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Annual Report (pdf) | Annual Report (Word)

 

TEXAS SCHOOL for the BLIND and VISUALLY IMPAIRED

A Center for Educational Services for All Blind and Visually Impaired Students in Texas

1100 W. 45 th Street, Austin, Texas 78756-3494
(512) 454-8631
1-800-TSB-KARE
TDD (512)-206-9451
www.tsbvi.edu

TSBVI Board of Trustees

Parents of Persons with Visual Impairments

Otilio Galindo, San Angelo
Jamie Wheeler, North Richland Hills
Position vacant

Consumers with Visual Impairments

Gene Brooks, Austin
Jesus Bautista, El Paso
Mary Sue Welch, Dallas

Persons Working with the Visually Impaired

Frankie D. Swift, Board President, Nacogdoches
Donna Vaden Clopton, Weatherford
Deborah Louder, San Angelo

TSBVI Administrative Staff

Dr. Phil Hatlen Superintendent
Miles Fain Principal, Comprehensive Programs
Dr. Lauren Newton Principal, Special Programs
Ken Miller Director of School and Student Services
Cyral Miller Director of Outreach Programs
Barney Schulz Administrator for Business, Operations and Technology

A MESSAGE FROM THE SUPERINTENDENT

2005-2006: A Year of Achievement and Celebration

image004 As calendar year 2006 comes to a close, the staff, students, parents, friends, and alumni of TSBVI have many memories of a year of celebration and of achievement.

Celebration: TSBVI held its 150 th birthday in 2006. Many of us learned to spell and pronounce the word Sesquicentennial, and it became a part of our language this year. We began the year of celebration in January with an evening of speeches and music, and the Goodenough Auditorium was filled with staff, friends, and community leaders. The program was followed by a wonderful reception held in our dining hall. Soon thereafter, our annual school play added to the year's festivities. Then we hosted a track meet, attended by athletes from five other schools for the blind.

In August, TSBVI hosted an alumni reunion that attracted former students from throughout the United States. Laughter, tears, old stories (some were probably exaggerated), music, and visits to favorite campus locations were shared by many former students. And finally we celebrated our sesquicentennial with a birthday party for TSBVI at the annual Parent Weekend in November. A new school museum was dedicated at that time, and we invite all readers to come visit the TSBVI Hatlen Museum.

Interspersed between these events were many visits from individuals and organizations wanting to share in our birthday. We were honored when the Board of Trustees of the American Foundation for the Blind held its Fall meeting on our campus in honor of our sesquicentennial.

We are proud of our 150-year history. We are equally proud of the performance and achievements of our students and staff in 2005-06. And we look forward to a wonderful future as we continue to learn and grow.

Achievement: Throughout this report, you will read of the many accomplishments of our students during the 2005-06 school year. Performance Measures, our way of determining the satisfaction of all of our customers, including students, parents, and local school districts, were exceptionally high. Performance Indicators, our system for measuring progress for each student, also indicated a high rate of success. Our customers and stakeholders are highly satisfied with the educational opportunities we provide. Our students and their parents are very pleased with the programs we provide.

You might wonder how we can continue to explore ways in which to improve our services, not only on campus, but state-wide. Be assured that we are continually working with teachers and parents in searching for new approaches wherein the expertise of TSBVI can be utilized throughout the state.

Finally, I am pleased to announce that the renovations and new construction on our campus will begin in early 2007, and will result in further improvements in student housing, as well as better classroom facilities. It has truly been an exciting, blessed year.

Dr. Phil Hatlen

TSBVI - Who We Are . . .

A History of the School

The School was established in 1856 and classes were first held at the residence of Mr. W. L. Hill in Austin, Texas. The School moved to the present day Little Campus in the current day Nowotny Visitor Center of the University of Texas. A second campus was established on Bull Creek Road in Austin in 1889. In 1915 the School's name was changed to the Texas School for the Blind and the School moved to its present 45-acre campus on West 45 th Street in Austin. A special program for deafblind children was initiated in 1972 and was housed in the former Confederate Widows' Mansion on 38th Street. The deafblind program moved to the 45th Street campus in 1981. In 1989, the School was given its current name, the Texas School for the Blind and Visually Impaired (TSBVI), to reflect more accurately the population it serves.

The main functions of TSBVI include:

  • To provide a free, appropriate public education that addresses the intense or specialized needs of visually impaired children and youth, including those with additional disabilities when the local district and parents agree that such services are not available in a local program.
  • To conduct supplemental programs, such as summer and other short-term programs.
  • To provide statewide services to parents of students, school districts, regional education service centers, and other agencies including training, consultation, technical assistance, and developing and disseminating materials such as curriculum, instructional methodology, and educational technology.
  • To partner with Texas Tech University and Stephen F. Austin State University in preparation programs for teachers of the visually impaired.

OUR VISION

All blind and visually impaired students in Texas, including those with additional disabilities or deafblindness, will have the skills and knowledge to enjoy fulfilling and satisfying lives.

OUR MISSION

Texas School for the Blind and Visually Impaired (TSBVI) will be a leading center of educational expertise in Texas for students with visual impairments, their families, and the local and regional providers who work with them. TSBVI will provide opportunities for children and youth who are visually impaired, including those with additional disabilities or deafblindness, to develop the skills necessary to lead vocationally, personally, and socially satisfying and productive lives.

OUR PHILOSOPHY

The Texas School for the Blind and Visually Impaired (TSBVI) believes that every blind and visually impaired person in Texas, including those with additional disabilities or deafblindness:

  • should have the opportunity to be equal and the right to be different.
  • are provided the best assurance for educational success through a comprehensive assessment, sound educational planning, and an appropriate placement.
  • learn best when their teachers and other staff are highly trained and know how to address the unique needs of these students.
  • will have access to the on- and off-campus services of TSBVI.
  • must have instruction in all areas of the expanded core curriculum.must have educational services equal to services provided to sighted students.
  • must have parents who are informed about the educational needs of their children, and who are equal participants in the educational process.

The Staff

The staff of TSBVI is comprised of 413 full-time and part-time positions including classroom teachers, teacher aides, job coaches, related service staff including orientation and mobility instructors, speech-language pathologists, occupational and physical therapists, psychologists, behavior specialists, counselors, social workers, health services staff, residential staff who work with students after school hours, clerical staff, business office staff, admissions and records staff, technology staff, maintenance workers, groundskeepers, food service workers, custodial staff, transportation and security staff, among others.

The Board of Trustees

The School is governed by a nine-member Board of Trustees, which is appointed by the Governor and confirmed by the Senate. The Board is comprised of three members who are blind or visually impaired, three who have experience working in the field of visual impairment, and three who are parents of a child who is blind or visually impaired. Public meetings of the Board are generally held 56 times per year.

Our Partnerships

  • Local school districts refer students to us for specific needs. Students are then shared between the school district and TSBVI, and information sharing and collaboration for the benefit of students is continuous.
  • Education Service Centers are often a source of referrals to TSBVI, and the ESCs often are the point of contact when a student is returned to his/her community.
  • Additional partners with whom TSBVI has a mutually productive and satisfying relationship are all local and state agencies and organizations of and for the blind.

The chart that follows illustrates the success of these partnerships.

SCHOOLWIDE PERFORMANCE MEASURES FOR 2005-2006

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Percent of stakeholders rating their collaboration with TSBVI as satisfactory or higher

Percent of stakeholders rating their collaboration with TSBVI as satisfactory or higher Percent of parents rating their collaboration with the School's programs as satisfactory or higher
2004-2005 School Year 100% 100%
2005-2006 School Year 100% 100%

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Revenue Sources - 2005-2006
General Revenue $12,697,578
Federal Funds $2,204,055
Appropriated Receipts $888,226
Interagency Contracts $179,377
Bond Proceeds $1,000,000

Sources of Funding

The School is primarily funded through appropriations granted by the State Legislature. Other sources of funding include federal funds, appropriated receipts, interagency contracts, and donations.

Percent of parents rating their collaboration with the School's program s as satisfactory or higher

COMPREHENSIVE PROGRAMS

TSBVI provides full-time comprehensive programs during the regular school year to students who are unable to receive an appropriate public education from the local school district. Districts refer students for placement to acquire a student-specific set of skills that, once learned, will allow the student to return to education in the home community. At TSBVI, students receive intensive instruction in all areas of the curriculum including braille reading and writing, orientation and mobility, assistive technology, career education, social skills, occupational and physical therapy, speech therapy, daily living skills training and many other disability-specific skill areas. TSBVI is the only placement in the State where all educational staff are specially trained and certified to teach students with visual impairments and all residential staff receive ongoing training in teaching independent living skills, including personal hygiene, dressing, grooming, and home care.

Post Secondary Program: This program, offered in partnership with the Texas Department of Assistive and Rehabilitative Services  Division of Blind Services, provides training for students who are legally blind and have a regular State Board of Education high school diploma or GED. Students seeking this post-secondary experience are in need of remedial academic, independent living and work related skills training. They will cultivate the skills, attitudes and opportunities necessary to meet the demands of competitive employment and adult living.

ACHIEVEMENTS IN THE 2005-2006 SCHOOL YEAR

" The school met and exceeded the performance standards agreed upon with the Texas Education Agency representing significant student progress in the following core curricular areas. The percentages of students assessed making moderate to substantial progress on curricular-based assessments were:

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Language Math Science Social Technology Career Orientation Independent Social Skills Recreation Infused Skills Arts Studies Education and Mobility Living Skills and Leisure

** Infused Skills (for multiply impaired students)  Social Communicative Interactions, Emotional Development, Senses and Motor Skills, Basic Concepts, Representation/Cognition

  • 98% of parents, local school districts and students rated their satisfaction with students' progress in the Comprehensive Programs as satisfactory, very satisfactory, or outstanding.
  • 86% of graduates surveyed from the past 5 years were engaged in productive life activities (work, volunteer activities or seeking work).
  • 100% of teachers and paraprofessionals met No Child Left Behind highly qualified standards.
  • 100% of Post-Secondary students demonstrated a mastery level of 75% or greater in selected instructional areas.

COMPREHENSIVE PROGRAMS MEASURES FOR 2005-2006

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Percent of parents, local school districts and students rating their satisfaction with students' progress as satisfactory, very satisfactory, or outstanding. Percent of graduates from the past 5 years engaged in productive activities Percent of teachers highly         qualified as defined by the "No Child Left Behind" Act Percent of Post-Secondary students demonstrating a mastery level of 75% or greater in selected areas
2004-2005 School Year 96.0% 79.55% 100% 100%
2005-2006 School Year 98.13% 85.71% 100% 100%

OTHER ACHIEVEMENTS

  • altThe School established two new work training centers on campus: the Mike Smith Work Center for contract assembly, mailing and recycling activities as well as the Wildcat Bistro for food service and hospitality careers training activities.
  • Students participated in a wide variety of work training activities at seven different businesses and organizations in the community.
  • Student workshop activities related to Self-Determination were piloted successfully, enabling secondary students to further develop goals for the future to become successful adults.
  • A Parent Discussion Forum was created for parents to interact using the TSBVI web site.
  • The School's Post Secondary Program was awarded the Natalie Barraga Award by the Texas Association for the Education and Rehabilitation of the Blind and Visually Impaired for excellence in a public school program.
  • School Psychologist Marnee Loftin was awarded the Phil Hatlen Award by the Texas Association for the Education and Rehabilitation of the Blind and Visually Impaired for leadership and innovation in the area of evaluation of blind and visually impaired students.
  • Math Teacher Susan Osterhaus was awarded the Council for Exceptional Children Division on Visual Impairments' Teacher of the Year Award and the Association for the Education and Rehabilitation of the Blind and Visually Impaired Education Curriculum Division's Joyce May Ogburn Teaching Award.

SPECIAL ACTIVITIES IN 2005-2006

altStudents participated in statewide White Cane Day activities in downtown Austin.

A parent weekend conference was held at TSBVI with a focus on supporting siblings of students and featuring swimming, tandem bicycles, rock wall climbing, go carts, a moon walk, a motorcycle club, cake walk, and a goal ball competition.

Students participated in the Sports Extravaganza for Blind and Visually Impaired Students in Irving, Texas, which included goal ball, track and field and archery.Students participated in the Braille Challenge along with other students in the Education Service Center, Region 13, area.Elementary students participated in learning activities with students from Redeemer Lutheran School.A Work Opportunity Day Fair was held providing students an opportunity to meet with employers in the community, including blind and visually impaired role models.Students participated in Science Fun Day organized in conjunction with the University of Texas Space Grant Consortium.A student holiday music assembly and play were held in the auditorium. alt

Many TSBVI students traveled to participate in the fall South Central Association Schools for the Blind (SCASB) Conference meet held in Mississippi where they participated in wrestling, cheerleading and performing arts. In the spring, TSBVI hosted the SCASB track and field and performing arts conference event.

Students participated in a Red Ribbon Safe and Drug-free Schools assembly and poetry contest.

A public presentation of the musical, Into the Woods, Jr. was performed by students at the School.

Two students from the School participated in Space Camp at the U.S. Space and Rocket Center in Huntsville, Alabama.

Martin Luther King, Jr., and Fiesta Day activities were held at the School.

Prom night 2006 was held at the Double Tree Hotel in Austin followed by a Junior/Senior banquet.

ENROLLMENT STATISTICS

In the 2005-2006 school year, 144 students representing 95 local school districts throughout Texas were enrolled in the Comprehensive Programs of TSBVI.

COMPREHENSIVE PROGRAMS 2001-2002 2002-2003 2003-2004 2004-2005 2005-2006
Elementary Program 30 37 32  33 29
Secondary Program 127 122 123  117 109
Post-Secondary Program -- 4 7 6
TOTAL 157 163 160  157 144

ETHNICITY OF STUDENTS ENROLLED IN 2005-2006 COMPREHENSIVE PROGRAMS

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Hispanic 29%
White 53%
Black 18%

SPECIAL PROGRAMS

SUMMER PROGRAMS

Summer programs are designed to serve students who do not attend TSBVI during the regular school year. As such, they emphasize those vision related skills from the Expanded Core Curriculum for Students with Visual Impairments that may be difficult for districts to teach during the school year. Instruction focuses on: applying academic skills to functional, real-life situations such as having a job; learning skills of independent living such as personal and domestic care; learning skills related to the creative arts and to recreational/leisure activities; and acquiring a sense of confidence and well-being that comes from interacting with other successful visually impaired students and adults.

altStudents who attend summer programs are typically the only visually impaired student in their school. The classes introduce students to empowering experiences and ideas about living with visual impairment, and provide a socially supportive peer group, which reduces their feelings of isolation, difference and loneliness, and provides enduring friendships and support networks that can last a lifetime. This support can be an important factor in enabling these students to remain in their local districts.

ACHIEVEMENTS IN THE 2006 SUMMER PROGRAMS

  • 99 secondary academic students participated in programming. This was an increase of 40 students or 60% over the attendance for this population in summer 2005. This increase is attributed in part to the new types of classes offered (described below).
  • 38 non-academic secondary students participated in classes that provided opportunities to practice and use a broad array of skills within meaningful daily activities, such as functional literacy and math, personal and domestic care, recreation and leisure, work, and self-determination.
  • 74 elementary age students participated in programming. The classes provided opportunities to practice and use their current academic and vision-related skills in functional activities such as thematic units, music, community outings, self-care, shopping, cooking, arts and crafts, and recreational activities.
  • 28 students about to graduate from high school participated in jobs in the Austin community, and were taught skills related to independent daily living at home and in the community.
  • 49 multiply impaired students with vision loss were given the opportunity to be away from home (often for the first time) and to participate in skills of independent living and recreational activities in the community.
  • College students from Stephen F. Austin University completed their pre-professional internship by participating in six weeks of supervised summer instruction. TSBVI is the only site in the state where college students can obtain such intensive, varied and diverse opportunities to work with visually impaired students.

SPECIAL ACTIVITIES IN SUMMER 2006

Secondary academic programming was revamped in order to increase the appeal to students and their families. Instead of placing a major focus on vocational themes as we did in prior years, the following classes were offered in four major areas:

  1. Fine Arts: Camp Fine Arts, Writers' Workshop, Braille Music, Rock Band Camp
  2. Physical Education: Recreational Sports Sampler, Athletic Sports Sampler, Cheerleading
  3. Small Business Endeavors: Restaurant Management, Radio Station Management
  4. Adaptive Strategies and Technologies: Adaptive Math Tools and Strategies, Adaptive Technology, Recreational Technology, Travel in the Community

Skills related to the Expanded Core Curriculum for Students with Visual Impairments were infused into all activities, including residential time.

altTwo classes of older elementary students focused on issues related to Transition to Middle School. This is an especially difficult transition for students with visual impairments. The class addressed issues such as personal organization (managing lockers, organizing backpacks and day timers, retrieving information, dealing with time and deadlines); self advocacy (explaining your needs to teachers and other students); social skills (caring for personal appearance; initiating conversations and meeting new people); adaptive tools and technology (exposure to scanning software, magnification systems, and homework and classroom aids); orientation and mobility (changing classes, negotiating crowded hallways).

Individual high school academic students were assigned to community jobs in Austin at places such as: a senior activity center, a YMCA weight room assistant, Texas Commission on Environmental Quality, a local fish supply store, a counseling center, a technology company, a local preschool, St. David's Wheelchair Fitness Center, and Half Price Books. Small groups of functional level high-school students worked together at sites such as: The Austin Food Bank, Goodwill Industries, and WalMart. During residential time they participated in high-level instruction in skills of independent living and community participation.

ENROLLMENT STATISTICS

In the 2006 Summer Programs, 288 students were served, representing 135 local school districts throughout Texas.

Summer School Enrollment Statistics
YEAR: 2002 2003 2004 2005 2006
SUMMER PROGRAMS 272 263 242 255 288

ETHNICITY OF STUDENTS ENROLLED IN 2006 SUMMER PROGRAMS

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Hispanic 30%
White 50%
Black 17%
Asian/Pacific Islander 3%

SHORT-TERM PROGRAMS

Short-term Programs were initiated in 2000 in response to local districts' requests for assistance with the unique needs of students who are academically successful and on grade level, but need to learn special tools in order to access the statewide curriculum. TSBVI developed a set of brief, intensive classes, from three to five days in length, in areas such as adaptive technology, math tools and strategies, Braille reading and writing, tactile graphs and maps, etc. In addition to working on the objectives for which they were referred, students receive informal instruction and supported practice in other aspects of the Expanded Core Curriculum for Students with Visual Impairments. This includes access skills related to independent living, travel, recreation and leisure, social interactions, and self-determination, in the company of visually impaired peers who are also practicing these skills. They also meet other students and adults with visual impairments, which is often the significant ingredient that most contributes to a change of attitude which can impact the rest of their education and life.

TSBVI provides three types of short-term classes:

  1. Individualized instruction to promote access to and success with the statewide curriculum (TEKS): Local districts can refer a student to work on any aspect of the expanded core curriculum for visually impaired students. Each student's individualized objectives are jointly determined between TSBVI and the local teacher of the visually impaired.
  2. Special topic classes: Classes are offered on specific topics pertinent to students with visual impairments (e.g., adaptive technology for word processing, internet, email, data management, etc.; adapted tools and technology for accessible mathematics; travel in the community; issues in low vision).
  3. Independence Weekends: students participate in theme-oriented classes that provide opportunities to practice skills of independent living, self-determination, communication, recreation and leisure, and to interact and learn from other students and staff with visual impairments. This year's themes were: Fun in the Kitchen (elementary), Volunteerism (Middle School), and Social/Recreational Activities, including senior prom (high school).

ACHIEVEMENTS IN THE 2005-2006 SHORT-TERM PROGRAMS

  • altStudents were provided instruction in a broad range of skills related to visual impairment, including Braille reading and writing, skills for independent living, nonvisual mathematics, low vision adaptations, blindness technologies, orientation and mobility, social skills and self-determination.
  • 100% of students met the objectives for which they were referred.
  • Students were introduced to a wide range of adaptive, electronic technologies that are available to assist persons with visual impairments, and taught how to evaluate and match them to meet various needs that arise.
  • 94% of responding school districts, parents and students rated their experience in short-term programs as very satisfactory or above.
  • Short-term programs served 132 students, an increase of almost 100% since the program's inception during the 2000-2001 school year when 67 students were served.

SPECIAL ACTIVITIES IN SHORT-TERM PROGRAMS 2005-2006

  • The Special Programs department added an additional teaching position to meet the needs of its growing population.
  • Special Programs was invited to present on Short Term Programs at the national convention of the Council of Schools for the Blind (COSB) in Kentucky. We did this by developing a panel of five schools, and then we developed the content for that session. We presented on the same topic at the national AER (Association for Education and Rehabilitation of the Blind and Visually Impaired) conference in Utah.
  • altSpecial Programs expanded its relationship with the Division of Blind Services, speaking at workshops and extending its announcements to their caseworkers. We further distributed information about our programs by presenting to educators and parents in Lubbock, Waco, and Corpus Christi, as well as at the Texas Association for Education and Rehabilitation of the Blind and Visually Impaired (TAER).
  • Special Programs expanded its programming in the area of transition from high school to college. In addition to the specific referral objectives, certain students in secondary classes were familiarized with concepts related to college disability services, applying to colleges online, seeking financial aid, the difference between child and adult services, the importance of self-advocacy, understanding the roles of various agencies, and visiting the Division of Blind Services and the Office for Students with Disabilities at the University of Texas. The success of this program addition resulted in the offering of a special, separate class during the following school year.
  • The number of elementary students in attendance increased significantly. The weekend class grew by 20%. Elementary offerings in the weeklong classes were expanded in order to add topics of special need to these students: math tools and adaptive technology.
  • Two new classes were offered: (1) Fitness at Home and in the Community: this class addressed skills needed for health, fun, and well-being, an area of high need for persons who are visually impaired; and (2) Getting There: this class addressed tasks and issues related to getting around in a city.
  • A trip was made to one Education Service Center in order to initiate the process for a special class to target students who live in the Valley. Administrators in Regions 1, 2, 3 were consulted in order to implement this pilot technology class during the fall of the following school year.
  • Special Programs worked to expand transportation assistance to students on routes not previously offered to these students. We offered a new transportation route on the TSBVI busses for students attending from the Abilene/San Angelo area. We also offered to provide transportation to students who wished to attend the pilot technology class for districts in the Valley area.
  • Twelve students participated in a three-day Low Vision class. This class focused on the unique needs of students who do have some vision yet need highly specialized adaptations in order to benefit maximally in school and daily living. Their needs are often overlooked because they can appear to get by, yet there exists a wide range of interventions that can contribute greatly in helping them meet their true potential.
  • Twelve students participated in the new Getting There class. This class introduced students to skills such as (1) arranging and using various forms of public and personal transportation -- e.g., transportation options, hiring a driver, accessing routes and schedules, making safe choices, cost considerations; (2) being a non-driver (e.g., giving directions to others, psychological considerations, using a Global Positioning System (GPS) to help with directions; and (3) negotiating special indoor mobility features (e.g., escalators, elevators and revolving doors.
  • Eight students participated in a weeklong class teaching Adaptive Tools & Technology for Accessible Mathematics. This class presented techniques needed by a visually impaired learner to be successful in a regular secondary algebra or geometry class.
  • 32 students attended three-day independence weekend classes that provided the opportunity to practice skills of independent living, participate in community activities, and experiment with skills of self-determination. These students are usually the only visually impaired person in their school. The weekend class gave them the life-affirming opportunity to interact and share their experiences with other students and staff who understood their personal experience.

ENROLLMENT STATISTICS

In the 2005-2006 Short-term Programs, 132 students were served, representing 62 local school districts.

YEAR: 2001-2002 2002-2003 2003-2004 2004-2005 2005-2006
SHORT-TERM PROGRAMS 69 126 114 126 132
ETHNICITY OF STUDENTS ENROLLED IN 2005-2006 SHORT-TERM PROGRAMS

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Hispanic 27.0%
White 61.5%
Black 11.5%

PERFORMANCE OBJECTIVES FOR 2005-2006

The following graphs display the achievement of Special Programs in meeting objectives set out in the School's Agency Strategic Plan and in the School Improvement Plan.

SPECIAL PROGRAMS PERFORMANCE MEASURES FOR 2005-2006

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Percent of students attending short-term programs demonstrating progress Percent of responding school districts, parents, and students rating the students' experiences in the short-term programs as very satisfactory or outstanding Percent of students whose school districts rated their learning experience at summer programs as very satisfactory or outstanding Percent of students whose parents rated their learning experience at summer programs as very satisfactory or outstanding
2004-2005 School Year 100% 95.68% 87.23% 84.0%
2005-2006 School Year 100% 93.84% 92.98% 91.11%

OUTREACH PROGRAMS

altAs a statewide resource TSBVI collaborates with local and regional entities to support the State's entire student population of students with visual impairments. A comprehensive set of Outreach services is available for students who are blind or visually impaired or deafblind, with or without additional disabilities, and their families across the state, regardless of whether they ever step onto campus. Outreach services help ensure that all children with visual impairments and deafblindness in all kinds of settings are offered quality educational services.

Specific Outreach services include registration of students with visual impairments and the deafblind census; local district and home consultation; local, regional and statewide workshops; a quarterly newsletter in Spanish and English produced in collaboration with the Texas Division of Blind Services; on-line resources; a technology loan program; a mentor program and support for the Texas teacher preparation system.

alt The TSBVI Outreach Program has a successful history of introducing cutting edge educational practices to Texas practitioners. Through collaboration with national research grants, university projects and federal initiatives and drawing upon concentrated expertise on campus, the specialists from the Outreach staff have helped to import new educational research into best practice in Texas. Use of calendar systems, assessment tools, new types of adapted literacy technologies, communication strategies for students who are deafblind, and active learning curriculum for students with the most severe disabilities have been disseminated statewide via Outreach support and facilitation. Model training for specialized paraprofessionals (interveners) to serve students with deafblindness has been developed by the Outreach staff and shared statewide. With facilitation of Outreach staff, a coordinated approach to professional preparation has increased the supply of qualified personnel in Texas by 239 individuals, or 40% since 1996. Mentors have been assigned to new teachers and orientation and mobility specialists in training to support their formative learning in their new disciplines. In addition, methodologies and resources developed in this state for in-service and pre-service training are now exported nationally and internationally through the TSBVI website, national conference and curriculum publications.

ACHIEVEMENTS IN THE 2005-2006 FISCAL YEAR

  • Over 98% of Outreach customers rated the improvement of their knowledge and skills as a result of services received from the Outreach program as satisfactory or higher, of whom 83.91% reported that improvement as either very satisfactory or outstanding.
  • 98.9% of Outreach customers rated the effectiveness of the Outreach services during school visits and local workshops as satisfactory or higher, with 86.56% rating the service as very satisfactory or outstanding.
  • 88.1% of the evaluations of Outreach customers in 2006 indicated positive student, staff or family changes as a result of Outreach visits, an increase from 2005.
  • Eighteen videoconferencing events allowed 640 people to access high quality live training without incurring travel costs, and training videotapes extend the reach of each event. This is nearly double the number of participants in the past year, but more important than the number of participants is the ability for families and professionals from all geographical areas of the state to attend relevant training. The development of on-line training resources is a high priority for the Outreach program.
  • In 2005-2006, there were 149 on-site school consultations.
  • The Outreach program provided 195 presentations and conferences.
  • Nearly 5,000 professionals, paraprofessionals and family members participated in workshops sponsored or presented by the Outreach staff last year.
  • Outreach on-sites and/or local and regional workshops were provided in all 20 ESC regions.
  • The TSBVI Outreach program successfully managed both the registration of VI Students and the statewide census of students who are Deafblind.

SPECIAL ACTIVITIES IN THE 2005-2006 FISCAL YEAR

  • Three Mentor Centers brought VI professionals-in-training and their mentors to the campus of the TSBVI and local districts to observe quality programming. For many, this is their first opportunity to observe a wide variety of students with visual impairments. Presentations on topics relevant to new teachers were included in addition to the school observations settings.
  • The TSBVI Outreach staff facilitated a new statewide advisory committee on educational programming for students with visual impairments. This group has membership including representative parents, consumers, VI professionals, Texas Education Agency personnel, American Foundation for the Blind, Division of Blind Services and Early Childhood Intervention Council from the Department of Assistive and Rehabilitative Services and personnel preparation programs at Stephen F. Austin and Texas Tech universities.
  • Training in topics specific to the unique needs of students with visual impairments, including assessment, technology, literacy and appropriate curricula were available both on campus and via videoconferencing on a monthly basis.
  • A family retreat for families with children who have Usher Syndrome was offered in January in collaboration with the Texas School for the Deaf and the National Technical Assistance Consortium in Deafblindness.
  • A quarterly newsletter produced in collaboration with the Department of Blind Services was mailed to over 5000 on our mailing list in Spanish, English, disc, braille and large print formats plus it is posted on the TSBVI website. 35% of the most requested downloads from the TSBVI website are the SEE/HEAR newsletter articles.
  • A new group of parents of students with deafblindness successfully completed the deafblind family leadership series. Each family successfully implemented personally designed action plans for making a difference at the local, regional or statewide levels. An exciting development was the formation of a statewide parent association for families whose children have CHARGE syndrome, organized by a graduate of the leadership program.
  • Staff from the Outreach program assisted several districts with developing transition plans for their students, who have gone on to enroll in post-secondary programming, vocational planning and the pursuit of university coursework. One student presented on her planning process at a statewide conference.
  • Texas Focus, a statewide workshop for professionals and family members, presented as a joint project with all 20 ESCs, was held in Dallas and offered training to 279 participants on the theme of transition planning and services.
  • Training tailored to new professionals offered a targeted opportunity to supplement university training in the area of self-determination for 75 participants at a Pre-Conference to Texas Focus.
  • Over 80 families are now active on the family listserv for families with children who are visually impaired, hosted on the TSBVI website and moderated by Outreach personnel.
  • The Outreach program trained participants from around the country on how to conduct in-depth program review and analysis using a process known as Quality Programs for Students with Visual Impairments. In addition, local districts across the state and the campus personnel at TSBVI were supported in their use of the Quality Programs program.

PERFORMANCE OBJECTIVES FOR 2005-2006 FISCAL YEAR

The following graphs display the achievement of Outreach Programs in meeting objectives set out in the School's Agency Strategic Plan and in the School Improvement Plan.

OUTREACH PROGRAM MEASURES FOR 2005-2006

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Percent of Outreach customers rating as very satisfactory or outstanding the improvement of their knowledge and skills Percent of Outreach customers rating as very satisfactory or outstanding the effectiveness of the on-site/ workshop Percent of Outreach customers agreeing there was a positive change for the student, staff, or family as a result of the on-site visit
Fiscal Year 2005 88.1% 90.7% 85.71%
Fiscal Year 2006 83.91% 86.56% 88.10%

OTHER SERVICES TO PARENTS AND PROFESSIONALS

CURRICULUM DEVELOPMENT

The Curriculum Department at Texas School for the Blind and Visually Impaired develops curriculum written by teachers and other certified professionals serving blind and visually impaired students in all curricular approaches. Curriculum and resource guides are peer-reviewed, published and sold worldwide to assist the teacher, orientation and mobility instructor and parent in areas such as independent living, career education, technology, Braille instruction, orientation and mobility, and low vision. Each guide contains assessment and instructional methodology.

ACHIEVEMENTS IN 2005-2006

  • A total of 7213 publications were sold in fiscal year 2006. This includes print (5908), Braille (1075), videos (80) and CDs (150). The Calendars for Students with Multiple Impairments book was the top seller at 1104 copies. Over 350 copies each of the Independent Living Assessment and Ongoing Evaluation, TAPS Assessment and Ongoing Evaluation, and Learning Media Assessment were sold. We sold 450 copies of our newest publication, Making Evaluation Meaningful.
  • Development continued on a curriculum for social skills, a curriculum for students ages 18 and over, and a sexuality education curriculum.
  • Development continued on a Practical Academics Health Curriculum in coordination with the School Health Advisory Council.
  • A curriculum for teaching Self-Determination skills to students with visual impairment was completed. It is currently being reviewed and refined.
  • Mini-Steps and Milestones: A History of Services for Young Children Who are Blind or Visually Impaired, compiled by Dr. Virginia Bishop was completed and is currently available.
  • An autobiography written by Dr, Natalie Barraga, titled If Anyone Can, You Can, is nearing completion.
  • The Curriculum Coordinator continues to evaluate and refine the performance indicator assessment tools that guide IEP development and instruction for TSBVI students.
  • The Curriculum department continues to support classroom teachers in their instruction.

TSBVI's WEB SITE www.tsbvi.edu

The School hosts a web site that is recognized throughout the world for content concerning visual impairment and the education of blind and visually impaired students. The entire website is accessible to blind and visually impaired persons. This year saw the addition of an accessible online version of the school library system allowing students and others to search for materials. Project Math Access was also added to the TSBVI website. The content, developed by Research and Development Institute, Inc. over a 6 year period, includes instructional videos, instructional materials, and other resources all related to mathematics instruction for students who are blind or visually impaired.

In 2005-2006, there were over 3 million visitors to the web site from more than 200 countries including Mexico, Canada, the United Kingdom, Australia, Argentina, Spain, Peru, the Netherlands, Japan, Germany, Italy and New Zealand. The most visited pages were on sensory integrative dysfunction in young children, non-verbal communication, teaching math to visually impaired students, central auditory processing disorders, downloadable braille materials, and teaching strategies. The largest number of file downloads included the See/Hear newsletter in English and Spanish, the Vision Anomalies Handbook, the Math Continuum, and the Algebra 1 Nemeth Cheat Sheet. Forty percent of the most downloaded files were Spanish versions of newsletters.

BOND PROJECTS AND CONSTRUCTION DURING 2005-2006

A master plan has been developed over this last year that includes the replacement of all but 4 of the original buildings built in 1917. In addition, the plan recommends replacement of some of the newer buildings including 2 dormitories, the Silverrain Building and the Recreation Center. The school is in the process of requesting additional funds to proceed with the master plan. These funds would provide for student housing, a student activity center, a student health center, student outreach educational and vocational facilities, maintenance facility renovation, dorm K renovation or replacement to provide moving space for construction dislocation, OT/PT facility renovation or replacement, challenge course and new track and field facilities, a student transportation pickup area, utility infrastructure replacements for gas and water lines, upgrades for fire lanes and pathways, security upgrades, communications and information resources infrastructure upgrades, accessibility upgrades, and other campus improvements.

The process of developing the master plan has included stakeholders from every corner of the campus in addition to specialists in audio and visual acuity to assure the new facilities meet and/or exceed the needs of the blind and visually impaired students of Texas.

Construction schedules:

  • Remodeling of four large student residences was completed (Dorms 504, 505, 506, and 545).
  • Plans are being developed to replace the elementary residential complex with a new building. Demolition and construction is scheduled to begin in June 2007.
  • The School is waiting for final approval on its plans to demolish the Main School Instructional Building (Building 500) and build a new facility including a separate cafeteria and fine arts building.
  • Plans have been completed for a new duplex dormitory and construction is expected to begin in January 2007.
  • Plans are being developed now to construct a new four-apartment dormitory. The expected start date for construction is Spring 2007.
  • Plans are being developed for a new natatorium (swimming pool) and recreation building.  The project is currently on hold until the School's Facility Master Plan is approved by the Legislature.

TSBVI MAJOR DONORS IN 2005-2006:

All Blind Children of Texas American Council of the Blind of Texas Austin Council of the Blind Austin Masonic Lodge #12 Dallas Council of the Blind Delta Gamma Sorority Downtown Austin Lions Club Junior League of Austin Point Venture Lions Club

CONCLUSION

We are proud of our School and its accomplishments. We change lives. We look forward to our next 150 years of service. Most of all we are grateful to the parents, colleagues, and legislators who continue to support the Texas School for the Blind and Visually Impaired.

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Annual Report 2004 (249k) 001A_sma

1100 W. 45th Street
Austin, Texas 78756-3494
(512) 454-8631
1-800-TSB-KARE
TDD (512)-206-9451
www.tsbvi.edu

TSBVI Board of Directors

Parents of Persons with Visual Impairments

  • Otilio Galindo, San Angelo
  • Jamie Wheeler, North Richland Hills
  • Janet Ardoyno, Abilene

Consumers with Visual Impairments

  • Gene Brooks, Austin
  • Jesus Bautista, El Paso
  • Mary Sue Welch, Dallas

Persons Working with the Visually Impaired

  • Donna Vaden Clopton, Weatherford
  • Deborah Louder, San Angelo
  • Frankie D. Swift, President

TSBVI Administrative Staff

  • Dr. Phil Hatlen Superintendent
  • Miles Fain Principal, Comprehensive Programs
  • Dr. Lauren Newton Principal, Special Programs
  • Ken Miller Director of School and Student Services
  • Cyral Miller Director of Outreach Programs
  • Barney Schulz Administrator for Business, Operations and Technology

A Message from the Superintendent

TSBVI - THE PRIDE OF ALL TEXAS

The Texas School for the Blind and Visually Impaired (TSBVI) will soon celebrate its Sesquicentennial. In 1856 the school was founded in a house on San Gabriel Street near downtown Austin. Two years later it moved to a site that is now a part of the University of Texas, near the Erwin Center. A portion of the campus still stands and is now called The Nowotny Visitor Center. In 1919, a new campus was built on 45th Avenue on a large portion of land. The picture on the cover shows the construction, accomplished by men and mules. The buildings shown are still in use, but desperately in need of renovation.

