Reports of the Advisory Committees To the Trustees of the American Printing House for the Blind For the Year 2013
Report of the Educational Services Advisory Committee to the Trustees of the American Printing House for the Blind for Fiscal Year 2013
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 2013 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 2012 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 2012 recommendations, operations and information on new initiatives.
ESAC Commendations 2013
Consistent with the Act to Promote the Education of the Blind (1879), the committee commends APH for:
- Commendation for addressing and increasing services to eligible adults.
- Commendation for expanding professional development opportunities.
- Commendation on the expansion and enhancement of the APH website.
- Commendation for being proactive with Common Core State Standards and its impact on APH products and services by providing:
- the ability to search the Louis database for Common Core materials,
- by embedding Common Core State Standards into all APH materials/products in development,
- by producing accessible textbooks that align to Common Core State Standards,
- and continuing to enhance the website regarding access to Common Core resources
- Commendation for being proactive in the utilization and exploration of the delivery of information via social media.
- Commendation for responding to the potential for a reduction in financial resources by developing relationships with decision makers and improving and enhancing fund development plans.
- Commendation for incorporating positive interdepartmental collaboration thereby improving professional development, delivery of information and services, and product delivery to consumers.
- The Resources with Enhanced Accessibility for Learning (“REAL”) Plan as a major (corporate wide) initiative for streamlining APH’s accessible textbook production processes for braille and large print into a single, flexible process capable of producing any format (digital or hard copy) needed by the student.
- Commendation for responding to, and clarifying issues related to the Student Registration Guidelines; including, but not limited to, measurement of vision with correction, eligibility, and eye reports.
- Commendation for the advances in the digitization of the M.C. Migel and Barr libraries.
- Commendation on completing the Building on Patterns series and being proactive in the revision of the series to include Unified English Braille (UEB) and Common Core components.
ESAC Recommendations 2013
Consistent with the Act to Promote the Education of the Blind (1879), the committee recommends that APH:
- Develop archivable training materials specifically for Ex Officio Trustees, and account assistants designated by EOTs, regarding the use of the SRS system.
- Provide the opportunity for customers to post reviews and ratings of APH instructional products to the shopping site.
- Provide the opportunity for customers to post reviews and comments of materials listed on the Louis and AMP databases.
- Continue to expand the Tactile Graphics Image Library.
- Explore additional ways to increase support and training opportunities with University personnel preparation programs.
- Revise APH website pages to include additional interlinking. (For example: Common Core State Standards, customer reviews, suggested uses on the product page linked to other appropriate information pages or appropriate sites).
- Continue to expand and pursue social media as an information outlet.
- Disseminate mass email updates to EOTs regarding discontinued and backordered products.
- Consider making Teacher’s Editions available online.
- Clarify the reading medium of the Teacher’s Editions in the various kits. For example: “Building on Patterns First Grade, Unit 1 Kit with Print Teacher’s Guide”, or “Building on Patterns First Grade, Unit 1 Kit with Braille Teacher’s Guide”.
- Streamline the magazine ordering process to an online format.
- Provide “real time” account balances for Federal Quota accounts available on the “My Account” page of the shopping home site.
- Improve the delivery timeline of tactile graphic files that accompany e-file downloads.
- Timely and direct electronic access to product flyers.
- Provide the ability to stream online video such as the “Home Grown Video” series.
Report of the Educational Products Advisory Committee to the Trustees of the American Printing House for the Blind for Fiscal Year 2013
The purpose of the Educational Products Advisory Committee (EPAC) is:
- To advise APH in establishing priorities, standards, and policies regarding 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 products under development and to consider approval of finished products for purchase with Federal Quota funds.
- 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.
In May 2013, the EPAC met for the twelfth year as a formal advisory body to APH. The EPAC met with project leaders, other APH staff, and consultants. The committee appreciated the time dedicated to project discussions and preparation for the EPAC visit. APH staff clearly demonstrates passion, enthusiasm, and commitment to the vision of the company and is dedicated to the development of educational products for students who are blind and visually impaired.
