Reports of the Advisory Committees To the Trustees of the American Printing House for the Blind For the Year 2014
Report of the Educational Services Advisory Committee to the Trustees of the American Printing House for the Blind for Fiscal Year 2014
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Front (l to r): Jim Durst (IN), Karen Duffy (NE), Jim Olson, Chair (CO), Karen Ross (MA), and Christine Hinton (NJ). Back: Craig Meador (WA), Collette Bauman (MI), Madeleine Burkindine (KS), Stephanie Bissonette (VT), Dornida Rife (MA), Eric Guillory (LA), and Paula Mauro, Chair (OH).
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 2014 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 2013 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 2013 recommendations, operations and information on new initiatives.
ESAC Commendations 2014
Consistent with the Act to Promote the Education of the Blind (1879), the committee commends APH for:
- The ESAC offers a commendation for advancing the universal conversion software program Braille Blaster which supports multiple languages and braille codes including the Unified English Braille code (UEB) and the aggressive timeline for its implementation.
- The ESAC offers a commendation for progress in the refocusing of development initiatives in the search for outside funding to support research, development and purchase of needed equipment.
- The ESAC offers a commendation for the continual linking of Common Core State Standards to products and materials.
- The ESAC offers a commendation for the development and the anticipated release of new iOS apps including the Visual Brailler, the Math Robot, and a braille font for the iPad.
- The ESAC offers a commendation for the progress made in the research, continual development and implementation of a technology strategic plan to address the increasing need for high cost technology accomplished through strategic alliances, departmental growth, and enhanced facilities.
- The ESAC offers a commendation for collaborating with other providers to move NIMAS files to EPUB 3 format to expedite delivery and reduce conversion processing time as well as exploring how born digital files can be accepted and utilized.
- The ESAC offers a commendation for the enhanced communication with Ex Officio Trustees and others, including but not limited to, the discontinued and backordered products, website enhancements, expanded use of social media, recommended products for Fall, videos and webcasts about products and services.
- The ESAC offers a commendation for upgrading the computer server for the Federal Quota Census to improve speed, access and efficiency, as well as the newly developed student registration system (SRS) training videos and materials.
- The ESAC offers a commendation for the continued digitization of print materials for the M.C. Migel and Barr Research libraries, and the APH Museum. Of particular note is the Father Thomas Carroll Collection.
- The ESAC offers a commendation for improvements made to the APH shopping site and the APH website including accessible media guidelines, increased interlinking of APH products and information pages, the APH Narrator Jukebox, virtual tours and webcasts.
- The ESAC offers a commendation for utilizing independent companies that work behind the scenes to improve browsing opportunities and speed.
- The ESAC offers a commendation for proactively addressing critical issues and continually communicating with members of Congress to educate them on the purpose and continuing value of the 1879 "Act to Promote the Education of the Blind."
- The ESAC offers a commendation for facilitating the National Prison Braille Network Forum and developing training and potential employment opportunities for ex-offenders in the area of braille transcription and accessible formats.
- The ESAC offers a commendation for developing a more transparent review system for the benefit of consumers utilizing APH products and services.
- The ESAC offers a commendation on the progress of the Resources with Enhanced Accessibility for Learning (REAL) Plan.
- The ESAC offers a commendation for its proactive approach in monitoring social media communications to insure current and accurate information.
- The ESAC offers a commendation for streamlining the magazine ordering process to an online format.
- The ESAC offers a commendation for the realtime account balances.
- The ESAC offers a commendation for the improved the delivery timeline of graphics that accompany e-file downloads.
- The ESAC offers a commendation for the dissemination of mass email updates to EOTs regarding discontinued and backordered products.
- The ESAC offers a commendation for allowing electronic access to available product flyers.
- The ESAC offers a commendation for adding the ability to stream the APH Homegrown Videos.
ESAC Recommendations 2014
Consistent with the Act to Promote the Education of the Blind (1879), the committee recommends that APH:
- Continue its efforts in providing the opportunity for customers to post reviews and ratings of APH instructional products to the shopping site by product purchasers and end users.
- Continue its efforts in providing the opportunity for customers to post reviews and ratings on the Louis and AMP databases by product purchasers and end users.
- Develop a unified APH transition plan for UEB with input from Ex Officio Trustees, transcribers, and teachers.
- Continue to expand the Tactile Graphics Image Library by providing training opportunities, incentives for file submissions and expanded storage capacity.
- Grow the capacity to offer National Instructional Partnership (NIP) events by expanding topic areas, regionalizing events, sharing costs with host agencies, seeking alternative funding and exploring the feasibility of establishing line item funding.
- Develop a NIP event relating to current and future APH products and the implementation of UEB.
- Expand the outreach of the field services department and the Silberman Initiative by utilizing EOTs and/or Instructional Resource/Materials Center coordinators as regional representatives at campus based trainings or informational events.