In August of this year, the Texas Education Agency (TEA) notified us that the School had met its standards of accreditation jointly adopted by TEA and the School. The TEA praised the school for its outstanding record of student achievement. In a time when schools are being held to increasingly higher standards of accountability, we are proud of our students' accomplishments.

As you read this document, you will note significant progress in all outcomes and projections that were presented in the TSBVI Strategic Plan. This is the result of the TSBVI team, because every employee understands that their primary job on campus is to enhance the learning environment for blind and visually impaired students.

Students come to TSBVI from every geographic area of Texas. They are referred by school districts and parents who believe that students will benefit from our services. Some students are from very rural areas, and are referred because the school district cannot provide the expertise necessary for educating blind or visually impaired students. Other students come from urban areas and are referred because they have intensive needs that the local district cannot offer. Every blind or visually impaired child in the state has equal access to an education at TSBVI. The ethnicity of our students closely reflects the diverse population of Texas.

There has been a consistent increase in the number of blind and visually impaired students in Texas, and the number now exceeds 7,000. Education of these students is progressing and improving every year, and TSBVI has a role in assisting every one of these students. However, often enrichment and leisure/recreation needs are scarce or non-existent for many blind and visually impaired students. For this reason, TSBVI has been involved in the development of a non-profit charity, "All Blind Children of Texas" (ABCTX). It is committed to providing activities and support so that all blind children of Texas will have a sense of pride and self-worth. ABCTX needs the financial support of many Texas citizens if it is to achieve its goals, and provide urgently needed services to many children. You are invited to participate in this effort by making contributions to: All Blind Children of Texas, 1100 West 45th Street, Austin, Texas 78756.

TSBVI belongs to the citizens of Texas, who rightfully expect it to provide the best education possible for blind and visually impaired students. For 150 years TSBVI has served the people of this state by providing their students with the skills and knowledge to lead vocationally, personally, and socially satisfying and productive lives.

But times have changed over the years. Imagine a blind child from El Paso, for example, attending TSBVI in the 1800s. More than likely, the only time this child returned to home and family was in the summer months. Today, we have students from El Paso who board a plane every Friday afternoon and spend the weekend with family, friends, and neighbors.

This is one of many, many aspects of TSBVI that have changed through its life. And the greatest and most profound changes have occurred in the past 20 years. The services provided by the school have expanded and multiplied so the impact of TSBVI is felt throughout the state. Following is a description of both direct and indirect services now offered by TSBVI. Accomplishments during the 2003-2004 school year are also listed.

Phil Hatlen Phil Hatlen

TSBVI - Who We Are . . .

A HISTORY OF THE SCHOOL

The School was established in 1856 and classes were first held at the residence of Mr. W. L. Hill in Austin, Texas. The School moved to the present day "Little Campus" in the current day Nowotny Visitor's Center of the University of Texas. A second campus was established on Bull Creek Road in Austin in 1889. In 1915 the School's name was changed to the Texas School for the Blind and the School moved to its present 45-acre campus on West 45th Street in Austin. A special program for deafblind children was initiated in 1974 and was housed in the former Confederate Widows' Mansion on 38th Street. The deafblind program moved to the 45th Street campus in 1981. In 1989, the School was given its current name, the Texas School for the Blind and Visually Impaired (TSBVI), to reflect more accurately the population it serves.

The main functions of TSBVI include:

  • To provide a free, appropriate public education that addresses the intense or specialized needs of visually impaired children and youth, including those with additional disabilities when the local district and parents agree that such services are not available in a local program.
  • To conduct supplemental programs, such as summer and other short-term programs.
  • To provide statewide services to parents of students, school districts, regional education service centers, and other agencies including training, consultation, technical assistance, and developing and disseminating materials such as curriculum, instructional methodology, and educational technology.
  • To partner with Texas Tech University and Stephen F. Austin State University in preparation programs for teachers of the visually impaired.

OUR VISION

All blind and visually impaired students in Texas will have the skills and knowledge to enjoy fulfilling and satisfying lives.

OUR MISSION

Texas School for the Blind and Visually Impaired (TSBVI) will be a leading center of educational expertise for students with visual impairments in Texas. TSBVI will provide opportunities for children and youth who are visually impaired, including those with additional disabilities, to develop the skills necessary to lead vocationally, personally, and socially satisfying and productive lives.

OUR PHILOSOPHY

The Texas School for the Blind and Visually Impaired (TSBVI) believes that:

  • Blind and visually impaired persons in Texas will have the opportunity to be equal and the right to be different.
  • A comprehensive assessment, sound educational planning, and an appropriate placement for each blind and visually impaired student provide the best assurance for educational success.
  • Blind and visually impaired students learn best when their teachers and other staff are highly trained and know how to address the unique needs of these students.
  • Every blind and visually impaired student in Texas will have access to the on- and off-campus services of TSBVI.
  • Instruction in all areas of the expanded core curriculum is essential for all blind and visually impaired students.
  • Educational services to blind and visually impaired students in Texas will be equal to services provided to sighted students.

The Staff

The staff of TSBVI is comprised of 416 full-time and part-time positions including classroom teachers, teacher aides, job coaches, related service staff including orientation and mobility instructors, speech-language pathologists, occupational and physical therapists, psychologists, behavior specialists, counselors, social workers, health services staff, residential staff who work with students after school hours, clerical staff, business office staff, admissions and records staff, technology staff, maintenance workers, groundskeepers, food service workers, custodial staff, transportation and security staff, among others.

The Board of Trustees

The School is governed by a nine-member Board of Trustees, which is appointed by the Governor and confirmed by the Senate. The Board is comprised of three members who are blind or visually impaired, three who have experience working in the field of visual impairment, and three who are parents of a child who is blind or visually impaired. Public meetings of the Board are generally held 5-6 times per year.

Our Partnerships

  • Local school districts refer students to us for specific needs. Students are then shared between the school district and TSBVI, and information sharing and collaboration for the benefit of students is continuous.
  • Education Service Centers are often a source of referrals to TSBVI, and the ESCs often are the point of contact when a student is returned to his/her community.
  • Additional partners with whom TSBVI has a mutually productive and satisfying relationship are all local and state agencies and organizations of and for the blind.
  • The chart that follows illustrates the success of these partnerships.

    SCHOOLWIDE PERFORMANCE MEASURES FOR 2003-2004
     

    Percent of stakeholders rating their collaboration with TSBVI as satisfactory or higher

    Percent of local school districts reporting TSBVI programs as being of high value as a statewide service

    Targeted Performance

    80% 80%

    Actual Performance

    100% 87%

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Sources of Funding

annuaOE1The School is primarily funded through appropriations granted by the State Legislature. Other sources of funding include federal funds, appropriated receipts, interagency contracts, and donations.

Sources of Funding
General Revenue 12,387,403
Federal Funds 2,261,455
Appropriated Receipts 884,124
Interagency Contracts 375,070
Bond Proceeds 34,000

COMPREHENSIVE PROGRAMS

TSBVI provides full-time comprehensive programs during the regular school year to students who are unable to receive an appropriate public education from the local school district. Districts refer students for placement to acquire a student-specific set of skills that, once learned, will the student to return to education in the home community. At TSBVI, students receive intense instruction in all areas of the curriculum including orientation and mobility, technology training, occupational and physical therapy, speech therapy, daily living skills training and many other disability-specific skill areas. TSBVI is the only placement in the State where all educational staff are specially trained and certified to teach students with visual impairments and all residential staff receive ongoing training in teaching, independent living skills, including personal hygiene, dressing, grooming, and home care.

Post Secondary Program: This program, offered in partnership with the Texas Commission for the Blind, provides training for students who are legally blind and have a regular State Board of Education high school diploma or GED. Students seeking this post-secondary experience are in need of remedial academic, independent living and work related skills training. They will cultivate the skills, attitudes and opportunities necessary to meet the demands of competitive employment and adult living.

ACHIEVEMENTS IN THE 2003-2004 SCHOOL YEAR

  • The school met and exceeded the performance standards agreed upon with the Texas Education Agency representing significant student progress in the following core curricular areas.

    Percentages of students assessed making moderate to substantial progress on curriculum-based assessments:
    Language Arts Math Orientation and Mobility Social Skills Independent Living Skills Technology Career Education Infused Skills
    82% 94% 100% 95% 82% 98% 100% 96%
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  • ** Infused Skills (for multiply impaired students) _ Social Communicative Interactions, Emotional Development, Senses and Motor Skills, Basic Concepts, Representation/Cognition
  • 100% of students identified as Limited English Proficient made significant progress on language-related assessments.
  • A new program for 18- to 21-year-old students focusing on successful transition to adult life was initiated.
  • Low Vision Efficiency and Self-determination initiatives were begun.
  • The Texas Behavior Support Initiative was adapted for use on campus.
  • Bond funds provided five new Independent Living Houses for students.
  • 86% of graduates surveyed from the past 5 years were engaged in productive life activities.
  • 96% of parents, local districts and students were satisfied or above with student's progress during the school year.

PERFORMANCE OBJECTIVES FOR 2003-2004

The following graphs display the achievement of Comprehensive Programs in meeting some of the objectives set out in the School's Agency Strategic Plan and in the School Improvement Plan. Many of these objectives are tied to funding for the School and serve as a measure of accountability to the State Legislature.

COMPREHENSIVE PROGRAMS PERFORMANCE MEASURES FOR 2003-2004
Targeted Performance 100% 65% 100%
Actual Performance 100% 86% 100%

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SPECIAL ACTIVITIES IN 2003-2004

  • Students participated in statewide White Cane Day activities in downtown Austin.
  • Wrestling meets were held at TSBVI and at many central Texas area high schools. Two students were sent to the regional meet in San Antonio after placing 1st and 2nd in district meets.
  • A student holiday music assembly and play were held in the auditorium.
  • Many TSBVI students traveled to participate in the South Central Association Schools for the Blind Conference meets held in Louisiana and in Alabama. In Louisiana, students participated in wrestling, cheerleading, music, and drama. In Alabama, students competed in track and field events, music and drama.
  • A public presentation of the play, "The Memorandum" was performed by students at the School.
  • Fifty-six students participated in the 4th Annual Sports Extravaganza in Dallas in October, competing in goalball and track and field events. This event is open to visually impaired students in Texas and surrounding states. TSBVI's boys beginner team won 1st place in goalball and TSBVI's girls varsity team also won 1st place in goalball.
  • The School's tandem bike club participated in the 25-mile portion of Lance Armstrong's Ride for the Roses and also in the 25-mile Lions Club Rip Roaring Ride.
  • A parent weekend conference was held at TSBVI focusing on recreation and leisure skills with 77 families in attendance.
  • Residential instructor Carole Goltze was selected by the national Principals of Schools for the Blind (POSB) as the Outstanding Residential Life Staff Member.

ENROLLMENT STATISTICS

Number of local districts served in 2003-2004: 117

Enrollment Statistics
COMPREHENSIVE PROGRAMS
2000-2001
2001-2002
2002-2003
2003-2004
Elementary Program 33 30 37 32
Secondary Program 103 127 122 123
Post-Secondary Program   4 5
TOTAL 136 157 163 160

ETHNICITY OF STUDENTS ENROLLED IN 2003-2004 COMPREHENSIVE PROGRAMS

ETHNICITY OF STUDENTS ENROLLED IN 2003-2004 COMPREHENSIVE PROGRAMS
Hispanic 31
White 51.5
Black 15
Asian/Pacific Islander 2.5

ETHNICITY OF STUDENTS ENROLLED IN 2003-2004 COMPREHENSIVE PROGRAMS pie chart

SPECIAL PROGRAMS

SUMMER PROGRAMS

Summer programs provide a unique approach to instructing visually impaired children in Texas public schools. They are specifically designed to serve students who do not attend TSBVI during the regular school year. As such, they emphasize those vision related skills that can be difficult for their districts to provide during the school year. Instruction focuses on: applying academic skills to functional, real-life situations such as having a vocation; learning personal skills of independent living such as personal and domestic care; and acquiring a personal sense of confidence, well-being and hope that comes from interacting with other successful visually impaired people.

Students who attend summer programs are typically the only visually impaired student in their school. The classes introduce students to empowering experiences and ideas about living with visual impairment, and provide a socially supportive peer group, which reduces their feelings of isolation, difference and loneliness, and provides enduring friendships that can last a lifetime. This support can be an important factor in enabling these students to remain in their local districts.

ACHIEVEMENTS IN THE 2004 SUMMER PROGRAMS

  • 80 middle and high school students participated in programming that focused on either fine arts or applied, thematic vocational projects.
  • 79 elementary school students participated in programming that provided opportunities to practice and use their current academic and vision-related skills in functional activities such as thematic units, music, community outings, self-care, shopping, cooking, arts and crafts, and recreational activities.
  • 24 students about to graduate from high school participated in jobs in the Austin community, and were taught skills related to independent daily living at home and in the community.
  • 45 multiply-impaired students with vision loss were given the opportunity to be away from home (often for the first time) and to participate in skills of independent living and recreational activities in the community.
  • 14 students participated in a sports program that allowed many of them to practice athletic activities that they cannot experience in regular, non-adapted programs. This program was provided by a special grant though the University of Wisconsin.
  • Five university students from Stephen F. Austin State University completed their pre-professional internships by participating in six weeks of supervised summer instruction. TSBVI is the only site in the state where college students can obtain such intensive, varied and diverse opportunities to work with visually impaired students.
  • Local school districts rated Summer Programs as being of higher value than any other programs offered at TSBVI.

SPECIAL ACTIVITIES IN SUMMER 2004

  • Secondary academic students set up vocational projects (similar to a small business) that allowed them to use skills such as internet market research, budgeting, advertising, production, creative development, sales, organization, management, and evaluation. Small businesses included a broadcasted radio station, a small food production and delivery business, and a horticulture shop.
  • One secondary academic class focused on options for work-related independent travel skills, including the public transit system, Amtrak, Greyhound, air travel, and simple foot travel.
  • Seventeen secondary academic students participated in a summer fine arts class that included creative writing, songwriting, playwriting, computer generated music, music theory, instrumentation, musical and theatric performance, and visual graphics.
  • Individual high school academic students were assigned to community jobs in Austin at places such as: a preschool program, a restaurant, an adaptive sports facility, a groundskeeping service, and a nonprofit organization. Small groups of functional level high-school students worked together at sites such as: a food bank, a library warehouse, WalMart.
  • Summer students with low vision received training on the functional use of low vision devices. A kit of these devices was provided to each classroom to encourage students to practice using a wide variety of low-tech aides to accommodate different viewing contexts.
  • Elementary students participated in a nationally recognized science program called Grossology. An older group participated in a special writing program.

ENROLLMENT STATISTICS for SUMMER PROGRAMS

ENROLLMENT STATISTICS for SUMMER PROGRAMS
Year 2000 2001 2002 2003 2004
Number of Students 298 281 272 263 242

SHORT-TERM PROGRAMS

Short-term Programs were formally initiated in 2000, in response to local school district requests for TSBVI to provide brief, intensive training in areas related to vision loss such as adaptive technology, braille reading and writing, tactile graphs and maps, etc. Districts wanted a program that could help their students, yet allow them to remain in their local district. Short-term programs range from three to five days in length, and serve students who are academically successful and on grade level, who need special tools (usually for reading, writing and math) in order to access instruction.

TSBVI provides three types of short-term programs

  1. 1. Individual IEP classes: Local districts can refer a student to work on any aspect of the expanded core curriculum for visually impaired students. Each student's objectives are jointly determined between TSBVI and the local teacher of the visually impaired.
  2. 2. Special topic classes: Classes are offered on specific topics pertinent to students with visual impairments (e.g., technology, adapted tools and technology for accessible mathematics, Braille Olympics, low vision).
  3. 3. Independence Weekends: students participate in theme oriented classes that provide opportunities to practice skills of independent living, self-advocacy, communication, recreation and leisure, and to interact and learn from other students and staff with visual impairments.

ACHIEVEMENTS IN THE 2003-2004 SHORT-TERM PROGRAMS

  • Students were provided instruction in a broad range of skills related to visual impairment, including braille reading and writing, skills for independent living, nonvisual mathematics, low vision adaptations, blindness technologies, orientation and mobility, social skills and self-determination.
  • 98% of students met the objectives for which they were referred.
  • Students were introduced to a wide range of adaptive, electronic technologies that are available to assist persons with visual impairments, and taught how to evaluate and match them to meet various needs that arise.
  • 95% of responding school districts, parents and students rated their experience in short-term programs as very satisfactory or above.
  • Short-term programs served 114 students, an increase of 59% since the program's inception in 2000.
  • Short-Term Programs was recognized as Texas' most outstanding program for visually impaired students by the state's professional organization for the blind.

SPECIAL ACTIVITIES IN SHORT-TERM PROGRAMS 2003-2004

  • Nine secondary students attended a three-day class to learn about space and astronomy. The class was jointly developed and taught with staff and an astronomer from the University of Texas Space Consortium program. Through participation in hands-on scientific exploration, the students were introduced to abstract concepts that can be especially challenging for students with visual impairment to understand.
  • Fourteen students participated in a three-day Low Vision class. This class focused on the unique needs of students who do have some vision yet need highly specialized adaptations in order to benefit maximally in school and daily living. Their needs are often overlooked because they can appear to "get by," yet there exists a wide range of interventions that can contribute greatly in helping them meet their true potential.
  • Seven deafblind students with Usher Syndrome attended a three-day class focusing on the special needs of young people with this genetic syndrome. The class was jointly created and taught with staff from TSBVI Outreach and the Division of Blind Services of the Texas Department of Assistive and Rehabilitative Services (DARS). Training was simultaneously provided for the families of these students. Topics addressed: self-advocacy, specialized technology, life after high school, mobility adaptations and equipment, and agencies serving individuals with deaf-blindness.
  • Six students participated in a weeklong class teaching Adaptive Tools & Technology for Accessible Mathematics. This class presented techniques needed by a visually impaired learner to be successful in a regular secondary algebra or geometry class.
  • 23 students attended three-day independence weekend classes that provided them the opportunity to practice skills of independent living, participate in community activities, and experiment with skills of self-advocacy. These students are usually the only visually impaired person in their school. The weekend class gave them the life-affirming opportunity to interact and share their experiences with other students who understood their personal experience.

ENROLLMENT STATISTICS for SHORT-TERM PROGRAMS

ENROLLMENT STATISTICS for SHORT-TERM PROGRAMS
Year 1999-2000 2000-01 2001-02 2002-03 2003-04
Number of Students 27 67 69 126 114

Number of districts served in 2003-2004: 73

Ethnicity of Students Enrolled in 2003-2004 Short-Term Programs pie chart

Ethnicity of Students Enrolled in 2003-2004 Short-Term Programs
Hispanic 25
White 60
Black 12
Mixed 3

PERFORMANCE OBJECTIVES FOR 2003-2004

The following graphs display the achievement of Special Programs in meeting objectives set out in the School's Agency Strategic Plan and in the School Improvement Plan.

Special Progams Performance Measures 2003-2004

Percent of students attending short-term programs demonstrating progress Percent of responding school districts, parents and students rating the students' experiences in the short-term programs as very satisfactory or above Percent of students whose school districts rated their learning experience at summer programs as very satisfactory or above Percent of students whose parents rated their learning experience at summer programs as very satisfactory or above
Targeted Performance 90% 72% 80% 82%
Actual Performance 98% 95% 90% 88%

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OUTREACH PROGRAMS

As a statewide resource TSBVI collaborates with local and regional entities to support the state's entire student population of visually impaired students. A comprehensive set of Outreach services is available for students who are blind or visually impaired or deafblind, with or without additional disabilities, and their families across the state, regardless of whether they ever step onto campus. Outreach services help ensure that all children with visual impairments and deafblindness in all kinds of settings are offered quality educational services.

Specific Outreach services include registration of students with visual impairments and the deafblind census; local district and home consultation; local, regional and statewide workshops; a quarterly newsletter produced in collaboration with the Division of Blind Services in Spanish and English; on-line resources; a technology loan program; a mentor program and support for the Texas personnel preparation system.

The TSBVI Outreach Program has a successful history of introducing cutting edge educational practices to Texas practitioners. Through collaboration with national research grants, university projects and federal initiatives and drawing upon concentrated expertise on campus, the specialists from the Outreach staff have helped to import new educational research into best practice in Texas. Use of calendar systems, assessment tools, new types of adapted literacy technologies, communication strategies for students who are deafblind, and active learning curriculum for students with the most severe disabilities have been disseminated statewide via Outreach support and facilitation. Model training for specialized paraprofessionals to serve students with deafblindness has been developed by the Outreach staff and shared statewide. With facilitation of Outreach staff, a coordinated approach to professional preparation has increased the supply of qualified personnel in Texas by 40% since 1996. In addition, methodologies and resources developed in this state for inservice and pre-service training are now exported nationally and internationally through the TSBVI website, national conference and curriculum publications.

ACHIEVEMENTS IN THE 2003-2004 FISCAL YEAR

  • Over 98% of Outreach customers rated Outreach services overall as satisfactory or higher with 82% reporting the improvement of their knowledge and skills as either very satisfactory or outstanding
  • 99.12% of Outreach customers rated the effectiveness of the Outreach consultant during on-site visits and workshops as satisfactory or higher with 85.85% rating the consultant as very satisfactory or outstanding.
  • Over 94% of the evaluations of Outreach customers in 2004 indicated positive student, staff or family changes as a result of Outreach visits.
  • Videoconferencing events allowed over 700 people to access high quality live training without incurring travel costs, and over 250 training videotapes were subsequently purchased, extending the reach of each event. The development of on-line training resources is a high priority for the Outreach program.
  • In 2003-2004, 127 districts across Texas requested on-site training.
  • The Outreach program provided 243 presentations and conferences.
  • Over 7,000 professionals, paraprofessionals and family members participated in workshops sponsored or presented by the Outreach staff last year.
  • Outreach on-sites and/or local and regional workshops were provided in all 20 ESC regions.
  • For the first year, the TSBVI Outreach program facilitated both the registration of VI Students and the statewide census of students who are Deafblind.

SPECIAL ACTIVITIES IN THE 2003-2004 FISCAL YEAR

  • A 2 year contract from HHSC allowed 10 blind primary students to receive electronic braille-writing systems that have increased opportunities to fully access literacy instruction in their general education settings.
  • Four Mentor Centers brought VI professionals-in-training and their mentors to the campus of the TSBVI to observe quality programming.
  • Training in topics specific to the unique needs of students with visual impairments, including assessment, technology and appropriate curricula were available both on campus and via videoconferencing on a monthly basis.
  • A quarterly newsletter produced in collaboration with the Department of Blind Services was mailed to over 4000 on our mailing list in Spanish, English, disc, braille and large print formats plus it is posted on the TSBVI website and among the most popular pages offered on that site.
  • 40% of the most requested downloads from the TSBVI website are Spanish versions of newsletters.
  • Training packets for families called "Vision Specific Issues and the IDEA" were developed and sold statewide, supported upon request with inservice presentations.
  • An intensive workshop for assessment personnel at education service centers was held in June 2004.
  • The Texas Focus, a statewide training for professionals and family members, a joint project with all 20 ESCs, was held in Dallas and served 355 participants.
  • Training tailored to new professionals offered targeted opportunities to supplement university training for nearly 100 participants.
  • A new family listserv for families with children who are visually impaired was added to the TSBVI website, moderated by Outreach personnel.

PERFORMANCE OBJECTIVES FOR 2003-2004 FISCAL YEAR

The following graphs display the achievement of Outreach Programs in meeting objectives set out in the School's Agency Strategic Plan and in the School Improvement Plan.

Outreach Progams Performance Measures 2003-2004

Percent of Outreach customers rating as very satisfactory or above the improvement of their knowledge and skills Percent of Outreach customers rating as very satisfactory or above the effectiveness of the on-site or workshop consultant Percent of Outreach customers agreeing there was a positive change for the student, staff, or family as a result of the on-site visit
Targeted Performance 85% 85% 87%
Actual Performance 82% 86% 94%

 

OTHER SERVICES TO PARENTS AND PROFESSIONALS

CURRICULUM DEVELOPMENT

TSBVI's Curriculum Department develops curriculum written by teachers and other certified professionals for blind and visually impaired students in all curricular approaches. Curriculum and resource guides are published and sold world-wide to assist the teacher, orientation and mobility instructor and parent in areas such as independent living, career education, technology, braille instruction, orientation and mobility, and low vision. Each guide contains assessment and instructional methodology.

ACHIEVEMENTS IN 2003-2004

  • A total of 4,631 print publications were sold in fiscal year 2004. Braille Fundamentals was the top seller. Over 400 copies each of The Low Vision Resource Guide, Learning Media Assessment, Teaching Students with Visual and Multiple Impairments, and Calendars for Students with Multiple Impairments were sold.
  • A total of 1,592 copies of Braille Fundamentals were sold in fiscal year 2004.
  • A total of 131 Elementary Concepts curriculum were sold.
  • A total of 105 instructional videos and 68 diskettes were sold.
  • The "Transition to Adult Life" curriculum was completed in 2003-2004.
  • Work began on a assessments and curriculum for social skills, a curriculum for students ages 18 and over and on a sexuality education curriculum.
  • Work continued on an assessment guide to assist diagnosticians and teachers in determining what areas to assess for visually impaired students.
  • The School continues to evaluate and refine the performance indicator assessment tools that guide IEP development and instruction for TSBVI students.
  • Work began on a Practical Academics-level Health Curriculum in coordination with the School Health Advisory Council.
  • A curriculum for teaching uncontracted Braille, Un's the One, was completed.

TSBVI's WEB SITE

welcome-small"A Center for Educational Services for All Blind and Visually Impaired Students in Texas"
www.tsbvi.edu

The School hosts a website that is recognized throughout the world for content concerning visual impairment and the education of blind and visually impaired students. The entire website is accessible to blind and visually impaired persons. In 2003-2004, there were over 1.4 million visitors to the web site from more than 200 countries including Mexico, Canada, the United Kingdom, Australia, Argentina, Spain, Peru, the Netherlands, Japan, Germany, Italy and New Zealand. The most visited pages were on sensory integrative dysfunction in young children, non-verbal communication, teaching math to visually impaired students, central auditory processing disorders, downloadable braille materials, and teaching strategies. The largest number of file downloads included the See/Hear newsletter in English and Spanish, the Vision Anomalies Handbook, the Math Continuum, and the Algebra 1 Nemeth "Cheat Sheet". Forty percent of the most downloaded files were Spanish versions of newsletters.

BOND PROJECTS AND CONSTRUCTION DURING 2003-2004

The School has developed a 10-year plan for the continued renovation, repair or replacement of its facilities. In collaboration with the Texas legislature, TSBVI embarked upon the plan for the gradual renovation or replacement of its aging facilities, beginning with three of the original large student residences. The renovation of the first student residence was completed in May 2000 and two additional residences were renovated in February 2001. Funding for construction and renovation was generated through the sale of general obligation bonds. Progress towards completion of the 10-year facility plan continued into 2003-2004.

ACHIEVEMENTS IN 2003-2004

  • 5 new student dormitories were constructed on the campus.
  • A new warehouse was constructed.
  • An old maintenance shop and a storage building were demolished to make room for the new dorms.
  • 2 manufactured homes that were formerly student residences were moved from the campus.
  • Air conditioning ductwork was repaired and mold removal was completed in Outreach's Silverrain Building.

shovel_s Ground is broken for the new student dormitories

dorm2 Completed student dormitories

Surveys of Customer Satisfaction:

  • Regular School Year Survey - This survey instrument is mailed to parents of students who are enrolled during the regular school year, to the local districts referring those students to TSBVI and to those students attending the regular school year program who are cognitively capable of completing the survey. Surveys are mailed near the time of each student's annual ARD (admission, review and dismissal) meeting and consists of a rating scale on which respondents indicate their degree of satisfaction with the student's progress in identified areas and also provide comments. In the past, respondents have also been asked to rate their overall satisfaction with the services and personnel of TSBVI.

    Surveys are returned to TSBVI generally from November through May. Data are compiled during the summer months and reported in the Annual Performance Report following the fourth quarter of the fiscal year. The response rate is generally good; in the 1998-99 school year survey, of 123 students who were part of the survey, approximately 62% of local districts, 33% of parents and 39% of students returned their completed surveys.

  • Transitioned Student Survey - This survey is mailed to parents and to the local districts of students who have transitioned from TSBVI back to the local district. The survey is mailed in the school year following the transition, after the student has been enrolled in the local program for at least six months. Respondents are asked to rate their satisfaction with TSBVI's transition services, with the student's current success in his/her local school district, with the degree to which TSBVI addressed the student's reason for referral to the School, and whether follow-up services are needed by TSBVI's Outreach Department. In the past, respondents have also been asked to rate their overall satisfaction with the services and personnel of TSBVI.

    Transitioned student surveys are generally returned to TSBVI in the spring. Data are compiled during the summer months and reported in the Annual Performance Report following the fourth quarter of the fiscal year. The number of surveys mailed out each year is low. In the spring of 1999, surveys were mailed out for 22 students who transitioned in the 1997-98 school year. Of these 22 students transitioned, 8 local districts (36%) and 6 parents (27%) responded to the survey. Because of the low number of survey participants, percentages related to satisfaction can be greatly skewed by the answers given by one respondent.

  • Summer School Program Survey - A survey to measure satisfaction with students' experiences during TSBVI's summer programs is mailed each August to parents and local school districts whose students were enrolled in the programs. The survey consists of a rating instrument on which the respondent describes the benefits he or she expected to receive from the program, and then rates his/her satisfaction with the degree to which he or she received those benefits. Respondents also rate their overall satisfaction with the summer school experience, and their satisfaction with the services and personnel of TSBVI. A comment section is provided to make suggestions for changes and to provide any other comments or explanations. Lastly, respondents are asked to state whether the summer school application was easy to complete, whether communications with staff were helpful and satisfactory, whether programs offered reflected the needs of students, whether the program assignment was satisfactory, and whether the summer school progress report was satisfactory.

    Surveys are generally returned in the fall and data is compiled throughout the school year and reported in the Annual Performance Report after the fourth quarter of the fiscal year. Of the 291 students who attended the summer programs in 1999, 115 of their local districts (40%) and 89 of parents (31%) responded to the survey.

  • Graduate Survey - The graduate survey is mailed during the summer to each student who has graduated from TSBVI in the previous five years. The surveys are mailed to any known prior address of the student, including parents' home(s). The student, parents, or other caretaker are asked to provide information about the graduate's current living conditions, including housing, employment, enrollment in post-secondary education or training, volunteer work, and other activities in the community. Respondents are also asked to provide comments about how TSBVI prepared the student for the life he or she is living and for any other comments about the School's past services to the student. Respondents have also been asked to rate their satisfaction with the services and personnel of TSBVI.

    Surveys are generally returned to TSBVI during the summer. The response rate to the written survey is very low, usually only 5 or 6 are returned. A telephone survey is initiated later in the summer to contact graduates who did not respond to the written survey and is far more successful. In the survey conducted in the summer of 1999, of the 50 students who the School attempted to contact who graduated from the 1993-94 school year through the 1997-98 school year, 43 students, parents and/or caregivers were located, i.e. an 86% response rate.

  • Short-Term Program Survey - A new survey will be conducted in fiscal year 2001 regarding customer satisfaction with students' experiences in short-term programs that are offered during the regular school year. These programs were initiated in the winter of 2000.

  • Outreach Workshop Survey - A survey is distributed to all participants at the conclusion of every workshop presented by Outreach staff. Participants are asked to rate their acquisition of new knowledge and skills as a result of the training sessions, satisfaction with the presenter, and satisfaction with the services of TSBVI's Outreach Programs.

  • Outreach On-Site Visit Survey - The on-site survey is mailed to school districts after the School's Outreach staff has conducted training or consultation at the local level. Respondents are asked to evaluate the usefulness of the information provided by the Outreach consultant, whether there has been a positive change for the student as a result of the consultation, and to describe the positive change. Participants are asked to rate their acquisition of new knowledge and skills as a result of the on-site visit, satisfaction with the consultant and satisfaction with the services of TSBVI's Outreach Programs.

  • Outreach Technology Loan Program Survey - This survey is conducted every spring with local schools that have used technology loan equipment provided by TSBVI. Respondents are asked to rate their satisfaction with the application and loan process, and with the services and personnel of TSBVI. The number of surveys sent out is low, approximately 60 in the spring of 2000, with an approximate 30% response rate.

  • American Printing House for the Blind (APH) Instructional Materials Center Survey - The School operates a statewide instructional materials center that provides APH supplies for visually impaired students through local school districts and Education Service Centers (ESCs). Instructional materials are shipped from Austin or directly from the APH center in Kentucky. A written survey is sent to local districts and ESCs each summer to determine whether materials were provided in a timely manner, were complete, and were in good working order. Some of the items in the survey relate to the quality of the items and services provided by the APH, and these survey items are forwarded to the APH Center in Kentucky. Approximately 600 surveys were mailed in 1999 with an approximate 58% response rate.

  • See/Hear Newsletter Survey - A written survey is included in the summer edition of the "See/Hear" Newsletter that is co-produced by TSBVI and the Texas Department of Assistive and Rehabilitative Services (formerly known as Texas Commision for the Blind) . "See/Hear" is mailed to parents and professionals in Texas and is also available on TSBVI's web site. This survey asks for satisfaction ratings with the year's articles and for suggestions for future topics.

    One problem noted with survey instruments is that some respondents invert the rating scale when designating scores. Currently, the lowest score (very unsatisfactory) is denoted as the number "1" on the scale and the highest rating (outstanding) is associated with the number "5". Occasionally, respondents mark a score as a "1" and then provide very positive comments about the School that do not support the rating. It appears that the number "1" is sometimes denoted by respondents as the highest rating that can be given. Beginning in 1999-2000, respondents are being contacted by telephone to clarify the correct rating when comments included in the survey are inconsistent with the ratings.

Percent of Customer Satisfaction with Statutory Customer Service Quality Elements :

  • Classroom Safety, Attractiveness, Accessibility:
    91 % satisfied or above, 73% very satisfied or above

  • Dorm safety, Attractiveness, Accessibility
    91% satisfied or above, 45% very satisfied or above

  • Staff Knowledge, Professionalism, Courtesy:
    77% satisfied or above, 69% very satisfied or above

  • Timeliness of Receipt of Student Information:
    77% satisfied or above, 54% very satisfied or above

  • Quality of Student Information
    71% satisfied or above, 36% very satisfied or above

  • Timeliness of Receipt of School Information: 
    86% satisfied or above, 50% very satisfied or above

  • Quality of School Information:
    86% satisfied or above, 64% very satisfied or above

  • Quality of Internet Site:
    100% satisfied or above, 63% very satisfied or above 

  • Timeliness and Handling of Complaints: (total 3)
    33% satisfied or above, 0% very satisfied or above

satisfiedgraph

*Reflects results of 14 transition survey respondents.These new survey categories will be added to other surveys sent out throughout the year.

Percent of Customers Satisfied with the Services and Personnel of TSBVI 

  • 1998-99 School Year Program:
    Parents - 94.44% satisfied (83.33% very satisfied)
    Local Districts - 98.63% satisfied (90.41% very satisfied)
    Students - 95.24% satisfied (80.95% very satisfied)

  • 1999 Summer Programs:
    Parents - 96.59% satisfied (84.09% very satisfied)
    Local Districts - 99.13% satisfied (90.43% very satisfied)

  • Students Transitioned to Districts in 1997-98:
    Parents - 100% satisfied (66.67% very satisfied)
    Local Districts - 100% satisfied (75% very satisfied) 

  • 1994-98 Graduates of TSBVI:
    Parents' or Students' Responses - 97.56% satisfied (82.93% very satisfied) 

  • 1998-99 Outreach Services: Parents' or Professionals' Responses - (only 19 responses)
    94.74% satisfied (94.74% very satisfied)

Overall Customer Satisfaction with the Services and Personnel of TSBVI:
97.54% satisfied
86.73% very satisfied

satisfied2

 

Analysis of Findings Regarding Surveys

TSBVI has been assessing customer satisfaction for the last several years in the areas of programs and services, student progress, learning and experience, and with the personnel of the School. The School uses a rating scale from 1-5 with 3 denoted as "satisfactory" as the method for calculating the average number of satisfied customers in each program area. Generally, the rate of satisfaction has been very high, resulting in the Legislative Budget Board recommending that, for many of the surveys, the School instead report the percent of customers who rate the School's services and personnel as "very satisfactory" or above. More information on these performance measures can be found in the External/Internal Assessment section on self-evaluation.

The School has recently initiated surveys of customer satisfaction that include the new statutory customer service quality elements (i.e., facilities, staff, communications, Internet sites, complaint-handling processes, service timeliness, and printed information). These new quality elements will be incorporated into the surveys as they are sent out. At this time, only one survey has been completed that included the new statutory customer service quality elements. The statistically insignificant number of responses does not permit a valid analysis at this point, but there are indications that customers are most satisfied with classroom safety, attractiveness and accessibility; staff knowledge, professionalism and courtesy; the quality of information about the School's services and programs; and the School's Internet site.

