Advisory Committees Reports, 2007
Report of the Educational Services Advisory Committee to the Trustees of the American Printing House for the Blind for Fiscal Year 2007
The purpose of the Educational Services Advisory Committee (ESAC) is to:
- Provide oversight and leadership in the planning, evaluation, and delivery of services,
- Identify new services needed,
- Assist the promotion of APH products through services and,
- Advise APH on general operations and communications as they relate to the accountability of services provided.
In May of 2007 the Educational Services Advisory Committee (ESAC) and the Educational Products Advisory Committee (EPAC) met in joint and separate sessions. Committee members determined this format would be time efficient for APH staff as well as provide opportunities for communication between members of the committees. The ESAC committee met to address the 2006 ESAC report and to develop commendations and recommendations. To assist with this endeavor, interactive presentations were made by APH's administrative staff and ESAC committee members. These interactive presentations provided progress updates on the 2006 recommendations, operations, and information on new initiatives.
ESAC Commendations 2007
The Committee commends APH for its on-going commitment to promoting and improving services and products as related to the Act to Promote the Education of the Blind (1879) by:
- Creating an open, transparent, customer-responsive administrative climate that invites communication and collaboration between EOTs and the APH upper level leadership team.
- Effectively providing information to policy and law makers on the needs of blind and visually impaired students and the resources necessary to meet those needs.
- Remaining focused on their mission through continuous planning and improvement efforts and not diverting time and fiscal resources to other non-mission endeavors.
- Increasing training opportunities which utilize webcasts, webinars, web-based and other multi-media training formats planned and presented by multiple APH departments.
- Expanding information and communication to the field by establishing APH News online and beginning the enhancement of the APH website.
- Publishing a more market-savvy product catalog and a newly developed assessment catalog.
- Updating the on-line Student Registration System (SRS) which now provides more report functions, and timely and efficient transmission of and access to information.
- Expanding the NIPs and making APH staff so available national-wide to multiple and diverse audiences.
- Developing a plan to celebrate APH's 150th year of service to the field and the beginning development of a book which chronicles the APH achievements and progress over the years.
ESAC Recommendations 2007
The Committee recommends that APH:
- Accelerate the implementation of the Braille Improvement Project (BIP) with full vigor to ensure that the majority of the key projected outcomes are accomplished by September 30, 2008.
- Reduce Braille embossing and binding production time from four to two weeks.
- Explore developing a full range of training opportunities which include face to face trainings, live and archived web casts, basic training manuals, compact disk and web-based tutorials for high demand and/or complex products.
- Expand the internet infrastructure (i.e. bandwidth) to allow increased distance education training formats.
- Identify an Integrated Library Services (ILS) platform that will accommodate a user friendly full access system with state-of-the-art e-Commerce features.
- Implement the National Prison Braille Program focus group goals designed to improve quality Braille transcription services.
- Implement the tactile graphic database plan which allows for electronic download.
- Intensify initiatives toward the development of guidelines, position papers and recommendations to improve the intellectual testing of students who are blind or visually impaired.
- Continue to celebrate through the museum the past and stimulate future achievements in the field through museum activities about the capabilities of individuals who are blind or have low vision.
- Explore the development of SRS data transmission protocols which will allow EOTs to download their records to APH.
- Consider assigning students a permanent Student Registration System (SRS) identifying number for purposes of longitudinal data analysis.
- Implement a management system which will reliably track pre-production orders and the production of materials from order to delivery.
- Investigate and, if feasible, implement the electronic dissemination of acknowledgements and invoices to EOTs as a means to save time and resources.
- Increase the number of annual APH Scholars as part of the process to identify, develop, and inspire new leaders
Report of the Educational Products Advisory Committee to the Trustees of the American Printing House for the Blind for Fiscal Year 2007
In May of 2007, the Educational Products Advisory Committee (EPAC) met for the sixth year as a formal advisory body to the American Printing House for the Blind (APH). The committee members reviewed products under development, met with APH staff, and approved new products for sale with Quota Funds. The EPAC would like to express our thanks to the staff of APH for their congeniality and frank discussions during our stay. After thoughtful review the EPAC offers the following commendations and recommendations to APH for consideration.