- Consider providing digital file formats independent of new hard copy braille or large print textbooks, novels and instructional materials.
- Examine the feasibility of continuing to produce hard copy large print materials from a philosophical, financial, instructional and accessibility standpoint.
- Review the pricing structure of digital textbook files in braille and large print formats.
- Continue work on the Resources with Enhanced Accessibility for Learning (REAL) Plan.
- Continue to aggressively pursue development of haptic feedback devices and supporting software.
- Review the language of instructions and quick start guides to be more useful and meaningful for both visual and non-visual users.
- Revise the search results message on the shopping site that currently states, “We are sorry, your search for _____ did not find any matches,” to “This item has been discontinued” “…is on backorder” or “…is out of stock” as appropriate.
- With input from the ESAC, clarify the nomination and selection criteria for the APH Scholar program, possibly with a scoring rubric.
- Consider including Runner-Up/Alternate to the selection process for APH Scholars.
Report of the Educational Products Advisory Committee to the Trustees of the American Printing House for the Blind for Fiscal Year 2014
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 2014, the EPAC met for the thirteenth year as a formal advisory committee to APH—meeting with project leaders and other APH staff. The committee appreciated the time dedicated to project discussions and preparation for the EPAC visit. The APH staff clearly demonstrates passion, enthusiasm, and commitment to the vision of the company and is dedicated to the development of products for students who are blind and visually impaired.
EPAC Commendations 2014
- The EPAC commends APH for the development and implementation of the REAL Plan which expands options for the efficient delivery of accessible educational materials to address best practices and to better meet the needs of students as technology evolves.
- The EPAC commends APH for the continued development of the BrailleBlaster software for creating educational materials in accessible formats for students who are blind and visually impaired.
- The EPAC commends APH for collaborative efforts to produce products that are more affordable for our students in the United States and for students in other countries.
- The EPAC commends APH for the broadening of CVI goals and products, and for actively searching for a CVI Project Leader.
- The EPAC commends APH for its expanded multimedia and social media presence including weekly Quick Tips Videos, YouTube channel, Pinterest, Tactile Graphics TV, and continually updated Facebook and Twitter postings.
- The EPAC commends APH for beginning collaborative partnerships with EOTs in five states to work with local foundations to raise money for APH projects.
- The EPAC commends APH for implementing changes within the Accessible Textbooks Department, including: pricing structure for new digital large print textbooks; image descriptions in large print textbooks which can be used on tablets; and training for transcribers and tactile graphics designers producing these materials.
- The EPAC commends APH for developing iOS apps such as Visual Brailler and Math Robot.
- The EPAC commends APH for developing strong collaborations with other agencies and organizations to produce accessible educational materials.
- The EPAC commends APH for producing products for students with visual impairments that align with the general education curriculum and can be utilized by their sighted peers.
- The EPAC commends APH for expanding the BOP to include a separate Pre-K curriculum.
- The EPAC commends the Software Engineering and Assistive Technology Department for their culture of innovation, creativity, and maximized efficiency in introducing products in a timely manner.
- The EPAC commends APH on the expansion of the Tactile Graphics Image Library and their timely responsiveness to the field to increase file inventory and variety.
- The EPAC commends APH on building emergent literacy of students who are blind and visually impaired through national and international partnerships.
- The EPAC commends APH on the alignment of their products with the common core state standards www.aph.org/ccss/products.
EPAC Recommendations 2014
Consistent with the Act to Promote the Education of the Blind (1879):
- The EPAC recommends that APH provide opportunities for ongoing training at the APH Annual Meeting and through other distance learning formats regarding EOT roles and responsibilities surrounding products.
- The EPAC recommends that APH provide a brief abstract/summary of the research related to a new product upon its release and that a link to the same be provided on the website to support the use of research-based products in educational settings.
- The EPAC recommends that APH explore the creation of an APH iOS app for use by EOTs, professionals, parents, and consumers to make content and other APH services available for mobile devices.
- The EPAC recommends that APH explore the development of additional iOS apps (products that have fillable forms, dynamic CVI apps, current pc software as iOS apps, and APH products that allow for the transfer of content from a physical medium to a digital medium).
- The EPAC recommends that APH survey EOTs (e.g., Survey Monkey) when considering the modernization of older products.
- The EPAC recommends that APH delay announcing a new product date release until assurance of product inventory.
- The EPAC recommends that APH partner with services such as Wonder Baby to deliver content for infants who are blind and visually impaired to parents and professionals as an alternative to producing handbooks.
- The EPAC recommends that APH provide descriptive titles of a product and appropriate tagging to facilitate online searching.
- The EPAC recommends that APH train outsourced transcribers in the use of the BrailleBlaster software.