Texas School for the Blind and Visually Impaired's
Compact with Texans

Description of Services Offered:

  1. Texas School for the Blind and Visually Impaired (TSBVI) provides, upon request of a local educational agency, a free, appropriate public education for visually impaired children and youth, including those with additional disabilities, when an educational program is needed that is appropriate to their current unique needs.

  2. The School conducts supplemental programs, such as short-term and summer programs, based upon the recommendations from sources throughout the State regarding the nature of those programs and students to be served.

  3. TSBVI provides statewide services to parents of students with visual impairments; school districts; regional education service centers; and other agencies including providing training; consultation and technical assistance; and develops and disseminates reference materials including materials in the areas of curriculum, instructional methodology, and educational technology.

  4. The School provides information related to library resources, adapted materials, current research, technology resources, and teaching, assessment, and transition of students with visual impairments.

  5. TSBVI operates programs for lending educational and technological materials to school districts and regional education service centers.

  6. The Outreach Program facilitates the preparation of teachers for visually impaired students by providing assistance to colleges and universities as well as alternative teacher preparation programs.

  7. TSBVI cooperates with public and private agencies and organizations serving students and other persons with visual impairments in the planning, development, and implementation of effective educational and rehabilitative service delivery systems.

WHO ARE OUR CUSTOMERS?

The Texas School for the Blind and Visually Impaired defines its customers as Local Education Agencies (LEAs), parents and guardians, students with visual impairments, and Education Service Centers (ESCs) from throughout the state of Texas. Each of these populations has a unique relationship with TSBVI, but, in considering our compact with our customers, we find that all groups have common rights. To all of our customers, we pledge our services as follows:

You have the right to:

  • mutual planning with TSBVI to assure the development of programs at TSBVI that are responsive to individual student needs.

  • a clear description of services offered by TSBVI.

  • prompt response to requests for service or information.

  • timeliness in the referral process for regular year programs:
    - response to inquiry within 3 business days.
    - completed LEA application for admission to placement decision within 30 days.
    - notification regarding TSBVI decision on placement within 5 days of decision.

  • being a partner in program planning for individual students.

  • an individually designed curriculum for every student that addresses assessed needs.

  • flexibility to adjust services to meet the individual needs of all customers.

  • residential facilities for students that are safe, healthy, and home-like.

  • a well-kept, attractive and accessible campus that provides an environment that promotes learning.

  • the participation of TSBVI staff in district-led meetings to develop each student's IEP.

  • visiting TSBVI at mutually convenient times.

  • participation in all transition plans and actions.

  • assistance from TSBVI in transition back to local schools.

  • on-site technical assistance available for all visually impaired students attending local schools.

  • special short-term programs in the summer and during the academic year.

  • receive written reports of students' progress on a timely basis at the end of each reporting period.

  • receive notice of and provide written consent for evaluation of your child.

  • provide feedback and suggestions for improvement concerning the School and its services through written surveys.

  • prompt and equitable resolution of complaints in accordance with TSBVI policies.

  • prompt and thorough investigation and resolution of allegations of student abuse, neglect or exploitation.

  • an environment in which dignity is honored, diversity is celebrated, and self-esteem is strengthened.

For Information About TSBVI Programs and Services:

  • The School is located in central Austin at 1100 W. 45th Street. You may contact the School by calling (512) 454-8631 or by fax at (512) 206-9450. A toll-free number on which you may leave messages can be reached by dialing 1-800-TSB-KARE. Individuals who are hard-of-hearing may reach the School through its TDD line at (512) 206-9451.

  • Information on TSBVI programs, services and staff may be found at the School's Internet Web site: www.tsbvi.edu.

  • Information on referrals, admission and the School's instructional and residential programs and services may also be obtained by calling the School's Admissions Director, Catherine Olsen, at (512) 206-9182.

  • Information on Outreach programs throughout the State may be obtained by calling Cyral Miller, Outreach Director, at (512) 206-9242.

To Express Concerns About TSBVI Programs or Services, You May Contact TSBVI's Customer Service Representative:

Susan Houghtling
(512) 206-9233 (office)
(512) 206-9453 (fax)
(e-mail)

Customer-related Performance Measures

Outcome Measures: FY 2000 Projection:

  • Percent of TSBVI customers rating as satisfactory or above the safety, attractiveness, accessibility, and how well classrooms are equipped to promote learning. 90%;

  • Percent of TSBVI customers rating as satisfactory or above the safety, attractiveness, accessibility, and furnishings of the dormitories to promote learning.  80%;

  • Percent of TSBVI customers rating as satisfactory or above the knowledge, professionalism, and courteousness of TSBVI staff.; 90%

  • Percent of TSBVI customers rating as satisfactory or above the timeliness of receipt of student information. 80%;

  • Percent of TSBVI customers rating as satisfactory or above the informativeness and understandability of student information.; 80%;

  • Percent of TSBVI customers rating as satisfactory  or above the timeliness of receipt of information about the School's programs and services. 85%

  • Percent of TSBVI customers rating as satisfactory or above the informativeness and understandability of information about the School's programs and services. 85%

  • Percent of TSBVI customers rating as satisfactory or above the information found in TSBVI's internet site. 95%;

  • Percent of TSBVI complainants rating as satisfactory or above the timeliness and handling of their complaint. 70%

  • Percent of Surveyed Customer Respondents Identifying Ways to Improve Service Delivery. 20%

[Note: The "Percentage of Surveyed Customer Respondents Expressing Overall Satisfaction with Services Received" is measured by the School in several specific surveys described earlier in this appendix .]

Customer-related Output, Efficiency, and Explanatory Measures

Output Measures: FY 2000 Projection

Number of Customers Surveyed (number of surveys received) 1,334

Number of Customers Served: 8,979:

  • Students - direct 452

  • Students - indirect 6,150

  • LEAs with VI students:
    --direct:225
    --indirect:478  

  • ESCs: 20

  • Parents of students-direct: 790 (est.)

  • Parents of students-indirect unknown

  • VI and O & M teachers 617

  • Teachers-in-training 245

  • University teacher prep programs 2

Efficiency Measures: FY 2000 Projection

Cost per Customer Surveyed (includes mail-out expenses & time of staff) $8.36

Explanatory Measures:FY 2000 Projection

Number of Statewide Customers Identified: 19,794

  • 6,602 VI school-age students (0-22 years)

  • 703 LEAs w/VI students registered

  • 11,550 parents(est.)

  • 20 ESCs

  • 617 VI and O & M teachers

  • 55 Braillists

  • 245  Teachers-in-training

  • 2     University teacher preparation programs

Number of Customer Groups Inventoried: 7 (LEAs, ESCs, VI and O/M teachers, students, Braillists, teachers-in-training, and university teacher preparation programs.)

Overview of Agency Scope and Functions

The Texas School for the Blind and Visually Impaired has been established as part of the public education system to serve as a special school in the continuum of statewide alternative placements for students who have a visual impairment. It is also a statewide resource to professionals and parents who serve these children.

Statutory Basis

TEXAS EDUCATION CODE §30.021 - 30.024

These sections of code establish the purpose of the School, its governance by a nine-member board, and specific provisions related to the School's superintendent and its employees.

TEXAS EDUCATION CODE § 30.025

This section establishes the funding sources for the School, including funds appropriated by the Legislature, allocated by the Texas Education Agency, contracts, gifts, and the Foundation School Program.

TEXAS EDUCATION CODE §30.003

This portion of Education Code requires each school district that has students enrolled in the regular school year at the School to share in the cost of the students' education based on each district's total student enrollment and its maintenance and debt service taxes.

TEXAS EDUCATION CODE §30.004

Local school districts are required to provide information about the services available from the School to the families of students who are blind or seriously visually disabled.

INDIVIDUALS WITH DISABILITIES EDUCATION ACT (I.D.E.A.): 20 U.S.C. §1400 - §1485; 34 C.F.R. §300.1 - §301 and §104

This federal law and its accompanying regulations require the provision of a free, appropriate public education in the least restrictive environment to all children with disabilities in accord with a written "Individual Education Plan" for each student. It also provides for parent participation in this process and guarantees certain due process rights to the student and to the family of a student with a disability.

 TEXAS ADMINISTRATIVE CODE - EDUCATION. 19 T.A.C. §89.240

This particular section of Administrative Code - Education (State Bd. of Education Rules) specifies the functions and admission procedures of the School. 

TEXAS ADMINISTRATIVE CODE - EDUCATION. 19 T.A.C. 61 ff.

The chapters in this part of Texas Administrative Code govern public education in Texas. The School is regulated by most of these provisions because it is part of the public education system of Texas.

Historical Perspective

1856  The School was established by the Texas Legislature as the Texas Institute for the Blind. The original campus was located at present day "Little Campus" of the University of Texas - Austin.

1915  The School's name was changed to the Texas School for the Blind.

1917  The School moved to its present 45-acre campus on West 45th Street in Austin.

1965  The School for Deaf, Blind, & Orphans (Afro-American students) was integrated into the Texas School for the Blind.

1974  A special program for deafblind children was initiated in response to the needs of children affected by rubella syndrome. The program was begun at a separate campus, formerly the Confederate Widows' Mansion, on West 38th in the Hyde Park neighborhood of Austin.

1975  The Texas Legislature enacted H.B. 1673 adding statewide responsibilities to the School's enabling statutes and mission. Governance of the School was transferred from the Texas Education Agency to a subcommittee of the Texas State Board of Education.

U.S. Congress enacted the Education of All Handicapped Children Act, significantly impacting the provision of special education services to children, guaranteeing a free, appropriate public education to all handicapped children in the least restrictive environment. One effect on the School was an increase in the number of children with multiple disabilities requesting the services of this school.

1981 The governance of the school was transferred to a separate nine-member school board whose members are appointed by the governor with the consent of the senate.

The Deafblind program moved onto the main campus of the School.

1989 The School was given its current name, Texas School for the Blind and Visually Impaired in order to reflect more accurately the population it serves.

1990 The School consolidated and expanded its outreach services into a separate division.

1994 Summer school programs were expanded to include multiple sessions with varying focuses and durations in response to needs expressed by the parents and educators of visually impaired children in public schools.

2000 The School initiated a series of new short-term programs during the regular school year. Students who attend their local public school came to TSBVI for week-long and weekend programs to acquire skills in living independently and using specialized computer technology.

Affected Populations 

  • Blind, visually impaired, and deafblind children and youth of school age who are Texas residents;
  • Secondary and elementary school teachers and other professionals throughout Texas in either regular or special education who serve students with blindness and severe visual impairment; 
  • Parents of children with a visual impairment, including children with additional disabilities; 
  • State and local agencies serving children with a visual impairment. (Examples: Local school districts and special education cooperatives, the Texas Education Agency, the Texas Department of Assistive and Rehabilitative Services (formerly known as Texas Commision for the Blind) , Regional Education Service Centers).

Main Functions: Direct and Outreach Services 

  • To provide, upon request of a local educational agency, a free, appropriate public education for the unique needs of visually impaired children and youth, including those with additional disabilities.
  • To conduct supplemental programs, such as summer and other short-term programs, and to consider information from sources throughout the State regarding the nature of those programs and the needs of students.
  • To provide statewide services to parents of students with visual impairments, school districts, regional education service centers, and other agencies. These services include training, consultation, technical assistance, and developing and disseminating materials such as curriculum, instructional methodology, and educational technology.
  • To provide information related to library resources, adapted materials, current research, technology resources, and methods related to the teaching, assessment, and transition of students with visual impairments.
  • To operate programs for lending educational and technological materials to school districts and regional education service centers.
  • To facilitate the preparation of teachers for visually impaired students by providing assistance to colleges and universities as well as alternative teacher preparation programs.
  • To cooperate with public and private agencies and organizations serving students and other persons with visual impairments in the planning, development, and implementation of effective educational and rehabilitative service delivery systems.
Public's Perception

To the state's educational system, we are:

  • a valuable educational resource for direct services to children with blindness and visual impairment;
  • an expert source of information and training regarding education of students with visual impairments;
  • a source of expert consultation regarding the educational needs of individual children;
  • a significant option within the legally required array of services for blind students;
  • an opportunity for student teachers and interns to acquire the skills necessary to become effective teachers, therapists, social workers, orientation and mobility instructors, and other professionals knowledgeable in the field of visual impairment and blindness.

To blind and visually handicapped youth, we are:

  • a school staffed and equipped to meet their specific needs related to their visual impairment;
  • an opportunity to learn the intellectual, social, independent living, and vocational skills necessary to become independent and effective citizens.

To parents of blind children and youth, we are:

  • a source of information about the impact of vision loss on learning, and the potential educational needs of students because of vision loss;
  • a source of assistance and training in how to enhance the life opportunities for their children;
  • a safe and caring environment which provides their children with their best chance for acquiring the skills necessary to live as full a life as possible.
To the general public, we are:
  • a source of information on blindness and teaching children with visual disabilities;
  • a source of information on where to obtain services related to visual loss;
  • a source of information about the capabilities and needs of blind and visually impaired persons;
  • a well-established, attractive campus which does "good things" for blind children in a caring and non-institutional way; a good neighbor.

Organizational Aspects

Size and Composition of Workforce  

The staff of the Texas School for the Blind and Visually Impaired is comprised of 428 budgeted full- and part-time positions, totaling 381.87 FTEs. Of the FTEs, 305.43 are classified and one, the Superintendent, is line-item exempt. The remaining 75.44 are teachers, principals, counselors, and other educational positions which, by statute (Texas Education Code 30.024(b)(1)), are paid in accordance with Austin Independent School District pay scales for comparable positions.

Among the classified positions, the single largest staff group (110.83 FTEs) consists of residential instructors. Classified as House parents, these are the staff that provide care, instruction, and supervision of students in their non-school hours. Other classified positions range from nurses to maintenance mechanics, from accountants to technology specialists. Our singe-campus-based workforce is a small community with nearly every occupational field represented.

The ethnic composition of the staff is as follows: White - 74%; Black - 12%; Hispanic - 12%; and other minorities - 2%. Women are 67% of the work force.

Organizational Structure and Processes

The School is governed by a nine-member consumer Board of Trustees which is appointed by the Governor and confirmed by the senate. The Board is composed of three members who are blind or visually impaired, at least one of whom has received educational services related to the blindness or visual impairment; three members who are working or have worked as professionals in the field of delivering services to persons who are blind or visually impaired; and three members, each of whom is the parent of a child who is blind or visually impaired, and at least one of whom is the parent of a child who, at the time of the parent's appointment, is receiving educational services related to the blindness or visual impairment.

The Board of Trustees appoints the Superintendent as the chief administrative officer of the School. The Superintendent administers the School's direct service programs through one Principal for Comprehensive Programs, one Principal for Special Programs, a Director of Outreach Services, and a Director of School and Student Services.

In the Comprehensive Program, students are assigned to one of five curricular strands with cross-over occurring among three of these strands. These curricular strands are: (1) Basic Skills: for severely multiply impaired, visually impaired students; (2) Early Concepts: for students under the age of 12, functioning significantly behind their age peers, but with evidence of academic potential; (3) Functional Academics: for students over age 12, who learn academic, domestic, recreational, social and vocational skills through functional, community-based activities; (4) Applied Academics: for students over age 12, with a functional academics with vocational emphasis during high school; and (5) Academic: for students of all ages who are able to follow SBOE essential elements. All five strands are supervised by one principal.

The Principal of the Comprehensive Program supervises both instructional and residential components for the students enrolled.

The Principal for Special Programs supervises all summer programs and develops and provides short-term programs during the school year.

The Director of Outreach coordinates services that are provided to students statewide. These services are provided to parents and professionals through training, consultation, and technical assistance.

The School and Student Services Department provides a variety of educational support functions such as school planning, policy development, admissions, records, staff development, health services, community resource development, and library/media services.

In the area of administrative support functions, the Superintendent supervises the Administrator for Business, Operations and Technology and the Director of Human Resources.

The management style of the School is most accurately characterized as participative. The School has adopted a "site-based decision making" model for planning, implementing, and evaluating its programs. All stakeholders are involved in this process through representation in either instructional programs or the school wide Instructional Planning Council. Additionally, the Superintendent and Principals maintain an open-door policy for all staff.

The School is also assisted in its policy-making activities by an educational policy service provided through the Texas Association of School Boards. This service allows the School to consider the applicability of legally based and model school policies as developed by legal and educational policy experts, then adapt and adopt those that are appropriate.

Geographical Location

The School has a single location in Austin but serves students from throughout Texas. About one-half of TSBVI's students are along the IH-35 and IH-10 corridors; the others' homes are scattered throughout the State. This geographical fact complicates the logistics of transporting students to and from the School, which is especially problematic since the School strongly believes that students attending a residential school should maintain the closest possible ties with their families, and travel home as often as possible.

The geography of Texas also presents special challenges for the School's Department of Outreach Services, the component of the school which provides services statewide to parents and professionals who work with students who have visual impairments, other additional impairments, and deafblind students. A great deal of travel is required for these individuals to benefit from the type of hands-on training and consultation that Outreach Services provides.

A major issue related to the geographic size of Texas is that, in meeting the mandates of our mission, we must send Outreach staff and other professionals to many distant locations in the state. Also, we often must bring parents and their children to our school site. In addition, our weekends home program, which assures the opportunity of every student to return to home and family every weekend, is a vital but expensive part of our program. Therefore, the geography of Texas impacts us in two ways. First, it profoundly affects our staff travel budget, making it difficult, if not impossible, to stay within a travel cap. Secondly, our Weekends Home program is a significant part of our operating budget.

Location of Service Populations

The School performs its mission to students with visual impairments, parents, local school districts, and other professionals throughout the state. Student enrollment in regular year programs, special programs and summer programs represents the entire geography of Texas. Outreach services are also provided on a statewide basis by linking with all 20 of the Education Service Centers. A new initiative is being planned to enhance communication between parents and teachers using teleconferencing equipment. The School's first efforts will be with parents and professionals in Region I Education Service Center, serving the lower Rio Grande Valley.

The School will continue to be a partner with universities to recruit and train teachers for the visually impaired in high-need areas of Texas. Currently, TSBVI is collaborating with Stephen F. Austin University through Prairie View College in East Texas and also with Texas Tech University through Pan-American University in the Rio Grande Valley.

The "See/Hear Newsletter" produced by TSBVI in collaboration with Texas Department of Assistive and Rehabilitative Services (formerly known as Texas Commision for the Blind) is available in Spanish both on the web and in print for Spanish speaking families.

The Outreach Program pays for Spanish or sign language interpreters for workshops that the School sponsors to make them more accessible.

Human Resources Strengths and Weaknesses

We continue to believe that our greatest human resource strength is a staff that is deeply committed to a high quality, individualized education for visually impaired students in the most appropriate setting. The professional staff of the School represents an unparalleled concentration of knowledge, skill, and expertise in the field of education of the visually impaired. Although special education teachers in general and teachers of the visually impaired in particular are in great demand, TSBVI has been relatively successful in attracting professional staff, in part, we believe, because of the reputation of existing staff.

However, the School currently employs 19 teachers who do not hold Texas teacher certification in the education of visually impaired students. This number has increased in recent years because the University of Texas-Austin no longer has such a teacher preparation program, and because the national pool of available teachers continues to shrink every year. Our best solution for this problem is to obtain additional funds to pay tuition, travel, and materials for selected teachers to acquire certification in visual impairments.

Like many other government and service sector employers in Austin, we are experiencing less success in attracting and retaining staff in paraprofessional, clerical, and manual jobs, which is one of our current weaknesses. We are continuing to develop career progression programs (career ladders and paths) for different categories of staff, with the goal of eventually having such a program for virtually every type of classified employee at our school. So far, we have implemented systems of career ladders and/or paths for residential instructors, teaching assistants, maintenance technicians, and outreach staff. We are currently working on programs for clerical support staff, cooks, custodians, and grounds workers. The only barrier to the full and immediate implementation of career progression programs for all staff is limited fiscal resources. We have had to implement these programs in stages as we were able to identify funds with which to do so.

We have both strengths and weaknesses in the area of human resource development. We are continuing to provide regular training in basic areas such as new employee orientation, CPR, defensive driving, and behavior management. We are also continuing to provide a year-long training program on visual impairment for paraprofessional and professional staff who are not certified teachers of the visually impaired. The School is somewhat limited by the fact that we have only one FTE assigned to agency wide staff development. It is often necessary to call on the skills of staff who are not primarily trainers in order to expand the offerings of human resource development.

We are beginning to explore ways to stretch this resource further with technology such as web-based training, interactive videoconferencing, and satellite downlink of training which can be offered live or taped for later training. In FY 1999 we received a Technology Integration in Education (TIE) grant that allowed us to do extensive training of direct care staff in computer applications related to their job functions. The same grant permitted us to build a state-of-the-art distance learning facility.

School wide staff development activities are augmented by regular, specialized training for groups of staff at the departmental level. The instructional and residential programs provide staff development training throughout the school year related to curriculum, instructional methods, and other topics directed at improving instruction and learning

Attracting a culturally diverse workforce at professional and administrative levels continues to be a challenge for TSBVI. A major difficulty in this area is that the largest subgroup of our professional staff is made up of teachers of the visually impaired. The visually impaired (VI) teaching certification is also the credential required for most of the high level administrative positions, yet it is known that there is a very small number of minorities in Texas who hold this credential. Efforts are currently underway, as part of our school's outreach program, to facilitate alternative means to obtain the VI teaching credential, which should make that credential more accessible to all segments of the population. This project's plan includes the strategies of recruiting individuals with culturally diverse backgrounds and involving universities that, historically, have had culturally diverse populations

Capital Asset Strengths, Weaknesses and Budgetary Needs

Facilities, Furniture, and Equipment

The TSBVI campus consists of fifty structures located on approximately forty-five acres of land owned and maintained by the School. The buildings range in size from 80 square feet to 65,960 square feet for a total of 305,674 square feet. The buildings meet the needs of TSBVI in the following areas:

1) classrooms; 2) dormitories; 3) administration; 4) food service; 5) maintenance; and 6) storage.

The greatest weakness of the School's facilities is the age of the buildings. The School has developed a long-range plan for the renovation, repair or replacement of its facilities. The renovation of the first two student dormitories will be completed by May 2000. The 76th Legislature appropriated funds to renovate two more dormitories and construction will soon begin. The School will need to request funds from the legislature for the following projects: continue the renovation of the remaining student living quarters; replace old manufactured homes serving as student residences; replace an aged swimming pool; renovate the School's library and auditorium; repair the maintenance warehouse; repair roofs, plumbing systems, and lighting; expand parking; install curb cuts and ramps; repair sidewalks; and replace two aging vans and a school bus. Long-term needs include the replacement of the following: the largest school building; the elementary residential complex; old furniture in schools, dormitories, parents' visitor quarters, and offices; playgrounds; and automatic doors for fire protection and wheelchair access.

Vehicles

TSBVI owns, operates, and maintains 23 vehicles. Twenty-two are used to transport students and staff for the educational and residential programs. The other vehicle is used for operations functions including maintenance, the warehouse, and food service. Nine of these vehicles are converted to alternative fuels. The School has a long-range plan for the replacement of vehicles used in support of instruction.

The School's vehicles accrue high mileage due to transporting students to and from their homes, and to and from students' work and learning sites in the community. In the coming biennium, four vans or 2 mini buses, and a full-size school bus will be needed for the transportation of students. If new vehicles are not added to the fleet, our ability to meet instructional goals and objectives will be negatively impacted.

Instructional Technology and Equipment

The School possesses a broad array of specialized equipment and electronic technologies to assist students acquire knowledge and skills. Often children are referred to the School in order to benefit from instruction in the use of this specialized equipment. The School also maintains a loan program to provide electronic technology and software to students in local schools as part of the "Technology Loan Program" operated by TSBVI. The 76th> Legislature appropriated funds in each year of the current biennium for the purchase of instructional technology. The need to replace outdated equipment and to procure the latest adaptive technology will continue. The current level of funding will allow the School to accomplish this.

Additionally, educators and parents throughout the state seek information and training from TSBVI in the use of this technology for students with visual impairments. Short-term programs complement the local education program and provide several technology-oriented programs utilizing the expertise, adaptive equipment and network capabilities available at TSBVI. As the school develops internal network and distance education resources, other program offerings are possible.

The School has a continuing need for additional and updated instructional technology to replace outmoded equipment; to secure additional equipment for use by students enrolled in the School; and for students in public schools utilizing the "Technology Loan Program". For the most efficient use and functional application of new software available for students, continued upgrade and acquisition of equipment is necessary. Students need reliable access to electronic and other adapted technology designed specifically for people with visual impairments so that they can thrive in their vocational pursuit. Examples include portable electronic Braille devices with speech and computer output; communication devices for children with multiple disabilities, deafblindness, speech impairments, and other mental or physical disabilities; and closed-circuit television (CCTV) setups that enable low vision students to view regular print, pictures, and other items enlarged on a video monitor.

Technology Staff Development and Distance Education

In fiscal year 1999, the School received a Technology Integration in Education (TIE) grant. These funds procured computers, software, and adapted devices. The grant also funded extensive training for instructional staff in the use of electronic hardware, software, and adapted devices.

The TIE grant also funded the creation of a distance learning facility. The conference center was retrofitted to enable the School to serve its clients throughout the state by way of videoconferencing, web-based training, and other distance education technologies. These capabilities allow the School to enhance the learning of children with visual impairments throughout Texas. The technology allows the School to provide valuable information about curriculum, materials, technology, teaching strategies, and training to professionals, parents, and to other interested individuals, school districts, and agencies. The Outreach department continues to exploit every means possible to educate professionals and provide services to support the local district instructional program. As a member of the Esconett consortium, we have access to other state and university facilities through the Region XIII Educational Service Center in Austin. Such technology can provide information, training and follow-up and also reduce the time and cost of travel.

The School has used the Technology Integration in Education grant awarded by the Texas Education Agency in fiscal year 1998 to develop and deploy distance education programs. The capability of teleconferencing media enables the School to enhance the learning of children with visual impairments throughout Texas. Through this technology the School provides valuable information about curriculum, materials, technology, teaching strategies, and pre-service training to professionals, parents, and other interested individuals by creating electronic links to regional education service centers, school districts, institutions of higher education, and other agencies. Such technology can provide information, training, and follow-up while reducing the time and expense of travel. 

A weakness in the current distance education system is the lack of a statewide uniform standard for schools, service centers, higher education facilities, and TSBVI to communicate directly via teleconferencing. This problem is under study and solutions appear feasible. At this time, it is unknown whether there might be some additional cost to participate in any future statewide teleconferencing and distance education activities.

Infrastructure Technology

Over the past 5 years, fiber optic network infrastructure has been installed in all areas of the 42-acre campus. Network access and the related capabilities such as electronic mail and web access for all staff and students has proven valuable to coordinate the various program components and to integrate our service delivery between departments. Standardization of wiring and installation will provide an easier transition to 100MB networking with greater reliability.

New software is required to support the various functions of the staff and administration in conducting school business. The School's VAX computer system supports e-mail, student records, demographic databases, admissions functions, strategic planning and evaluation. The requirements of state government for electronic documents related to school data, accounting, budgeting, and grant applications require the continual upgrade of equipment and technical environment.

A key element for this planning period is the migration of the software on the VMS-based VAX 4000-200 processor to a Windows NT-based server environment. The school will continue to support servers for networked clients and local area network (LAN-based) applications. Upgrade of the technical environment will be focused on increasing network bandwidth to support to the various distance education and instructional needs. Current migration planning schedules the VAX computer to be de-installed in fiscal year 2003. Software to replace the VMS-based applications is scheduled for purchase or will be developed in-house.

Additional resources will be needed to continue the implementation of the School's Information Resources Strategic Plan. The needs include software development tools, improved firewall protection for security, and software upgrades for routers that handle management software. Additional hardware and software is needed to meet the projected demand for more server capacity, i.e., memory upgrades, processor upgrades, server systems software, and back-up media. Resources are also needed to ensure that there is adequate training for instructional, administrative, and support staff in the use of technology. Finally, there is a need to replace the School's analog phones with digital phones.

TSBVI needs to continue expansion and development of the TSBVI web-site. The school's Web site of (WWW.TSBVI.EDU) has been tremendously successful and is considered one of the best resources for VH education. Many departments, particularly Outreach and Curriculum, use the Web site as a critical element of service delivery. Continued development of the Web site is indicated with expansion of web features to provide information interchange with consumers.

Agency Use of Historically Underutilized Businesses (HUBs)

The Texas School for the Blind and Visually Impaired has been making a good faith effort to award purchase contracts to certified HUBs. We are using the automated HUB directory provided by the General Services Commission as the primary reference list to identify minority and women-owned businesses. On every purchase order over $1,000, the School requests at least one bid from a minority-owned business and at least one bid from a woman-owned business. On orders under $1,000, every effort is made to purchase from a HUB, provided that the HUB provides the best and lowest bid.

Key Organizational Events and Areas of Change and Impact on Organization

In the Spring of 1997, TSBVI recognized an urgent need to develop a comprehensive Strategic Plan that would retain and strengthen the School's leadership as we enter the 21st century. TSBVI has been called upon to assume new roles in recent years. The population of blind and visually impaired students is continually changing, as is the capability of local school districts to provide at least a portion of the educational programs for these children.

TSBVI initiated an external administrative audit. The recommendations from this process confirmed our need to embark upon a more comprehensive, ongoing strategic planning process that would serve to guide the School in making decisions now, in planning for the future, and that would incorporate the planning components required of the School as a state agency and as a school. (Agency Strategic Plan, District Improvement Plan, Information Resources Management Strategic Plan, School Technology Plan). We continue to benefit from this process.

The process began with a stakeholder's meeting in July, 1997. Parents, former students, representatives from local school districts, and leaders from TEA joined members of the TSBVI staff in a meeting that explored the future, the potential, and the responsibilities of TSBVI for the coming years. Subsequently, large and small meetings and work sessions have taken place almost weekly, involving all of the TSBVI staff, its Board of Trustees, and external stakeholders.

In August, 1998, we had completed a Strategic Plan that was flexible, dynamic, and defined the immediate future of TSBVI. Many of our changes were reflected in the performance objectives contained in our previous Strategic Plan. Major efforts of this Plan, which has been very successful, included:

  • A commitment, clearly defined in our Plan, to the Core Curriculum for Blind and Visually
  • Impaired Students, including those with additional disabilities.
  • Expansion of career education, including paid employment, on- and off-campus.
  • A vocational program designed specifically for students at the functional academic level.
  • Other programs designed for populations with specific needs, such as daily living skills, orientation and mobility, social skills, and remedial braille.
  • Expansion of services for families with preschool blind and visually impaired children.
  • Further emphasis on assisting local school districts in examining the quality of services they provide children who are visually impaired.
  • Enhance the visibility of TSBVI by celebrating the achievements of our students.

These are ongoing strategies that will be continued in the next biennium. Added to these is the provision for short-term programs during the academic year, an emphasis on long-term facilities planning, additions to summer programs in specific skill-building, and continued expansion of outreach services.

A Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) completed in 1999 between TSBVI and the Texas Education Agency has resulted in a document that will be of great assistance in measuring student outcomes at our school, and that will enable TSBVI to participate in the public education accreditation process.

TSBVI now has two subcontracts with an Education Service Center resulting in a substantial expansion of our roles. We provide an Instructional Materials Center for the entire state; we manage statewide registration of all blind and visually impaired students; and we provide technology assistance for all teachers and parents of visually impaired children in Texas. Our most recent expansion is to assume a major role in the preparation of teachers for visually impaired students. We are working in collaboration with Stephen F. Austin University and Texas Tech University on a project whose goal is to eliminate the shortage of teachers for blind and visually impaired students in Texas.

Fiscal Aspects

Size of Budget and Method of Finance - Fiscal Years 1999 and 2000

DESCRIPTION

FY 1999 Budget 

FY 2000 Budget INCREASE/
DECREASE
 

 


   
OPERATING BUDGET RESOURCES


General Revenue - Regular & Emergency Appropriations

9,998,560

10,255,639 257,079
Educational Professional Salary Increases, Estimated

-

370,000 370,000
Classified - $100 per Month Increase - Article IX, Estimated

-

320,000 320,000
Curriculum Book Sales - Prior Year

-

38,372 38,372
Curriculum Book Sales - Current Year

120,643

140,951 20,308
USDA Meal Reimbursements

77,000

70,000 (7,000)
Medicaid SHARS Reimbursements

100,000

100,000 -
Medicaid Administrative Claims

-

75,000 75,000
School District Travel Reimbursements

-

20,000 20,000
Per Capita Carryforward for Settlements & Judgements

100,000

100,000 -
Per Capita Carryforward - Other

204,538

146,055 (58,483)
Per Capita - Current Year Receipts - Available School Fund

40,251

34,025 (6,226)
Per Capita - Current Year Receipts - Foundation School Fund

28,109

28,109 -
Local District Payments - Foundation School Fund

321,421

328,122 6,701
Technology Allotment - Textbook Fund

4,025

4,025 -
Canteen Receipts

22,000

22,000 -
Vending Machine Receipts

16,000

16,000 -
Health Department Aides

31,668

34,536 2,868
Asbestos Settlement

12,113

- (12,113)
Low Vision Assessment

3,000

3,000 -
Housing Receipts

6,000

6,000 -
Meal Ticket Sales

6,000

9,000 3,000
Magic Years (Day Care) Rental Receipts

3,658

3,658 -
Surplus and Salvage Sales

5,000

5,000 -
Work/Study Reimbursements

3,000

- (3,000)

TOTAL - OPERATING BUDGET RESOURCES

11,102,986 12,129,492 1,026,506
       
CAPITAL BUDGET RESOURCES      
Capital Budget - Technology Upgrades

63,000

63,000 -
Capital Budget - Van Purchase

19,000

17,298 (1,702)
Capital Budget - Lease Payment, Telephone System

35,649

35,486 (163)
Capital Budget - Lease Payment, School Bus

16,000

17,702 1,702
Replace Classroom Floor Tile

98,326

- (98,326)
Remodel Staff Cottage to Group Home

11,626

- (11,626)
Dorms D and E Renovations

1,393,428

- (1,393,428)
Renovate Kitchen and Dining Room

95,000

- (95,000)
Renovate Primary Power Grid

44,000

- (44,000)
Capital Budget - Dorm F Renovation

-

728,166 728,166
Capital Budget - Maintain & Renovate Aging Facilities

-

80,125 80,125
Capital Budget - Technology Infrastructure Upgrade

-

77,500 77,500
Capital Budget - Instructional Materials

-

214,600 214,600
Capital Budget - School Bus & 4 Vans

-

205,000 205,000
TIFB - Technology Infrastructure Fund

-

40,000 40,000
Sale of Ave. A property by TCB

-

400,000 400,000

TOTAL - CAPITAL BUDGET RESOURCES

1,776,029 1,878,877 102,848
       
GRANT AND CONTRACT RESOURCES


Y2K, Article IX Funding

24,200

- (24,200)
Region XIII/Drug Free Schools

800

800 -
T.I.E. (Technology Integration in Education)

530,022

- (530,022)
ESEA Title VI

875

875 -
IDEA-B Formula

56,335

106,930 50,595
CAWF/TCB - Intro to Work

37,435

32,400 (5,035)
TCB - SWEAT

63,894

59,886 (4,008)
TCB - WALIC

32,800

27,744 (5,056)
IDEA-B Discretionary

114,403

17,273 (97,130)
Outreach Conference Accounts

35,000

35,000 -
Region XI Agreement - Statewide Services

313,544

267,977 (45,567)
SSVI Supplemental Services - Outreach

75,377

58,695 (16,682)
SSVI Supplemental Services - Summer School Enrichment

40,000

34,620 (5,380)
IDEA-C Deafblind

302,601

427,619 125,018
Region XI Agreement - Teacher Preparation

312,279

233,484 (78,795)
Research Planning Account

5,168

5,168 -
National Agenda Account

95

95 -
Texas Learning Technology Group

1,592

1,592 -
Junior League

117

117 -
Hoblitzelle FoundationTechnology Loan Account

9,972

9,972 -
Private Sector Technology Loan Account

2,100

2,100 -
Workers' Compensation Account for Federal Grants

3,494

3,494 -
Unemployment Compensation Account for Federal Grants

4,545

4,545 -
TCB Family Training Contract

136,183

139,071 2,888

TOTAL - GRANT AND CONTRACT RESOURCES

2,102,831 1,469,457 (633,374)
       

 

Per Capita and Other States' Comparisons

As compared to other forms of special education programming, including schools for the blind in other states, TSBVI has neither the highest cost per pupil nor the lowest. It provides resources to children in direct proportion to the needs of each individual student. To simply divide the budget for TSBVI by the number of students enrolled in the regular academic programs provides spurious information. Cost per pupil at each school for the blind in the United States is determined by a variety of factors:

  • The characteristics of students served. TSBVI has accepted as part of its mission the provision of educational services to very challenging visually impaired students with additional disabilities. Consequently, the School serves a disproportionately large number of these students. These students require extensive human and material resources.
  • Economic factors of the community. Austin-area school districts have a relatively high salary structure compared to many parts of the State, requiring teacher salary schedules that tend to increase the costs of a school such as TSBVI.
  • The mission to serve as a model program that demonstrates best practices for visually impaired students to others in the State who serve similar students. This mission requires an excellent staff of teachers and support services who provide cutting-edge services to students served in this manner.
  • The age and condition of each campus. A rapidly aging campus requires that TSBVI invest in maintenance and repair to a greater extent than newer campuses.
  • The commitment to serve students through intensive, short-term programming. Maintaining this commitment requires quality, intensive services combined with high levels of transition service training of local education staff.

