The National Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics Education Digital Library (NSDL) had (and has) the potential 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 was meaningful to learners, parents, teachers, researchers, or trainers with disabilities. To address this problem, Access NSDL made a concerted effort to infuse access considerations into the priorities, practices, and policies of the NSDL community.
The Access NSDL project built the capacity of the NSDL to meet the needs of users with disabilities. Project staff provided 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 leveraged relevant work by CPB/WGBH National Center for Accessible Media (NCAM) and the Internet Scout Research Group, and utilized 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 furthered the National Science Foundation's goal to facilitate the inclusion of people with disabilities in STEM education and careers. The project's results still 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 in the NSDL.