Advisory Committees Reports, 2008

Report of the Educational Services Advisory Committee to the Trustees of the American Printing House for the Blind for Fiscal Year 2008

Introduction

The purpose of the Educational Services Advisory Committee (ESAC) is to:

In May of 2008 the Educational Services Advisory Committee (ESAC) and the Educational Products Advisory Committee (EPAC) met in joint and separate sessions. The ESAC committee met to address the 2007 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 2007 recommendations, operations and information on new initiatives.

ESAC Commendations 2008

Consistent with the Act to Promote the Education of the Blind (1879), the Committee commends APH for:

  1. Creating a nurturing working environment for staff and a transparent, customer-responsive climate that invites open communication and collaboration between EOTs and the APH leadership team.
  2. Supporting the staff’s innovative approach to solving unique challenges and furthering opportunities for customers by their hardworking, caring, and thoughtful contributions.
  3. Making substantial progress in the following projects which were recommended in the 2007 ESAC report:
    1. Implementation of the Braille Improvement Project (BIP) by hiring braille transcriber, increasing braille production, upgrading the skills of the staff through certification to meet national standards, and producing more books.
    2. Development of a full range of training opportunities y posting training manuals on-line, expanding web casts, and increasing internet bandwidth.
    3. Expansion of an Integrated Library Service (ILS) platform to accommodate a full access e-commerce feature.
    4. Expansion and improvements in the National Prison Braille Program.
    5. Implementation of the downloadable tactile graphic database plan.
    6. Implementation of the plan to improve the intellectual testing of students who are blind or visually impaired.
    7. Implementation of museum initiatives which recognize and raise public awareness of APH’s contributions on the occasion of its 150th anniversary.
  4. Expanding APH product-related electronic and face to face training opportunities including those provided through the National Instructional Partnerships.
  5. Implementing the Title Management Model software which allows single entry and migration of LOUIS, NIMAC, and the APH Platform which interface with e-Commerce and SYPRO for increased interdepartmental efficiency.
  6. Developing exemplary print and on-line brochures, catalogues, newsletters, and other marketing and information vehicles which advance APH’s brand, positive image, and information dissemination.
  7. Developing APH’s e-Commerce feature through the collaborative efforts of the Business Office, Resource Services, Technological and Communications Services.
  8. Making Fred’s Head information more easily available by mainstreaming it within internet search engines.
  9. Dramatically reducing the production and delivery time of ATIC and traditional Large Print textbooks.

ESAC Recommendations 2008

The Committee recommends that APH:

  1. Continue consideration, as recommended in 2007 ESAC report, to:
    1. Explore the development of SRS single entry data transmission protocols which will allow EOTs to download their records to APH and accommodates bulk import and export of data with automatic feedback to EOTs.
    2. Consider assigning students a permanent Student Registration System (SRS) identifying number for purposes of longitudinal data analysis.
    3. Fully implement the electronic dissemination of acknowledgements and invoices to EOTs as a means to save time and resources.
  2. Provide support to further refine and improve the SRS registration system to meet APH and customer needs for maximum efficiency.
  3. Produce more braille textbooks with a quicker turnaround time by:
    1. Increasing production efficiencies and staffing.
    2. Considering expansion of outside production subcontracts.
  4. Produce 3-5 minute infomercials to inform customers about available products and to provide assistance in utilizing them.
  5. Expand services and products to improve literacy, language, and communication skills for students who are non-readers.
  6. Develop guidelines for alternate assessment for non-readers, a growing portion of the APH census.
  7. Consider further development of a virtual tour of the museum.

Report of the Educational Products Advisory Committee to the Trustees of the American Printing House for the Blind for Fiscal Year 2008

Introduction

In May of 2008, the Educational Products Advisory Committee (EPAC) met for the seventh 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.

Commendations

The Educational Products Advisory Committee commends the American Printing House for the Blind for:

  1. The efforts of the Accessible Tests Department for
    • partnering with major assessment companies to address test accessibility issues in the field.
    • completion of the braille version of the Woodcock-Johnson III: Test of Achievement. The Accessible Tests Department learned how to work with the publisher in an efficient manner to produce a high quality and completely validated product.
  2. Providing open access through a T-1 line to the technology project team, as this has stimulated creativity and innovation in this important area.
  3. The progress made in the past year on the Braille Improvement Project, increasing capacity and staff morale.
  4. The preparation for the sesquicentennial, demonstrating the hallmark of APH as an organization that is welcoming and hospitable to the VI field and the greater community.
  5. The redesign of the building entrance and the museum redesign and accessibility features to reach out to the local community.
  6. The launching of the Tactile Graphics Library and great progress in promoting its use throughout the country.
  7. The Early Braille Tradebooks project and its related website for its user-friendliness and simplified format, providing an excellent resource for the field and alleviating the redundant efforts of teachers and transcribers previously required to produce these books.
  8. The efforts of APH and its contractors in the upcoming integration and redesign of the website, e-commerce, SYSPRO, LOUIS and NIMAC.