Other significant costs to the TSBVI budget include:

  • A large summer enrichment program serves blind and visually impaired students who attend local public schools during the regular school year.
  • Outreach services provides indirect services to visually impaired students throughout the state of Texas by increasing the skills of their teachers and parents.
  • Staff development provides training in skills unique to the needs of visually impaired students (including those with additional disabilities) and assures that services provided at the School reflect the most current state-of-the-art interventions. This includes training employees of TSBVI and serving as a professional preparation program for the entire state. The unique nature of the School's student population requires very specialized staff development. Often, this training requires expenditures for travel, conferences, and workshops.
  • Instructional materials and technology for blind and visually impaired students require adaptation by changing print into the appropriate medium or modifying the materials for visual, tactile, or auditory access. The cost of commercially adapted materials is high in comparison to materials for non-visually impaired students. Not all needs can be met through commercial materials; therefore, many materials must be developed by our staff, requiring time and the materials.
  • Curriculum development includes participation by the School's direct-care staff during times that extend beyond their regular hours. The curricula developed are widely used by professionals throughout the country.
  • Intensive, short-term programs, with a very low pupil-teacher ratio, are needed for students with visual impairments who are enrolled in public schools during the regular school year. Nationwide, there is growing evidence that students with disabilities can best succeed in inclusive educational settings if they also have the opportunity to receive specialized instruction in areas specific to their disabilities.

Budgetary Limitations

A major budgetary limitation is the reduction in staff travel expenses mandated by the last legislature. The School will be requesting a waiver from the travel expense limitation for travel directly related to providing services described in the School's mission and strategic plan. Our legislated mission states that the School provide technical assistance and information and referral services for families of, and programs serving, children with visual impairments and children with deafblindness, through preservice, inservice and family services programs. Our Strategic Plan is congruent with this mission. For example, one of our key performance measures is the "Number of On-Site Visits" provided as part of the School's outreach services. An across-the-board reduction to reduce state travel expenditures should not be applied to this strategy, as it is obvious that the two goals are in direct conflict with one another.

Degree to Which Current Budget Meets Current and Expected Needs

General Issues

The current budget is sufficient to provide the present level of services described in the School's mission. This mission includes the provision of an instructional and residential program during the regular school year, and the provision of outreach services throughout the State. Funds for major capital expenditures have been provided for the initial phase of dormitory renovations and for replacement of school buses. The 76th Legislature also permitted the School to request increased funding for instructional technology within its base budget request. This appropriation has been a significant benefit to the education of children with visual impairments, and the School will request that this funding be continued.

Current Program Initiatives

TSBVI is proud of the initiatives it has undertaken by creatively allocating the resources appropriated by the legislature or secured by the School from other sources. These new or expanded initiatives include:

  • Short-term Special Programs provided during the regular school year to meet the special needs of students with visual impairments who attend their local public schools.
  • Extensive staff development provided to teachers in the use of electronic technology applications to enhance student learning [Technology Integration in Education (TIE) grant].
  • Creation of a distance education facility to enhance internal and external staff development, and communication with parents and local service providers. [Technology Integration in Education (TIE) grant].
  • Joint development with TEA of a comprehensive system to measure student learning in fulfillment of a memorandum of understanding directed by the legislature.
  • A collaborative teacher preparation program implemented with Stephen F. Austin University, Texas Tech University, and Region XI Education Service Center to help reduce the state's shortage of teachers for students with visual disabilities. (TEA state-appropriated funds).
  • Curriculum published in the areas of functional academics and career education, and development begun for a braille curriculum.
  • Instructional technology placed in all classrooms for instructional use.
  • Improvement of administrative technology: old hardware and software upgraded, administrative operating systems moved to Windows NT environment, and fiber optic cable installed in additional buildings.
  • Employment of a trainer to support staff development in the use of computer hardware and software.
  • Expansion of the School's web site as a resource for teachers, parents, and other professionals throughout Texas.
  • Creation of a parent education program in collaboration with the Texas Department of Assistive and Rehabilitative Services (formerly known as Texas Commision for the Blind) , the National Federation of the Blind and the National Association for Parents of the Visually Impaired.
  • Expansion of outreach services for parents with pre-school blind and visually impaired children.
  • Expansion of the Weekends Home Program to include all students and their families.
  • Expansion of career education to include more opportunities for paid employment on and off campus.
  • Expansion of career guidance activities, including teaching students to use the Internet as an information source.
  • Implementation of a community-based program for older students emphasizing skills necessary for working and living in the community (EXIT Program).
  • Expansion of transition services to support students, their parents, local schools, and other community resources in effecting successful transition from TSBVI to their local communities.
  • Implementation of a career ladder for residential instructors, teaching assistants, maintenance technicians, office support staff, and outreach staff.
  • Completion of the total renovation of two dormitories.
  • Replacement of 1 school bus and 3 busettes.
  • Increased recognition for the achievements of our students in the public media.

Degree to Which Current Budget Does Not Meet Current and Expected Needs

General Issues

The basic trend in appropriations for the Texas School for the Blind and Visually Impaired for the past several legislative sessions has resulted in a decrease in funds available for operating expenses. Operating expenses (e.g. utilities) have increased due to inflation. Salary costs have increased due to a limited implementation of career ladders and merit pay. Program costs have increased to implement new initiatives and to meet the needs of students with increasingly complex disabilities. These are significant, recurring costs that impact future budgets. Any cost increases have to be funded by decreases in funds previously available for operating expenses. 

The limitation on agency appropriation requests to prior-year expenditure levels has resulted in our School submitting an unrealistic base budget with extensive exceptional item requests.

It is becoming increasingly more difficult to maintain the aging facilities of the School. One of the School's highest priorities is a commitment from the legislature to provide capital budget funds for the continued renovation of the School's facilities over the next 5 to 7 years. Future planning might benefit greatly from the professional services of a facility planner to assist us in determining which buildings should be renovated and which buildings should be replaced. As a state agency with direct appropriations from the legislature, the School is totally dependent upon funding from the legislature for capital improvement funding. Because TSBVI does not have a capacity to assess taxes, as do public schools, the School is without the authority to issue bonds to build new buildings.

The School has conducted marketing surveys of its customers and stakeholders, both internal and statewide. It is clear that the School needs to initiate both new and expanded programs identified by stakeholders and clients as areas of great need for blind and visually impaired children in Texas.

Based on all these facts, TSBVI has identified 4 major areas in which the School's budget does not meet current and expected needs. They will be presented in our next legislative appropriations request as four exceptional item categories.

Current and Expected Needs - Exceptional Items

Growing Demands for Services:

Short-term Programs

The School seeks to expand an ongoing series of short, intensive classes focusing on specialized areas relating to vision loss. Students attending these special classes at TSBVI will receive instruction in a small number of carefully chosen objectives that include criteria by which student success will be measured. Depending on the subject, classes may vary in length from weekends, to one or two weeks, to a semester. All students will return to their local schools at the end of each short program.

Such programs allow students to remain in their local schools, which is more cost effective; continue to learn the State's general curriculum; and yet still have the opportunity to learn those special skills in the core curriculum for students with a visual impairment. Through short courses, TSBVI hopes to strengthen its partnerships with local schools, so that together, we can fully meet the needs of all visually impaired students in Texas. In this way, TSBVI supports, but does not duplicate, local school services. For many years, teachers and parents have asked TSBVI to develop models for short blocks of instruction coupled with a fast return to the local schools.

TSBVI initiated these short-term programs during the 1999-2000 school year on a pilot basis. The success of this pilot program demonstrates to the School and to its customers that this type of service delivery model needs to be expanded. It is effective and cost efficient. It is increasingly clear to us that this program model may well be one of the most important services that the school can provide now and in the future.

Outreach Technology Teacher

The School has had only one teacher with expertise to assist families and educational programs statewide in the instruction applications of technology since 1990. Since that time, the amount of technology for student use has vastly increased, while comparable expertise of VI teachers has not kept pace. The requests for assistance have overwhelmed the lone Outreach Program teacher's time, forcing delays in assistance, cut backs on training and assessments, and inability to meet in a timely manner the urgent pleas for assistance. An additional technology teacher is needed to meet the needs of the School's constituents.

Reallocation of Residential Instructors in the State Schedule of Classified Positions

The State Classification Office (SCO) is recommending to the legislature that the Houseparent series by renamed Residential Specialist, that the first two levels be reallocated from salary groups A6 and A8 to A7 and A9, and that a fourth level at A13 be added. Should the legislature adopt the SCO's recommendations without providing funds to support these classification changes the School would have to reduce staff/student ratios to inappropriate and unsafe levels to provide these salary increases.

Salary Differential for Identified Direct Care Staff

TSBVI needs the authority and the funds to pay a salary differential. This proposal would allow TSBVI to pay a salary differential of not more than 10% to Residential Instructors and Teaching Assistants assigned to work with students with significant emotional, behavioral, cognitive or physical deficits. This would improve the School's recruitment and retention of staff who work with the most challenging students, assignments which typically have high turnover.

Merit Pay for Classified Staff

TSBVI has long attempted to provide adequate merit salary increases to classified staff without requesting or receiving funds specifically earmarked for that purpose. The State Classification Office has advised the School to improve retention of staff, particularly at lower salary groups, by advancing more staff throughout the range of steps provided by their respective salary groups; however, that is impossible to do without adversely impacting programs unless the School receives separate funds specifically for this purpose. Each year, many deserving staff do not receive merit raises due to lack of adequate funds. With these funds TSBVI would be able to increase the percentage of high performing staff who are rewarded with merit raises and, thus, increase retention. Retention of staff, particularly those staff who provide care of and instruction to students, is directly linked to student success.

VI Teacher Certification Incentives

TSBVI presently has nineteen teachers who do not hold certification in the education of visually impaired students. This number has increased in recent years in part because the University of Texas-Austin no longer has a VI teacher preparation program. The national pool of available teachers continues to shrink every year, and this is reflected in Texas and at the School. Thus, TSBVI employs teachers without certification in visual impairment, and there is no feasible way for the School to require these teachers to obtain VI certification in out-of-town or out-of-state programs. Indeed, it may be useless to try to impose such a requirement on a prospective applicant when the teacher shortage in all areas is so critical. It would appear that our best solution to increasing the number of teachers certified in visual impairment is to provide some incentive for them to complete this certification. The problem could be alleviated if the School were provided the resources to pay tuition, travel, and books for selected teachers to complete certification in visual impairment.

Maintenance and Renovation of Aging Facilities

Facilities and Grounds

The School's aging facilities require a significant infusion of funds in order to provide safe, healthy, and attractive environment to meet the educational needs of students with visual impairments, deafblindness and additional disabilities. There are nine major projects needing additional resources: (1) roof repairs, (2) plumbing improvements, (3) HVAC improvements, (4) grounds improvements, (5) lighting improvements, (6) auditorium improvements, (7) repairs and renovations to the Learning Resource Center (LRC), (8) floor repairs and floor covering for various residential, instructional, and office areas, and (9) expansion of the parking lot adjacent to the elementary school building.

Transportation

There is a continuing need to upgrade the School's fleet of vehicles for student transportation. The fleet has eight vehicles, each with over 100,000 miles. The immediate needs are for a school bus and two vans. These vehicles support the Weekends Home Program and community-based instruction.

Maintenance Management System

The School does not have an automated maintenance management system. All work orders, repairs, inventory and work schedules are managed in a splintered set of manual systems, none of which provides efficient and effective access to critical information. An automated maintenance management system would permit more rapid response and a more accurate inventory and cost savings over time.

Maintenance Staff

Because of the age of the facilities and the changing student population, more maintenance hours are needed to meet the demands placed upon the maintenance department. The additional maintenance hours will allow the School to maintain and renovate the aging campus more effectively.

Renovation and Replacement of Campus Facilities (Phase III)

Remodel Dormitories

The School needs to continue the major renovation of its large dormitories. The two previous Legislatures appropriated funds to renovate three of the six buildings built in 1916. Two are completed; work on the third has begun; and three remain in need of complete renovation. The renovation is needed for reasons of safety, accessibility, and instruction of students.

Replace Independent Living Homes

The School currently has three manufactured homes purchased about sixteen years ago as part of the School's first efforts in creating home-like environments for students. Each of these modular homes has endured the wear and tear of as many as eight teenager residents at a time. These facilities have reached the end of their usefulness as residences for students. Replacement with permanent structures is needed.

Replace Swimming Pool

The School's indoor swimming pool provides opportunities for students to learn to swim, to engage in competitive swimming, to improve their physical condition, and to enjoy swimming for recreational purposes. The pool needs to be replaced. It is over thirty years old, has a water loss problem that has defied repair, lacks access by physically impaired students, and has a ventilation system that has not functioned correctly for several years.

Install Elevator between Two Dormitories

Two of the School's newer dorms do not have elevator access to their second floors, thereby rendering them inaccessible to children in wheelchairs or who have orthopedic impairments. An elevator is needed that would make both floors of each of these buildings accessible.

Construct Storage Building

A new large facility is needed to store equipment and furniture that is needed periodically throughout the year. At present, several smaller storage buildings are used for this purpose; but these units are not adequate to meet the School's changing needs, i.e., short-term programs, seasonal equipment, and furniture designed to meet the needs of children with special physical needs.

Demolish Building

One of the School's original maintenance facilities has deteriorated to the point of becoming a safety hazard. Funding is needed to hire a demolition company to tear down the building. It is anticipated that the area will be used for another purpose as long-range facility planning proceeds.

Contract with Long Range Facility Planner

In order to meet future needs, it is imperative that the School develop a long-range facility plan. The age of the facilities, the changing needs of the student population, and new program initiatives require the School to develop a comprehensive plan for further renovation or replacement of existing facilities. The School would like to employ the services of a facility planning specialist to assist the School in this endeavor.

Administrative Technology

Application Development Software

Additional software development tools are needed to provide software applications that support major administrative and instructional activities.

Network Maintenance

Wire and cable testing equipment needs to be upgraded. This would enable staff to install, maintain, troubleshoot, and correct problems that might occur with the School's network cable.

Server Upgrades

More server hardware and software are needed for the School's computer server to meet future demands.

Computer Training System

The School conducted an internal audit to determine the needs of all direct care, administrative, and support staff for training in the use of computer technology. The curriculum and trainers are in place. The training facility needs additional hardware and software to implement the needed training.

Digital Phones

The School's telephones need to be upgraded. Existing analog phones are inefficient and do not meet some application requirements. The School's current and expected communication needs require the purchase of digital phones to replace the current analog equipment.

Service Population Demographics

Historical Characteristics

It has only been within the last 15 years that many local school districts have developed the capability of providing services to students who were blind or visually impaired. Historically, TSBVI made its educational services available to blind children, ages 6 to 21, who had no additional disabilities. The population served was carefully selected, leaving the more challenging or complex children with limited, if any, educational services.

Current Characteristics

Today, the majority of blind and visually impaired students in Texas attend local schools. Often, they are enrolled in regular classes with sighted classmates and provided support from a qualified teacher of the visually impaired at the local level. The primary responsibility of TSBVI is to provide educational services to children whose needs cannot be met in their local schools or who need short-term intensive instruction in core curriculum areas. Educational placement takes into consideration the fact that blind and visually impaired children have two areas of need: an academic program that parallels that which they would receive if they were sighted, and a disability-specific program which addresses their unique needs.

The combination of these two areas has become known as the "Core Curriculum for Blind and Visually Impaired Students". TSBVI has the capability to meet all core curriculum needs of blind and visually impaired students, but its best use is to "fill in" the core areas when resources and services are not available locally. This fact impacts greatly on the function of TSBVI. It can meet many core curriculum needs of children either by providing an on-campus program or by sending educators out to districts to help in developing more effective local programs. TSBVI currently carries out its responsibility to all blind and visually impaired children of Texas by offering these two options.

Visual impairment in children is a low prevalence disability when compared to other disabilities. This creates problems with service delivery, since this population needs highly-skilled teachers. Geographic factors affecting services are a major problem since, in a rural area, there may be only one blind child in a 50-mile radius. Even a moderate-sized district with a larger number of visually impaired students will typically find that it has only one or two visually impaired students who can be served together, due to differences in their ages and skill levels.

In recent years, the number of blind and visually impaired children in need of services has increased greatly in the United States because of the profession's ability to measure marginal vision loss and its effect on learning. This need for services is exacerbated in Texas because the state's continued population growth adds to the number of blind and visually impaired children.

Also, it has been found that children who are visually impaired and have additional disabilities need the services of teachers trained in education for the visually impaired. Currently, it is estimated that about 90% of the visually impaired children in Texas have low vision. It is also estimated that about 70% of the children identified as visually impaired have additional disabilities. These changes in populations have had a dramatic effect on educational services. Local school districts only request enrollment at TSBVI for their students when those students require the intense and specialized services of this school. As a result, TSBVI serves the more disabled segment of visually impaired students with additional disabilities. More recently, TSBVI has provided significant resources to address the need for all students to learn the use of technological devices, particularly personal computers.

Demographic Factors and Future Trends

Short-term: Dramatic changes in services to children continue to occur in response to current and anticipated demographic factors. One such factor is the increasing emphasis on inclusion of children with disabilities in regular classrooms. Although there are many benefits from inclusion, one potential harmful effect can be insufficient attention to the disability-specific needs of visually impaired students.

  • In response, TSBVI has redefined much of its curriculum, and local districts are finding it appropriate to utilize the services provided by the School more frequently than in the past. TSBVI has expanded its short-term placement programs in the areas of compensatory skills, disability-specific skills, and career education. There continues to be a dramatic increase in demand for summer programs emphasizing enrichment, social skills development, independent living skills, communication skills, and the applications of electronic technology. TSBVI will continue to receive a substantial number of referrals for children between the ages of 10 and 13, indicating that local districts often need assistance as the visually impaired student makes the transition from elementary to middle school. Many of these students remain at TSBVI for one or two years, then return to their local district with the skills to function in their local secondary school placement. This is presently requiring a level of transition programming that cannot be met with current staffing allocations.

Another demographic factor having an immediate impact on the need for services at TSBVI is the deplorable employment rate of people with disabilities. Specifically, 70% of people with visual impairments ages 21 to 64 are unemployed, and 30% of those who are working are considered underemployed in relations to their qualifications, according to the US Department of Labor based on the 1994-95 US Census Bureau data.

  • In response to this persisting demographic trend, the School has embarked upon an expansion of vocational programs for young persons who have graduated from their local high school and a vocational training program for students with mild additional disabilities.

Statewide demographic studies indicate that the number of non-Anglo school-age children will continue to increase in Texas. The current ethnic composition of the School's student population already reflects a population that is 50.7% non-white.

  • It will be increasingly important that the School recruit and retain staff that reflect the ethnic makeup of Texas. Instructional programs must take into account the needs of children with limited English proficiency. The culture and values of minority groups must be given respect and understanding in the School's instructional and residential programs.

There is also some evidence that the students and families of students enrolled at TSBVI are not proportionally sharing in the current economic prosperity of Texas. Fifty-seven percent of students enrolled at TSBVI meet the financial eligibility requirements to receive Medicaid and Supplemental Security Income (SSI).

  • In response to the needs of students and families with limited financial needs, the School will also need to allocate staff resources to link students and their families to educational, social service, vocational, and medical resources in their communities. This linkage is often vital to make successful transitions for students back to their local communities.

Another current trend is the increased expectation on parents to participate in the education of their children. Parents are expected to actively plan and advocate for their child's educational program, and to understand and secure services for their child in infancy and pre-school years.

  • In response to this need, the School has launched programs to help parents become informed advocates for their children and learn more about the importance of early intervention for their children during infancy and early childhood.
Medium-term: Advances in medical technology will continue to save high-risk infants, resulting in a growing population of children with multiple disabilities. The intensity of disability-specific needs of blind and visually impaired children will require local districts to reconsider their resources in meeting these needs. Local schools will either need to provide more services to children from a teacher of the visually impaired, or consider short-term placements at TSBVI.

In the next 2-5 years, TSBVI plans to address very specific needs with intense, high-quality services to make it possible for students to move back and forth between local schools and TSBVI with much more ease. This process will require further restructuring of services provided by TSBVI. The impact on TSBVI outreach services will be growing dramatically during this time period.

The demographic trend for low employment of individuals with visual impairments was described above.

In 2002, a community-based residential program for post-secondary students is being planned in collaboration with the Texas Department of Assistive and Rehabilitative Services (formerly known as Texas Commision for the Blind) . Its curriculum will concentrate on vocational training, independent living skills, remedial academics, social skills, and orientation and mobility.

Successful transition from TSBVI to students' local programs and communities will continue to be a need. If the results of a needs survey confirm what TSBVI suspects, the School will need to develop a one-year transition program for students moving from elementary school to middle school. Experience suggests that this is one of the most difficult transitions for blind and visually impaired students.

  • In response, the School will develop a one-year program designed to assist students in this transition, and to provide the students with skills in independent living, career education, and orientation and mobility.

The number of young people in Texas with traumatic brain injury who lose their vision as a result of violence and accidents appears to be increasing. These students require very intensive, specialized intervention to address their educational and emotional needs. They need to reacquire the skills to travel independently; to acquire a medium for literacy such as braille; to take care of their daily needs; and to make the emotional adjustment to their new situation.

  • The School can do an exceptional job with many of these young people, but the instructor-to-student ratio must be sufficient to provide an intensive level of education. To be effective, staff will need ongoing in-service education to work effectively with students whose social and emotional behaviors require interventions that take into account the special needs of individuals with traumatic brain injuries.

Special education across the nation will continue to emphasize the integration and inclusion of children with disabilities into the regular classrooms of local public schools. "Inclusive education" for children with disabilities became an exciting trend, beginning about 10-15 years ago. Today, the realities of "responsible inclusion" for children with visual impairments is causing parents and local school districts to re-examine the effectiveness of inclusion without preparation. TSBVI anticipates a gradual, but definite increase in local district referrals as they begin to realize the impact of a short-term placement at our school on the success of inclusive education. Also, when local school districts find that they are unable to meet the educational needs of certain individual students, they will refer the most challenging students to TSBVI for services. The natural effect of this is that TSBVI is increasingly serving students with maladaptive behaviors or a long history of educational failure. All too often, these students have fallen farther behind for several years and need intense remediation. Again, this changing population of students at TSBVI requires small class size and ongoing training for staff.

  • In response the School plans to expand its array of short-term programs during the school year as well as during the summer. By doing so, students can continue receiving the bulk of their education in their local schools and come to TSBVI for specialized instruction in skills directly related to their visual impairment. TSBVI will ask the legislature for additional funds to expand these programs.

The entire United States, including Texas, continues to face a shortage of teachers specifically trained in the education of blind and visually impaired children.

  • The problem is being addressed by a coordinated effort between Stephen F. Austin University, Texas Tech University, the Texas Education Agency, and TSBVI. We are proud to be a part of an effort that, if continued, will assure Texas of an adequate supply of teachers and orientation and mobility instructors for all blind and visually impaired students in the state. Continuation of a three-year pilot, funded by TEA, is dependent on legislative action in the next session.
  • Another major strategy to address teacher training will be the use of distance education technologies. TSBVI is exploring the use of these media to provide ongoing staff development for teachers of the visually impaired, and for orientation and mobility instructors throughout the state.

Long-term: All of the demographic trends and impacts described above will continue to impact the education of visually impaired children in Texas for more than five years. In response to these service population demographics, the School's planning must include the following long-term strategies:

  • TSBVI and local school districts will continue to develop a mutually supportive system. The future will build upon the expertise of TSBVI staff, appreciation of them by local school personnel, and trust in asking for services from TSBVI without any fear that TSBVI has an interest in recruiting students. The TSBVI philosophy supports local school placement for most students, if the required support system is available, and local schools increasingly acknowledge and respect that philosophy. Children are arriving and departing at TSBVI with increasing regularity. TSBVI has developed creative programming that results in a minimum interruption for children in their local schools as they benefit from intensive instruction in core curriculum areas on the School's campus. Education for all blind and visually impaired students is directed toward a productive, fulfilling, enjoyable adult life in a setting that best meets the social, personal, and occupational needs of each individual.
  • In the future, TSBVI will serve students in small "clusters", depending on needs. These clusters will represent specific areas of a core curriculum, and students will receive intensive instruction in only those areas for which there is an assessed need. This core curriculum emphasizes instruction in those areas that address the unique needs and special learning methods of students who are blind, deafblind, and visually impaired, including those with additional disabilities.
  • TSBVI will increasingly become a statewide entity, outreach services will expand, and the possibility of satellite TSBVI centers in other parts of the State will be considered.
  • In the next legislative session, TSBVI will present a long-range facilities planning document that will call for a multiple-phase funding pattern for the replacement and renovation of the campus buildings. Within recent years, it has become increasingly apparent that our buildings, many of which were constructed in 1916, are becoming too expensive to maintain and repair. In addition, the changing population of our students demands that we consider carefully our student needs together with our building needs. Clearly, our current classroom and residential buildings are not in harmony with the needs of our students. TSBVI will be proposing the employment of a facilities planner to assist us in responsible planning for the future.

Technological Developments

Impact of Technology on Current Agency Operations

Instructional Technology:

The impact of electronic technology in the education of students with visual disabilities is obvious throughout the School's campus. One cannot visit a TSBVI classroom or living facility without observing the significant role that technology has come to have in the education of students. Although this is true in most classrooms in Texas, it is especially true at this special school. Computers not only are used for enrichment and motivation, but also to provide basic access to instructional materials, reference sources, and to materials previously only available in print. Desktop computers, laptop computers, peripheral devices including speech output and Braille output devices, have given blind students the opportunity to access instructional materials on a level with their sighted peers.

Technology is used to help TSBVI meet the challenge of providing students with equal educational opportunities. To accomplish this goal, instructional technology staff must not only remain apprised of developments in technology as they pertain to the general education population, but they must also provide training for students in issues related to specialized access technology. This effort requires a broad knowledge base to serve students who may have one or more physical, sensory, cognitive, or language impairments. The technology needs of these students range from basic communication and socialization needs to vocational, telecommunications, and college preparatory training.

Infrastructure Technology:

Extensive use of electronic messaging and an enhanced voice mail system have provided opportunities for more efficient communication within the School and to parents and professionals seeking information or technical assistance from the School. Because TSBVI is a 24-hour, residential school, staff work varying schedules over a large campus. The use of electronic mail has greatly improved communication in support of services to students in our on-campus programs and to students, parents, and professionals supported by our outreach services. Members of the School's Board of Trustees, who reside in various parts of the State and significant distances from the School, regularly use electronic mail to enhance their effectiveness as knowledgeable and effective board members. As older applications such as the Student Database software are re-written as web-deployed applications, then new levels of standardization and agency coordination are possible.

The deployment of an Intranet has made improvements in campus communications, documentation, and planning coordination through development of a common facilities calendar, routine publication of telephone numbers, meeting minutes, forms, and similar materials. Continued development of the Intranet is indicated to promote inter-office communication and standard publication of information.

Teachers need effective documentation support tools that are accessible within their classroom. A primary area of development has been the IEP Progress Notation, grade reporting, and scheduling system called the "Teacher Solution". This application was written in conjunction with the instructional staff using the Filemaker Pro development software. This software was chosen for its ease of use and rapid development features. As more areas of the campus become networked, deployment of network-based applications has become more feasible.

Distance Education:

As the Outreach department offers more diverse services to more individuals, the reliance on technology increases. Deployment of new information over the web has been identified as a key need to use limited staff resources effectively. Use of Distance Education is a fundamental aspect in future program planning. Courses offered by distance education will include Foundation of Visual Impairment, Math Materials and Methods for Teachers of VI students, and Abacus Instruction. These courses are examples of how these emerging technologies may provide new methods for service delivery.

TSBVI's Web site (www.tsbvi.edu) continues to expand TSBVI's information services. The World Wide Web has provided a unique opportunity for the School to broaden and increase service delivery with minimal additional expenses compared to conventional support methodologies. Quick and efficient distribution of profession-specific information to an expanded group of parents and professionals has proven extremely helpful.

Impact of Anticipated Technological Advances

Instructional Technology:

The increased sophistication of assistive and adaptive technology allows students with visual impairments, including those with additional disabilities, to access information in a variety of ways. However, assistive and adaptive technology require continual revision of equipment and skills competence in hardware and software designed for use with special populations.

Technological advancements are changing the face of education through the use of telecommunications and multimedia technology. These advancements are allowing students to control the learning process through creative means of expression and information gathering. One of the greatest challenges at the Texas School for the Blind and Visually Impaired is to provide students with visual and multiple impairments a means of access to these technologies so that the same kinds of learning opportunities available to sighted students can also be available to them. There are many specialized products currently available that allow students with these impairments to participate in the educational opportunities afforded by advancements in technology. The Texas School for the Blind and Visually Impaired's commitment to serve as a statewide research and demonstration facility requires that the School consistently do the following: (1) evaluate technological advances, (2) determine the most practical and functional technological systems for use with this population, (3) create and establish standards for teaching and integrating technology into the educational setting, and (4) provide technical training, curriculum, and support to professionals.

Infrastructure Technology:

Continued upgrade of the School's local area network has significantly improved the functionality and application of the School's desktop computers. Access and interaction with Internet resources has provided new dimensions for classroom and residential instruction and communication/support to local independent school districts. As staff gain skills, new initiatives and applications are innovated to improve services to students, families, and other professionals. In anticipation of higher bandwidth requirements, networking equipment is to be upgraded to switch-based network technology.

The desktop computers on campus have been upgraded to eliminate 486-class computers. Continued upgrade is needed to meet the technical demands of adaptive software and equipment Technical developments are closely monitored to ensure our use of computer environments that reflect those of other schools and businesses. The development of a consistent development architecture based on industry standard products is important to enable maximum accessibility for individuals with visual impairments, maintain platform independence, and ensure compatibility with future technology innovations and development. Given these design goals, new software systems will be written as web-deployed applications using Java Servlet technology using IBM's DB2 database management software. All future development will be within this software environment to advance the use of object-oriented programming to maximize platform independence and long-term supportability

Distance Education:

As technology advances, the School's commitment to serve as a statewide research and demonstration facility becomes more critical. Our role to evaluate new technologies oriented toward the individual with visual impairments and our participation on standards bodies to create and establish textbook and electronic publishing standards are two primary leadership areas that have significant impact to the state and nation. Development and documentation of techniques for use with new technology and technical training support to professionals who work with individuals with visual and/or other impairments are a continuing program initiative. Innovation with new network-based deployment will continue.

Degree of Agency Automation and Telecommunications

The School owns a Legacy VAX 4000-200 computer system that has been undergoing a phased migration as applications for office automation, student demographics, registration tracking, library circulation, work order management, inventory management, student trust fund management are moved to the NT-based Server environment. The reporting and expenditure transfer for accounting functions that were written on the VAX as an internal user of USAS are in the process of conversion to the DFAS/GFAS system supported by Northrup Grumann to change the agency to a reporting agency to USAS.

Approximately 300 individuals access the system by networked desktop computer (350) or laptop computers. Workstations are connected via TCP/IP transport over Ethernet. The Digital PathWorks LANmanager networking environment has been replaced by Windows NT networking. The network is configured to provide file sharing and networked printing services for both Macintosh and PC clients. Both PC and Mac clients share all networked printers by use of the Adobe Postscript driver standard. Fiber optic cable segments are in place between the major computing centers on campus with networking to all buildings of campus to be deployed in FY2000. The School is a member of the CapNet network and granted an Internet domain address of TSBVI.EDU (192.188.148.x) in 1992. Currently, six servers support the various functions such as web-hosting (www.tsbvi.edu) Web-based distance education, video-conferencing, resource sharing, application server, and Intranet applications.

New network installations in the residential area (made possible by a grant from the Telecommunications Infrastructure Fund) have been installed using 100MB Cisco Switches over unshielded twisted pair wiring. Older 10MB router-based network components will be replaced by the switch technology on a graduated basis. The technical standard for the network deployment is 100MB to the desktop so that any client endpoint on campus can be the source of video conferencing or to meet other high-bandwidth requirements. Long-term plans include deployment of Gigabit backbone segments to prepare for anticipated capacity requirements and to provide the most reliable and supportable campus environment possible.

Communication routing for TSBVI is provided via the Telecommunications Division of the General Services Commission. All access and report/mail delivery to the USAS, USPS, and other state and federal computer facilities is provided through this link. Through our participation in the Esconnett, the school uses a second T1 circuit to Educational Service Center XIII to provide client internet access as well as to route all video protocols.

Economic Variables

Identification of Key Economic Variables

There are two key economic variables for TSBVI to consider. The first is the impact of the economy on the lives of blind and visually impaired adults, and how our educational program reflects this impact. The second variable is how the general economy impacts on the capacity of TSBVI to carry out its mission

Extent to Which Service Populations are Affected by Economic Conditions

Blind and visually impaired adults are traditionally unemployed or underemployed. While there are no specific data available, the general consensus of experts in rehabilitation is that unemployment among blind adults has hovered around 75% for the past 40 years. TSBVI emphatically states that this is unacceptable, and that education must own at least part of the responsibility for this tragic level of unemployment. We are now restructuring our vocational program, both philosophically and programmatically, in order to address this economic fact. TSBVI is capable of carrying out its mission only to the extent that funds from the State are available to purchase services, materials, and equipment. Thus far, as we identify new areas of need for TSBVI, we are in a pattern of "add-on", not "replace". When we add services, such as technology instruction, we do not eliminate another program. This means attempting creative ways of providing additional services without additional resources. The specific needs that are growing, such as vocational training, technology instruction, education of children with severe multiple disabilities, are expensive to add or enhance. Outreach services, the most rapidly growing, in-demand" service, is seriously under-staffed.

There are three factors that are commonly mentioned as inhibiting the ability of the blind or visually impaired person whom society may believe ought to be working. The first is discrimination among employers. This has long been believed to be the major barrier to a higher rate of employment among visually impaired persons. However, as inclusion of persons with disabilities increases at a dramatic rate, the very presence of this population in our society and in our communities would be expected to have an impact on the attitudes of employers toward hiring persons with disabilities. There is some evidence that this is true. If there continues to be a need to educate employers about the capabilities of blind workers, then TSBVI will work with other agencies and consumer groups in an effort to heighten the awareness of employers.

The second assumption made about what impacts the employment of blind and visually impaired persons is the preparation they receive in school that would lead to appropriate job readiness and work skills. This topic has two dimensions. The first is the personal characteristics and skills of the blind applicant. Often employers have stressed their concern for such issues as "...what is the personal appearance of the blind worker?...", or "...will the blind worker get along socially with other employees?...", or "...how will the blind person get to work and find his/her way around?...". The second dimension is work skills and work experience. While the latter will add considerably to the "hirability" of a blind applicant, many employers express more concern over the former concern. Thus, the opportunity to work for a blind or visually impaired person may be most often impacted by dress, grooming, and social and mobility skills.

There may be another factor that affects employability, and that is academic skills. Recent surveys conducted by national organizations confirm the fact that most blind persons successfully employed in competitive jobs are highly literate. This finding needs to be qualified by the fact that many of the graduates of TSBVI do not, nor will they ever, have traditional literacy skills. TSBVI has the philosophy that literacy may be obtained through a variety of methods and at a wide range of competency. Most graduates of TSBVI will consider employment opportunities that do not have a high level of need for reading and writing in print or braille. This means that traditional "academic skills" will not be a factor in their employment. The kinds of positions that would be most appropriate for the majority of TSBVI graduates need to be further identified, studied, and tried. TSBVI commits itself to this task.

The third assumption made concerning the alarming rate of unemployment of blind and visually impaired adults is that Supplementary Security Income (SSI) and other sources of "welfare" act as a disincentive to seeking employment. When one adds up the dollar amount of SSI, plus benefits, it is not difficult to understand the lack of incentive among blind persons to accept entry level positions that may not have health and other benefits. There are two prevailing positions among professionals concerning social welfare for blind persons. One is that it is more expensive to live in this sighted world as a blind person, and that SSI merely "levels" the resources needed to live at any level of comfort. The second position, of course, is that the blind person has little, if any, incentive to go to work if it, in the final analysis, means

a reduction in personal income. TSBVI is committed to instilling a work ethic in its students that honors either paid or volunteer efforts that benefit others. Only through embedding this ethic among our students will they be able to find satisfaction and fulfillment as adults.

Expected Future Economic Conditions and Impact on Agency and Service

Populations

The greatest economic factor affecting the population served by TSBVI is employability. The workforce environment increasingly requires that prospective workers have the technical skills necessary to be employable. Literacy and the skills to live and travel independently are also prerequisites for blind people to be able to obtain and hold jobs. The programs of the School will need to continue to emphasize these skills. TSBVI is developing its vocational program to directly address projections for future employment in Texas. TSBVI has reorganized its career education program so that all students will receive extensive learning experiences designed to prepare them for the labor market of today and tomorrow. As presented above, we are also considering the development of a post-secondary vocational training program for students that graduate from their local schools but are not prepared for employment.