EPAC Commendations 2013
- The EPAC wishes to commend APH for developing working relationships with test publishers, allowing for faster creation of accessible versions of tests and vastly expanding the number of accessible tests available for more accurately assessing students who are blind or visually impaired.
- The EPAC commends APH for finishing Building on Patterns (BOP). The committee further commends APH for beginning work on the second edition of BOP, expanding the BOP work team and setting a timeline for meetings.
- The EPAC recognizes and appreciates APH for actively pursuing more efficient and economical ways to create prototypes, model specifications and possible production techniques. In particular, the committee recognizes the efforts made to determine the usefulness of 3-D printing and encourages the future expansion of the use of this technology.
- The EPAC commends APH for its encouragement of teamwork. The committee observed examples of intra-departmental collaboration in both the development of new products and identifying areas of a project that have already or are currently being developed for another project. The project leaders expressed the benefits of attending regular project leader meetings to learn about each other’s new projects.
- The EPAC commends APH staff for their development and collaboration around the Orion TI-84 Plus Talking Graphing Calculator. Using an existing product has expedited the process so that a much needed tool will soon be in students’ hands. In addition, a listserv created to obtain feedback about the product will ensure that the latest information is available.
- Given that the majority of students served through APH are in public school settings, it is increasingly important to provide products that align with the general education curriculum. EPAC recognizes the commitment of APH to work creatively to make complex concepts accessible. In doing this, APH has created products that allow all students to benefit from using those products in their customary educational environment.
- EPAC recognizes the commitment for creating teams that constitute a variety of perspectives. Reaching outside of the special education field to other areas of expertise has improved the quality of many of the products, particularly in core content areas.
- In challenging economic times, competition for limited resources in the workplace is a common occurrence. EPAC commends the staff of APH for recognizing the economic challenges schools face today. The consideration of offsetting the cost of products through a variety of means is impressive. The EPAC recognizes that federal allocations have been reduced and further commends APH for using alternative resources to ensure that students continue to receive valuable products.
- EPAC recognizes APH’s commitment to continuous improvement by consistently providing quality tactile graphics for products in a variety of areas. This effort will assist our students in learning alongside their sighted peers and will prepare them for more learning opportunities in using higher-level tactile graphics.
- The EPAC recognizes the many changes in educational practice that are currently being implemented. The EPAC applauds the efforts on the part of APH to incorporate potential changes in the Unified English Braille Code, both in existing and new products; keeping abreast of all changes in core standards that are connected to different areas of curriculum; and examining data and promising practices, then using that information to develop state of the art products.
EPAC Recommendations 2013
- The EPAC recommends that APH develop a decision guide to help practitioners determine the appropriateness of high-cost products for individual students. In our experience, some Federal Quota orders are not placed according to student needs. We recommend that this decision guide be developed using feedback during the public review process and be made available when the product is first announced or released.
- EPAC encourages APH to continue to seek out useful feedback from the field in a variety of formats (product listserv, website form, product reporting form, etc.) and provide feedback to project leaders.
- The EPAC recommends that APH review current pricing guidelines for the new digital large print books. While the provision of these files is highly useful and commendable, the price is prohibitive when the consumer is only permitted to use the book file for one student for one year. When braille and large print books are purchased, the EOT can then assign it for the following school year to another student who meets copyright exemption. The committee feels that this practice should also apply to the digital large print books.
- The EPAC recommends that APH develop more robust ways to ensure that professionals in the field are receiving new information from APH about products, product use, services and other useful information. While we recognize and commend the extensive use of social media by APH, we are concerned that the existing supports and services available from APH are underutilized.
- EPAC recognizes that a changing population of students with visual impairments poses new challenges in the development of products. EPAC recommends that APH make it a priority to ensure the timely creation of quality products and resources for students with Cortical Visual Impairments.
- The EPAC appreciates all of the time, effort and consideration given by the APH staff in preparation for the EPAC meeting. As APH staff prepare for the individual meetings with EPAC committee members, the committee recommends that the project leader questionnaires be completed prior to the individual meetings. Having a written copy assists EPAC committee members in focusing on product information presented, and aids project leaders in analyzing their own work. The committee further recommends that new questionnaires be developed by the ESAC and the EPAC along with APH.