  • to provide students with print-related disabilities an equal opportunity to participate in textbook rental programs and experience cost savings;
  • to develop and demonstrate a viable business model for rendering eTextbooks for rent, which are universally accessible to all;
  • to create awareness of the availability of universally accessible eTextbooks for rent;
  • to increase knowledge and awareness of the need for and the profitability of providing universally accessible eTextbooks, amongst all players in the marketplace.

What sets STEPP apart from other textbook rental services?

STEPP is a national program that provides both universally accessible electronic textbooks and an opportunity for all students, despite print-disability status, to participate in a mainstream textbook rental program and experience cost savings.

A student who uses alternative text would not be able to participate in a traditional rental program of hard copy textbooks. Through STEPP, students with print-related disabilities have another option for independently obtaining their educational materials.

Additionally, bookstores can participate in the program by becoming a CourseSmart affiliate.

Who can and will benefit from STEPP?

All students can and will experience cost savings associated with eTextbook rental programs.

Students with print-related disabilities will also have an opportunity to access textbooks at the same time as other students. Through STEPP these students have another option for independently obtaining their course material.

80% of CourseSmart titles can be read using assistive technology. Many of their most popular books have tagging for images, headings, lists, tables, paragraphs, and reading order. Untagged books may be tagged upon request, to improve reading order, navigation, and to add image descriptions.

Why use STEPP if I can use other organizations that provide recorded textbooks?

As the first of its kind, STEPP provides equal opportunity for students with print-related disabilities to participate in a mainstream eTextbook rental program. Students with print-related disabilities will have an equal opportunity to access textbooks at the same time as other students while obtaining increased independence by not having to go through their school's Disability Support Services office for accessible course material.

In addition, STEPP is working to develop and demonstrate a viable business model for rendering accessible eTextbooks for rent, while raising awareness of the need for and the profitability of providing accessible eTextbooks, amongst all players in the marketplace so that accessible eTextbook rentals will be available everywhere.

Accessibility/Disability

What is accessibility?

Accessibility in this context refers to making standard printed text accessible for people with a print-related disability.

What is a print-related disability?

A print-related disability can be a learning disability, a visual impairment or a physical disability. Although the manners in which the disability occurs are very different, they all share one characteristic: individuals diagnosed with a print disability cannot access print in the standard way. For more information on print disabilities visit the National Center of Learning Disabilities website.

What is a visual impairment?

Visual impairment (or vision impairment) is vision loss (of a person) to such a degree as to qualify as an additional support need through a significant limitation of visual capability resulting from either disease, trauma, or congenital or degenerative conditions that cannot be corrected by conventional means, such as refractive correction, medication, or surgery. For additional information on vision loss visit the National Federation of the Blind (NFB) website.

What is a remediated eTextbook?

A remediated eTextbook refers to the conversion of an electronic file into a form that is best suited for access by users with print-related disabilities. It has tagging for images, headings, lists, tables, and paragraphs, and includes image descriptions. A remediated eTextbook improves the navigation and reading order for users of screen access technology.

How does a student with a print-related disability access an eTextbook?

Depending on the print-related disability, a student may use text to speech software which reads aloud the electronic text that appears on a computer screen or software that enlarges text on a screen to access an eTextbook.

For more information on disability, accessibility, and accommodations, go to the Accessibility page.

eTextbooks

How can I search for eTextbooks?

Using the search box on the upper right hand corner of the STEPP website, you can search for eTextbooks by selecting either ISBN or title and then entering the information in the search box. If you are using a screen reader, navigate by form fields until you get to the "Search By:" combo box. Select Search by ISBN or Title and then enter the book information in the form field.

Are all eTextbooks accessible upon rental? If not, what has to be done in order for someone using assistive technology to use it?

80% of CourseSmart titles can be read using assistive technology. Many of their most popular books have tagging for images, headings, lists, tables, paragraphs, and reading order. Untagged books may be tagged upon request, to improve reading order, navigation, and to add image descriptions.

For users of screen access technology, (e.g., JAWS, NVDA, VoiceOver) CourseSmart must activate the text access features for specific accounts. Once a desired title is located on CourseSmart, select the book, create a free CourseSmart account, and then contact CourseSmart at accessibility@coursesmart.com or call 866-588-3197 to turn on the text access features of the CourseSmart reader for use with the book to improve the accessibility. Once the accessibility features have been activated, you may then preview Chapter 1 of the textbook for free or you can then rent the book by adding it to your cart and proceeding to checkout.

What if I get a book and cannot access it?

If you are unable to access your book, contact accessibility@coursesmart.com or customer support at 866-588-3197.

How can I submit a request to have a textbook made accessible?

Send your title requests to accessibility@coursesmart.com or contact customer support at 866-588-3197.

Will I be able to select text, copy, and paste into another document for notes, citation, etc?

CourseSmart supports copy and paste for users who can use a mouse. Users of screen reader technology may copy and paste using the functions of the screen reader.

How will I get my books?

When you are logged into your CourseSmart account, you can access your eTextbooks through your CourseSmart Bookshelf. All of your active CourseSmart subscriptions are listed on your Bookshelf.

CourseSmart eTextbooks are always accessible through your browser when connected to the internet. Additionally, CourseSmart uses advanced HTML 5 technology to allow offline browser-based access to your accessible book if you are using Mozilla Firefox 3.6 or higher.

Will they be the same as the ones my friends get from the brick and mortar store?

CourseSmart eTextbooks feature print fidelity so pages look identical to the print textbook with the same pagination, including page numbers and page breaks.

