Responses to the Report of the Educational Products Advisory Committee to the Trustees of the American Printing House for the Blind for Fiscal Year 2007

The EPAC Committee recommends that APH:

  1. APH continue active partnerships with vendors/partners. The balance of input by LevelStar and APH brought forth a well-thought out product, the Braille Plus. We recommend a project leader be equally involved in the research phase, as with the Braille Plus, of all products to avoid over-reliance on vendor capabilities and be sure all consumer needs are met.

    Status: Implemented

    Brief Clarification: This is an excellent recommendation and as we increase our partnerships with vendors/partners we will improve our capability to interface with the vendor/partner and the project leader.

    Contact: Ralph Bartley



  2. APH review and analyze the product management, review process and follow up used by the Tactile Graphics, Multiple Disabilities and Technology Product Teams for possible wider application among all project leaders, possibly to develop as a Team standard.

    Status: Implementation in Progress

    Brief Clarification: The procedures used by project leaders vary, depending on the project and the style of the project leader. We are considering the development of a procedural manual that would capture good things done by project leaders and make them part of our process for all projects, where appropriate.

    Contact: Ralph Bartley



  3. 3. APH re-emphasize 2006 Recommendation #12, to explore non- traditional ways to convene focus groups using current technology to assist APH with research and product development. While we recognize the increased use of webinars and conference calls for feedback and training, many projects appear to be based on out-dated information from the field.

    Status: Under Consideration

    Brief Clarification: An attempt will be made in August by the Multiple Disabilities Project Leader to conduct a training of trainers model for an upcoming field test. We believe that this model, if successful, could have an impact on how we conduct future focus groups.

    An additional focus group on transition will meet at APH in August. While this will feature a more traditional approach, we will hold a pre-meeting with some participants at AER to begin the process, and will host a pre-meeting conference call with all participants to better maximize their expertise.

    Projects are in various stages of implementation. We utilize field testing and expert reviewers to guard against products being completed that are based on inappropriate information.

    Contact: Ralph Bartley



  4. APH review policies regarding employee internet access and bandwidth to ensure APH is poised to meet future technology needs, to assist staff involved in research, and to explore expanded wireless and interactive video training capabilities.

    Status: Implementation in Progress

    Brief Clarification: Review of APH staff internet access to meet work needs is ongoing. A vendor contract is in place to expand company bandwidth to enhance technological capabilities for the future, including interactive video training. Where and when wireless access will be provided is being studied and considered.

    Contacts: Bill Beavin, Bob Brasher



  5. APH explore ways to facilitate a more coordinated effort for in-house projects to avoid duplication of efforts or objectives.

    Status: Implementation In Progress

    Brief Clarification: We have reviewed processes currently in place in the Research Department to be sure that our efforts are coordinated and that duplication of efforts or objectives is avoided. Our major effort revolves around the monthly New Products meeting where project leaders report to the Director of Research on project status. Included in this meeting are representatives from Technical Research, Finance, and Production. All project leaders are invited, but not required to attend to listen to the presentations of other project leaders.

    Contact: Ralph Bartley



  6. APH closely examine project areas and develop the individualized supports and/or frequent benchmarks for each project leader to successfully meet annual objectives.

    Status: Implementation in Progress

    Brief Clarification: This is an area that we need to continually focus on and continuously improve.

    Contact: Ralph Bartley



  7. The 2006 Recommendation #6, which was not fully addressed, and the late release of Grade 1 of the Patterns Series planned now for release in Fall 2008, be accelerated to no later than Spring 2008. Furthermore, we recommend the remaining three grades be released no more than one year apart.

    Status: Under Consideration

    Brief Clarification: These timelines will not be met due to changes being made in the content and format based on comments from expert reviewers. This project only involves 3 grades, ie, K, 1st, and 2nd. There will be a need for additional materials for 3rd grade and for supplemental materials, but these will not be planned until the basic program is completed.

    Contact: Ralph Bartley



  8. Both in-house and field low vision specialists review and edit the manual to be included with the Maximeyes Video Magnifier.

    Status: Implementation in Progress

    Brief Clarification: This was done, but the manuals will need to be continually reviewed and upgraded.

    Contact: Ralph Bartley



  9. All Project Team Leaders prepare one page written answers to the EPAC Protocol Questions prior to next year’s EPAC visit, so EPAC members can focus on high priority issues in discussions with Project Team Leaders.

    Status: Implementation in Progress

    Brief Clarification: Since this is an area of interest to the committee, all project leaders will be providing this. The questions were, however, merely meant to guide interactive discussion between committee members and project leaders, not serve as a prepared report to the committee.

    Contacts: Ralph Bartley, Janie Blome



  10. on Quota item approval is done only after the EPAC has had an opportunity to interview all Project Team Leaders and related staff members.

    Status: Implemented

    Brief Clarification: The 2008 agenda will accommodate this request.

    Contacts: Ralph Bartley, Janie Blome



  11. APH research and analyze national job trends and solicit additional input from the field to increase the number and relevancy of the Career and Transition area products.

    Status: Implementation in Progress

    Brief Clarification: The Director of Research and the Adult Life Project Leader attended the National Transition Network Conference to promote this recommendation and to network with leaders in this area in order to develop new products. Other initiatives planned in this area include an upcoming focus group. Participants in the group will cover a broad spectrum of knowledge, skills, expertise, service delivery models, students and clients.

    Contact: Ralph Bartley



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