Advisory Committees Reports, 2009
Report of the Educational Services Advisory Committee to the Trustees of the American Printing House for the Blind for Fiscal Year 2009
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 April of 2009 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 2008 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 2008 recommendations, operations and information on new initiatives.
ESAC Commendations 2009
Consistent with the Act to Promote the Education of the Blind (1879), the Committee commends APH for:
- Creating a positive working environment for staff and a transparent, customer responsive climate that invites open communication and collaboration between Ex Officio Trustees and the APH leadership team.
- Supporting the staff’s innovative approach to solving unique challenges and furthering opportunities for customers by their hardworking, caring, and thoughtful contributions.
- Addressing the following recommendations in the 2008 ESAC report:
- Expand products and services to students who are categorized as non-readers.
- Enhance the Student Registration System (SRS) with improved security, robustness, cross referencing, and design features which allow for future improvements.
- Develop the virtual tour of the APH Museum.
- Produce product infomercials.
- Develop alternative assessment guidelines.
- Enhancing the APH website by implementing:
- Social networking strategies to ensure increased exposure to stakeholders who may benefit from APH products and services.
- Improved navigability, e-Commerce features, customer interaction, and Goggle Search Engine capabilities.
- Expanding Field Service presentations to allied professional organizations and families to introduce them to APH products and services.
- Exceeding the U.S. Department of Education’s NIMAC grant timelines for usage and capacity.
- Implementing the Tactical Graphics Image Library and developing a plan to increase acquisitions.
- Initiating meaningful and effective strategies for new, as well as experienced, Ex Officio Trustees which include welcoming, mentoring, orientation, and training.
ESAC Recommendations 2009
The Educational Services Advisory Committee (ESAC) recommends that APH:
- Implement their plan to assist Ex Officio Trustees to promote the Act by providing information that can be used in presentations to members of their respective congressional delegations.
- Consider acquiring the AFB Miguel Library to improve the field’s accessibility to this unique and invaluable resource for research.
- Continue posting "home grown" videos on the web which demonstrate APH products.
- Evaluate the feasibility and cost-effectiveness of distance-based training and determine the necessary resources and development of APH staff expertise in use of delivering information via this methodology.
- Consider partnering with other organizations to sponsor regional or national conferences for direct service providers on the range, scope, use and value of APH products and services.
- Investigate paid web advertising and raise APH Goggle rank to increase awareness and access for families and service providers who could benefit from APH products and services.
- Expand the Louis data base by incorporating table of contents, cover images and copyright and publishing information when missing from record.
- Improve the APH website by creating consistent visual presentation, branding, graphic format, and navigation tools.
- Implement plan to provide training to assistants working with Ex Officio Trustees to register students in the APH quota registration.
- Collect census information on the primary language of learners in order to project for future products and services.
- Expand the Louis system to allow for unified search capability.
- Expand the Tactile Graphics Image Library usage by:
- Acquiring more graphic images for all ages of reader and non-reading populations.
- Developing awareness and increasing training opportunities.
Report of the Educational Products Advisory Committee to the Trustees of the American Printing House for the Blind for Fiscal Year 2009
The purpose of the Educational Products Advisory Committee (EPAC) is:
- To advise APH in establishing priorities, standards, and policies regarding publications and products.
- To review research and development priorities, suggest additional areas of interest, and advise APH staff on the prioritization of needs and projects.
- To review research and development progress and provide critiques and suggestions as needed.
- To review products under development and to consider approval of finished products for purchase with Federal Quota funds.
- To advise APH generally on topics relevant to the education and rehabilitation of persons who are blind and visually impaired.
- To advise APH in planning future initiatives based on innovative ideas and current trends.
- To advocate for and support the administration of the ACT by APH.
- To facilitate communications and partnerships between APH and appropriate entities.
- To recommend parents, caregivers, students, clients, and professionals in the field to serve as subjects for research or field-test purposes, as project consultants, and/or as committee members.
- To help keep APH staff informed of trends or important discussions/debates occurring in the field.