What if my professor specifies the 3rd edition and you're offering the 5th edition for rent. Are they the same and if not what are the differences?

Changes between editions vary by title. Generally, CourseSmart has the newest editions. All CourseSmart eTextbooks are returnable within 2 weeks provided no more than 20% of the content has been read. If CourseSmart does not have a specific edition, your instructor will be able to determine whether different editions will satisfy course requirements. You may wish to inquire with CourseSmart for editions not listed in their catalog at accessibility@coursesmart.com.

What type/subjects of accessible eTextbooks are available?

CourseSmart provides a wide variety of subject areas for both core and supplemental textbooks. CourseSmart currently carries inventory for over 20 higher education publishers.

Are STEM subject accessible eTextbooks available?

STEM titles (Science, technology, engineering, and math) have limited accessibility due to the complex nature of equations and formulae. CourseSmart, AMAC, and the publishers are actively working on technical solutions for STEM titles.

Can I lend my eTextbook to my friend if he/she can't afford his/her book?

CourseSmart eTextbooks are licensed to a single user. Sharing CourseSmart eTextbook subscriptions is a violation of the Terms of Service that must be agreed to upon creation of a CourseSmart account.

Renting an eTextbook

Can anyone rent an accessible eTextbook?

Yes, anyone can rent an accessible eTextbook, however, depending on what kind of access you need, you may have to contact CourseSmart at accessibility@coursesmart.com or at 866-588-3197. Please refer to the question "Are all eTextbooks accessible upon rental?" for more information.

80% of CourseSmart titles can be read using assistive technology. Many of CourseSmart's most popular books have tagging for images, headings, and reading order. Untagged books may be tagged upon request, to improve reading order, navigation, and to add image descriptions.

For users of screen access technology, (e.g., JAWS, NVDA, VoiceOver) CourseSmart must activate the text access features for specific accounts. Once a desired title is located on CourseSmart, select the book, create a free CourseSmart account, and then contact CourseSmart at accessibility@coursesmart.com or call 866-588-3197 to turn on the text access features of the CourseSmart reader for use with the book to improve the accessibility. Once the accessibility features have been activated, you may then preview Chapter 1 of the textbook for free or you can then rent the book by adding it to your cart and proceeding to checkout.

How difficult is it to search for, purchase, navigate, and use accessible eTextBooks?

CourseSmart adheres to accessibility practices as defined by WCAG 2.0 Level A Conformance. In addition, CourseSmart regularly uses independent third-party experts to evaluate both the accessibility and usability of website and eTextbooks. CourseSmart tests its software with students and instructors with disabilities and solicits recommendations for improvements at accessibility@coursesmart.com.

Will I be able to keep the book forever? If not, how long can I use it for?

CourseSmart eTextbooks are currently only available on the rental model. Duration of the rental period varies by book and is generally determined by course length. For example, one-semester courses have a 180 day rental, 2-semester courses have a 360 day rental, and so on.

What are the terms of contract?

Read CourseSmart'scomplete terms of service. In general, CourseSmart subscriptions are available to a single subscriber for the duration of the subscription of the rental period. Refunds are available within 2 weeks of purchase provided no more than 20% of the book has been read. CourseSmart supports printing of pages from the eTextbook for up to 150% of the number of pages in the book. CourseSmart eTexbooks are available via browser anytime, anywhere by one, and only one, user. CourseSmart offline access is available on only one computer at a time.

Can I access/download my eTextbook from more than one device? If not, what happens if my computer crashes and I lose my eTextbook the night before my mid-term?

CourseSmart textbooks can be accessed online from any computer at any time. Your offline copy is available on only one computer at a time. If the computer with an offline copy is destroyed or lost, contact customer support.

What is the CourseSmart reader?

The CourseSmart reader is a core part of CourseSmart's website that allows you to read your eTextbook interactively and consistently, with an experience that is not available anywhere else in a universally accessible way.

What happens if I drop a class and I don't need the book anymore?

CourseSmart eTextbooks are returnable within 2 weeks of purchase provided no more than 20% of the book has been read and/or printed.

What if I'm taking a series class, CHEM I and II or BIOL I and II, can I rent for longer or do I have to rent twice?

If the book covers more than one semester, the rental period is defined appropriately (i.e. a book used for 3 semesters generally has a 540 day rental period.)

Software / Assistive Technology

What is assistive technology?

Assistive technology (AT) is an umbrella term that includes assistive, adaptive, and rehabilitative devices for people with disabilities and also includes the process used in selecting, locating, and using them. AT promotes greater independence by enabling people to perform tasks that they were formerly unable to accomplish, or had great difficulty accomplishing, by providing enhancements to or changed methods of interacting with the technology needed to accomplish such tasks. Examples of AT include, text -to- speech software, eye tracking cursor control and speech recognition transcription tools.

What assistive technologies are supported with my eTextbook rental through CourseSmart?

CourseSmart supports most screen readers and regularly tests it's applications with JAWS, NVDA, and Voice Over. Most text-to-speech programs can access CourseSmart texts via use of copy and paste features.

Does the CourseSmart accessible reader include speech output?

No, the current version of the accessible reader does not have an embedded speech output. If you want to use speech output, use your personal text-to-speech software such as Naturally Speaking, Claro Read, Jaws, NVDA, etc.

Is software provided if I rent an accessible eTextbook through CourseSmart?

No. CourseSmart does not provide any software with subscriptions. CourseSmart bookshelves and titles are accessed through any web browser connected to the Internet and for offline reading.