Future economic conditions of the State will certainly impact TSBVI. The school has carefully and prudently examined its budget, redefined its various roles, reallocated resources, and is now using its resources in creative and conservative ways to meet the needs of blind and visually impaired students throughout Texas. As new and innovative programs are considered, it has become increasingly apparent that there are limited resources to provide vital new services. We cannot reduce or eliminate services now being offered and still meet the needs of Texas stakeholders. Any changes in use of resources now would seriously deprive current students of state-of-the-art instruction. The School's current budget does not allow TSBVI to effectively address portions of its mission. Current level funding, or a reduction in funding, will seriously impair the School's ability of to meets its obligation to visually impaired students.

Agency Response to Changing Economic Conditions

For the past four years TSBVI has continually searched for internal ways in which it can change, because we responsibly and prudently use the State's resources allocated to us. As program needs changed and expanded, we first sought ways to handle newly identified needs and increasing costs by reallocating existing resources. We now come to the legislature, confident in knowing how we must expand and change in order to meet the current needs of blind and visually impaired students, and confident in knowing the resources that we must have in order to fulfill our mission.

Impact of Federal Statutes/Regulations

Historical Role of Federal Involvement

Since 1976, the most significant impact of federal involvement has been the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), previously called the Education of All Handicapped Children Act. The requirements of this law, and the processes required to implement it, have affected TSBVI greatly. Direct participation by parents and local school staff in the educational process, and the requirement of an Individualized Educational Plan (IEP) for each child have positively affected programming for students while requiring increased time and attention from staff and administrators.

In addition to its impact on programs, instructional planning, student assessment, educational placement, and due process rights for parents, this law has also provided the School with some funding, most notably those allocated to operate the statewide Deaf-Blind Program. The School has been the primary source for the delivery of these services in Texas since 1973. This source of federal funding has provided a high quality outreach program to local districts and families.

Also, the Texas Education Agency (TEA) has made available to the School some federal IDEA discretionary funds awarded to Texas for statewide priorities. These funds have been used for several programs: a technology loan program for students throughout the state, replacement of reduced funds for deafblind outreach programs, and a subcontract to TSBVI to perform specific statewide functions previously performed by the TEA prior to that agency's mandated decentralization.

Description of Current Federal Activities

The federal Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) was re-authorized and amended by the U.S. Congress in 1995. Congress has upheld the right of all children with disabilities to a continuum of placement options, including schools such as TSBVI. Federal and Texas statutes, rules, policy statements, and case law continue to make it clear that special schools like TSBVI continue to be the "appropriate" and "least restrictive environment" for some visually impaired students. TSBVI is an essential placement option within the Texas public education system.

The School continues to participate in the Medicaid reimbursement programs for specific reimbursable expenditures. These include portions of school health and related services (SHARS) provided directly to students, and certain administrative overhead costs (Medicaid Administrative Claims).

The federally funded Free and Reduced Lunch Program also provides funds which offset the state's cost in providing meals to students enrolled at the School. All residential students at TSBVI are eligible for this program because they are in a state-operated, residential, educational program.

Anticipated Impact on Service Populations and Agency Operations of Future Federal

Actions

With the reauthorization of IDEA and its accompanying federal regulations, the Federal Department of Education has clearly and decisively declared schools for the blind as a necessary and viable placement option.

Other Legal Issues

Impact of Anticipated State Statutory Changes

  • The limitation on travel expenses required by the current Appropriation Act continues to have a negative impact on the School's ability to perform its mission as established in Education Code, particularly as the mission related to providing outreach services to parents and professionals throughout the state.
  • All state agencies have been assigned financial responsibility for a portion of Workers' compensation and for unemployment insurance claims. This responsibility could add a serious fiscal burden on the school.
  • TSBVI and TEA have jointly developed a Memorandum of Understanding required by the Texas Legislature. This agreement will shape accreditation standards, evaluate student learning, and determine the extent to which the School will participate in the statewide Public Education Information Management System (PEIMS). These are positive developments, but they continue to require significant expenditures of time to accomplish.

Impact of Current and Outstanding Court Cases

TSBVI has no current or outstanding court cases.

Impact of Local Government Requirements

None

Self-evaluation and Opportunities for Improvement

Meeting Legal Requirements, Serving Critical Populations, Achieving Accreditation and Recognition 

Legally Required Services

TSBVI is established to provide appropriate educational services to school-age children with significant visual impairments who may have additional disabilities when the local or regional programs cannot meet the educational needs of those students. There are 6,602 children with blindness or visual impairment geographically dispersed throughout Texas. TSBVI may be called upon at any point in the educational careers of these students to directly serve them in the School's regular school year program, in a summer program, or in one of the new short-term programs. In addition to direct instruction of students, the school is also established to be a statewide resource for the education of blind and visually impaired children who attend their local public schools. TSBVI continually evaluates the effectiveness of its programs and the satisfaction of those it serves. Evaluation is conducted by performance measures, internal audits, customer surveys, and comparisons to other states' schools for the blind.

Accreditation

TSBVI is accredited by the Texas Education Agency (TEA) as a special school within the Texas public education system. The School and the TEA have jointly developed and approved a set of Academic and Program Excellence Indicators to measure student learning and program effectiveness at TSBVI. These indicators have also been incorporated as measures in the School's "Agency Strategic Plan". These Indicators serve as a corollary to the Texas Assessment of Academic Skills (TAAS) benchmarks and accountability standards applied to all public schools in Texas, and are a component in determining the accreditation status of the School.

Attainment of Performance Objectives

The School has met or exceeded most of the outcome and output measures set forth in its Strategic Plan and Legislative Appropriation Request as submitted in its quarterly reports to the LBB and GOBP. Specifically, the School achieved or exceeded 10 of the 13 outcome measure projections set for fiscal year 1999, an approximate 77% achievement rate. An 11th outcome measure fell slightly below the School's projection, but within the accepted 5% variance rate. The following information details the School's performance in areas critical to the School's mission:

Student Learning. The School has exceeded its projections in the areas of student learning as reflected by improved student achievement in their individual education plans (IEP's), grades, and successful transitions to local programs.

Customer Satisfaction. The School exceeded its projections in the following areas:

-Ninety-seven percent of parents, students, and local schools expressed satisfaction with student progress during the regular school year.

-Ninety-eight percent of all surveyed customers expressed satisfaction with the personnel and services provided on-campus and in Outreach Programs.

-Ninety-nine percent of teachers, parents, and other service providers rated TSBVI Outreach services as having improved instruction and services for children in local programs.

Program Evaluations

TSBVI evaluates the effectiveness of its programs through both formative and summative evaluations. Specific Action Plans are developed to accomplish the Strategic Plan. Formative evaluation is conducted by documenting progress on the specific Action Plans at specific intervals. Summative evaluation is conducted annually by the School's Board of Trustees and administration based on attainment of objectives in the School's Strategic Plan.

Audit Reports

The School has conducted several internal audits. The internal auditor develops an annual audit plan in close collaboration with the Board of Trustees. Recent audits have focused on the School's legal compliance with statutory requirements for special education, property management, effective time usage, vocational programming, and the efficiency of purchasing procedures.

Comparisons with Other States and Industry Leaders

As part of its benchmarking process, TSBVI has collected data and compared its performance to that of schools for the visually impaired in other states. In every category regarding parent satisfaction, TSBVI is rated equal or superior to the composite data on all other schools for the blind. In the case of parent satisfaction with programs and services, 94% of TSBVI parents were positive, a figure equal to other schools. TSBVI significantly exceeded its peers in the area of competitive employment for its graduates.

TSBVI has pioneered the role of schools for the blind as a statewide resource. Other states have long envied and now are beginning to emulate the comprehensive outreach programs provided by TSBVI. The School's curriculum has been published and adopted by other schools for the blind, local school districts, and university teacher preparation programs. Nearly 9,000 copies have been purchased within the past twelve months. The School's summer programs have long been a model for the country, reaching out to students who attend local public schools during their regular school year sessions.

The School's self-evaluation process has also led to a significant programmatic change as a result of comparison with other states' schools for the visually impaired. The School has initiated short-term special programs during the regular school year for students who attend public schools. TSBVI has looked at models for this service in other states, adapted a Kentucky model, and implemented two short-term special programs in the current 1999-2000 school year. Local school districts, parents, and students have welcomed this new area of programming at TSBVI.

Overall, needs assessments gathered for the Outreach program reflect a high level of satisfaction with the range of services provided by this program, and a continuing desire for more assistance. Consumers need information provided in a variety of formats, languages and media. The sheer size of the State of Texas limits opportunities for face to face interaction and makes isolation a major concern. Parents and blind and/or deafblind students are eager for opportunities to meet others with similar needs and issues. For professionals and families, there is a desire for general training on the impact of visual impairments and deafblindness and for individualized answers to more specific questions. In person conferences and consultations are rated consistently as very helpful, and there is also a growing demand for products accessible at the moment a need arises, as through WEB sites, videotapes, booklets and pamphlets, and computer disks. The Outreach Programs are continuing to diversify the materials used for packaging information and training in order to most effectively meet statewide requests.

Performance Benchmarking

Benchmarking Process

The School engages in internal benchmarking and industry benchmarking. Internal benchmarking relies primarily on the School's evaluation of its outcome, output, and efficiency measures. Examination of output and efficiency measures has allowed the School to re-allocate some resources to initiate or expand services.

Industry benchmarking is a new effort of the School in collaboration with other schools for the blind throughout the United States. TSBVI is an active member of the Council of Schools for the Blind (COSB), a national organization of residential schools for blind and visually impaired students. COSB has begun the task of developing baseline data on all schools for the blind in the U.S., in order to provide both composite data and information on how schools compare to one another. Thus far, data from demographic studies, customer satisfaction (parents) surveys, and student learning (employment) have been collected, analyzed, and compiled. TSBVI has met or exceeded the composite scores of those schools for the blind participating in the national study and benchmarking process.

Performance Measures Identified as Agency-Level Benchmarks  

Agency Goa1 1: Students who are visually impaired or deafblind will demonstrate the skills and knowledge to lead vocationally, personally, and socially satisfying as demonstrated by academic success and successful transition to the community.

Benchmark 1.1: Percent of students progressing at a rate of 1.0 or higher in each of the core curricular areas in which they receive instruction. This benchmark serves as a measure of the effectiveness of the School's programs and as a key element in determining the School's accreditation status within the states' public education system.

This benchmark links to the state-level benchmark, "Percent of students who achieve mastery of the foundation subjects of reading, English language arts, math, social studies and science".

Benchmark 1.2: Percent of students graduated from TSBVI within the past five years who are currently employed. The employment rate for individuals with disabilities is about 30% nationally: the School's employment rate for graduates is currently 41%.

This benchmark links to the state-level benchmark, "Percent of high school graduates employed or enrolled in post-secondary education".

Agency Goal 2: Families, professionals, and paraprofessionals will have the knowledge and skills necessary to improve educational programming and other services for all Texas students who are visually impaired or deafblind.

Benchmark 2.1: Percent of families, professionals, and paraprofessionals rating as very satisfactory or above the improvement of their knowledge and skills as a result of the services or products received from TSBVI.

There is no specific state-level benchmark that corresponds to this School benchmark. However, this benchmark reflects the statewide emphasis on customer satisfaction with agency services.

Agency Characteristics Requiring Improvement

The following characteristics are those that the School is committed to improving:

  1. A clear, well-articulated understanding among Education Service Centers, local school districts, and TSBVI regarding the strengths and limitations of all service delivery systems for education of blind and visually impaired students in Texas.
  2. A higher, more positive profile of TSBVI in the State.
  3. Completion of the School's project to develop a balanced curriculum that meets the individual needs for each student and includes the expanded core curriculum to include the unique skills of learners with a visual impairment.
  4. A program that clearly addresses identified needs of students and works diligently to return children to their local schools as soon as possible.
  5. The expansion of the Outreach Program with the capability of impacting on the education of every blind and visually impaired child in the State.
  6. A career education program that assists every student to make informed career decisions, and that prepares students for immediate employment or advanced vocational training.
  7. Salaries for residential instructors and other instructional staff that are high enough to attract and retain quality employees.
  8. Further expansion of short-term programs during the regular school year as well as in the summer.
  9. Active involvement of local districts and parents in maintaining a sense of responsibility for residential students at TSBVI.
  10. More opportunities for student integration with non-disabled peers.
  11. Expansion of technology available to students and training of staff in instructional and administrative technology applications.
  12. A long-range plan that will provide physical facilities that are in harmony with the needs of our students.

Key Obstacles

Human Resources: A shortage of well-trained professional educators skilled in working with the special needs of visually impaired children.

Environmental: Our rapidly aging campus is in desperate need of renovation and replacement of buildings within the next five years.

Cultural: The still persistent social and cultural beliefs of general society that blind individuals cannot be successfully employed in real and competitive jobs. The unemployment rate, and the underemployment rate, of visually impaired individuals is much too high.

Fiscal: The School has continued to expand its functions in light of its legally mandated mission without a corresponding increase in funds to continue to implement and expand these programs.

We will no longer be able to do this.

Geographical: Many blind children live in some of the more remote, rural areas of Texas. It is difficult for students enrolled at the School to get home more frequently than once a month. It is costly in terms of time and travel for outreach staff to respond to requests for services within the boundaries of Texas.

Travel caps imposed by the state that disregard our state-wide obligation to provide services, and that do not acknowledge that most of our travel funds are generated by federal grants.

There is no systematic, funded project designed to inform and educate parents and guardians about the educational and developmental needs of blind and visually impaired children.

There is no standard by which the quality and appropriateness of all local school programs for blind and visually impaired students are measured.

Opportunities

TSBVI has defined and nurtured its role in the education of all blind and visually impaired students in Texas. We have a two-fold responsibility: to our on-campus students and to all other students being served in local districts. TSBVI has very carefully allocated resources for both of these tasks, and we are meeting these two responsibilities very well. The Legislature defined our role concisely, and left little room for interpretation. As a result, the legislative mandate for the services we provide and the needs of blind and visually impaired students are closely aligned. We have the opportunity to provide vital services to a population that needs these services.

Our opportunities are great, including:

A large, well-maintained campus that provides TSBVI with the facilities to carry out its current tasks and has the potential to house additional services. Action by the last legislature provided TSBVI with much-needed funds to renovate and repair its aging campus. However, additional funding will be needed so that we may continue to have a safe and home-like campus.

An outstanding professional staff, constituting the greatest concentration of expertise in education of children who are blind and visually impaired in Texas. Most recently, this expertise has been expanded in the areas of serving children with additional disabilities and in technology instruction. TSBVI has become recognized nationally for its expertise in these two areas.

A committed and excellent support staff. Every TSBVI employee knows that she/he is employed in order to serve children, whether the job is preparing meals, providing physical therapy, or mowing the lawn.

There is a climate at TSBVI that encourages personnel to explore, create, and accept new challenges. All staff are urged to participate in decision-making and to assume shared responsibility for our efforts.

TSBVI is a recognized leader in technological development, both for its staff and for students.

Recent advances in technology have the potential to open unlimited professional and personal doors for blind and visually impaired persons. We are providing our students with instruction in state-of-the-art technology.

TSBVI is committed to the philosophy that, when possible, blind and visually impaired children should be educated in their home schools while living with their families. Therefore, we take very seriously our role of providing intensive services in needed educational areas in order to enable children to return home as soon as possible. Also, through our Outreach Program, we are able to offer technical assistance to local resources that often results in quality local services.

TSBVI and the Texas Department of Assistive and Rehabilitative Services (formerly known as Texas Commision for the Blind) share a common interest, good working relationship, and geographic proximity. This interagency partnership has created the opportunity to provide the best transition services to young people preparing to leave school and enter the world of work and independent living. We are developing an even closer working relationship with TCB so that our students will receive the best preparation for adulthood from us, and then, as necessary, take full advantage of appropriate services at TCB.

The citizens of Texas, through their elected legislators, have demonstrated a commitment to quality education for blind and visually impaired children at TSBVI. This is evidenced by the continuing strong fiscal support for our school by the Legislature.

TSBVI recognizes its responsibility to provide our students with opportunities to interact with non-disabled peers, and we have developed a community program that brings sighted children onto our campus for social and recreational activities, as well as provide opportunities for our students to access community activities off-campus.

Our curriculum department has published curriculum guides and other documents that greatly enhance the education of children on our campus and throughout the state. TSBVI is known nationally and internationally as the source for the best curriculum materials in the world.

The TSBVI web site has become a vital tool for the TSBVI staff, educators and administrators throughout Texas, and colleagues and parents throughout the world. For the month of November, 1999, the TSBVI web site received over 28,000 visits, including over 600 from foreign countries.

Working with Local, State, and Federal Entities

TSBVI will work with state agencies such as the Texas Department of Assistive and Rehabilitative Services (formerly known as Texas Commision for the Blind) , the Texas Education Agency, the Texas Rehabilitation Commission, the Texas Employment Commission, and the Texas Mental Health and Mental Retardation Department to assist in locating and delivering services to the students served by TSBVI. The School will also continue to access resources to the above agencies in order to enhance services to their students/clients.

TSBVI will work with local school districts and local Education Service Centers throughout the state to develop an appropriate, individualized educational program for each student. TSBVI is mandated by the Legislature to provide services to all blind and visually impaired children in the state. This requires that the School maintain and nurture effective working relationships with local school districts and Education Service Centers. An increasing number of staff development activities are the result of collaboration between TSBVI, ESCs, and school districts.

Our work with the Texas Education Agency (TEA) has resulted in two contracts, currently administered by ESC Region XI, that provide TSBVI with the resources to provide many services that enrich the educational programs for all blind and visually impaired students in the State.

Federal funds continue to provide the state and TSBVI with the resources necessary to coordinate state-wide programs and services for deafblind students.

Key Community Resources Available

The School has initiated a program to obtain more community resources to assist the School in its mission. A volunteer program has been significantly expanded and improved. An existing staff position has been reassigned to obtain grant and funds from both public and private sources. Community businesses in Austin and service organizations throughout the State are now much more involved with and contributing time and other resources to education. The School will need to continue to increase its efforts to solicit and obtain such support from external sources.

Meanwhile the School will continue to avail itself of the excellent resources of the Austin community. These include the Austin ISD which has long been a partner in providing opportunities for students at TSBVI to attend academic classes in regular public school settings. Students from the University of Texas-Austin and Southwest Texas State University continue to volunteer and provide opportunities for TSBVI students to participate in social activities in the community. Service organizations such as the Austin Founders' Lions Club, the Texas National Federation of the Blind, the Austin Council of the Blind, church groups, corporations, and individuals continue to provide their time and some funds for special activities. Finally, there are the ample and unique community resources of the city of Austin and its environs that are much used by the School's students for recreation, cultural awareness, employment, and gaining consumer skills.

TSBVI now works with the Austin area Junior League, whose volunteers are currently providing recreational opportunities for our students, as well as recording recreational reading and transcribing braille.

Employee Attitudes Regarding TSBVI

The fact that TSBVI is considered a good place to work by most staff is evidenced by the low number of internal grievances and externally-filed complaints that we experience. By far the majority of staff who resign do so for personal reasons not related to the job, and many departing staff members comment in their resignation letters on the satisfaction of working with students and their own growth while working here. Staff take pride in the work that they do with students, and even staff who don't work directly with students often get involved in student activities or attend student events. On the other hand, direct care staff in particular have expressed frustration about doing difficult work with sometimes very challenging students without what they consider adequate compensation or recognition.

Although the staff has expressed some appreciation for the career progression programs that have been implemented so far, they want us to do more to address pay issues, and we are making the following attempts to do so: (1) We have submitted a proposal to the State Classification Office to replace the Houseparent class series with a Residential Specialist/Residential Manager series that will raise starting salaries by one pay group. (2) We are also seeking legislative authority for an assignment differential so that staff assigned to the most challenging students can receive more pay regardless of classification or merit step. (3) We are submitting an exceptional item request to fund merit raises for more deserving staff.

Staff morale has been identified as a priority in the School's strategic planning process. During the previous and current school years, we have had a morale task force made up of representatives from all of the school's departments. This group has been responsible for several concrete accomplishments; for example, the task force obtained administrative approval for residential staff to acquire lockers in which to secure their personal belongings while at work. It also served as the vehicle to gather input from all staff on how the school should allocate merit pay.

The School is also committed to involving staff directly in planning and budgeting. TSBVI has implemented a site-based decision making process. Through this process, staff participate in evaluating programs, establishing goals, providing suggestions for staff assignments and staff development, developing curriculum, and providing input for budgeting and school organization. The instructional staff also directly participated in developing the School's Professional Development Appraisal System (PDAS) by which instructional staff are evaluated and held accountable.

March 31, 1997

This plan is essentially a revision update of the plan submitted 2 years ago since the functional initiatives and environment continue to be relavant. Additional input was obtained directly by review of administrative plans. The form of the plan presentation is based upon the planning model prescribed by the Department of Information Resources. This report may be made available in any Braille or any common electronic format upon request.

 


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EXECUTIVE SUMMARY

The technology needs and objectives of the Texas School for the Blind and Visually Impaired (TSBVI) are broad in scope and have become a primary focus of the schools resources and service offerings. TSBVI continues to respond to the needs of students with visual impairments for increased instruction in adaptive technology systems. Though adaptive systems greatly improve the quality of life and access to information for our students, such systems become more complex, proportionally increasing training demands for our staff. Over the past several years, increased staff and fiscal resources have been applied to expand service offerings to students with visual impairments and the equipment resources available for instruction. A high proportion of TSBVI students are involved with technology at some level and this activity varies from augmentative communication and switch systems for low-functioning students to advanced telecommunication and personal computing for academic students. As programmatic application develops and expands, we will continue to take an inter-disciplinary, integrated approach to planning and implementation so that we can use our limited resources efficiently.

The key strategic areas of development for the next five years include;

Increased Student access - expanding the number of computers available to students in the instructional and residential settings.

Computer upgrades - Since many of the school's laptop computers are based on older, slower micro-processors, they need to be upgraded to current performance levels. Continued upgrade of the school's classroom desktop computers to multimedia computers will provide access to CD-ROM resources.

Expanded teacher and staff training - This continues to be a major need of TSBVI staff. As systems become more complex and applications more prevalent, staff must maintain their skills to support students. With the advent and expansion of networked computers, more training is required to fully utilize the expanded tool-set.

Increased administrative needs - numerous standards are required to coordinate and manage Internet document publishing, configuration of desktops and adaptation devices. Development of methods for implementation and management of technology instruction. Development of acceptable use standards.

Continued implementation of network infrastructure - Expansion of the network to all key campus buildings. Implementation of remote network access to accommodate residential areas.

Improve reporting of accounting data - Development of interpretive reports for end-user evaluation and analysis of accounting information from the USAS and USPS systems.

Expanded applicaton of World Wide Web Technologies - several methods of expanding our service delivery are under consideration with our web-site of WWW.TSBVI.EDU.

This strategic plan emphasizes continued development of systems to support the instructional and administrative needs of TSBVI. As TSBVI continues to revise and refine service delivery methods, the role of technology as both an instructional subject and a management tool, increases in its application and significance.

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INTRODUCTION

The Texas School for the Blind and Visually Impaired derives its authority to operate and function from the Texas Education Code. In brief, the law describes the scope and function of the school as the primary Texas facility "to provide administrative services on a residential basis to blind children and youth". The following statewide functions are also mandated: service delivery to multiply handicapped blind children and youth, a catalyst role in promoting excellence in administrative services to blind individuals; the duty to serve as a resource to local school programs, a vehicle for training and ongoing staff development for personnel who are service providers to visually impaired children; and to serve as a research and demonstration facility. The school is governed by a Board of Trustees that is comprised of 9 individuals appointed by the governor and confirmed by the legislature.

TSBVI is a complex organization in the scope of services it provides and the multiple service delivery models it maintains. TSBVI is a 24-hour residential school program that provides intensive instructional programming for students with diverse educational needs. The students exposure to technology range from adaptive and conventional technology training with academic students to the use of cause and effect switch technology with multiply impaired students. As an organization, the school administers a eleven million dollar budget and requires accounting and financial management systems to manage diverse fiscal systems that range from student banking accounting to personnel and budget management of almost 400 contract and classified employees to federal fund management and accounting.

To assist program support staff in processing new students and to track progress the school requires effective school management information systems to support the intensive instructional programming our students receive. Another important area of technology application at TSBVI is in providing appropriate computing resources to staff. These resources range from desktop publishing of curriculum publications on Macintosh computers to supporting 170 staff using VAX-based office automation software to the use of over 200 MS-DOS based computers for classroom management, report writing, and student use. In developing the systems at TSBVI, an overriding concern must be placed on developing systems that are accessible to visually impaired staff and students and that can easily output the data into Braille, large print, voice output, and regular text. Many TSBVI staff have varying work schedules and limited "office-time" and the use of electronic mail is extremely effective to enable communication between the various departments during slotted periods of the employee's work schedule. Use of the electronic mail allows more productive and time-efficient communication, providing staff more time available for student-related and qualitative activities.

For TSBVI to effectively meet its mission to support local school districts, systems to collect reference and service need information are critical to offer services where they are most needed and support the staff providing those services. The technical ability of staff at TSBVI range from the inexperienced to the sophisticated, with the majority using the systems for only an hour or so daily. Effective systems must be easy to use, require only a short training period to become productive, and be supportable by a small technical staff.

A major initiative over the past two years has been in implementing a campus-wide local area network. This network connects most of the desktop computers. Though most wiring preparations have been completed, numerous issues are yet to be resolved in the use and configuration of networked computers with the variety of adaptive equipment and software in use at TSBVI. Documentation of these configurations will be critical to develop a base of information to not only assist in the support of students using the devices at TSBVI, but to assist in the support local school district teachers and students throughout the state. Teachers and students have access in the classroom to instruction-oriented software systems such as the school library system, grade reporting/scheduling system, student database, and other systems oriented to reduce the paperwork of instructional staff and provide support tools to improve instructional effectiveness. To increase student access to computers outside the classroom, the local area network will be expanded to the residential areas. With the availability of electronic mail and the world wide web, several teachers have started the process of documenting their expertise so that their unique skills and abilities may be shared with other professionals through the TSBVI web page.

The migration of the accounting system to the Uniform State-wide Accounting System (USAS) and Uniform Payroll System (USPS) has been effectively completed. TSBVI has found that the USAS and USPS systems require more extensive development of pre- and post-process systems to accommodate needs of the agency than we had originally planned. Use of extensive uploads to the USAS has greatly assisted accounting staff and has limited the need for direct data entry into USAS. Work remains to provide meaningful interpretive reports for end-user evaluation and analysis from the downloaded data from USAS. TSBVI has entered into a cooperative contract with the Region XI Educational Service Center to develop software for statewide American Printing House materials management and support of the software system for statewide registration of students with Visual Impairments for subsequent reporting to the Texas Educational Agency.

The old Dimension 400 PBX was upgraded to a new Definity G3i PBX in June 1995 that includes voice mail, call accounting, and expansion of the telephone system with new extensions to each school classroom. An automated attendent is currently under review pending implementation.

The strategic plan is administrated in by various departments to support the school's varied mission. Technology Service's staff work in a collaborative context with instructional and support staff to support the hardware and software systems. The instructional programs have teachers and support staff trained in technology and perform student assessment/evaluation, curriculum development, technical training in adaptive hardware/software, direct technical instruction and support to both students and other instructional staff. Technology Services staff provide equipment procurement, repair, setup services, network planning and design as well as software system development. The Technology Services department supports the outreach function of TSBVI through technical support of Independent School District (ISD) instructional personnel and administration of the Technology Loan Program. Instructional technical staff provide outreach assistance as needed. These services may include student assessment, staff training and in-service, and program coordination.

The mission and philosophy of the instructional technology program follows:

We believe that technology offers students with disabilities greater independence, equitable access to information and increased vocational opportunities. As an educational institution, TSBVI is committed to providing all students with the necessary skills and technology to enhance their lives on educational, vocational, social and personal levels based on assessed individual needs and goals.

Technology is defined as any item, piece of equipment or product system, whether acquired commercially or customized, that is used to increase, maintain or improve the functional capabilities of children with disabilities. Technology is included in but is not limited to: adapted input, adapted output, augmentative and alternative communication, environmental control, mobility aid, multisensory modifications, physical education/recreation/leisure, positioning, and self care devices.

Technology can facilitate the following:

  • language development,
  • communication,
  • independence,
  • interdependence,
  • emergent literacy,
  • development of social and co-operative learning skills,
  • access to information,
  • alternative means of expression,
  • visual training,
  • learning of new skills, and
  • maintenance of skills previously mastered.

At TSBVI, technology instruction is accepted as an essential part of the core curricula for students who are blind or visually impaired. Instructional technology is used to support, enhance and facilitate existing classroom instruction--not to replace it. Technology must be integrated into the classroom/curriculum to the maximum degree possible. This assumes that all students and staff will have appropriate and necessary training in the use of the technology. At the same time, we acknowledge that neither technology instruction nor instructional technology can replace the mastery of other skills included in the core curricula or on an Individualized Education Plan.

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PLANNING ASSUMPTIONS AND FACTORS

Underlying Assumptions

full funding of the budget submitted in the agency Legislative Appropriation Request

technology planning will be integrated within various technology committees that span instructional and administrative applications

the cost of technology will continue to decline

moneys will be available to enable the systematic upgrading and expansion of existing applications

assignment of adequate staff resources to support existing applications and continue development of the systems needed for efficient processing of fiscal and student information

increasing need for instructional and assistive technology assessment, training, and access will present a continued need to expand the technology program both within the current applications and new program areas

increased need for inter-networking of TSBVI with other agencies serving persons with visual impairments to access students and teachers, regardless of distance separation

Planning Factors

the Uniform State-Wide Accounting System will continue to improve and satisfy agency accounting needs

continued expansion of the outreach department and the formation of new service delivery models

continued emphasis of transition planning policies for student intake/dismissal with an increase in demand on those information and support systems

continued need for ongoing for technical training of staff remains a factor for exploitation of technology systems. As use of technology becomes more pronounced in the organization, the need for training becomes more critical for successful use of the systems

technical staff involvement in administrative planning and policy development

continued emphasis on outreach orientation and development of infrastructure to support the outreach functions

the upgrade of desktop computers for instructional uses will be required to align the instructional focus with current market trends. As use of Graphical User Interface (GUI) software becomes more prevalent, TSBVI needs to train students within that environment to provide contemporary vocational and academic opportunities. For example, upgrade of desktop computers are essential to provide a platform for application and training in Windows 95 environments

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GOALS

GOAL 1: Students with visual impairments will acquire the skills necessary to lead vocationally, personally, and socially satisfying and productive lives.

[Texas Education Code 11.062]

IR Goal #1 TSBVI will facilitate the use of technology to maximize independence and productivity of all students with visual impairments

IR Objective #1 Ongoing upgrade of current instructional technology systems environment to replace outdated systems with more functional capabilities.

IR Strategy #1 Review current instructional technology systems to assess the continued viability of existing devices and implement new equipment according to assessed upgrade needs.

Action Item #1 Assess viability of current technologies

#2 Review current equipment to assess functionality

#3 Target equipment to be replaced

#4 Prepare funding proposal

#5 Procure and install replacement equipment

IR Strategy #2 continue to expand distribution of computing resources through the implementation of a campus-wide local area network.

Action Item #1 assess logical expansions of the network to new buildings

#2 continue to orient and train staff in new technology systems

IR Objective #2 Continue training and documentation of curricular methods and techniques in the use of instructional and adaptive technology

IR strategy #3 Continue integration of technology into the five basic curricular strands

Action item #1 Develop needed technology curricula in the areas of keyboarding, word processing, access hardware, access software, personal tools

#2 Develop/acquire/adapt a range of technology assessments for use during student technology evaluations

#3 Explore the use of computer assisted instruction to augment the five basic curricular areas

IR Strategy #4 Train all teachers in the use of instructional technology

Action item #1 train technology teachers in current and emerging technology

#2 Develop a systematic method for keeping all teachers trained (and informed) on appropriate instructional and assistive technology

IR Objective#3 Students will use technology commensurate with their abilities to enhance personal productivity

IR Strategy #5 Provide instruction and training in the use of appropriate technology for the acquisition of skills specified in student's Individual Educational Plan

Action item #1 Develop a technology curriculum that addresses the educational, vocational, and personal technology needs of all students

IR Strategy #6 Students and teachers will have access to appropriate technology

Action item#1 explore new methods of technology service delivery

#2 Continue upgrade of current and acquisition of new and emerging technology to support education of students with visual impairments

#3 Expand access to technology across instructional, vocational, and residential locations

#4 Develop and implement minimum hardware and software configurations across curricular areas and campus locations

#5 Establish a software review committee

#6 continue to work with vendors for beta testing, accessibility evaluation, electronic dissemination of results, and preview center for all teachers on staff and throughout the state

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IR Goal #2 Create and maintain Information systems and procedures that efficiently accommodate legislative and/or Board rule changes as they occur, interface efficiently with other government entities, and provide functional management and efficient administration of school business.

IR Objective #4 Document and make accessible to persons with visual impairments all agency data systems.

IR Strategy #7 Utilize electronic publishing software to provide a accessible centralized repository of agency information.

Action Item #1 continue to expand the TSBVI web site

#2 explore and develop guidelines for establishment of intranet

#3 Train information providers in system update methods

IR Strategy #8 Implement Library and Circulation system.

Action Item #1 Review design of circulation module

#2 explore availability of commercial software

#3 establish task force for software selection

#4 budget, implement, and train staff in use of the system

IR Strategy #9 Further refine Student Course Information System

Action Item #1 Assess current status of system

#2 Modify Report Card format

#3 Implement schedules and grades by course

#4 Train staff

IR Objective #5 Coordinate administrative technology applications and information exchange with external agencies including, but not limited to: Local Education Agencies, Commission for the Blind, Texas Education Agency, State Agencies, the University of Texas, and other organizations or individuals serving visually impaired individuals.

IR Strategy #10 continue to support and integrate the Uniform State-Wide Accounting System and Uniform Statewide Payroll System

Action Item #1 improve Budget management module

#2 improve analysis reporting from USAS extraction data

IR Strategy #11 Implement the American Printing House materials system.

Action Item #1 Asses current system and review potential enhancements

#2 Establish system design and implementation timelines

#3 Ensure that the system provides effective and timely processing of information

IR Strategy #12 Asses risk and impact of year 2000 issues to agency information systems

Action Item #1 Identify year 2000 issues and impact factors

#2 Review application software and existing hardware

#3 take preventative steps to minimize agency risks

IR Strategy#13 review disaster recovery planning

Action Item #1 review current procedures and contingency planning and assess relavency

#2 identify new areas of risk exposure

#3 identify new resources and methods to assist in disaster recovery planning

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GOAL 2: Teachers, parents, and other service providers will have increased knowledge and skills in order to improve educational programming for all students with visual impairments in Texas.

[Texas Education Code 11.062]

IR Goal #3 TSBVI will provide adaptive technology support to Local Education Agencies, educators, students, and families in order to maximize the use and effectiveness of technology for students with visual impairments

IR Objective #6 Provide adaptive technology equipment, software, training, and technical support to local ISD students.

IR Strategy #14 Continue existence, expansion, and upgrade of the Technology Loan Program

Action Item #1 Establish annual funding system to provide maintenance, upgrade and expansion of Technology Loan Program

#2 Establish a system for removal or retiring of equipment and software from the Technology Loan Program

#3 Continue development and refinement of the Technology Loan Program catalog as a source of information

IR Strategy #15 Develop support tools for Outreach staff.

Action Item #1 Design and develop service tracking systems to identify Outreach service delivery trends

#2 Improve information distribution and profession-specific reference through development of accessible information repositories

#3 Provide and improve support and service delivery systems by outreach staff through the use of the TSBVI Web page and other Internet services

IR Strategy #16 Expand role as training and technical support center

Action Item #1 Continue support of TSBVI-Supported training for State-Wide VH professionals

#2 Continue and expand role in technical evaluation of adaptive equipment

#3 Explore the use of distance education for inservice/pre-service training and instructional delivery

#4 Fully utilize video equipment purchased with Technology Loan moneys and TCB donated studio equipment to provide distance education opportunities for teachers and students in the state

#5 Explore use and application of various Internet tools (Gopher, World-Wide Web, newgroups) as a means of information distribution and communication among VH professionals.

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GOAL 3: We will establish and carry out policies governing purchasing and public works contracting that foster meaningful and substantive inclusion of historically underutilized businesses.

IR Goal #4 TSBVI will increase purchases of product and service offerings from historically underutilized businesses

IR Objective #6 Increase volume of competitive purchases from historically underutilized businesses

IR Strategy #17 Review and consider product and service offerings from historically underutilized businesses whenever possible.

Action item #1 Review purchasing catalogs and materials from historically underutilized businesses before making purchases

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Attachment A Organization and Personnel

Technical Support Staff

Director of Technology Services

Serves as the agency Information Resources Manager.

