HathiTrust provides an Accessible Text Request Service (ATRS) to its member institutions so they can accommodate special access to HathiTrust volumes (regardless of rights status) to their students, researchers, and staff with print disabilities. Formerly known as the Print Disability Proxy Service, ATRS may be set up by a UC campus library or disability services center (or both). ATRS allows up to four authorized contacts (known as Disability Service Providers or DSPs) from each member institution to download PDFs for any HathiTrust volume requested by eligible print disabled patrons. Once the PDF is downloaded, it may be shared directly or it may be converted into an alternate accessible format before being shared with the eligible patron.

HathiTrust defines print disabilities as any disability that prevents a person from being able to read a print book, this includes vision impairment, cognitive impairments, learning disabilities, physical disability, as well as other impairments. However, HathiTrust does not determine who qualifies as print disabled; each member institution must have its own defined process for appropriately certifying eligible patrons. If they haven’t already, UC libraries may want to work with the disability resource or services center on their campus to set this up. 

An important caveat about ATRS to keep in mind is that the quality of the resulting PDF depends upon the quality of the OCR derived from the digitized volume. The OCR text for HathiTrust volumes for the few languages (as well as handwritten manuscripts) not yet supported by the OCR engine is often complete gibberish, while other volumes may have varying degrees of legibility. However, poor OCR can often be remedied by reporting the issue to HathiTrust Support, who can initiate reprocessing of the item. Over time, improvements have been made to OCR processing and volumes scanned in the early years of the Google Library Project may often be reprocessed with good results. Despite this limitation, HathiTrust member institutions who make use of ATRS report that they need to do less individual scanning of texts to meet the needs of their print disabled patrons. 

For a good overview of HathiTrust’s ATRS, watch this video:  HathiTrust 101: Accessible Text Request Service


Additional Information about HathiTrust’s ATRS