Visit Our House!

Responses to the Report of the Educational Products Advisory Committee to the Trustees of the American Printing House for the Blind for Fiscal Year 2006

The EPAC Committee recommends that APH:

  1. Review the product research and development process pathway to determine if the procedures and timelines from idea to product could be expedited and to determine if a fast track could be instituted for some products.

    Status: Ongoing Implementation

    Brief Clarification: This effort is ongoing as processes are constantly reviewed and refined. Discussions have been held internally on the role of the Product Evaluation Team (PET). After review it was determined and approved by the Product Advisory & Review Committee (PARC) that the role of the PET group would be strengthened by adding an additional member from PARC and expanding the group’s role with the purpose of expediting decisions on the product research and development process. Also, some educational aids product lines, especially as they relate to printing, are considered for outside manufacturing if the internal wait is deemed to be too lengthy.

    Contacts: Ralph Bartley/Bob Brasher

  2. Assign braille transcription priorities to: the national editions of middle school and high school geography, mathematics, and science textbooks with copyright dates no more than five years old.

    Status: Implemented

    Brief Clarification: Effective June, 2006, we stopped taking new textbook orders for state editions and have focused on National editions. We continue to concentrate on upper level complex textbooks.

    Contacts: Bob Brasher/Jane Thompson

  3. 3. Foster creative, collaborative partnerships in the digital/technology field to support product development and production in a time-sensitive manner in order to remain on the cutting edge of technological advancement.

    Status: Implemented

    Brief Clarification: Three major products demonstrate the APH commitment to this recommendation. The products are: Book Port II (Springer Design); MagnaView (Eitac); and, Braille+(LevelStar).

    Contacts: Larry Skutchan/Ralph Bartley

  4. 4. Develop a braillewriter, which would be compact and user friendly, especially with young children and individuals with physical challenges.

    Status: Under Consideration

    Brief Clarification: Further clarification and information will be provided by Tuck Tinsley during the EPAC meeting.

    Contact: Tuck Tinsley

  5. 5. Devise a formalized exchange of information on tactile graphics concepts and standardization among the APH staff and collaboration with experts in the field of tactile graphics and consider a web-site for tactile graphics.

    Status: Implementation in Progress

    Brief Clarification:

    • Research staff are always accessible to company-wide staff to address tactile design issues and the design of tactile components planned for future products.
    • The Research Dept. began hosting "Tactile Graphics On Friday" in August, 2006; staff from all departments are invited to come by to discuss and sketch diagrams to be made into tactile graphics.
    • The Tactile Graphics Committee continues to meet as needed and is beginning work on an in-house database of images designed to promote good, consistent tactile design.
    • Research staff are awaiting text from the BANA Tactile Graphics Subcommittee, which we have agreed to edit before it is published.
    • Project leaders continue to team up with recognized experts in tactile design or tactile learning as part of regular product development or evaluation.
    • In December 2006, an in-house planning committee was assembled to identify a variety of features important to include on the planned TG website; these features were ranked with regard to importance. Early graphic and content development has since been initiated.
    • APH has partnered with a local company, Bisig Impact Group, to explore the development of a website where tactile graphics will be stored and made available for download.

    Contacts: Karen Poppe/Fred Otto

  6. Adhere to a master schedule for the Building on Patterns Series and allocate the requisite resources toward the release of the Kindergarten level materials in Fall 2006, followed by the sequential release of grade levels one, two and three in the fall of years 2007, 2008 and 2009, respectively.

    Status: Implemented (Kindergarten was completed in Nov. 2006)
    Implementation in Progress (Grade One Materials are under development)

    Brief Clarification: Dr. Marjorie Ward, along with a group of teachers from Ohio, is helping to write the materials. Dr. Cay Holbrook has reviewed the materials and will be working with us over the summer to speed up the writing process by using some additional teachers as writers.

    Contacts: Ralph Bartley/Eleanor Pester

  7. Refocus efforts on products for children with multiple challenges to meet the needs of this growing population as identified by Babies Count and Project Prism.

    Status: Implementation in Progress

    Brief Clarification: APH continues to modernize existing products and develop new products identified by the Multiple Disabilities Focus Group and confirmed by the National Multiple Disabilities Survey.

    Recent products for students with multiple disabilities include Expandable Calendar Boxes, the Portable Sound Source, and Going Places, which includes vignettes from storytellers who have CHARGE syndrome, deafblindness, cognitive disabilities, or use a wheelchair.

