Reports of the Advisory Committees To the Trustees of the American Printing House for the Blind For the Year 2010
Report of the Educational Services Advisory Committee to the Trustees of the American Printing House for the Blind for Fiscal Year 2010
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 2010 the Educational Services Advisory Committee (ESAC) met in Louisville, KY at the American Printing House for the Blind (APH). The ESAC committee met to address the 2009 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 2009 recommendations, operations and information on new initiatives.
Consistent with the Act to Promote the Education of the Blind (1879), the committee commends APH for:
- Redesigning the APH home page which will improve navigability, as well as provide new features, content, and visual appeal.
- Combining multiple APH catalogs into a main products catalog and a daily living skills catalog.
- Developing and distributing an effective Leaders to Leaders packet to help EOTs promote APH.
- Advancing national awareness of APH products through activities such as the APH Visual and Tactile Report to Congress on June 16, 2010 in Washington DC.
- Increasing the visibility of APH products by exhibiting at conferences and providing training, and creating the infrastructure at APH that facilitates this process.
- Hiring staff who have specific technical expertise to address current and projected needs.
- Upgrading the Student Registration System (SRS) by adding functions such as primary instructional language and individual log-on.
- Increasing the capacity to provide information to the field by developing a plan for studio space and equipment to enhance distance learning opportunities.
- Acquiring the Migel Library and making significant progress within one year toward providing access to the collection.
Consistent with the Act to Promote the Education of the Blind (1879), the committee recommends that APH:
- Continue to develop training materials such as web-based tutorials, guides, and distance learning to maximize the use of APH products.
- Consider using additional methods of data collection related to products that will provide APH with information regarding use and effectiveness.
- Use the expertise of the EOTs to support the APH mission by:
- sharing student success stories as they relate to APH products
- helping with APH exhibits
- promoting APH products and services through social media networks
- expanding the train-the-trainer model
- continuing to promote the Leaders to Leaders program.
- Establish criteria and priorities for participation by APH staff in conference exhibits.
- Develop a plan for cost effective dissemination of product information through a catalog format based on input from stakeholders.
- Continue with the redesign of the APH home page, and include links to other resources in the field in order to increase visibility and Google ranking.
- Collaborate with EOTs to identify additional agencies who serve eligible adult students who might benefit from APH products.
- Establish an APH/EOT task force to explore ways to increase deposits of files in Louis.
- Develop an evaluation tool which will help guide the selection of the APH Scholars.
Report of the Educational Products Advisory Committee to the Trustees of the American Printing House for the Blind for Fiscal Year 2010
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 April of 2010, the Educational Products Advisory Committee (EPAC) met for the ninth year as a formal advisory body to the American Printing House for the Blind (APH). Committee members appreciated hearing the thoughtful responses and progress made on the recommendations from the previous year. The committee also appreciated the opportunity to take an in-depth tour of the production floor and modeling workshop. Information from the project leaders and staff was candid and thorough. It was exciting to hear about their individual dreams and aspirations for their work. The passion and commitment of the staff and administration was contagious. At every level, it is clear that this staff is supportive of one another. The EPAC would like to thank APH staff and administration for their hospitality, delicious meals and attention to every detail. You make our work easy!
The EPAC commends the American Printing House for the Blind for:
- Initiative shown by staff members who have undertaken a process of planning strategically, thereby setting and achieving aggressive deadlines, priorities and goals. The end result of such planning is evidenced by a balanced, prioritized workload and the timely release of new products.
- Embedding data collection analysis, research, promising practices and national standards throughout the development process. Examples include Tactile Town (data collection analysis and research) and MathBuilders (alignment to national standards). Additionally, the committee strongly commends APH for obtaining end-user feedback by sponsoring events such as the Tactile Graphics Readers Speak Out.
- Developing integrated products that demonstrate cross-departmental collaboration, such as the Early Trade Books and Building on Patterns. The resulting products and website provide direct service providers exceptional tools for tracking Braille contractions and selecting additional reading materials that are developmentally appropriate.
- Initiating research on the effectiveness of student use of electronic files in conjunction with large print or braille textbooks.
- Considering the needs of non-English speaking students in the future development of APH products and incorporating the native language question on the census form.
- Upgrading and expanding the Tactile Graphic Image Library by adding dedicated personnel, improving user instructions, incorporating a user forum, simplifying subject categories and adding the ability to upload external and batched files.
- Their spirit of collaboration and their belief in possibilities. The excellent products of Book Port Plus and Braille Plus Mobile Manager are evidence of the synergistic value of collaborating with external partners.
The EPAC 2010 has elected to limit the number of recommendations in order to emphasize the critical need to address the following list of priorities.
The EPAC recommends that the American Printing House for the Blind:
- Responds to the concerns of the field of educators of students who are blind or have a visual impairment, who are frustrated with the delays in the development and production of Building on Patterns. The committee recognizes the progress APH has made on the development of the core components of Building on Patterns, resulting in expanding it from a tool to teach Braille code into a fully integrated literacy program. However, since 2006 this committee has made strong recommendations with detailed timelines for completion. It is this committee’s expectation that all resources necessary be allocated at this time to the completion of Building on Patterns. As work on the units of grade two draws to a close it is further recommended that a transition plan be developed to address the ongoing need for enhancement of Building on Patterns and other literacy products.
- Increase emphasis on the product development for children and adults with multiple disabilities by:
- Infusing the needs of this population into both new and existing products as appropriate and clearly identifying those product features in the catalog;
- Allocating dedicated resources to meet the specific needs of this growing population;
- Obtaining feedback from multi-disciplinary team members, in addition to professionals within the field of the education of persons with visual impairments, for field testing of products that have specific usefulness within this population.
- Increase braille production capacity to eliminate backlogs of textbook embossing. EPAC recognizes that APH has successfully committed resources to reduce the backlog in braille transcription as was previously recommended. A concomitant increase in production is now needed.
- Continue to emphasize product development pertinent to the Expanded Core Curriculum, with priority placed on Nemeth and orientation and mobility products, and e-text files to accompany braille and large print textbooks.