Recommendations

The Educational Products Advisory Committee, in its effort to help the American Printing House for the Blind remain a relevant and progressive leader in the education of students with blindness and visual impairments and the leading producer of instructional materials for the field, recommends the following:

  1. Related to 2007 recommendations #3 and #5, to ensure that your existing and upcoming products are in demand and relevant to the field, establish and use a standard for updating old products (e.g., Developmental Guidelines; Best for a Nest) and developing new products to be reflective of current thought/best practice and sales data and to reach out to new leaders in the field or related fields.
  2. Investigate and create a plan for more efficient use of research assistants for product development.
  3. Continue to develop and coordinate early and emergent literacy products
    1. By Fall 2008, develop a process for nationwide transcriber and teachers of the visually impaired participation in the development of the Early Braille Tradebooks Library.
    2. Integrate this resource with other early and emergent literacy projects (e.g., Patterns, First Books, etc.) to complement and reinforce the concepts and skills needed for reading by blind children.
    3. Integrate proposed Early Literacy and Emergent Literacy websites so they are not developed in isolation.
  4. Give higher priority by accelerating and/or outsourcing the Patterns Series Grade 1 project such that it is ready for release by March 2009. For the third year in a row, we are frustrated that the Patterns Series Grade 1 is still not ready for field testing. If Grade 2 cannot be completed within one year after this, it should be outsourced as a high priority.
  5. Prioritize the development and availability of TestReady materials for test preparation, as this can make and important and immediate impact regarding student achievement and national standards.
  6. Recruit and train another cohort of APH transcribers and develop a system for recruiting and training APH proofreaders.
  7. Considering that nearly one-third of all students being served by the Act are currently identified as non-readers, we recommend APH devote additional attention to the development of literacy, communication and curricular products for these students, including using expertise from the larger field of education of students with intellectual disabilities.
  8. Accessible Test Department staff actively seek out opportunities to present at larger non-VI conferences (e.g., CEC, NASP, etc.) to inform school psychologists and others about the availability of adaptive test instruments for blind and visually impaired children.
  9. Explore APH access to Internet 2 to help facilitate interactive training throughout the country.

Educational Products Advisory Committee (EPAC) and Educational Services Advisory Committee (ESAC) 2008 JOINT RECOMMENDATIONS

  1. In order to best fulfill the mission of APH in the immediate future, the EPAC and ESAC jointly recommend that APH assess, plan and implement a cohesive strategy that integrates organizational structure, internal and external communication, and technology to better serve its customers and support its employees’ creativity and enhance their efficiency.

    Our recommendation specifically includes four components: 1) Assessment, 2) Planning, 3) Implementation and 4) Evaluation/Follow-up.

    1. Assessment
      Conduct a comprehensive assessment/audit that:

      • is completed by an outside consulting firm;
      • is overseen by a multidisciplinary committee, to include in-house staff and one member of each of the advisory committees;
      • evaluates companywide information technology (IT) ability to fully access and share information internally and externally;
      • examines service and product goals as they relate to electronic delivery systems;
      • evaluates the structure of internal communication of projects and how business units work together; and
      • gives consideration to hiring a strategic information leader to implement the plan if recommended by the results of the assessment.

      This assessment/audit is to build upon the existing initiative that merges e-commerce, finance, NIMAC and Louis, and is to extend to evaluating additional areas such as: sharing of information among research professionals and production staff and internet usage policies

    2. Plan
      Assessment leads to the development of an externally delivered plan by May 2009 that serves as a blueprint for more streamlined production and timely delivery of products and services.
    3. Implementation of external recommendations
    4. Annual Evaluation
  2. The EPAC and ESAC jointly recommend the development of a process to create benchmarks and standards upon which APH will measure the outcomes of its various departments, such as error-free textbooks, on time delivery of products, etc.

Committees

Members of the APH Educational Services Advisory Committee:

Members of the APH Educational Products Advisory Committee:

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