Supervise and direct all agency administrative computer applications. Manage Technology Services department activities including budget coordination, technical oversight, network planning and integration, and the overall technical environment. Assist instructional and administrative staff in the technical review and planning of educational systems/equipment. Analyze, design, and manage the implementation new programs/systems. Plan and coordinate agency procurement and operational management of computer hardware and software. Financial Accounting system analysis and management. Administrator of the Technology Loan Program. Coordinate agency use of Department of Information Resources common software. System manager of the VAX 4000-200 computer with responsibility for all account set-up, maintenance, and hardware/software installation and support. Manage all campus data and telephone network equipment and software.

Application Development Programmer

Analysis, design, and development of new programs/systems with primary responsibility for financial management/accounting systems and student administration systems. Technical support for agency administrative applications. Development of technical software documentation and task analysis. Technical support of networked computers.

System Support Specialist I

Development of user documentation. Technology Services department administrative support. Application systems support. Operational management of Technology Services procurement tracking, inventory, and equipment repair. Initial user point of contact for training and technical support in the use of office automation and application systems. Operational management of Technology Loan program.

Hardware Technician

assigned approximately 50% time to perform duties of maintenance, hardware setup and hardware troubleshooting. The remaining 50% of time is spent in maintenance and installation of communication media and support of the Schools telephone system. The technician assists with the purchasing of repair equipment and coordination with service providers. Documentation of technical interfaces and campus wiring topology.

Computer Technician

performs maintenance, hardware setup, and hardware troubleshooting on PC-based and specialized adaptive equipment. Documentation of technical interfaces and operational procedures. Performs software trouble-shooting and problem resolution. Performs evaluation of new adaptive equipment and development of documentation.

Instructional Technical Staff

StateWide Technical Support Specialist

  • Design, Implement, and mantain WWW site
  • Provide telephone support for state VH personell
  • Provide technical support to Outreach Program for distance education initiatives
  • Coordinate with other state agencies to ensure accessibility of web based information
  • Provide national and international technical presence at assistive and other technology conferences
  • document technical and evaluative information pertaining to assistive technology
  • assist in vh teacher training during Technoloyg institutes at TSBVI
  • Maintain vigilence concerning accessibility of state adopted instuctional materials, textbooks, etc.

Educational Technology Coordinators

  • divide responsibilities among the 5 curricular areas
  • divide service delivery between direct instruction and consultation
  • manage computer labs
  • staff development
  • development of training and instructional materials
  • software/hardware testing, acquisition, and allocation
  • providing outreach services
  • technology assessment of students
  • curriculum development
  • maintain current inventory of equipment for which each is responsible
  • development of multimedia training systems

Outreach Technology Teacher

  • state wide staff development
  • student assessment
  • student training
  • consultation
  • staff development (TSBVI)
  • curriculum development
  • development of instructional materials for staff development
  • software/hardware evaluation
  • development of multimedia training systems

Classroom teacher

  • facilitate completion of student IEP
  • coordinate with ITFs to infuse technology into IEP goals and objectives
  • utilize technology for administrative tasks and transition services

Instructional Technician;

This position assists the technology teachers by performing trouble-shooting and problem-solving for instructional hardware/software as well as assists in equipment and software management.

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Attachment B Policies and Practices

Priority Setting and Planning

Priorities for administrative systems are determined at the administrative management level with planning and coordination through the Technology Services Department. Responsibility for the integration and coordination of information resources is at the department level. Planning priorities are identified by the relevant department or task force and the input is provided to the Technology Services department for incorporation into technology plans.

Staff Training and Continuing Education

Technical staff receive training by attendance to various seminars and conferences. Due to the specialized nature of adaptive technology application at TSBVI, training often entails out-of-state travel to obtain information. Staff are responsible for training other TSBVI and state-wide ISD staff in these specialized areas. Technology Services staff also receive training in conferences and seminar but less-so since there are more local training opportunities available. Often, Technology Services staff train from manuals since travel funds are limited. The Systems Support Specialist provides training to staff in TSBVI proprietary software, All-In-1 software, and the network environment.

Operating System Standards

Historically, administrative systems have been implemented within the VAX/VMS environment. In this context, formal application systems are developed with the COBOL language, conventional indexed sequential and relational database (Rdb) file structures, RALLY, and Datatrieve software. Aside from these legacy applications, new applications are being developed in FoxPro to exploit desktop resources and lessen the impact of new applications on the VAX environment which is nearing capacity. Rewriting older applications will become a very important concern within the next several years. Older COBOL software is supported and Datatrieve is used for query and analysis reporting, though use of SQL from desktop computers is to be explored for viability.

Performance and operational standards for the instructional technology program are developed from collaborations of individuals assembled for the particular task. Develop secure student administration systems within a protection-based software environment. Maximize information access of the school's administrative and instructional systems for the visually impaired. Develop all application systems within a character-cell orientation to enable access by the visually impaired.

Desktop configurations are based on DOS 6.2 and WordPerfect, with a variety screen review products. Network transport to personal computers is with TCP/IP protocols. Desktop software development is with FoxPro software.

With the addition of a web server running Windows NT, the management and support NT is a primary interest and focus.

Interagency Communications

This is primarily limited to E-mail and transport of data files to/from USAS and USPS data systems.

Security

TSBVI complies with known state and professional standards to secure information from unlawful access. Access to confidential student records is limited to those individuals who have been authorize by school administrators. VAX system security is monitored by various software tools and structures. Though several break-ins have been attempted, to our knowledge, none have been successful. Security considerations and guidelines are reviewed with new computer users in conjunction with system training.

Disaster Recovery

In the event of a catastrophic disaster, it is anticipated that a VAX computer could be leased and installed within an acceptable time period. Archived backup data could restore the system to normal operation. A complete backup of all VAX data are made each evening and stored in a off-site location.

Use of Computing resources

Currently, no voice or video computer applications are in use at TSBVI, though voice synthesis is commonplace and speech recognition is being explored to assist students with impaired dexterity.

Use of contract Services and Consultants

Hardware contracts are maintained on VAX components that are too heavy to easily transport to local repair depots. Other school components are self-maintained.

No consultants are used.

Use of Computer-Aided Software Engineering

Several desktop development environments are under review. Most modern development environments involve a degree computer-aided engineering.

Quality Assurance and Risk Management

The school's internal auditor generally reviews most software systems. Most new systems are designed and developed within a multi-disciplinary design team and this approach examines risk as part of the process. Generally, the System Life Cycle methodology is followed for the development of new software.

User Acceptance

This is part of the development process. Typically, due to the specialized nature of application at TSBVI, minor system modifications and enhancements are made after the software system has been used for several months.

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Attachment C Methodology and Information Resource Planning

Over the past 2 years, the school has undergone structural changes in the management and planning of activities with the introduction of Total Quality Management ideals. Increased emphasis is placed on departmental decision-making for budget and planning. As a result, administrative planning is performed within a Task Force (or multi-disciplinary) context. The planning model for instructional technology is through a committee that represents a cross-section of staff responsible for the overall technology program. For school-wide planning of technology policy, application development implementation, and budget planning the agency Information Resource Manager is represented by the Director of Business, Technology, and Operation in the primary decision-making group of the school that consists of the Superintendent, Director of Business, Technology, and Operations, Life Skills principal, VH principal, Director of School Programs, and Director of Outreach services. The Director of Technology Services and members of his staff make recommendations to this group on school-wide technology issues but do not actively participate in the decision.

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Attachment D Configuration

The centralized computer is a VAX 4000-200 made by Digital Equipment Corporation. The operating system is currently VMS 6.1. The VMS platform is the basis for the majority of proprietary software developed in-house. During the eleven years of use of the VAX systems, various applications in office automation, student registration and ARD tracking, Student Database, Medical Limitations, Student Course Information system, Curriculum Management System, Budget, Career Ladder Tracking, Technology Services Inventory, Maintenance Work Order, Library System have been developed in COBOL, Datatrieve, and Rally languages using RMS indexed sequential and Rdb relational file structures. File access protections are implemented by UIC and identifier-based protection schemes. Current development is implemented with FoxPro since the cross-platform features between Mac and PC is important for efficient development and management.

UCX software is used for TCP/IP software, Jetforms forms integration software, and DECnet are used. A videotext publishing software called VTX is used for presentation and storage of repository information.

MS-DOS based PC computers are primarily used for instructional technology in the VH program with various screen review software for speech synthesis and text enlargement software to enlarge the character cell video image: Macintosh computers are used in the Life Skills area with IIe cards to access switch controller-based software and for teacher administration and instructional use.

MS-DOS based PC computers are used in the Business Office to automate the requisition/payment function with the Accounts Payable/Purchasing System. Various other programs are used to provide topical applications on the DOS platform.

The 286-based computers have been phased out with a few exceptions. The new Pathworks network is based on campus-wide fiber-optic cable inter-connecting repeating hubs that provide connectivity for 10-Base-T network clients as well as terminal servers, fiber repeaters, and thinwire ethernet repeaters. The Ethernet of each building is segmented to increase overall uptime of the network in the event of equipment failure or damage of one of the network segments. The Pathworks network uses the VMS VAX system as a network server.

Macintosh computers are used in primarily in the Functional Academics/Basic Skills program. The Early Concepts/Applied Academics area using PC. The administrative staff use both environments, depending on preference and functional needs. The Macintosh computers are networked by Appletalk over ethernet with the Pathworks network software.

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Attachment E Telecommunication Infrastructure

Voice Communications

The Texas School for the Blind uses an Definity G3i analog private branch exchange (PBX) for voice communications. The PBX is currently configured to provide 400 single-line service ports. This system provides off-campus service via 14 local two-way trunks and 16 Direct In-dial trunks. The school uses 1 bulk-billed watts line with AT&T as the carrier. For in-state service, the system uses 5 Station-to-Station (STS) trunks. One PBX console that has been adapted to provide an audible tone to alert the visually impaired operator that an outside call is incoming or a inside call is requesting assistance or connection to a TEXAN circuit. The use of voice mail has been well-received and an automated attendent system is under review.

Data Communications

The Texas School for the Blind has used an Information Systems Network (ISN) for the primary implementation of data communications. The ISN is currently configured to provide 152 standard asynchronous circuits through 7 AIM8 and 12 ADU8 interface cards, each with 8 ports. With the advent of the networked computers, the ISN is being gradually replaced with directly connected to hub-based asynchronous terminal servers over unshielded twisted pair building wire.

The on-site standard communication rate is 19,200 Baud over unshielded twisted pair in a star topology, terminated in the central telephone switch room. The building wiring standard is based on the EIA568 standard. Installation is performed in-house. In the Technology Services office area an thin-wire ethernet circuit provides networked connection for the Printserver 20, programmer X-Window workstations, terminal servers, and a Cisco Router. One TI circuit provides a DECnet and TCP/IP protocols interface with the Department of Information Resources VAXcluster. to the Department of Information Resources network, connected by Cisco Routers. DIR provides domain name services and routes the TCP/IP and DECnet network traffic from TSBVI to Internet resources such as TENET, USAS, and other services. This circuit also routes all off-site electronic mail, host telnet connections, and production data traffic to other agencies. All remote printing from the USAS system is accomplished over this link and TSBVI uses the link to upload and download data files to the USAS via FTP. Additionally, the school has access and is a member of the Texas Higher Education Network (THENET) with DECnet protocols.

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Attachment F Interagency Network Participation

TSBVI receives remote printing files from the USAS system through TCP/IP File Transfer Protocol and when USAS is a production system in September 1993, will upload and download data files to the USAS.

TSBVI perform routine criminal history checks on new employees via magnetic tape from the Department of Public Safety.

Registration data of visually impaired students in Texas is provided by TEA annually to TSBVI on floppy disk.

TSBVI makes annual summary data report to the State Purchasing and General Services Commission of property transactions.

The use of electronic mail to exchange information with other state agencies is extremely helpful when available.

The primary limiting factor for mail and data transfers is access to other agencies through TCP/IP or DECnet protocols.

OSI transition is feasible on the VAX platform and actual transition will occur when it becomes technical viable within the general state-wide environment and DIR develops routing capabilities.

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Attachment G Databases

Database Name: Student Database

File Structure: Rdb

Access Software: RDO/SQL, COBOL

Hardware: VAX 4000-200

Location: Technology Services Department

Description: A complex, highly normalized base that contains relations for a variety of student-related data. Extensive linking to other software systems by student SSN and integrated with office automation systems.

Database Name: Medical Limitations

File Structure: Rdb

Access Software: RDO/SQL, Rally

Hardware: VAX 4000-200

Location: Technology Services Department

Description: Stores data concerning student medical limitations including medications, immunizations, and medical history. Linked to Student Database via student SSN.

Database Name: Maintenance Work Order

File Structure: Rdb

Access Software: RDO/SQL, Rally

Hardware: VAX 4000-200

Location: Technology Services Department

Description: Tracks work orders to provide status, repair history, and assignment information.

Database Name: Registration Tracking

File Structure RMS indexed sequential

Access Software All-In-1

Hardware VAX 4000-200

Location Technology Services Department

Description Contains elements to track flow of paperwork, student

requests/requirements for fall and summer registration processing.

Database Name: ARD Tracking

File Structure RMS indexed sequential

Access Software All-In-1

Hardware VAX 4000-200

Location Technology Services Department

Description Contains elements to track ARD set-up and coordination

with other staff and agencies.

Database Name: Student Course Information

File Structure Rdb

Access Software: RDO/SQL, Rally

Hardware: VAX 4000-200

Location: Technology Services Department

Description Contains entry for all student courses, grades, and scheduling. Linked to the Student Database via SSN.

Database Name: Incident Reporting

File Structure Rdb

Access Software Rally

Hardware VAX 4000-200

Location Life Skills

Description Contains information concerning behavior and injuries.

Database Name: Warehouse

File Structure RMS ISAM

Access Software: COBOL, Datatrieve

Hardware: VAX 4000-200

Location: Technology Services Department

Description All warehouse receipts and issues

Database Name: Student Trust

File Structure RMS ISAM

Access Software: COBOL, Datatrieve

Hardware: VAX 4000-200

Location: Technology Services Department

Description All student account receipts and expenditures

Database Name: Accounts Payable/Purchasing

File Structure Fox Pro

Access Software Fox Pro for Dos

Location Business Office

Description Requisition and payable information and status. Several files linked by requisition number.

Database Name: Staff Database

File Structure Rdb

Access Software: RDO/SQL, Rally

Hardware: VAX 4000-200

Location: Technology Services Department

Description Contains name, username, all-in-1 account name, social security number and application access information for all employees. System is used to build user login menus and in a variety of systems that reference employee names.

Database Name: Library System

File Structure Rdb

Access Software: RDO/SQL, COBOL

Hardware: VAX 4000-200

Location: Learning Resource Center

Description Catalog information for library media. Allows for future development of cirrculation system.

Database Name: Discipline Log System

File Structure Rdb

Access Software: RDO/SQL, Rally

Hardware: VAX 4000-200

Location: Secondary Office

Description Tracking and email notification system for student dicipline information.

Database Name: Software Archive System

File Structure Rdb

Access Software: RDO/SQL, Rally

Hardware: VAX 4000-200

Location: Technology Services Department

Description Contains entries for distribution media of commercial software stored in the media room of the Technology Services Department.

Database Name: Data Dictionary System

File Structure Rdb

Access Software: RDO/SQL, Rally

Hardware: VAX 4000-200

Location: Technology Services Department

Description Stores metadata for all databases, and file structures developed in-house.

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Attachment H Major Applications

Financial Administration

The Financial Accounting system used by TSBVI is the Uniform State-Wide Accounting System (USAS) supported by the comptroller's office. We are an internal user of this software and the State-Wide Property Accounting system. The Supplies Inventory (Warehouse) used is a proprietary software system written in COBOL. We use the Uniform State-Wide Payroll System and a PC-based Purchasing/Obligation system. Supplementary reporting and fund management software has been written to increase the functionality of accounting reports from the data downloaded from USAS. All proprietary accounting software systems at TSBVI have data extraction features that provide data upload to USAS to avoid duplicate entry. Remaining fiscal analysis and accounting functions will be converted to process on the TSBVI VAX computer.

Student Administration

The Student Database system contains demographic and enrollment information on students in attendance at the Texas School for the Blind. Phase I of the system has been operational since 1988 and migrated from the Department of Information Resources VAXcluster to the in-house VAX in 1991 after a processor upgrade. The data from this system is collected and distributed in a variety of ways to meet the needs of the school. This system is scheduled for re-write in Fiscal Year 1996.

Office Automation

The initial implementation of the school's communication network with 38 users took place May 1987. At that time each user was created an office automation (All-In-1) account on the Department of Information Resources VAXcluster. This linking of the primary administrative functions of the school proved extremely successful and as planned in the 1986 four-year plan, a MicroVAX II was procured in the fall of 1987 and installed. All user accounts were moved in February 1988 and twelve new user accounts were added. The third phase in the fall of 1988 will complete with 26 terminals installed. The system reached capacity at that point with 68 terminals and 76 user accounts. The MicroVAX system was upgraded in 1991 with an in-cabinet upgrade to a VAX 4000-200 processor. Memory was expanded to 32MB and additional terminal servers and a high-capacity laser printer was added. Office automation, and especially electronic mail, has been universally accepted by the agency staff and has proven extremely beneficial as a communications tool, given the school's scope of service coordination and intense individualized approach to education. The Macintosh and MSDOS computers are integrated with the VAX this fiscal year via the Pathworks network.

Library Management system

This system is was developed by the Texas School for the Deaf and given to TSBVI. The system was then converted to conform to 'mark' format standards and the system is currently being loaded with title information. When this process is complete, a circulation system will be added to the system modules. The system was also redesigned to accommodate the multiple forms in which library matter may exist (Braille, large print, etc.). The system also provides for inventory of materials and media. to provide an efficient method for instructional staff and students to access the system via conventional or adapted technology. The system complies with established TEA guidelines for electronic library archetecture.

Student Course Information system

Contains course schedules, grade reporting, teacher/student assignments, and attendance. Schedules are produced in large print and Braille format. This software is written in Rally.

Accounts Payable/Purchasing System (APPS)

All purchase requisitions are entered and the system provides receiving reports for the warehouse, status tracking of requisitions, and generation of payable transactions for general ledger update. After the requisition is filled, data is exported to the payment modules for voucher printing and generation of encumbrance transactions for general ledger update. This software is written in FoxPro.

Student Registration Tracking

Tracks registration elements during fall and summer student enrollment. Provides numerous status and management reports. Integrated with word processing system for generation of form letters. Entry performed in Center for School Resources with read-only access to numerous school staff for program planning.

Service Request System

Records Technology Services department services to user, equipment repair events, software upgrade installations, and various support events.

Data Dictionary

Manages documentation of database, field, and descriptive information of TSBVI data systems.

Technology Loan Catalog

Manages descriptive information of equipment available in the loan program. System generates loan catalog and provide query of elements.

For the Fiscal Years 2003-2007 Period

by Texas School for the Blind and Visually Impaired

Download PDF and RTF versions

Board Member

Terms Expire

Hometown

Mary Sue Welch, President

2005

Dallas

Frankie Swift, Vice President

2007

Nacogdoches

Bruce Best, Secretary

2003

Spring

Barbara Cherry

2003

Garrison

Zena Pearcy

2003

Austin

Otilio Galindo

2005

San Angelo

Deborah Louder

2005

San Angelo

Jesus Bautista

2007

El Paso

Vacant Position

2007

--

TABLE OF CONTENTS

STATEWIDE VISION, MISSION AND PHILOSOPHY  4

RELEVANT STATEWIDE GOALS AND BENCHMARKS        5

MISSION OF THE TEXAS SCHOOL FOR THE BLIND AND VISUALLY IMPAIRED        5

PHILOSOPHY OF THE TEXAS SCHOOL FOR THE BLIND AND VISUALLY IMPAIRED 5

EXTERNAL/INTERNAL ASSESSMENT              6

           Overview of Agency Scope and Functions  6

           Organizational Aspects       9

           Fiscal Aspects               17           

           Service Population Demographics   27

           Technological Developments            31

           Economic Variables  34

           Impact of Federal Statutes/Regulations  36

           Other Legal Issues      37

           Self-Evaluation and Opportunities for Improvement       38

TSBVI GOALS, OBJECTIVES, OUTCOME MEASURES, STRATEGIES, OUTPUT MEASURES AND EICIENCY MEASURES          47

APPENDICES:

Appendix A:  TSBVI Planning Process            52

Appendix B:  Current Organizational Chart       53

Appendix C:  Five-Year Projections for Outcomes              54

Appendix D:  Performance Measure Definitions 55

Appendix E:  Strategic Workforce Analysis Plan             75

Appendix F:  Survey of Organizational Excellence         86

Appendix G:  Information Resources Strategic Plan      88


Governor Rick Perry’s Vision for Texas *

Working together, I know we can accomplish our mission and achieve these priority goals for our fellow Texans:

  • To assure open access to an educational system that not only guarantees the basic core knowledge necessary for citizenship, but also emphasizes excellence in all academic and intellectual undertakings;
  • To provide for all of Texas’ transportation needs of the new century;
  • To meet the basic health care needs of all Texans;
  • To provide economic opportunities for individual Texans and provide an attractive economic climate with which to attract and grow businesses; and
  • To provide for the safety and security of all within our border.

The Mission of Texas State Government *

Texas State Government will be limited, efficient, and completely accountable.  It will foster opportunity, economic prosperity, and family.  The stewards of the public trust will be men and women who administer state government in a fair, just, and responsible manner.  To honor the public trust, state officials will seek new and innovative ways to meet state government priorities within its financial means.

The Philosophy of Texas State Government *

The task before all state public servants is to govern in a manner worthy of this great state.  We are a great enterprise, and as an enterprise we will promote the following core principles.

  • First and foremost, Texas matters most.  This is the overarching, guiding principle by which we will make decisions.  Our state, and its future, is more important than party, politics or individual recognition.
  • Government should be limited in size and mission, but it must be highly effective in performing the tasks it undertakes.
  • Decisions affecting individual Texans are best made by those individuals, their families, and the local governments closest to their communities.
  • Competition is the greatest incentive for achievement and excellence.  It inspires ingenuity and requires individuals to set their sights high. And just as competition inspires excellence, a sense of personal responsibility drives individual citizens to do more for their future, and the future of those they love.
  • Public administration must be open and honest, pursuing the high road rather than the expedient course.  We must be accountable to taxpayers for our actions.
  • Finally, state government should be humble, recognizing that all its power and authority is granted to it by the people of Texas, and those who make decisions wielding the power of the state should exercise their authority cautiously and fairly.

Aim high…we are not here to achieve inconsequential things!

*From Planning for Progress:  The Statewide Strategic Planning Elements for Texas State Government, April 2002, developed by Governor Rick Perry and the Texas Legislative Budget Board.

State Government Goal and Benchmarks Relevant to TSBVI




State Government Goal and Benchmarks Relevant to TSBVI

State Benchmarks Adopted by TSBVI

Percent of students from third grade forward who are able to read at or above grade level, or who are able to acquire the level of literacy established in their individual education plans.

 

Percent of students who achieve mastery of the foundation subjects of reading, English language arts, math, social studies and science, or who achieve mastery of the core curriculum for visually impaired learners established in their individual education plans.

 

Percent of students who demonstrate satisfactory performance on the Texas Assessment of Knowledge and Skills (TAKS), the State-Developed Alternative Assessment, or the Locally Determined Alternative Assessment.

 

Percent of students who attend schools or districts rated as recognized.

MISSION OF THE TEXAS SCHOOL FOR THE BLIND AND VISUALLY IMPAIRED

The mission of the Texas School for the Blind and Visually Impaired (TSBVI) is to provide opportunities for children and youth who are visually impaired, including those with additional disabilities, to develop the skills necessary to lead vocationally, personally, and socially satisfying and productive lives.

PHILOSOPHY OF THE SCHOOL FOR THE BLIND AND VISUALLY IMPAIRED

The Texas School for the Blind and Visually Impaired (TSBVI) is committed to providing educational services of the highest quality to children and youth who are blind and visually impaired, including those with additional disabilities.  TSBVI welcomes the challenge of providing educational services which will result in productive, fulfilled adults who will enjoy the same responsibilities and privileges as all citizens of Texas.  These services will be provided to our students in a safe, creative, flexible, comprehensive, and cost-efficient manner.

EXTERNAL/INTERNAL ASSESSMENT

Overview of Agency Scope and Functions

The Texas School for the Blind and Visually Impaired has been established as part of the public education system to serve as a special school in the continuum of statewide alternative placements for students who have a visual impairment.  It is also a statewide resource to professionals and parents who serve these children.

Statutory Basis

TEXAS EDUCATION CODE §30.021 - 30.024

These sections of code establish the purposes of the School, its governance by a nine-member board, and specific provisions related to the School's superintendent and its employees.

TEXAS EDUCATION CODE §30.025

This section establishes the funding sources for the School, including funds appropriated by the Legislature, allocated by the Texas Education Agency, contracts, gifts, and the Foundation School Program.

TEXAS EDUCATION CODE §30.003

This section requires each school district that has students enrolled in the regular school year at the School to share in the cost of the students' education based on each district's total student enrollment and its maintenance and debt service taxes.

TEXAS EDUCATION CODE §30.004

Local school districts are required to provide information about the services available from the School to the families of students who are blind or seriously visually disabled.

INDIVIDUALS WITH DISABILITIES EDUCATION ACT (I.D.E.A.):  20 U.S.C. §1400 - §1485; 34 C.F.R. §300.1 - §301 and §104

This federal law and its accompanying regulations require the provision of a free, appropriate public education in the least restrictive environment to all children with disabilities in accord with a written "Individual Education Plan" for each student.  It also provides for parent participation in this process and guarantees certain due process rights to the student and to the family of a student with a disability.

19 TEXAS ADMINISTRATIVE CODE - EDUCATION. T.A.C. §89.240

This particular section of Administrative Code - Education (State Bd. of Education Rules) specifies the functions and admission procedures of the School.         

Historical Perspective
1856   The School was established by the Texas Legislature as the Texas Institute for the Blind.  The original campus was located at the present day "Little Campus" of the University of Texas - Austin.
1915  The School's name was changed to the Texas School for the Blind.
1917 The School moved to its present 45-acre campus on West 45th Street in Austin.
1965 The School for Deaf, Blind, & Orphans (Afro-American students) was integrated into the Texas School for the Blind.
1974 A special program for deafblind children was initiated in response to the needs of children affected by rubella syndrome.  The program was begun at a separate campus, formerly the Confederate Widows' Mansion, on West 38th in the Hyde Park neighborhood of Austin.
1975  

The Texas Legislature enacted H.B. 1673 adding statewide responsibilities to the School's enabling statutes and mission.  Governance of the School was transferred from the Texas Education Agency to a subcommittee of the Texas State Board of Education.

U.S. Congress enacted the Education of All Handicapped Children Act, significantly impacting the provision of special education services to children, guaranteeing a free, appropriate public education to all handicapped children in the least restrictive environment.  One effect on the School was an increase in the number of children with multiple disabilities requesting the services of this school.

1981

The governance of the school was transferred to a separate nine-member school board whose members are appointed by the governor with the consent of the senate.

The Deafblind program moved onto the main campus of the School.

1989 The School was given its current name, Texas School for the Blind and Visually Impaired in order to reflect more accurately the population it serves.
1990 The School consolidated and expanded its outreach services into a separate division.
1994 Summer school programs were expanded to include multiple sessions with varying focuses and durations in response to needs expressed by the parents and educators of visually impaired children in public schools.
2000 The School initiated a series of new short-term programs during the regular school year.  Students who attend their local public school came to TSBVI for week-long and weekend programs to acquire skills in living independently and using specialized computer technology.

Affected Populations

  • Blind, visually impaired, and deafblind children and youth of school age who are Texas residents;
  • Secondary and elementary school teachers and other professionals throughout Texas in either regular or special education who serve students with blindness and severe visual impairment;
  • Parents of children with a visual impairment, including children with additional disabilities;
  • State and local agencies serving children with a visual impairment.  (Examples:  Local school districts and special education cooperatives, the Texas Education Agency, the Texas Department of Assistive and Rehabilitative Services (formerly known as Texas Commision for the Blind) , Regional Education Service Centers).

Main Functions:  Direct and Outreach Services

  • To provide, upon request of a local educational agency, a free, appropriate public education that addresses the intense or specialized needs of visually impaired children and youth, including those with additional disabilities.
  • To conduct supplemental programs, such as summer and other short-term programs, and to consider information from sources throughout the State regarding the nature of those programs and the needs of students.
  • To provide statewide services to parents of students with visual impairments, school districts, regional  education service centers, and other agencies.  These services include training, consultation, technical assistance, and developing and disseminating materials such as curriculum, instructional methodology, and educational technology.
  • To provide information related to library resources, adapted materials, current research, technology resources, and methods related to the teaching, assessment, and transition of students with visual impairments.
  • To operate programs for lending educational and technological materials to school districts and regional education service centers.
  • To facilitate the preparation of teachers for visually impaired students by providing assistance to colleges and universities as well as alternative teacher preparation programs.
  • To cooperate with public and private agencies and organizations serving students and other persons with visual impairments in the planning, development, and implementation of effective educational and rehabilitative service delivery systems.
  • To serve as leaders in the use of distance learning for teachers, parents, and students.

Public's Perception

To the state's educational system, we are:

  • a valuable educational resource for direct services to children with blindness and visual impairment;
  • an expert statewide source of information and training regarding education of students with visual impairments;
  • a leader in the use of technology, distance learning, and curriculum development;
  • through publications and our website, a source of expert information for all teachers, administrators, and parents in the state;
  • a source of expert consultation regarding the educational needs of individual children;
  • a significant option within the legally required array of services for blind students;
  • an opportunity for student teachers and interns to acquire the skills necessary to become effective teachers, therapists, social workers, orientation and mobility instructors, and other professionals knowledgeable in the field of visual impairment and blindness.

To blind and visually handicapped youth, we are:

  • a school staffed and equipped to meet their specific needs related to their visual impairment;
  • an opportunity to learn the intellectual, social, independent living, and vocational skills necessary tobecome independent and effective citizens.
  • a source for expertise in learning for all students statewide.

To parents of blind children and youth, we are:

  • a source of information about the impact of vision loss on learning, and the potential educational needs of students because of vision loss;
  • a source of assistance and training in how to enhance the life opportunities for their children;
  • a safe and caring environment which provides their children with their best chance for acquiring the skills necessary to live as full a life as possible.
  • a source for training in how to advocate for their children.

To the general public, we are:

  • a source of information on blindness and teaching children with visual disabilities;
  • a source of information on where to obtain services related to visual loss;
  • a source of information about the capabilities and needs of blind and visually impaired persons;
  • a well-established, attractive campus which does "good things" for blind children in a caring and non-institutional way; a good neighbor.

Organizational Aspects

Size and Composition of Workforce

The staff of the Texas School for the Blind and Visually Impaired is comprised of 468 budgeted full- and part-time positions, totaling 386.32 FTEs. Of the FTEs, 297.19 are classified and one, the Superintendent, is line item exempt. The remaining 88.13 are teachers, principals, counselors, and other educational positions that, by statute (Texas Education Code 30.024(b)(1)), are paid in accordance with Austin Independent School District pay scales for comparable positions.

Among the classified positions, the single largest staff group (110.83 FTEs) consists of residential instructors. Classified as Resident Specialists, these are the staff that provide care, instruction, and supervision of students in their non-school hours. Other classified positions range from nurses to maintenance mechanics, from accountants to technology specialists. The campus-based workforce is a small community with nearly every occupational field represented.

The ethnic composition of the staff is as follows: White - 74%; Black - 12%; Hispanic - 12%; and other minorities - 2%. Women are 67% of the work force.

Organizational Structure and Processes

The School is governed by a nine-member Board of Trustees which is appointed by the Governor and confirmed by the Senate. The Board is composed of three members who are blind or visually impaired, at least one of whom has received educational services related to the blindness or visual impairment; three members who are working or have worked as professionals in the field of delivering services to persons who are blind or visually impaired; and three members, each of whom is the parent of a child who is blind or visually impaired, and at least one of whom is the parent of a child who, at the time of the parent's appointment, is receiving educational services related to the blindness or visual impairment.

The Board of Trustees appoints the Superintendent as the chief administrative officer of the School. The Superintendent administers the School's direct service programs through one Principal for Comprehensive Programs, one Principal for Special Programs, a Director of Outreach Services, and a Director of School and Student Services.

In the Comprehensive Program, students are assigned to one of four curricular strands with crossover occurring among these strands when necessary. These curricular strands are: (1) Basic Skills: for severely multiply impaired, visually impaired students; (2) Early Concepts: for students under the age of 12, functioning significantly behind their age peers (not yet reading, writing, or doing math on a first grade level) but with evidence of academic potential; (3) Functional/Practical Academics: for students over age 12, functioning at least two grade levels below chronological age, with at least kindergarten equivalent reading and writing skills, who learn academic, domestic, recreational, social and vocational skills through functional, community-based activities; and (4) Academic: for students of all ages who are able to follow the TEKS (Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills) curriculum. The Principal of the Comprehensive Program supervises both instructional and residential components for all four curricular strands.

The Principal for Special Programs supervises all summer programs and develops and provides short-term programs during the school year.

The Director of Outreach coordinates services that are provided to students statewide. These services are provided to parents and professionals through training, consultation, and technical assistance.

The School and Student Services Department provides a variety of educational support functions such as school planning, policy development, admissions, records, health services, and community resource development.

In the area of administrative support functions, the Superintendent supervises the Administrator for Business, Operations and Technology and the Director of Human Resources.

The management style of the School is most accurately characterized as participative. The School has adopted a "site-based decision making" model for planning, implementing, and evaluating its programs. All stakeholders are involved in this process through representation in either instructional programs or the school wide Instructional Planning Council. Additionally, the Superintendent and Principals maintain an open-door policy for all staff.

The School is also assisted in its policy-making activities by an educational policy service provided through the Texas Association of School Boards. This service allows the School to consider the applicability of legally based and model school policies as developed by legal and educational policy experts, then adapt and adopt those that are appropriate.

Geographical Location of Agency and Service Populations

The School has a single location in Austin but serves students from throughout Texas.  Student enrollment in regular year programs, special programs and summer programs represents the entire geography of Texas.  About one-half of TSBVI’s students are referred from the larger metropolitan areas along the IH-35 and IH-10 corridors; the others are referred from smaller school districts throughout the State.

Outreach services are provided on a statewide basis by linking with the regional Education Service Centers.  In this way TSBVI provides services that match regional needs identified through the Educational Service Centers, including the specific needs of Texas counties in east Texas and along the upper and lower Rio Grande valleys.

Human Resources Strengths and Weaknesses

We continue to believe that our greatest human resource strength is a staff that is deeply committed to a high quality, individualized education for visually impaired students in the most appropriate setting. The professional staff of the School represents an unparalleled concentration of knowledge, skill, and expertise in the field of education of the visually impaired. Although special education teachers in general and teachers of the visually impaired in particular are in great demand, TSBVI has been relatively successful in attracting professional staff, in part, we believe, because of the reputation of existing staff.

In the last version of this plan, we cited the challenge of finding and hiring adequate numbers of teachers certified in the education of visually impaired (VI) students. This is due to a general shortage that was made worse when the University of Texas at Austin discontinued its VI teacher preparation program. We have had some success in meeting this challenge by building strong relationships with the remaining universities in the state which offer this program, We are able to employ more generally certified special education teachers who can then access these programs in a variety of local and distance education venues and media.

Another key element of attracting these highly qualified educators will be to remain competitive with local school districts. Although Education Code 30.024(b)(1) provides for TSBVI to pay teachers and other educational professionals according to the same payscales used by the Austin Independent School District, AISD pays all special education teachers $1000 per year above their base pay.  At present, we lack the authority to pay such bonuses, but will be seeking that authority in the coming Legislative session so that we do not remain in an unfavorable competitive position relative to AISD and other neighboring school districts.

Like all state agencies, the School faces numerous challenges related to attracting and retaining a qualified workforce to meet the demand for its services. The graying of the workforce, increased demand for state services, the emerging "talent war," and the increased number of jobs requiring high skill levels are among the factors cited by the State Auditors Office in their workforce planning guide, and all of these affect TSBVI.  We are involved in a number of efforts to address this problem strategically and proactively, as is explained in more detail in the strategic planning staffing analysis and workforce plan attached to this strategic plan.  We have already made progress through the development and implementation of career progression programs for virtually all categories of classified staff, and through our successful effort in the last Legislative session to reallocate the classifications of our largest group of direct care staff, residential instructors, to higher salary groups.

We have both strengths and weaknesses in the area of human resource development. We are continuing to provide regular training in basic areas such as new employee orientation, CPR, defensive driving, and behavior management. We are also continuing to provide a yearlong training program on visual impairment for paraprofessional and professional staff who are not certified teachers of the visually impaired. The School is somewhat limited by the fact that we have only one FTE assigned to agency wide staff development. It is often necessary to call on the skills of staff who are not primarily trainers in order to expand the offerings of human resource development.

We are continuing to explore ways to stretch this resource further through the use of technology such as web-based training, interactive videoconferencing, and satellite downlink of training which can be offered live or taped for later training.

School wide staff development activities are augmented by regular, specialized training for groups of staff at the departmental level. The instructional and residential programs provide staff development training throughout the school year related to curriculum, instructional methods, and other topics directed at improving instruction and learning.