    New products (just available or under development) include the Variable Beam Flashlight Kit with The Color Beam Book, Sensory Concepts for Communication, Jumbo Work and Play Tray, and an O&M manual for wheelchair users who are visually impaired.

    Contact: Tristan Pierce

  8. Develop products for children/families, birth to age three and explore modifications to current APH products for this group, using the expertise of researchers both at APH and in the early childhood development field.

    Status: Implementation in Progress

    Brief Clarification: The following three products are currently being developed for birth to three: PATTER (Preschool Attainment Through Typical Everyday Routines; the Experiential Learning Kit; the Early Orientation and Mobility Guide Book.

    The PATTER product is presently out for expert review and feedback. Research is being completed to ensure that the Experiential Learning Kit meets current, evidence-based best practices. Items are being identified for inclusion in the kit and activities for the materials are under development.

    Initial research for the Early Orientation and Mobility Guide Book is now under way.

    Work will soon begin on two new products, WHAT IS IT, a communication game and Grab & Go Theme Kits, which will cover a variety of topics that can be used to highlight events during the school year. Also, two current products, Reach for the Stars and The Best For a Nest, are under discussion for revision.

    Additional product ideas are being evaluated and may be considered in the future, including an informal vision assessment kit for young children, teaching puzzles for the APH Light Box, and a welcome kit for parents.

    Contact: Burt Boyer

  9. Develop a CVI focus group of stakeholders with expertise from varied backgrounds.

    Status: Under Consideration

    Brief Clarification: This has been delayed due to the fact that we are in the beginning stages of addressing the recommendations of our most recent focus group on CVI, ie, CVI Synergy. We anticipate that within the next fiscal year we will utilize a focus group to review the progress made from the Synergy recommendations and to develop a plan for future work.

    Contacts: Chris Roman/Ralph Bartley

  10. Develop a model for identifying and prioritizing projects in the Core Curriculum Project area.

    Status: Implementation in Progress

    Brief Clarification: The position of Core Curriculum Project Leader is a relatively new position to APH (October 2005). Projects recommended by three different focus groups provided a list of prioritized directives for new products that have been assigned to the Core Curriculum Project Leader. The Early Literacy focus group requested a remedial reading program and leveled readers in large print and braille. The Multiple Disabilities Focus Group identified a need for age-appropriate, high-interest, low vocabulary story books. The Elementary Math Advisory Committee recommended a series of math units based on core curriculum skills. The development of the math program was assigned to the Core Curriculum Project Leader to allow Eleanor Pester to focus on the revision of Patterns.

    Additional product submissions that address reading and math and that have been approved through the PET and PARC process are assigned to the Core Curriculum Project Leader.

    A focus group to further identify and define projects in the Core Curriculum will be held within a year.

    Contact: Jeanette Wicker

  11. Direct staff to work across project areas to develop assessments in the areas of Adult Life, CVI, Early Childhood and Expanded Core Curriculum which relate to stated developmental milestones and/or grade level.

    Status: Implementation in Progress

    Brief Clarification: Preschool Attainment Through Typical Everyday Routines (PATTER), an assessment and curricula project initiated by Dr. Sandy Lewis of Florida State University and under development at APH by the Early Childhood Project Leader, offers assessment and curricula for those skills that sighted preschool children are expected to master through involvement in typical everyday household routines.

    The Functional Skills Assessment for Students K-12 and Transition (FSAKT), initiated by Dianne Bender, veteran Family and Consumer Science instructor at the Nebraska School for the Blind, and under development by the Adult Life Project Leader at APH, assesses older students’ skill levels in areas of food management, clothing management, home management, and personal management.

    Because these instruments assess similar functional skill areas at different developmental periods (preschool versus k-12 and transition), the project leaders are coordinating research and development efforts so that users can move easily from PATTER to FSAKT.

    Wherever possible, results are tied to developmental and educational standards used for children who are sighted. Such standards include those suggested in: The Updated Oregon Project and National Standards for Family and Consumer Sciences Education developed by the National Association of State Administrators for Family and Consumer Sciences (NASAFACS).

    Contacts: Terrie Terlau, Chris Roman, Burt Boyer, Ralph Bartley

  12. Explore non-traditional ways to convene focus groups using current technology to assist APH with research and product development.

    Status: Under Consideration

    Brief Clarification: We will explore videoconferencing as a possible method to conduct our next focus group.

    Contact: Ralph Bartley