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Services Committee Report

The purpose of the Educational Services Advisory Committee (ESAC) is to:

  • Provide oversight and leadership in the planning, evaluation and delivery of product-related 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 and accessibility of services provided.

Introduction

In April of 2019 the ESAC met in Louisville, KY at APH to address the 2018 ESAC report and to develop commendations and recommendations for the current fiscal year. To assist with this endeavor, interactive presentations were made by APH’s administrative staff, including progress updates on the 2018 recommendations, operations and information on new initiatives.

Commendations

  1. The ESAC offers a commendation for the important work that has been done in customer experience. The development of a centralized office location and a dedicated department for customer experience demonstrates APH’s commitment of on customer interactions.
  2. The ESAC offers a commendation for the progress that has been made on the APH shopping website including incorporating many details based on requests of EOTs.
  3. The ESAC offers a commendation for the attention and progress in the area of accessibility of information internally for staff. Additional kudos to moving toward sharing the accessibility guidelines and tools externally.
  4. The ESAC offers a commendation for the continued improvement and expansion of the SRS system which has supported EOTs by making their work more efficient.
  5. The ESAC offers a commendation for its legislative call to action to proactively address proposed federal budget cuts and legislative advocacy to increase the per-pupil appropriation.
  6. The ESAC offers a commendation its holistic business plan that includes funding streams to supplement federal appropriations for the development of products and services.
  7. The ESAC offers a commendation for openness and willingness to consider changes to long-established practices (such as the format of Annual Meeting) and transparency in sharing detailed information about the company.

Recommendations

Consistent with the Act to Promote the Education of the Blind (1879), the committee recommends that APH:

  1. Identify evaluation metrics before new services are launched to measure effectiveness and to make adjustments as appropriate.
  2. Develop an agency-wide rating rubric or objective measurement that can be applied to or adapted for every department.
    1. Identify relevant data to be collected and measured and have an established schedule to review, analyze data and report out
    2. One specific example is the continued work to identify customer experience issues and implement staff training plans to improve outcomes.
  3. Communicate with customers when there are order delays, error messages or order fulfillment issues.
  4. Review, revise or develop consistent policies to improve quality of services across the organization and keep policies organized in a central location easily accessed by all staff.
  5. Expand ways to utilize and involve EOTs and APH Scholars. This could include face-to-face and/or digital video platforms.

Respectfully Submitted,

Educational Services Advisory Committee 2019

Donna Earley, Chair
Carson Cochran
Mary Lane
Marjorie Kaiser
Serena Preston
Donna Sorensen
Robert Hair

Products Committee Report

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.

Introduction

In April 2019, the EPAC met in Louisville, KY, at APH for the eighteenth year as a formal advisory committee to address the 2018 EPAC report and to develop commendations and recommendations for the current fiscal year. To assist with this endeavor, presentations were made by APH’s product development staff, including progress updates on the 2018 recommendations, operations and information on new initiatives.

The EPAC Commendations 2017

  1. The EPAC commends APH for the development of Braille Blaster which has revolutionized braille production in the field. It is especially impactful that it is a free program for all to use.
  2. The EPAC commends APH for incorporating universal design into product development. We specifically recognize the CVI product line.
  3. The EPAC commends APH for being mindful of national trends and influences that affect product design of CVI materials.
  4. The EPAC commends APH for their outreach to local and national organizations to assist and promote accessibility for everyone particularly in the development of Nearby Explorer.
  5. The EPAC commends APH for their willingness to revise and update products to keep with current trends.
  6. The EPAC commends APH for their revision of the Woodcock Johnson IV which makes it much more user friendly to the administrator.
  7. The EPAC commends APH for the long-term effort to develop a comprehensive health education resource designed for students with visual impairment.
  8. The EPAC commends APH for a swift response in communicating and providing a comparable product when a device became no longer available. (Orbit 20 Reader).

The EPAC Recommendations 2017

Consistent with the Act to Promote the Education of the Blind (1879):

  1. Consider textbook production as one of the highest priorities.
    1. There should be consideration to providing a greater percentage of resources to the core products, so they adequately meet the current needs.
    2. Assessments and educational products should be produced using both Nemeth and UEB technical.
    3. Improve the timelines for production of braille textbooks.
    4. Review the capacity of qualified proofreaders to ensure delivery of quality materials in a timely manner.
    5. As you develop matrices for improvement, consider measuring braille production by number of pages rather braille volumes to maintain a consistent measure.
  2. Improve communication between stakeholders and APH. Suggested ideas:
    1. When items are going to be discontinued or catalogue numbers are changed, EOTs should be notified
    2. Notify EOTs when policies and procedures relating to products are revised when the decision is made (ex. if it’s been transcribed in one code such as UEB with Nemeth and the decision is made to produce in UEB technical as well, that should be communicated to all as a policy.)
    3. Survey teachers directly with respect to APH products and services.
    4. If in fact on sale means the product is being phased out, tell us that explicitly and list quantities remaining if possible.
  3. When producing the print catalogue, provide pictures of all products because this is essential.
  4. When a new product is introduced (example: The Functional Skills Assessment) it would be helpful to create either one or a series of quick videos to unpack what this is and how to use it. Have the video link with the product description and the parts list.
  5. Improve the functionality of the Louis database.
    1. Improve ease and consistency of search results.
    2. Display the specific Braille code prominently.
    3. Make a clear distinction between UEB technical and Nemeth
    4. Linking Louis to the shopping site should be a high priority for phase 2 of the new website.
  6. Survey the field to determine if there are adequate resources for teachers to learn and teach UEB technical.
  7. Develop short practice reading materials (ex. Readers digest) electronically that can be embossed locally to meet student needs, with age appropriate topics for beginning adult braille readers.

Respectfully Submitted,

Educational Products Advisory Committee 2019

Nancy Moulton, Chair
Scott McCallum
Marie Piquion-Leach
Kathy Segers
Mary Jo Wagner
Pepper Watson