Attracting a culturally diverse workforce at professional and administrative levels continues to be a challenge for TSBVI. A major difficulty in this area is that the largest subgroup of our professional staff is made up of teachers of the visually impaired. The VI teaching certification is also the credential required for most of the high level administrative positions, yet it is known that there is a very small number of minorities in Texas who hold this credential.  As noted above, we are actively involved in partnerships with the universities in Texas that offer the VI teaching credential, which will have the affect of making VI certification accessible to a larger and more diverse segment of the population.

Capital Asset Strengths, Weaknesses and Budgetary Needs

Facilities, Furniture, and Equipment

The TSBVI campus consists of fifty structures located on approximately forty-five acres of land owned and maintained by the School.  The buildings range in size from 80 square feet to 65,960 square feet for a total of 305,674 square feet.  There are classrooms, dormitories, independent living facilities, gymnasiums and a swimming pool, an auditorium and a library, a health center, administrative offices, food preparation and cafeteria facilities, maintenance and storage buildings.

The greatest weakness of the School’s facilities is the age of the buildings.  In collaboration with the Texas legislature, TSBVI embarked upon a plan for the gradual renovation or replacement of its aging facilities, beginning with three of the original large dormitories. The renovation of the first student dormitory was completed in May 2000.  Two additional dormitories were renovated in February 2001.  The School has developed a 10-year plan for the continued renovation, repair or replacement of its facilities.

The approval of Proposition 8 in November 2001 authorized the sale of general obligation bonds for renovations and replacements of the School’s buildings in the first six years of the plan.  The appropriation of these funds will allow the School to proceed with its long-range facilities plan.  The remaining four years of the 10-Year Facilities Plan will require additional funding to renovate or to replace the Elementary School Building and Gymnasium, the Elementary Residential Complex, the Support Services Complex, the Homemaking Building, the Main Gymnasium, the Maintenance/Technology Support Building and three buildings previously used as dormitories.

The bond package included $22,637,653 for the School to be used from FY 2003 through FY 2007.  Phase I of the bond package includes an appropriation of $5,134,000 for FY 2003 to replace dormitories and to repair and renovate other buildings and facilities.  Phase 2 of the bond package for FYs 2004 and 2005 contains $13,665,132 to replace or renovate the School’s Main Educational Building and the Recreation Building.  Phase 3 for FYs 2006 & 2007 contains $3,838,521 to build or renovate dormitories and other facilities.

In addition to requesting these appropriations from the sale of general obligation bonds, the School will request continued General Revenue funds in its FY 2004 and FY 2005 base appropriation request for capital improvements to maintain and renovate aging facilities.  These funds will be used to repair and replace heating and air conditioning systems, roofs, plumbing and electrical systems, and lighting improvements; to expand parking; to install curb cuts and ramps; to repair sidewalks; to install automatic doors for fire protection and wheelchair access; and to upgrade playgrounds.  The School will also request funding in its 2004-2005 Legislative Appropriation Request (LAR) to replace the existing indoor swimming pool and elementary gym.

Other needs include the replacement of classroom, residential, and office furniture to complement the renovation or replacement of the buildings.

Vehicles

TSBVI owns, operates, and maintains 27 vehicles.  Twenty-five are used to transport students and staff for the educational and residential programs.  The other two vehicles are used for operation functions including maintenance, the warehouse, and food service.  Thirteen of these vehicles are converted to alternative fuels; five are operating on diesel fuel. Seven are new vehicles for which conversion kits are not yet available.  The remaining two vehicles are too old to be converted economically to alternative fuels.   The School has a long-range plan for the replacement of vehicles that complies with the guidelines of the State Fleet Management Program.

The School’s vans and school busses accrue high mileage due to transporting students to and from their homes on weekends and holidays, and to and from students’ work and learning sites in the community.   In the coming biennium, five replacement vans will be needed for student transportation.

Instructional Technology and Equipment

Students need reliable access to electronic and other adapted technology designed specifically for people with visual impairments so that they can thrive in their vocational pursuit. The School must continue to acquire new computers, software, and electronic devices to ensure that students have access to the general curriculum and appropriate instructional materials. Examples include portable electronic Braille devices with speech and computer output; communication devices for children with multiple disabilities, deaf blindness, speech impairments, and other mental or physical disabilities; and closed-circuit television (CCTV) setups that enable low vision students to view regular print, pictures, and other items enlarged on a video monitor.

The School possesses a broad array of specialized equipment and electronic technologies to assist students acquire knowledge and skills. Often children are referred to the School in order to benefit from instruction in the use of this specialized equipment. The School maintains a loan program to provide electronic technology and software to students in local schools as part of the "Technology Loan Program" operated by TSBVI. The 77th Legislature appropriated funds in each year of the current biennium for the purchase of instructional technology.  The need to replace outdated equipment and to procure the latest adaptive technology will continue. The current level of funding will allow the School to maintain these upgrades.

Adaptive, networking, and desktop technology in the residential area has expanded over the past two years and each residential dormitory has at least two computers dedicated to student use and one computer for staff.  Addition of adaptive equipment such as closed circuit television, Braille embossers, and speech-enabled computers replicates the computer resources in the classroom and provides students with more learning opportunities.

Technology Staff Development and Distance Education

In FY 1999 a federal Technology Integration in Education (TIE) grant was received to provide extensive training for instructional staff in the use of electronic hardware, software, and adapted devices. Staff development in the applications of instructional technology have continued. As basic computer skills are acquired, the need for staff training continues to be a major emphasis to address specific skill areas that staff require to employ adaptive technology in classroom and residential instruction. Resources are also needed to ensure that there is adequate training for administrative, and support staff in the use of technology.

Another component of the TIE grant established a distance learning facility to serve TSBVI clients throughout the state by way of videoconferencing, web-based training, and other distance education technologies. These capabilities allow the School to enhance the learning of children with visual impairments throughout Texas. The technology allows the School to provide valuable information about curriculum, materials, technology, teaching strategies, and training to professionals, parents, and to other interested individuals, school districts, and agencies. The Outreach department continues to exploit every means possible to educate professionals and provide services to support the local district instructional program. As a member of the Esconett consortium, TSBVI has access to other state and university facilities through the Region XIII Educational Service Center in Austin. Such technology can provide information, training and follow-up, and also reduce the time and cost of travel.

In the past two years, ISDN capability has expanded the use of video conferencing to individual offices and classrooms, making less formal videoconferences possible without the use of the conference center.

Infrastructure Technology

The school has a robust fiber optic network infrastructure in all areas of the 45-acre campus. Network access and the related capabilities such as electronic mail and web access for all staff and students have proven valuable to coordinate the various program components and to integrate service delivery between departments. Standardization of wiring and installation has provided increased network reliability.  Each client computer is connected to the network at 100mb and the backbone network consists of four gigabit switches connecting key campus buildings.  Additional fiber optic connections between backbone switches are needed to provide redundancy.

New software is required to support the various functions of the staff and administration in conducting school business.  The requirements of state government for electronic documents related to school data, accounting, budgeting, and grant applications require the continual upgrade of equipment and technical environment.  A key initiative for the next several years will be to develop software to support these functions.

A VMS-based VAX 4000-200 processor continues to be used until new software can be developed.  Current migration planning schedules the VAX computer to be de-installed in fiscal year 2003.

Additional hardware and software is needed to meet the projected demand for more server capacity, i.e. memory upgrades, processor upgrades, server systems software, and back-up media

The school’s PBX was installed in June 1995 and this equipment needs to be replaced.

TSBVI needs to continue expansion and development of the TSBVI web-site. The school's Web site of (WWW.TSBVI.EDU) has been tremendously successful and is considered one of the best resources for the education of the visually impaired. Many departments, particularly Outreach and Curriculum, use the Web site as a critical element of service delivery. Continued development of the Web site is indicated with expansion of web features to provide information interchange with consumers.  Redesign of the web site to improve usability is needed as the site has grown and information has become difficult to locate in the present design.

Agency Use of Historically Underutilized Businesses (HUBs)

The Texas School for the Blind and Visually Impaired has been making a good faith effort to award purchase contracts to certified HUBs.  We are using the automated HUB directory provided by the General Services Commission as the primary reference list to identify minority and women-owned businesses.  On every purchase order over $1,000, the School requests at least one bid from a minority-owned business and at least one bid from a woman-owned business.  On orders under $1,000, every effort is made to purchase from a HUB, provided that the HUB provides the best and lowest bid.

Key Organizational Events and Areas of Change and Impact on Organization

In the Spring of 1997, TSBVI recognized an urgent need to develop a comprehensive Strategic Plan that would retain and strengthen the School’s leadership as we enter the 21st century.  TSBVI has been called upon to assume new roles in recent years.  The population of blind and visually impaired students is continually changing, as is the capability of local school districts to provide at least a portion of the educational programs for these children.

TSBVI initiated an external administrative audit.  The recommendations from this process confirmed our need to embark upon a more comprehensive, ongoing strategic planning process that would serve to guide the School in making decisions now, in planning for the future, and that would incorporate the planning components required of the School as a state agency and as a school.  (Agency Strategic Plan, District Improvement Plan, Information Resources Management Strategic Plan, and School Technology Plan). We continue to benefit from this process.

The process began with a stakeholders' meeting in July 1997.  Parents, former students, representatives from local school districts, and leaders from TEA joined members of the TSBVI staff in a meeting that explored the future, the potential, and the responsibilities of TSBVI for the coming years.  Subsequently, large and small meetings and work sessions have taken place almost weekly, involving all of the TSBVI staff, its Board of Trustees, parents, and community representatives, including members of the business community.

TSBVI’s Strategic Plan continues to focus on the following major directions:

  • A clearly defined commitment to the Core Curriculum for Blind and Visually Impaired Students, including those with additional disabilities.
  • Expansion of career education, including paid employment for students on- and off-campus.
  • A vocational program designed specifically for students at the functional academic level.
  • Programs designed for populations with specific needs, such as daily living skills, orientation and mobility, social skills, and remedial braille.
  • Expansion of services for families with preschool blind and visually impaired children.
  • Increased emphasis on assisting local school districts to examine the quality of services they provide children who are visually impaired.
  • Enhance the visibility of TSBVI by celebrating the achievements of our students.

These are ongoing strategies that will be continued in the next biennium.  Added to these are the provision for short-term programs during the academic year, an emphasis on long-term facilities planning, additions to summer programs in specific skill-building, and continued expansion of outreach services, and the initiation of a post high-school program.

A Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) completed in 1999 between TSBVI and the Texas Education Agency has resulted in a document that will be of great assistance in measuring student outcomes at our school, and that will enable TSBVI to participate in the public education accreditation process.       

TSBVI now has two subcontracts with an Education Service Center resulting in a substantial expansion of our roles.  We provide an Instructional Materials Center for the entire state; we manage statewide registration of all blind and visually impaired students; and we provide technology assistance for all teachers and parents of visually impaired children in Texas.  Our most recent expansion is to assume a major role in the preparation of teachers for visually impaired students.  We are working in collaboration with Stephen F. Austin University and Texas Tech University on a project whose goal is to eliminate the shortage of teachers for blind and visually impaired students in Texas.

Fiscal Aspects

Size of Budget and Method of Finance – Fiscal Years 2002 and 2003

 

A.1.1

A.1.2

A.1.3

A.1.4

B.1.1

C.1.1

D.1.1

 

FY 2002 METHOD OF FINANCE

Classroom Instruction

Residential Program

Summer & Short Term

Related & Support

Technical Assistance

Educ. Prof. Salary Incr.

Indirect Admin.

Total FY 2002

Gen. Rev. Operating

               

Regular Appropriation

2,771,913

2,473,759

946,887

2,264,468

406,566

177,144

2,535,719

11,576,456

Total, Gen. Rev. Oper.

2,771,913

2,473,759

946,887

2,264,468

406,566

177,144

2,535,719

11,576,456

                 

G.R. - Capital Budget

               

Maintain Aging Facilities

     

542,324

   

80,125

622,449

Technology Upgrade

           

63,000

63,000

Technology Infrastructure

           

77,500

77,500

Instructional Materials

80,325

55,200

 

37,700

     

173,225

Buses and Vans

     

168,000

     

168,000

Lease Payments: Bus

     

17,554

     

17,554

Total, GR - Capital Budget

80,325

55,200

0

765,578

0

0

220,625

1,121,728

                 

Federal Funds

               

USDA

     

70,000

     

70,000

Medicaid

     

100,000

     

100,000

Medicaid Admin. Claims

     

75,000

     

75,000

IDEA-B Formula

       

106,930

   

106,930

ESEA Title VI

     

875

     

875

IDEA-D

       

427,619

   

427,619

IDEA-B

       

17,273

   

17,273

Drug Free Schools

800

           

800

Region XI - Orig. Agree.

       

267,977

   

267,977

Fund 148 - Teacher Prep

       

900,000

   

900,000

Fund 148 - Outreach Teacher

       

48,447

   

48,447

Fund 148 - Short Term Prog.

   

84,000

       

84,000

Total, Federal Funds

800

0

84,000

245,875

1,768,246

0

0

2,098,921

                 

Inter-agency Receipts

               

TCB - SWEAT

   

59,886

       

59,886

TCB - WALIC

   

27,744

       

27,744

TEA-SSVI Discretionary

   

34,620

 

58,695

   

93,315

Health Dept. Aide

34,536

           

34,536

Total, IAC Receipts

34,536

0

122,250

0

58,695

0

0

215,481

                 

Appropriated Revenue

               

Per Capita (ISD Funds)

322,468

100,000

         

422,468

Local District Funds

328,122

           

328,122

Technology Allotment

4,025

           

4,025

Canteen Receipts

     

22,000

     

22,000

Vending Receipts

     

16,000

     

16,000

Housing Receipts

           

6,000

6,000

Meal Ticket Sales

     

9,000

     

9,000

Magic Years Rental

           

3,658

3,658

Capital Area Workforce

   

32,400

       

32,400

Low Vision Assess.

     

3,000

     

3,000

Surplus & Salvage

           

5,000

5,000

LEA Travel Reimbursements

     

20,000

     

20,000

Conference Registra.

       

35,000

   

35,000

Curriculum Sales

38,372

   

140,951

     

179,323

Total, Appr. Receipts

692,987

100,000

32,400

210,951

35,000

0

14,658

1,085,996

                 

Total, M.O.F. - FY 2002

3,580,561

2,628,959

1,185,537

3,486,872

2,268,507

177,144

2,771,002

16,098,582

 

A.1.1

A.1.2

A.1.3

A.1.4

B.1.1

C.1.1

D.1.1

 

FY 2003

Classroom

Residential

Summer &

Related &

Technical

Educ. Prof.

Indirect

Total

METHOD OF FINANCE

Instruction

Program

Short Term

Support

Assistance

Salary Incr.

Admin.

FY 2003

                 

Gen. Rev. Operating

               

Regular Appropriation

2,771,913

2,473,759

946,887

2,264,468

406,566

366,437

2,565,719

11,795,749

Total, Gen. Rev. Oper.

2,771,913

2,473,759

946,887

2,264,468

406,566

366,437

2,565,719

11,795,749

                 

G.R. - Capital Budget

               

Technology Upgrade

           

63,000

63,000

Instructional Materials

80,325

55,200

 

37,700

     

173,225

Lease Payments: Bus

     

17,474

     

17,474

Total, GR - Capital Budget

80,325

55,200

0

55,174

0

0

63,000

253,699

                 

Federal Funds

               

USDA

     

70,000

     

70,000

Medicaid

     

100,000

     

100,000

Medicaid Admin. Claims

     

75,000

     

75,000

IDEA-B Formula

       

106,930

   

106,930

ESEA Title VI

     

875

     

875

IDEA-D

       

427,619

   

427,619

IDEA-B

       

17,273

   

17,273

Drug Free Schools

800

           

800

Region XI - Orig. Agree.

       

267,977

   

267,977

Fund 148 - Teacher Prep

       

900,000

   

900,000

Fund 148 - Outreach Teacher

       

48,447

   

48,447

Fund 148 - Short Term Prog.

   

84,000

       

84,000

Total, Federal Funds

800

0

84,000

245,875

1,768,246

0

0

2,098,921

                 

Inter-agency Receipts

               

TCB - SWEAT

   

59,886

       

59,886

TCB - WALIC

   

27,744

       

27,744

TEA-SSVI Discretionary

   

34,620

 

58,695

   

93,315

Health Dept. Aide

34,536

           

34,536

Total, IAC Receipts

34,536

0

122,250

0

58,695

0

0

215,481

                 

Appropriated Revenue

               

Per Capita (ISD Funds)

322,468

100,000

         

422,468

Local District Funds

328,122

           

328,122

Technology Allotment

4,025

           

4,025

Canteen Receipts

     

22,000

     

22,000

Vending Receipts

     

16,000

     

16,000

Housing Receipts

           

6,000

6,000

Meal Ticket Sales

     

9,000

     

9,000

Magic Years Rental

           

3,658

3,658

Capital Area Workforce

   

32,400

       

32,400

Low Vision Assess.

     

3,000

     

3,000

Surplus & Salvage

           

5,000

5,000

LEA Travel Reimbursements

     

20,000

     

20,000

Conference Registra.

       

35,000

   

35,000

Curriculum Sales

38,372

   

140,951

     

179,323

Total, Appr. Receipts

692,987

100,000

32,400

210,951

35,000

0

14,658

1,085,996

                 

Total, M.O.F. - FY 2003

3,580,561

2,628,959

1,185,537

2,776,468

2,268,507

366,437

2,643,377

15,449,846

                 

Bond Proceeds

     

5,134,000

     

5,134,000

                 

Total, with Bonds - FY 2003

3,580,561

2,628,959

1,185,537

7,910,468

2,268,507

366,437

2,643,377

20,583,846

Per Capita and Other States’ Comparisons

As compared to other forms of special education programming, including schools for the blind in other states, TSBVI has neither the highest cost per pupil nor the lowest.  It provides resources to children in direct proportion to the needs of each individual student.  To simply divide the budget for TSBVI by the number of students enrolled in the regular academic programs provides spurious information.  Cost per pupil at each school for the blind in the United States is determined by a variety of factors:

  • The characteristics of students served.  TSBVI has accepted as part of its mission the provision of educational services to very challenging visually impaired students with additional disabilities.  Consequently, the School serves a disproportionately large number of these students.  These students require extensive human and material resources and a low staff ratio.  We emphasize that this commitment to complex children with serious additional disabilities has dramatically changed the funding needs of TSBVI.
  • Economic factors of the community.  Austin-area school districts have a moderately high salary structure compared to many parts of the State, requiring teacher salary schedules that tend to increase the personnel costs of the School.
  • The mission to serve as a model program that demonstrates best practices for visually impaired students to others in the State who serve similar students.  This mission requires an excellent staff of teachers and support services who provide cutting-edge services to students served in this manner.
  • The age and condition of each campus.  A rapidly aging campus requires that TSBVI make capital expenditures in maintenance and repair to a greater extent than newer campuses.
  • The commitment to serve students through intensive, short-term programming.  Maintaining this commitment requires quality, intensive services combined with high levels of transition service training of local education staff.
  • The extent to which TSBVI is a self-sufficient campus.  The school has very few subcontracts for services, a practice common in other similar schools.  In the opinion of the school, providing one’s own services is a cost-efficient system.  However, what it means is that comparisons cannot be made with similar schools who may appear less expensive, but have significant contracts for services from other agencies or organizations.

Other significant costs to the TSBVI budget include:

  • A large summer enrichment program serves blind and visually impaired students who attend local public schools during the regular school year. Outreach services provides indirect services to visually impaired students throughout the state of Texas by increasing the skills of their teachers and parents.
  • Staff development provides training in skills unique to the needs of visually impaired students, including those with additional disabilities, and assures that services provided at the School reflect the state-of-the-art.  This includes training employees at TSBVI and serving as a professional preparation program for the entire state.  The unique nature of the School’s student population requires very specialized staff development.  Often, this training requires expenditures for travel, conferences, and workshops.
  • Instructional materials and technology for blind and visually impaired students require adaptation by changing print into the appropriate medium or modifying the materials for visual, tactile, or auditory access.  The cost of commercially adapted materials is high in comparison to materials for non-visually impaired students.  Not all needs can be met through commercial materials; therefore, many materials must be developed by our staff, requiring additional time and materials.
  • Curriculum development includes participation by the School’s direct-care staff during times that extend beyond their regular hours.  The curricula developed are widely used by professionals throughout the country.
  • Intensive, short-term programs, with a very low pupil-teacher ratio, are needed for students with visual impairments who are enrolled in public schools during the regular school year.  Nationwide, there is growing evidence that students with disabilities can best succeed in inclusive educational settings if they also have the opportunity to receive specialized instruction in areas specific to their disabilities.

Budgetary Limitations

A major factor on the School’s ability to provide appropriate services is the number of students enrolled in the regular comprehensive programs and in the special summer and short-term programs.  To ensure that appropriate services are delivered in a safe environment, it is necessary to maintain adequate staff-to-student ratios.  As enrollment increases, the School does not have the ability to increase budget resources to accommodate more students.  As a result the students are either not served or are under-served.  A possible solution is for the Legislature to provide additional appropriation authority when enrollment exceeds the currently budgeted capacity.

The current limitation (rider 4 to the appropriation) prohibits the School’s ability to use appropriated funds for the construction of a swimming pool or natatorium.  As the existing natatorium continues to deteriorate, the School will be forced to discontinue an essential component of the on-campus recreational program.  Use of the TSBVI swimming pool is primarily for therapeutic purposes.  Activities in water are particularly effective for blind and visually impaired students with limited mobility.  Also, swimming pool activities, unlike many other physical education programs, can be done by blind and visually impaired students without any disadvantage based on vision.

The current out-of-state travel cap causes serious difficulties to TSBVI.  The school is the only one of its kind in the state, and very often staff development opportunities occur in other states.  For example, there is only one national convention for educators of blind and visually impaired children.  This summer it will be held in Toronto, Canada.  This convention is of significant benefit for many of our staff, since “cutting-edge” methods and materials for instruction are presented.  Very few TSBVI staff will be attending due to travel cap limitations.

Also, a track meet was recently held in Mississippi.  Six schools for the blind participated, and it is one of the few opportunities our students have to compete with other blind students on an equal basis.  We naturally have to send staff for supervision, and this type of excellent student activity is in jeopardy because of the travel cap.

Degree to Which Current Budget Meets Current and Expected Needs

General Issues

The current budget allows the School to provide an excellent education to blind and visually impaired students. The School can operate a series of Summer Programs for visually impaired students from public schools, but at a somewhat reduced level because of reduced external funding. The Outreach function of the School can continue to provide its current level of services. The 76th Legislature also permitted the School to request increased funding for instructional technology within its base budget request.  This appropriation has been a significant benefit to the education of children with visual impairments, and the School will request that this funding be continued. Funds for major capital expenditures have been provided for the initial phase of dormitory renovations and for replacement of school buses.

With the recent approval of the Proposition 8 bond issue, the 78th Legislature can appropriate the funds to initiate long-overdue renovations and construction.  This will result in a campus far more appropriate and “student friendly” than in the past. Texas must never be embarrassed by the state of the facilities in which blind children live and go to school.

Current Program Initiatives

TSBVI is proud of the initiatives it has undertaken by creatively allocating the resources appropriated by the legislature or secured by the School from other sources.  These new or expanded initiatives include:

Short-term Special Programs provided during the regular school year to meet the special needs of students with visual impairments who attend their local public schools.

Extensive staff development provided to teachers in the use of electronic technology applications to enhance student learning [Technology Integration in Education (TIE) grant].

Creation of a distance education facility to enhance internal and external staff development, and communication with parents and local service providers. [Technology Integration in Education (TIE) grant].

Joint development with TEA of a comprehensive system to measure student learning in fulfillment of a memorandum of understanding directed by the legislature.

A collaborative teacher preparation program implemented with Stephen F. Austin University and Texas Tech University to help reduce the state’s shortage of teachers for students with visual disabilities. (TEA state-appropriated funds).

Curriculum published in the areas of functional academics and career education, and for instruction in braille.

Instructional technology placed in all classrooms for instructional use.

Improvement of administrative technology:  old hardware and software upgraded, administrative operating systems moved to Windows NT environment, and fiber optic cable installed in additional buildings.

Expansion of the School’s web site as a resource for teachers, parents, and other professionals throughout Texas.

Expansion of outreach services for parents with pre-school blind and visually impaired children.

Expansion of the Weekends Home Program to include all students and their families.

Expansion of career education to include more opportunities for paid employment on and off campus.

Expansion of career guidance activities, including teaching students to use the Internet as an information source.

Implementation of a community-based program for older students emphasizing skills necessary for working and living in the community (EXIT Program).

Expansion of transition services to support students, their parents, local schools, and other community resources in effecting successful transition from TSBVI to their local communities.

Implementation of a career ladder for residential instructors, teaching assistants, maintenance technicians, office support staff, and outreach staff.

Replacement of one school bus and three busettes.

Increased recognition for the achievements of our students in the public media.

Degree to Which Current Budget Does Not Meet Current and Expected Needs

General Issues

The current budget is not sufficient to provide the present level of services described in the School’s mission. This mission includes the provision of an instructional and residential program during the regular school year, and the provision of outreach services throughout the State.  New efforts to meet the mission of the School have created significant budgetary problems.  Among these are continual expansion of special programs (short-term and summer) and a new post-secondary program.  An effort to stretch existing funds to cover these new initiatives on a start-up basis has been successful, but additional resources will be needed to meet the increased demands for these specialized services.  For many years, TSBVI has experienced a growing and widening demand for services from local districts and from parents, but has not received sufficient additional funds to meet these needs.

The basic trend in appropriations for the Texas School for the Blind and Visually Impaired for the past several legislative sessions has resulted in a decrease in funds available for operating expenses.  Operating expenses (e.g. utilities) have increased due to inflation.  Salary costs have increased due to a limited implementation of career ladders and merit pay.  Program costs have increased to implement new initiatives and to meet the needs of students with increasingly complex disabilities.  These are significant, recurring costs that impact future budgets.  Any cost increases have to be funded by decreases in funds previously available for operating expenses.

The limitation on agency appropriation requests to prior-year expenditure levels has resulted in our School submitting an unrealistic base budget with extensive exceptional item requests.

It is becoming increasingly more difficult to maintain the aging facilities of the School.  One of the School’s highest priorities is a commitment from the legislature to provide capital budget funds for the continued renovation of the School’s facilities over the next 5 to 7 years.  Future planning might benefit greatly from the professional services of a facility planner to assist us in determining which buildings should be renovated and which buildings should be replaced.  As a state agency with direct appropriations from the legislature, the School is totally dependent upon funding from the legislature for capital improvement funding.  Because TSBVI does not have a capacity to assess taxes, as do public schools, the School is without the authority to issue bonds to build new buildings.

The School has conducted marketing surveys of its customers and stakeholders, both internal and statewide.  It is clear that the School needs to initiate both new and expanded programs identified by stakeholders and clients as areas of great need for blind and visually impaired children in Texas.

Based on all these facts, TSBVI has identified two major areas in which the School’s budget does not meet current and expected needs.  They will be presented in our next legislative appropriations request as two exceptional item categories.

Current and Expected Needs - Exceptional Items

Growing Demands for Services:
Programming for Increased Enrollment of Basic Skills Students

Additional instructional and residential staff are required to meet the number of referrals to the School’s regular school year program for students with very special needs in addition to their visual disability. These youngsters have very intense needs and can only benefit from instruction in a classroom with a teacher, a teacher aide, and four or five other students.  A parallel need exists in the residential program. Our current student population and new referrals make it evident that we will need more staff in this program or we will be forced to deny or postpone the admission of students.

Reading and Low Vision Specialist

The School needs to employ an educator dually qualified in reading and low vision. The School has long known the importance of literacy for blind and visually impaired individuals for success in school and for future employability. There is also an increased emphasis at the state and federal level to hold schools accountable for the literacy of its students. We have teachers who do an excellent job of teaching reading, but there is an increasing number of students who come with dyslexia and other reading disorders that require the direct intervention or consultation of a reading specialist with additional knowledge in how students with low vision can better use that remaining vision to learn.

Comprehensive Programs Residential Instruction

The School teaches students the skills necessary to live independently after they leave school. An additional dorm teacher and residential instructors are necessary to accomplish this.

Short-term Programs Residential Instruction

For many years, teachers and parents have asked TSBVI to develop models for short blocks of instruction for students who come to the TSBVI campus coupled with a quick return to the local schools. It is now apparent that the success of such intensive short-term programs requires that instruction occur not only during the school day but also after school and in the evenings. Additional residential staff are required to provide this extended learning and reinforcement of skills acquired earlier each day in the classroom.

TSBVI initiated these short-term programs during the 1999-2000 school year on a pilot basis.  The success of this pilot program demonstrates to the School and to its customers that this type of service delivery model needs to be expanded.  It is effective and cost efficient.  It is increasingly clear that this program model may well be one of the most important services that the school can provide now and in the future. The School seeks to expand an ongoing series of short, intensive classes focusing on specialized areas relating to vision loss.  Students attending these special classes at TSBVI receive instruction in a small number of carefully chosen objectives that include criteria by which student success will be measured.  Depending on the subject, classes vary in length from weekends, to one or two weeks, to a semester.  All students return to their local schools at the end of each short program.

Such programs allow students to remain in their local schools, which is more cost effective. These students continue to learn the State's general curriculum, and yet still have the opportunity to learn those special skills in the core curriculum for students with a visual impairment.  Through short courses, TSBVI can strengthen its partnerships with local schools, so that together, we can fully meet the needs of all visually impaired students in Texas.  In this way, TSBVI supports, but does not duplicate, local school services.

Summer Vocational Programs

The Summer Programs have long provided opportunities for visually impaired students from public schools to come to TSBVI to acquire vocational experience, including real world summer jobs in the Austin area. A chief component of this program is known as the Summer Work Experience in Austin Texas (SWEAT). The SWEAT Program and other portions of the summer vocation program have been partially funded in the past by an external source that is no longer available to the School. The School needs nearly $132,000 each year to continue this highy requested program.

Post-Secondary Program

Many young people with visual disabilities graduate from their local high school programs without adequate skills for employment or independent living.  This short-term program is designed for young people who have completed their high school education, are not yet twenty-two years old, and still lack the necessary skills to be employable, live independently, and generally be productive citizens of the state as set forth in Vision Texas.

The 76th Legislature has authorized the appropriation of funds to TSBVI from the sale of a facility currently operated by the Texas Department of Assistive and Rehabilitative Services (formerly known as Texas Commision for the Blind) (TCB).  Those funds were used to construct a small facility in which to operate this program.  The building has just been completed, and now funds are needed to provide salaries and operating costs for this much-needed program.  By operating this program as a collaborative effort with TCB, there could be a 4:1 match of federal rehabilitation funds to state dollars appropriated for this program. The School is also actively seeking external funds from foundations and public grants for start-up costs in the coming 2002-03 school year.

Weekends Home

This program provides transportation for students to be at home with their families on weekends on a “parent choice” basis. The program was expanded in 1999 to make it available to all students and their families, not only for students who reside in the Austin, Dallas-Fort Worth, Houston, and San Antonio areas. Parents have chosen to increase the frequency of their children coming home. Additional escorts are needed on busses for the existing routes, and for two new routes added in the spring of 2002 to the Bryan/College Station and San Angelo areas.

Outreach Transition Specialist

The transition of VI students from school to the community and to work needs support at many levels. The School has experienced success in the employment of a transition specialist to work with deafblind graduates. This success points to the need to increase transition support for students with a visual impairment, including those with additional disabilities, who are making the transition from their local public schools to adult life.

Outreach Orientation & Mobility Instructor

Orientation and mobility instruction is vital for the visually impaired person. It is a notable gap that the Outreach program of the School does not have a full-time O&M specialist to assist local schools and parents in this area of critical instruction.

Newly Certified Teacher Statewide Training Program

Professional fees and travel expenses for newly credentialed VI teachers are needed to support the training program targeting newly certified teachers to supplement basic training that they received in the university training programs.

Special Education Teacher Salary Bonus

Since 1975 the Texas Legislature has instituted provisions to ensure that the School’s salary schedule for teachers would be equal to the salary schedule of Austin ISD.  In order to maintain this balance, the School will be requesting the authority to give TSBVI teachers a bonus equivalent to that provided to special education teachers in Austin ISD.

Instructional Design Consultant

The School will request the services of an external expert to assist Outreach and other staff to develop training materials available in electronic media to develop training materials available in electronic media such as on CD-Rom’s and on the Internet.  These training materials will increase the effectiveness and efficiency of the School’s Outreach and internal professional development programs.

Family Support and Training

Training and support for families of students with visual impairments and deafblindness is an important service, highly in demand for a population that is thinly spread geographically throughout the state.  Parents and students need to meet each other and adults with similar visual impairments to develop appropriate and challenging future goals.  This funding would support three to four family retreats each year of the biennium as well as provide $10,000 for funding for Spanish translation.  The demographics of Texas indicate a need for information in multiple languages as well as state-wide opportunities to gather.

Reallocation of Bus Drivers and Teaching Assistants in the State Schedule of Classified Positions

TSBVI proposes to collaborate with State Classification Office (SCO) in recommending to the legislature that the positions of school bus drivers and the Education Aide series be reclassified to attract, retain, and compensate qualified individuals commensurate with the very important direct service responsibilities to students with special needs.

Increase Awareness of Services Available to Visually Impaired Students

The School serves as a clearinghouse for information to professionals and parents about services needed and available to visually impaired children. Funds will be requested to print and disseminate written materials, and to develop video and distance technology materials.

Maintenance Staff

Because of the age of the facilities and the changing student population, more maintenance hours are needed to meet the demands placed upon the maintenance department.  The additional maintenance hours will allow the School to maintain and renovate the aging campus more effectively. The School also needs to consider that the construction of additional facilities through the construction projects will require some additional routine cleaning and preventive maintenance.

Capital Budget Needs - Facilities

Renovation of Dormitory and Instructional Facilities

The School will request the legislature to appropriate funds from the sale of bonds approved by the voters’ passage of Proposition 8 in November 2001.  The request will be in accord with the School’s Long-Range Facilities Plan previously submitted to the 77th Legislature.  The focus of renovation or replacement will be on facilities for student use, specifically dormitories and instructional facilities.

Replace Swimming Pool

The School’s indoor swimming pool provides opportunities for students to learn to swim, to engage in competitive swimming, to improve their physical condition, and to enjoy swimming for recreational purposes.  The pool needs to be replaced.  It is over thirty years old, has a water loss problem that has defied repair, lacks access by physically impaired students, and has a ventilation system that has not functioned correctly for several years.

Elementary Gymnasium

Children in the Elementary School do not have a gymnasium appropriate to meet their needs related to their serious visual and orthopedic disabilities. The room currently used for this purpose was designed to be a classroom, not a gym. Furthermore, the Texas State Board of Education has required that physical education to be a daily routine in all elementary grades.

Capital Budget Needs - Equipment

Virtual Private Network

This equipment will provide secure connections to the campus network from off-campus by validating the outside client.

Replace PBX Equipment

The current telephone system was installed in June 1995.  Replacement of the equipment is needed to maintain reliable service and provide increased system capacity.

Purchase Additional Server

An additional server is required to meet anticipated capacity requirements.

Purchase Accounting Software

Purchase accounting software to replace existing VAX-based accounting system.  New software will meet reporting, budget management, and audit requirements.

Distance Education

The distance education facility has been increasingly used to transmit interactive training, to hold live parent-teacher videoconferences, and most recently to conduct ARD Committee meetings with local districts and parents.  The current equipment was acquired with a federal Technology Integration in Education (TIE) grant in 1998.  By 2004 our current videoconferencing equipment will need to be replaced to be compatible with new and emerging standards for connectivity with facilities across the world.

Service Population Demographics

Historical Characteristics

It has only been within the last 20 years that many local school districts have developed the capability of providing services to students who were blind or visually impaired.  Historically, TSBVI made its educational services available to blind children, ages 6 to 21, who had no additional disabilities.  The population served was carefully selected, leaving the more challenging or complex children with limited, if any, educational services.

Current Characteristics

Today, the majority of blind and visually impaired students in Texas attend local schools.  Often, they are enrolled in regular classes with sighted classmates and provided support from a qualified teacher of the visually impaired at the local level.  The primary responsibility of TSBVI is to provide educational services to children whose needs cannot be met in their local schools or who need short-term intensive instruction in core curriculum areas.  Educational placement takes into consideration the fact that blind and visually impaired children have two areas of need:  an academic program that parallels that which they would receive if they were sighted, and a disability-specific program which addresses their unique needs.

The combination of these two areas has become known as the “Expanded Core Curriculum for Blind and Visually Impaired Students”.  TSBVI has the capability to meet all expanded core curriculum needs of blind and visually impaired students, but its best use is to “fill in” the core areas when resources and services are not available locally. This fact impacts greatly on the function of TSBVI.  It can meet many core curriculum needs of children either by providing an on-campus program or by sending educators out to districts to help in developing more effective local programs.  TSBVI currently carries out its responsibility to all blind and visually impaired children of Texas by offering these two options.