In May of 2009, the Educational Products Advisory Committee (EPAC) met for the eighth year as a formal advisory body to the American Printing House for the Blind (APH). The committee members gathered to hear responses to the recommendations from the previous year. They heard general information from each of the Project Directors about the past year and activities that have taken place in each department. Additionally, members of the committee met individually with project staff. The EPAC would like to express gratitude for being welcomed with open arms and generous hospitality. The candidness of the APH staff and administration during our discussions was much appreciated.
EPAC Commendations 2009
The EPAC commends the American Printing House for the Blind for:
- Solicitation of partnerships involving both national and international experts and companies within and outside our field. We believe this approach lends credibility and professional relevance to APH products. Most notable of these include the variety of technology firms, contracted expert authors, and key individuals who work in our field.
- Responding to a great need in the field by expediting the Building on Patterns project, and making significant improvements in the quality of this product. This action included re-organizing the workflow by dedicating additional manpower and resources as well as enlisting the participation of many skilled and highly respected professionals. Building on Patterns is a fine example of what APH can do to promote the education of students who are blind or visually impaired.
- Developing the Intelligence Testing of Individuals who are Blind or Visually Impaired position paper, and pursuing partnerships with applicable professional organizations.
- Their growing commitment to improvement in their technology infrastructure and e-commerce. The enhancements completed this year to the Louis Database will facilitate the ability to search and find accessible products through a greatly improved user interface. In addition, these measures give our industry and products greater presence in the online community through search engine optimization.
- Undertaking the innovative cortical visual impairment project and for their willingness to spend the time and effort to create a foundational document based on national and international perspectives. The accompanying DVD project will provide valuable information to the field.
- Proactively seeking partnerships with test publishers such as Curriculum Associates and The Woodcock-Munoz Foundation who graciously provided their expertise and financial support for adapting accessible test materials.
- Exceeding the expectations and statutory requirements associated with the National Instructional Materials Access Center in both quality and quantity of files sets available in the repository. The staff has been diligent in their responses to the complex set of issues brought forth by both individuals and organizations.
- Their thorough process, variety of internal and external resources, and extensive field review used in the development of Address: Earth, Sections I and II. The committee considers this process as exemplary and the resulting atlas as a classic reference book.
- Fostering and maintaining a work environment that builds positive staff morale. APH Employees clearly enjoy the work that they do, and feel valued by each other, administration and the field.
EPAC Recommendations 2009
The EPAC recommends that the American Printing House for the Blind:
- Pursue the development of a replacement for the Bookport which will be affordable, can play a variety of digital and audio formats, and uses an interface which is simple and intuitive.
- Insure Building on Patterns, grade 1, units 1-4 is ready for purchase by the beginning of the 2009 school year and the remaining units 5-7 by the end of the calendar year. In order to provide continuity for the students who are using Building on Patterns, the initial units of grade 2 should be completed by the beginning of the 2010 school year and the remaining units by the end 2010. After Building on Patterns, grade 2, is completed, the project team should re-visit Building on Patterns, kindergarten level, to bring it up to the new standards that are used in grades 1 and 2.
- Reduce development and production backlogs and implement solutions to reduce wait-times in areas such as specification writing, model creation, embossing, and printing. Consideration should be given, when feasible, to outsourcing or adding staff to ensure the most efficient and timely completion of products so that students may have access to them as soon as possible.
- Continue to research and develop visual display methods that can be used in tandem with products that are currently speech-only so that teachers, parents, and other professionals can view student work. Furthermore, it is recommended that the capability for printing be added to appropriate products.
- Place Verbal View Vista on hold until it can be developed for the Microsoft® Windows 7 operating system, and make the development of the Microsoft® Office 2007 ribbon a priority.
- Create a summary document providing guidance to parents, teachers, and beginning transcribers regarding tactile graphics as a resource to the APH Tactile Graphics Library. The document should follow proposed Braille Authority of North America Tactile Graphics Guidelines.
- In order to ensure earlier involvement in product development, APH should work with the EPAC to include the committee’s input prior to review by the APH Product Evaluation Team.