The EPAC commends APH for:
- Successfully implementing new processes that expedite key product research and development.
- Seeking collaborative partnerships within the industry to develop new technology product lines in a timely fashion, as was demonstrated by the one-year timeline from drawing board to product launch for the Braille Plus.
- The successful shift of Braille textbook priorities to recent copyrights of national editions of math, science and geography to best allocate resources.
- The vision statement of the Braille Improvement Project for establishing APH as a credible leader in the professionalism of Braille transcribing and proofreading, and for launching the first phase of building a highly trained team of in-house bargaining and non-bargaining staff members.
- The highly creative innovation, organization and goal oriented process and resulting products introduced by the Tactile Graphics team.
- Improving the focus of the Core Curriculum project area.
- The efforts of the Accessible Tests Dept. in developing a relationship with the Riverside Publishing to provide the large print version of the Woodcock Johnson III Achievement Test. We anxiously await the Braille version.
- Although not formally part of APH's administration of the Act to Promote the Education of the Blind, the leadership of APH demonstrated in the successful NIMAC launch, including initiating the necessary training and infrastructure for this new textbook file format and process.
- The Emergent Literacy Project, including the quality of research and timeliness of information.
- Support of a creative, dedicated, flexible, innovative and talented staff.
The Committee recommends that:
- APH continue active partnerships with vendors/partners. The balance of input by LevelStar and APH brought forth a well-thought out product, the Braille Plus. We recommend a project leader be equally involved in the research phase, as with the Braille Plus, of all products to avoid over-reliance on vendor capabilities and be sure all consumer needs are met.
- APH review and analyze the product management, review process and follow up used by the Tactile Graphics, Multiple Disabilities and Technology Product Teams for possible wider application among all project leaders, possibly to develop as a Team standard.
- APH re-emphasize 2006 Recommendation #12, to explore non-traditional ways to convene focus groups using current technology to assist APH with research and product development. While we recognize the increased use of webinars and conference calls for feedback and training, many projects appear to be based on out-dated information from the field.
- APH review policies regarding employee internet access and bandwidth to ensure APH is poised to meet future technology needs, to assist staff involved in research, and to explore expanded wireless and interactive video training capabilities.
- APH explore ways to facilitate a more coordinated effort for in-house projects to avoid duplication of efforts or objectives.
- APH closely examine project areas and develop the individualized supports and/or frequent benchmarks for each project leader to successfully meet annual objectives.
- The 2006 Recommendation #6, which was not fully addressed, and the late release of Grade 1 of the Patterns Series planned now for release in Fall 2008, be accelerated to no later than Spring 2008. Furthermore, we recommend the remaining three grades be released no more than one year apart.
- Both in-house and field low vision specialists review and edit the manual to be included with the Maximeyes Video Magnifier.
- All Project Team Leaders prepare one page written answers to the EPAC Protocol Questions prior to next year's EPAC visit, so EPAC members can focus on high priority issues in discussions with Project Team Leaders.
- Voting on Quota item approval is done only after the EPAC has had an opportunity to interview all Project Team Leaders and related staff members.
- APH research and analyze national job trends and solicit additional input from the field to increase the number and relevancy of the Career and Transition area products.
Members of the APH Educational Services Advisory Committee:
- Jean Martin, chair (MN)
- Michael Bina (MA)
- Jacqueline Denk (KS)
- James Downs (GA)
- Barbara L. Perkis (IL)
Members of the APH Educational Products Advisory Committee:
- Joseph Catavero, chair (NY)
- Bernadette Kappen (PA)
- Nancy Niebrugge (CA)
- Lorri Quigley (UT)
- Steven M. Rothstein (MA)
- Dean Stenehjem (WA)
- Tom Winton (NC)
- Alternate - Jean Small (ME)