Visual impairment in children is a low prevalence disability when compared to other disabilities.  This creates problems with service delivery, since this population needs highly-skilled teachers.  Geographic factors affecting services are a major problem since, in a rural area, there may be only one blind child in a 50-mile radius.  Even a moderate-sized district with a larger number of visually impaired students will typically find that it has only one or two visually impaired students who can be served together, due to differences in their ages and skill levels.

In recent years, the number of blind and visually impaired children in need of services has increased greatly in the United States because of the profession’s ability to measure marginal vision loss and its effect on learning.  Also, advances in medical science have saved the lives of visually impaired children with additional severe disabilities.  This need for services is exacerbated in Texas because the state’s continued population growth adds to the number of blind and visually impaired children.

Also, it has been found that children who are visually impaired and have additional disabilities need the services of teachers trained in education for the visually impaired.  Currently, it is estimated that about 90% of the visually impaired children in Texas have low vision.  It is also estimated that about 70% of the children identified as visually impaired have additional disabilities.  These changes in populations have had a dramatic effect on educational services.  Local school districts only request enrollment at TSBVI for their students when those students require the intense and specialized services of this school.  As a result, TSBVI serves the more disabled segment of visually impaired students with additional disabilities.  More recently, TSBVI has provided significant resources to address the need for all students to learn the use of technological devices, particularly personal computers.

TSBVI carries the serious responsibility of addressing the needs of a widely diverse population.  Children in need of services from the school may be mildly or moderately visually impaired, or they may be totally blind.  They may be visually impaired since birth or may have lost vision yesterday.  They may have no other disabilities except visual impairment, or they may have several additional disabilities.  They may be able to master a regular academic curriculum, or they may have educational goals that address their basic independence needs.  They may live in urban areas where there are excellent resources at the local level for a visually impaired child, or they may live in extremely rural areas where services from a qualified teacher of the visually impaired are basically non-existent.  Indeed, the demographics of this low prevalence population demand that educators and parents utilize their creativity when planning services that meet all the needs of a particular child.

Demographic Factors and Future Trends

Short-term:  Dramatic changes in services to children continue to occur in response to current and anticipated demographic factors.  One such factor is the increasing emphasis on inclusion of children with disabilities in regular classrooms.  Although there are many benefits from inclusion, one potential harmful effect can be insufficient attention to the disability-specific needs of visually impaired students.

In response, TSBVI has redefined much of its curriculum, and local districts are finding it appropriate to utilize the services provided by the School more frequently than in the past.  TSBVI has expanded its short-term placement programs in the areas of compensatory skills, disability-specific skills, and career education.  There continues to be a dramatic increase in demand for summer programs emphasizing enrichment, social skills development, independent living skills, communication skills, and the applications of electronic technology.  TSBVI will continue to receive a substantial number of referrals for children between the ages of 10 and 13, indicating that local districts often need assistance as the visually impaired student makes the transition from elementary to middle school.  Many of these students remain at TSBVI for one or two years, then return to their local district with the skills to function in their local secondary school placement.  This is presently requiring a level of transition programming that cannot be met with current staffing allocations.

Another demographic factor having an immediate impact on the need for services at TSBVI is the deplorable employment rate of people with disabilities.  Specifically, 70% of people with visual impairments ages 21 to 64 are unemployed, and 30% of those who are working are considered underemployed in relations to their qualifications, according to the US Department of Labor based on the 1994-95 US Census Bureau data.

In response to this persisting demographic trend, the School has embarked upon an expansion of vocational programs for young persons who have graduated from their local high school and a vocational training program for students with mild additional disabilities.

Statewide demographic studies indicate that the number of non-Anglo school-age children will continue to increase in Texas. The current ethnic composition of the School’s student population already reflects a population that is 50.7% non-white.

It will be increasingly important that the School recruit and retain staff that reflect the ethnic makeup of Texas.  Instructional programs must take into account the needs of children with limited English proficiency.   The culture and values of minority groups must be given respect and understanding in the School’s instructional and residential programs. Parent newsletters produced for the regular school year program and for the Outreach Program are also provided in Spanish, as are written Student Progress Reports and all legally required forms related to student and parent rights under federal and state laws. Additionally the “See/Hear Newsletter” produced by TSBVI in collaboration with Texas Department of Assistive and Rehabilitative Services (formerly known as Texas Commision for the Blind) is available in Spanish both on the Web and in print for Spanish speaking families. The Outreach Program pays for Spanish or sign language interpreters for workshops that the School sponsors to make them more accessible.

There is also some evidence that the students and families of students enrolled at TSBVI are not proportionally sharing in the current economic prosperity of Texas. Fifty-seven percent of students enrolled at TSBVI meet the financial eligibility requirements to receive Medicaid and Supplemental Security Income (SSI).

In response to the needs of students and families with limited financial needs, the School will also need to allocate staff resources to link students and their families to educational, social service, vocational, and medical resources in their communities.  This linkage is often vital to make successful transitions for students back to their local communities.

Another current trend is the increased expectation on parents to participate in the education of their children.  Parents are expected to actively plan and advocate for their child’s educational program, and to understand and secure services for their child in infancy and pre-school years.

In response to this need, the School has launched programs to help parents become informed advocates for their children and learn more about the importance of early intervention for their children during infancy and early childhood.

Medium-term:  Advances in medical technology will continue to save high-risk infants, resulting in a growing population of children with multiple disabilities.  The intensity of disability-specific needs of blind and visually impaired children will require local districts to reconsider their resources in meeting these needs.  Local schools will either need to provide more services to children from a teacher of the visually impaired, or consider short-term placements at TSBVI.

In the next 2-5 years, TSBVI plans to address very specific needs with intense, high-quality services to make it possible for students to move back and forth between local schools and TSBVI with much more ease.  This process will require further restructuring of services provided by TSBVI.  The impact on TSBVI staff resources will be growing dramatically during this time period.

The demographic trend for low employment of individuals with visual impairments was described above.

In FY 2002, a community-based residential program for post-secondary students is being planned in collaboration with the Texas Department of Assistive and Rehabilitative Services (formerly known as Texas Commision for the Blind) .  Its curriculum will concentrate on vocational training, independent living skills, remedial academics, social skills, and orientation and mobility.

Successful transition from TSBVI to students’ local programs and communities will continue to be a need.  If the results of a needs survey confirm what TSBVI suspects, the School will need to develop a one-year transition program for students moving from elementary school to middle school.  Experience suggests that this is one of the most difficult transitions for blind and visually impaired students.

In response, the School will develop a one-year program designed to assist students in this transition, and to provide the students with skills in independent living, career education, and orientation and mobility.

The number of young people in Texas with traumatic brain injury who lose their vision as a result of violence and accidents appears to be increasing.  These students require very intensive, specialized intervention to address their educational and emotional needs.  They need to reacquire the skills to travel independently; to acquire a medium for literacy such as braille; to take care of their daily needs; and to make the emotional adjustment to their new situation.

The School can do an exceptional job with many of these young people, but the instructor-to-student ratio must be sufficient to provide an intensive level of education. To be effective, staff will need ongoing in-service education to work effectively with students whose social and emotional behaviors require interventions that take into account the special needs of individuals with traumatic brain injuries.

Special education across the nation will continue to emphasize the integration and inclusion of children with disabilities into the regular classrooms of local public schools.   “Inclusive education” for children with disabilities became an exciting trend, beginning about 10-15 years ago.  Today, the realities of “responsible inclusion” for children with visual impairments is causing parents and local school districts to re-examine the effectiveness of inclusion without preparation.  TSBVI anticipates a gradual, but definite increase in local district referrals as they begin to realize the impact of a short-term placement at our school on the success of inclusive education.  Also, when local school districts find that they are unable to meet the educational needs of certain individual students, they will refer the most challenging students to TSBVI for services.  The natural effect of this is that TSBVI is increasingly serving students with maladaptive behaviors or a long history of educational failure.  All too often, these students have fallen farther behind for several years and need intense remediation.  Again, this changing population of students at TSBVI requires small class size and ongoing training for staff.

In response the School plans to expand its array of short-term programs during the school year as well as during the summer. By doing so, students can continue receiving the bulk of their education in their local schools and come to TSBVI for specialized instruction in skills directly related to their visual impairment. TSBVI will ask the legislature for additional funds to expand these programs.

There is an increased demand that states and schools be accountable for the learning of students. More testing, more data, more analysis, more program evaluation, and more accountability are the order of the day. This will be even more so with the passage of the No Child Left Behind Act, formerly the Elementary & Secondary Education Act, which provides significant educational funding.

In response the School will increase its accountability systems, including the use of a locally determined assessment system. The School will also explore the use of other nationally recognized assessment tools to measure the progress of its students. The results will be shared with the governing board of trustees, the Texas Education Agency, and with the School’s stakeholders.

The entire United States, including Texas, continues to face a shortage of teachers specifically trained in the education of blind and visually impaired children.

With funds made available to TSBVI from TEA, a solid foundation of collaboration between Texas Tech University, Stephen F. Austin University and TSBVI, the state is gradually addressing the issue of adequate numbers of teachers for visually impaired students.  The Texas legislature added these funds for teacher preparation to the budget of TSBVI and required that they be provided by TEA.

Another major strategy to address teacher training will be the use of distance education technologies.  TSBVI is exploring the use of these media to provide ongoing staff development for teachers of the visually impaired, and for orientation and mobility instructors throughout the state.

Long-term:  All of the demographic trends and impacts described above will continue to impact the education of visually impaired children in Texas for the foreseeable future.  In response to these service population demographics, the School’s planning must include the following long-term strategies:

TSBVI and local school districts will continue to develop a mutually supportive system.  The future will build upon the expertise of TSBVI staff, appreciation of them by local school personnel, and trust in asking for services from TSBVI without any fear that TSBVI has an interest in recruiting students.  The TSBVI philosophy supports local school placement for most students, if the required support system is available, and local schools increasingly acknowledge and respect that philosophy.  Children are arriving and departing at TSBVI with increasing regularity.  TSBVI has developed creative programming that results in a minimum interruption for children in their local schools as they benefit from intensive instruction in core curriculum areas on the School’s campus.  Education for all blind and visually impaired students is directed toward a productive, fulfilling, enjoyable adult life in a setting that best meets the social, personal, and occupational needs of each individual.

In the future, TSBVI will serve students in small “clusters”, depending on needs.  These clusters will represent specific areas of a core curriculum, and students will receive intensive instruction in only those areas for which there is an assessed need.  This core curriculum emphasizes instruction in those areas that address the unique needs and special learning methods of students who are blind, deafblind, and visually impaired, including those with additional disabilities.

TSBVI will increasingly become a statewide entity, outreach services will expand, and the possibility of satellite TSBVI centers in other parts of the State will be considered.

Funds made available from revenue bonds will allow TSBVI to replace or renovate about half of its campus.  It is the intent of TSBVI to carefully and thoroughly develop plans for capital outlay, and the outcome will be classrooms and residential facilities that address the needs of current students.

Technological Developments

Impact of Technology on Current Agency Operation

Instructional Technology:

Technology has made a significant impact in the education of students with visual disabilities.  One cannot visit a TSBVI classroom or living facility without observing the significant role that technology has come to have in the education of students. Although this is true in most classrooms in Texas, it is especially true at this special school. Computers not only are used for enrichment and motivation, but also to provide basic access to instructional materials, reference sources, and to materials previously only available in print. Desktop computers, laptop computers, peripheral devices including speech output and braille output devices, have given blind students the opportunity to access instructional materials on a level with their sighted peers.  While providing significant empowerment to individuals with visual impairments, technology has also provided challenges to staff and students.  The skills that a student must possess to use technical systems continue to increase as systems become more sophisticated.

Technology is used to help TSBVI meet the challenge of providing students with equal educational opportunities. To accomplish this goal, instructional technology staff must not only remain apprised of developments in technology as they pertain to the general education population, but they must also provide training for students in issues related to specialized access technology. This effort requires a broad knowledge base to serve students who may have one or more physical, sensory, cognitive, or language impairments. The technology needs of these students range from basic communication and socialization needs to vocational, telecommunications, and college preparatory training.

Infrastructure Technology:

TSBVI is a 24-hour, residential school and staff work varying schedules over a large campus. The use of electronic mail has greatly improved communication in support of services to students in our on-campus programs and to students, parents, and professionals supported by our outreach services. Members of the School's Board of Trustees, who reside in various parts of the State and significant distances from the School, regularly use electronic mail to enhance their effectiveness as knowledgeable and effective board members. As older applications such as the Student Database software are re-written as web-deployed applications, then new levels of standardization and agency coordination are possible.

The expanded use of TSBVI Intranet has improved campus communication, documentation, and planning coordination through development of a common facilities calendar, routine publication of telephone numbers, meeting minutes, forms, and similar materials. Continued development of the Intranet is indicated to promote inter-office communication and standard publication of information.

Distance Education:

As the Outreach department offers more diverse services to more individuals, the reliance on technology increases. Deployment of new information over the web has been identified as a key need to use limited staff resources effectively. Use of distance education is a fundamental aspect in future program planning. Courses offered by distance education will include Foundation of Visual Impairment, Math Materials and Methods for Teachers of VI students, and Abacus Instruction. These courses are examples of how these emerging technologies may provide new methods for service delivery.

TSBVI's Web site (www.tsbvi.edu) continues to expand TSBVI's information services. The World Wide Web has provided a unique opportunity for the School to broaden and increase service delivery with minimal additional expenses compared to conventional support methodologies. Quick and efficient distribution of profession-specific information to an expanded group of parents and professionals has proven extremely helpful.

Impact of Anticipated Technological Advances

Instructional Technology:

Technological advancements are changing the face of education through the use of telecommunications and multimedia technology. These advancements are allowing students to control the learning process through creative means of expression and information gathering. One of the greatest challenges at the Texas School for the Blind and Visually Impaired is to provide students with visual and multiple impairments a means of access to these technologies so that the same kinds of learning opportunities available to sighted students can also be available to them. There are many specialized products currently available that allow students with these impairments to participate in the educational opportunities afforded by advancements in technology.

The commitment of the Texas School for the Blind and Visually Impaired to serve as a statewide research and demonstration facility requires that the School consistently do the following: (1) evaluate technological advances, (2) determine the most practical and functional technological systems for use with this population, (3) create and establish standards for teaching and integrating technology into the educational setting, and (4) provide technical training, curriculum, and support to professionals.

An example of the constant need to update equipment is illustrated by new developments in equipment specifically for persons with a visual impairment.  An example of such a product that we have used for several years is the Braille ‘n Speak.  Students use this much like a Personal Digital Assistant (PDA) to manage notes, create documents, and manage their calendar.  These devices are based on the old Zilog 80 processor and only support a serial connection to a host pc or modem and do not have a Braille display.  New devices are now available that offer a full Braille display and Ethernet connections that support network access.  This device is considerably more functional for modern applications but they cost $4,000 per unit.  Gradual conversion from the old technology to the new device platform will require a phased procurement with consistent funding. The School will continue to need the appropriation for instructional technology that the 75th Legislature provided.

Infrastructure Technology:

Continued upgrade of the School's local area network has significantly improved the functionality and application of the School's desktop computers.  Access and interaction with Internet resources has provided new dimensions for classroom and residential instruction and communication/support to local independent school districts.  As staff gain skills, new initiatives and applications are innovated to improve services to students, families, and other professionals.  In anticipation of higher bandwidth requirements, networking equipment is to be upgraded to switch-based network technology.

The desktop computers on campus have been upgraded to eliminate 486-class computers.  Continued upgrade is needed to meet the technical demands of adaptive software and equipment.  Technical developments are closely monitored to ensure our use of computer environments that reflect those of other schools and businesses.  The development of a consistent development architecture based on industry standard products is important to enable maximum accessibility for individuals with visual impairments, maintain platform independence, and ensure compatibility with future technology innovations and development.  Given these design goals, new software systems will be written as web-deployed applications using Java Servlet technology using IBM's DB2 database management software.  All future development will be within this software environment to advance the use of object-oriented programming to maximize platform independence and long-term supportability

Distance Education:

As technology advances, the School's commitment to serve as a statewide research and demonstration facility becomes more critical. Our role to evaluate new technologies oriented toward the individual with visual impairments and our participation on standards bodies to create and establish textbook and electronic publishing standards are two primary leadership areas that have significant impact to the state and nation. Development and documentation of techniques for use with new technology and technical training support to professionals who work with individuals with visual and/or other impairments are a continuing program initiative. Innovation with new network-based deployment will continue.

Degree of Agency Automation and Telecommunications

The School owns a Legacy VAX 4000-200 computer system that has been undergoing a phased migration as applications for office automation, student demographics, registration tracking, library circulation, work order management, inventory management, student trust fund management are moved to the NT-based Server environment.

Approximately 300 individuals access the system by networked desktop computer (350) or laptop computers. Workstations are connected via TCP/IP transport over Ethernet. The Digital PathWorks LAN manager networking environment has been replaced by Windows NT networking. The network is configured to provide file sharing and networked printing services for both Macintosh and PC clients. Both PC and Mac clients share all networked printers by use of the Adobe Postscript driver standard. Fiber optic cable segments are in place between the major computing centers on campus with networking to all buildings of campus to be deployed in FY2000. The School is a member of the CapNet network and granted an Internet domain address of TSBVI.EDU (192.188.148.x) in 1992. Currently, six servers support the various functions such as web-hosting (www.tsbvi.edu) Web-based distance education, video-conferencing, resource sharing, application server, and Intranet applications.

The technical standard for network deployment is 100MB to the desktop so that any client endpoint on campus can be the source of video conferencing or to meet other high-bandwidth requirements. Long-term plans to meet anticipated capacity requirements have been addressed by deployment of Gigabit backbone segments to prepare for and to provide the most reliable and supportable campus environment possible.

Communication routing for TSBVI is provided via the Telecommunications Division of the General Services Commission. All access and report/mail delivery to the USAS, USPS, and other state and federal computer facilities is provided through this link. Through our participation in the Esconnett, the school uses a second T1 circuit to Educational Service Center XIII to provide client internet access as well as to route all video protocols.  A business class DSL circuit is used for access to the world-wide web.  ISDN PRI circuits are used for video-conferencing to areas without high-speed internet connections.

Economic Variables

Identification of Key Economic Variables

There are two key economic variables for TSBVI to consider.  The first is the impact of the economy on the lives of blind and visually impaired adults, and how our educational program reflects this impact.  The second variable is how the general economy impacts the capacity of TSBVI to carry out its mission.

Extent to Which Service Populations are Affected by Economic Conditions

Blind and visually impaired adults are traditionally unemployed or underemployed.  While there are no specific data available, the general consensus of experts in rehabilitation is that unemployment among blind adults has hovered around 75% for the past 40 years.  TSBVI emphatically states that this is unacceptable, and that education must own at least part of the responsibility for this tragic level of unemployment.  We have been restructuring our vocational program, both philosophically and programmatically, in order to address this economic fact.  TSBVI is capable of carrying out its mission only to the extent that funds from the State are available to purchase services, materials, and equipment.  Thus far, as we identify new areas of need for TSBVI, we are in a pattern of “add-on”, not “replace”.  When we add services, such as technology instruction, we do not eliminate another program.  This means attempting creative ways of providing additional services without additional resources.  The specific needs that are growing, such as vocational training, technology instruction, and education of children with severe multiple disabilities, are expensive to add or enhance.  Outreach services, the most rapidly growing, in-demand” service, is still not adequately staffed to meet the demands for its services from public school personnel and parents.

There are three factors that are commonly mentioned as inhibiting the ability of the blind or visually impaired person whom society may believe ought to be working.  The first is discrimination among employers.  This has long been believed to be the major barrier to a higher rate of employment among visually impaired persons.  However, as inclusion of persons with disabilities increases at a dramatic rate, the very presence of this population in our society and in our communities would be expected to have an impact on the attitudes of employers toward hiring persons with disabilities.  There is some evidence that this is true.  If there continues to be a need to educate employers about the capabilities of blind workers, then TSBVI will work with other agencies and consumer groups in an effort to heighten the awareness of employers.

The second assumption made about what impacts the employment of blind and visually impaired persons is the preparation they receive in school that would lead to appropriate job readiness and work skills.  This topic has two dimensions.  The first is the personal characteristics and skills of the blind applicant.  Often employers have stressed their concern for such issues as “...what is the personal appearance of the blind worker?...”, or “...will the blind worker get along socially with other employees?...”, or “...how will the blind person get to work and find his/her way around?...”.  The second dimension is work skills and work experience.  While the latter will add considerably to the “hirability” of a blind applicant, many employers express more concern over the former concern.  Thus, the opportunity to work for a blind or visually impaired person may be most often impacted by dress, grooming, and social and mobility skills.

There may be another factor that affects employability, and that is academic skills.  Recent surveys conducted by national organizations confirm the fact that most blind persons successfully employed in competitive jobs are highly literate.  This finding needs to be qualified by the fact that many of the graduates of TSBVI do not, nor will they ever, have traditional literacy skills.   TSBVI has the philosophy that literacy may be obtained through a variety of methods and at a wide range of competency.   Most graduates of TSBVI will consider employment opportunities that do not have a high level of need for reading and writing in print or braille.  This means that traditional “academic skills” will not be a factor in their employment.  The kinds of positions that would be most appropriate for the majority of TSBVI graduates need to be further identified, studied, and tried.  TSBVI commits itself to this task.

The third assumption made concerning the alarming rate of unemployment of blind and visually impaired adults is that Supplementary Security Income (SSI) and other sources of “welfare” act as a disincentive to seeking employment.  When one adds up the dollar amount of SSI, plus benefits, it is not difficult to understand the lack of incentive among blind persons to accept entry level positions that may not have health and other benefits.  There are two prevailing positions among professionals concerning social welfare for blind persons.  One is that it is more expensive to live in this sighted world as a blind person, and that SSI merely “levels” the resources needed to live at any level of comfort.  The second position, of course, is that the blind person has little, if any, incentive to go to work if it, in the final analysis, means a reduction in personal income.  TSBVI is committed to instilling a work ethic in its students that honors either paid or volunteer efforts that benefit others.  Only through embedding this ethic among our students will they be able to find satisfaction and fulfillment as adults.

Expected Future Economic Conditions and Impact on Agency and Service Populations

The greatest economic factor affecting the population served by TSBVI is employability.  The workforce environment increasingly requires that prospective workers have the technical skills necessary to be employable.  Literacy and the skills to live and travel independently are also prerequisites for blind people to be able to obtain and hold jobs.  The programs of the School will need to continue to emphasize these skills.  TSBVI is developing its vocational program to directly address projections for future employment in Texas.  TSBVI has reorganized its career education program so that all students will receive extensive learning experiences designed to prepare them for the labor market of today and tomorrow.  As presented above, we are also developing a post-secondary vocational training program for students that graduate from their local schools but are not prepared for employment.

Future economic conditions of the State will certainly impact TSBVI.  The school has carefully and prudently examined its budget, redefined its various roles, reallocated resources, and is now using its resources in creative and conservative ways to meet the needs of blind and visually impaired students throughout Texas.  As new and innovative programs are considered, it has become increasingly apparent that there are limited resources to provide vital new services.  We cannot reduce or eliminate services now being offered and still meet the needs of Texas stakeholders.  Any changes in use of resources now would seriously deprive current students of state-of-the-art instruction.  The School’s current budget does not allow TSBVI to effectively address portions of its mission.  Current level funding, or a reduction in funding, will seriously impair the School’s ability to meets its obligation to visually impaired students.

Agency Response to Changing Economic Conditions

For the past four years TSBVI has continually searched for internal ways in which it can change, because we responsibly and prudently use the State’s resources allocated to us.  As program needs changed and expanded, we first sought ways to handle newly identified needs and increasing costs by reallocating existing resources.  We now come to the legislature, confident in knowing how we must expand and change in order to meet the current needs of blind and visually impaired students, and confident in knowing the resources that we must have in order to fulfill our mission.

Impact of Federal Statutes/Regulations

Historical Role of Federal Involvement

Since 1976, the most significant impact of federal involvement has been the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), previously called the Education of All Handicapped Children Act.  The requirements of this law, and the processes required to implement it, have affected TSBVI greatly.  Direct participation by parents and local school staff in the educational process, and the requirement of an Individualized Educational Plan (IEP) for each child have positively affected programming for students while requiring increased time and attention from staff and administrators.

In addition to its impact on programs, instructional planning, student assessment, educational placement, and due process rights for parents, this law has also provided the School with some funding, most notably those allocated to operate the statewide Deaf-Blind Program.  The School has been the primary source for the delivery of these services in Texas since 1973.  This source of federal funding has provided a high quality outreach program to local districts and families.

Also, the Texas Education Agency (TEA) has made available to the School some federal IDEA funds awarded to Texas for statewide priorities.  These funds have been used for several programs including a technology loan program for students throughout the state and a subcontract to TSBVI to perform specific statewide functions previously performed by the TEA prior to that agency's mandated decentralization.

Description of Current Federal Activities

The federal Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) was re-authorized and amended by the U.S. Congress in 1995, and the reauthorization process has begun again. Any future changes in the law or its accompanying regulations will significantly affect TSBVI. Congress has upheld the right of all children with disabilities to a continuum of placement options, including schools such as TSBVI.  Federal and Texas statutes, rules, policy statements, and case law continue to make it clear that special schools like TSBVI continue to be the “appropriate” and "least restrictive environment" for some visually impaired students.  TSBVI is an essential placement option within the Texas public education system.

The recent enactment of the federal No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB), formerly the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA), will also affect the School significantly, beginning with the 2003 school year in August 2002. There will be increased requirements for documenting student learning, and increased testing and accountability systems.

The School continues to participate in the Medicaid reimbursement programs for specific reimbursable expenditures.  These include portions of school health and related services (SHARS) provided directly to students, and certain administrative overhead costs (Medicaid Administrative Claims).

The federally funded Free and Reduced Lunch Program also provides funds that offset the state's cost in providing meals to students enrolled at the School.  All residential students at TSBVI are eligible for this program because they are in a state-operated, residential, educational program.

Anticipated Impact on Service Populations and Agency Operations of Future Federal Actions

The current IDEA with its accompanying federal regulations, the Federal Department of Education has clearly and decisively declared schools for the blind as a necessary and viable placement option.  We anticipate that the future reauthorized version of the IDEA will retain this fundamental component.

Other Legal Issues

Impact of Anticipated State Statutory Changes

The state has adopted an assessment system for students with disabilities as an alternative to the TAKS for students with disabilities. TSBVI has offered to consult with the TEA to make modifications in this series of tests in order to make it valid and nondiscriminatory for visually impaired students.     

Impact of Current and Outstanding Court Cases

TSBVI has no current or outstanding court cases.

Impact of Local Government Requirements

None at this time.

Self-evaluation and Opportunities for Improvement

Meeting Legal Requirements, Serving Critical Populations, Achieving Accreditation and Recognition

Legally Required Services

TSBVI is established to provide appropriate educational services to school-age children with significant visual impairments who may have additional disabilities when the local or regional programs cannot meet the educational needs of those students.  There are 6,956 children with blindness or visual impairment geographically dispersed throughout Texas.  TSBVI may be called upon at any point in the educational careers of these students to directly serve them in the School’s regular school year program, in a summer program, or in one of the new short-term programs.  In addition to direct instruction of students, the school is also established to be a statewide resource for the education of blind and visually impaired children who attend their local public schools.  TSBVI continually evaluates the effectiveness of its programs and the satisfaction of those it serves.  Evaluation is conducted by performance measures, internal audits, customer surveys, and comparisons to other states’ schools for the blind.

Accreditation

TSBVI is accredited by the Texas Education Agency (TEA) as a special school within the Texas public education system.  The School and the TEA have jointly developed and approved a set of Academic and Program Excellence Indicators to measure student learning and program effectiveness at TSBVI.  These indicators have also been incorporated as measures in the School’s Strategic Plan.  These Indicators serve as a corollary to the Texas Assessment of Knowledge and Skills (TAKS) benchmarks and accountability standards applied to all public schools in Texas, and are a component in determining the accreditation status of the School.

Attainment of Performance Objectives

The School has met or exceeded most of the outcome and output measures set forth in its Strategic Plan and Legislative Appropriation Request as submitted in its quarterly reports to the LBB and GOBP.  Specifically, the School achieved or exceeded 7 of the 12 outcome measure projections set for fiscal year 2001, an approximate 58% achievement rate.  An 8th outcome measure fell slightly below the School’s projection, but within the accepted 5% variance rate.

The following information details the School’s performance for FY 2001 in areas critical to the School’s mission:

Student Learning. The School has exceeded its projections in the areas of student learning as reflected by improved student achievement in their grades, and parents responses regarding the successful transitions of students back to local programs.

Customer Satisfaction. The School exceeded its projections in the following areas:

87% of responding parents stated that they were very satisfied or above with their childrens’ experiences at TSBVI’s summer programs.

88% of families, professionals and paraprofessionals statewide rated as very satisfactory or above the improvement of their knowledge and skills as a result of services or products received from TSBVI’s Outreach Programs.

92% of Outreach customers rated as very satisfactory or above the effectiveness of the TSBVI consultant in addressing the reason for on-site visits and workshops.

100% of Outreach customers agreed that there was a positive change for students, staff or families as a result of on-site visits.

Program Evaluations

TSBVI evaluates the effectiveness of its programs through both formative and summative evaluations. Detailed action plans are developed to accomplish the Strategic Plan.  Formative evaluation is conducted by documenting progress on the action plans at scheduled intervals.  Summative evaluation is conducted annually by the School’s Board of Trustees and administration based on attainment of objectives in the School’s Strategic Plan and in the TSBVI School Improvement Plan.

In the fall of 2001, TSBVI received accreditation by TEA based on meeting the student performance requirements approved by TEA the previous school year.

The School underwent a comprehensive District Effectiveness and Compliance (DEC) monitoring visit by TEA in the Spring of 2002. The TEA gave the School high marks for the participatory nature of its strategic planning, for the high value placed on the School’s services by parents, and by the high quality of instruction to students that they directly observed. They did find five areas out of a possible 350 that require corrective action, and steps are currently being taken to make the necessary corrections in forms or procedures.

Audit Reports

The School has conducted several internal audits.  The internal auditor develops an annual audit plan in close collaboration with the Board of Trustees.  Recent audits have focused on software management and student attendance.

The management of software has been centralized and a current employee has been assigned additional hours to monitor the implementation of the audit’s recommendations. The school now has a student attendance accounting system that is efficient and reliable.

Comparisons with Other States and Industry Leaders

As part of its benchmarking process, TSBVI has collected data and compared its performance to that of schools for the visually impaired in other states.  In every category regarding parent satisfaction, TSBVI is rated equal or superior to the composite data on all other schools for the blind.  TSBVI significantly exceeded national results in the area of competitive employment for its graduates.

TSBVI has pioneered the role of schools for the blind as a statewide resource.  Other states have long envied and now are beginning to emulate the comprehensive outreach programs provided by TSBVI.  The School’s curriculum has been published and adopted by other schools for the blind, local school districts, and university teacher preparation programs.  The School’s summer programs have long been a model for the country, reaching out to students who attend local public schools during their regular school year sessions.

The School’s self-evaluation process has also led to a significant programmatic change as a result of comparison with other states’ schools for the visually impaired.  The School has initiated short-term special programs during the regular school year for students who attend public schools.  TSBVI has looked at models for this service in other states, adapted a Kentucky model, and conducted 15 short-term special programs in the current 2001-2002 school year.  Local school districts, parents, and students have welcomed this new area of programming at TSBVI.

Overall, needs assessments gathered for the Outreach program reflect a high level of satisfaction with the range of services provided by this program, and a continuing desire for more assistance.  Consumers need information provided in a variety of formats, languages and media.  The sheer size of the State of Texas limits opportunities for face-to-face interaction and makes isolation a major concern.  Parents and blind or deafblind students are eager for opportunities to meet others with similar needs and issues.   For professionals and families there is a desire for general training on the impact of visual impairments and deafblindness, and for individualized answers to more specific questions.  In-person conferences and consultations are rated consistently as very helpful, and there is also a growing demand for products accessible at the moment a need arises, as through Web sites, videotapes, booklets and pamphlets, and computer disks.  The Outreach Programs are continuing to diversify the materials used for packaging information and training in order to most effectively meet statewide requests.

Performance Benchmarking

Benchmarking Process

The School engages in internal benchmarking and industry benchmarking. Internal benchmarking relies primarily on the School’s evaluation of its outcome, output, and efficiency measures. Examination of output and efficiency measures has allowed the School to re-allocate some resources to initiate or expand services.

Industry benchmarking is a new effort of the School in collaboration with other schools for the blind throughout the United States.  TSBVI is an active member of the Council of Schools for the Blind (COSB), a national organization of residential schools for blind and visually impaired students.  COSB has begun the task of developing baseline data on all schools for the blind in the U.S., in order to provide both composite data and information on how schools compare to one another.  Thus far, data from demographic studies, customer satisfaction (parents) surveys, and student learning (employment) have been collected, analyzed, and compiled.  TSBVI has met or exceeded the composite scores of those schools for the blind participating in the national study and benchmarking process.

Agency Characteristics Requiring Improvement

The following characteristics are those that the School is committed to improving:

A clear, well-articulated understanding among Education Service Centers, local school districts, and TSBVI regarding the strengths and limitations of all service delivery systems for education of blind and visually impaired students in Texas.

A higher, more positive profile of TSBVI in the State.

Completion of the School’s project to develop a balanced curriculum that meets the individual needs of each student and that includes the expanded core curriculum to address the unique needs of learners with a visual impairment.

A program that clearly addresses identified needs of students and works diligently to return children to their local schools as soon as possible. Emphasize student preparation for adult life in the curriculum and instruction, and implement effective transition strategies.

Increased accountability. Improve the use of data to evaluate the educational performance of students and the quality of programs and services to parents and professionals.

Alignment of the School’s curriculum to the Texas general curriculum, the core curriculum for visually impaired learners.

Maintain high quality, diverse programs, maintaining the national reputation of TSBVI as one of the best of its kind.

Increase revenues from other public and private sources to help meet the expanding demand for services from TSBVI.

The expansion of the Outreach Program with the capability of impacting the education of every blind and visually impaired child in the State.

A career education program that assists every student to make informed career decisions, and that prepares students for immediate employment or advanced vocational training.

Salaries for bus drivers and teaching assistants that attract and retain quality employees.

Further expansion of short-term programs during the regular school year as well as in the summer.

Active involvement of local districts and parents in maintaining a sense of responsibility for residential students at TSBVI. Increased parental participation is a specific goal, utilizing telephone conferences, on-site visits, videoconferences, a Parent Weekend, and participation in the schoolwide site-based decision making committee.

More opportunities for student integration with non-disabled peers.

Expansion of technology available to students and training of staff in instructional and administrative technology applications.

A long-range plan that will provide physical facilities that are congruent with the needs of our students.

Key Obstacles

Human Resources:  A shortage of well-trained professional educators skilled in working with the special needs of visually impaired children.

Environmental:  An aging campus in desperate need of renovation and replacement.

Cultural:  The still persistent social and cultural beliefs of general society that blind individuals cannot be successfully employed in real and competitive jobs.  The unemployment rate, and the underemployment rate, of visually impaired individuals is much too high.

Fiscal:  The School has continued to expand its functions in light of its legally mandated mission without a corresponding increase in funds to continue to implement and expand these programs. We have stretched and stretched to meet the increasing demand for services, and now additional fiscal resources are needed.

Geographical:  Many blind children live in some of the more remote, rural areas of Texas.  This geographical dispersion complicates the logistics of transporting students to and from the School, which is especially challenging because the School strongly believes that students attending a residential school should maintain the closest possible ties with their families, and should travel home as often as possible. The School has undertaken expensive travel obligations to ensure that students in east, west, and south Texas have the same opportunities to be with their families as the students in central Texas.

The geography of Texas also presents special challenges for the School’s Department of Outreach Services, the component of the school that provides services statewide to parents and professionals who work with students who have visual impairments, other additional impairments, and deafblind students.  A great deal of travel is required for these individuals to benefit from the type of hands-on training and consultation that Outreach Services provides.  Distance also deters parents and their children from participating in school activities.  In addition, the Weekends Home program, which assures the opportunity of every student to return to home and family every weekend, is a vital part of the School’s program.  Therefore, the geography of Texas profoundly affects the travel budget and delivery systems for outreach services, parent participation, and Weekends Home for students.

Travel caps imposed by the state that disregard our state-wide obligation to provide services, and that do not acknowledge that most of our travel funds are generated by federal grants.

There is no systematic, funded project designed to inform and educate parents and guardians about the educational and developmental needs of blind and visually impaired children.

There is no standard by which the quality and appropriateness of all local school programs for blind and visually impaired students are measured.

Opportunities

TSBVI has defined and nurtured its role in the education of all blind and visually impaired students in Texas.  We have a two-fold responsibility:  to our on-campus students and to all other students being served in local districts.  TSBVI has very carefully allocated resources for both of these tasks, and we are meeting these two responsibilities very well.  The Legislature defined our role concisely, and left little room for interpretation.  As a result, the legislative mandate for the services we provide and the needs of blind and visually impaired students are closely aligned.  We have the opportunity to provide vital services to a population that needs these services.

Our opportunities are great, including:

An outstanding professional staff, constituting the greatest concentration of expertise in education of children who are blind and visually impaired in Texas.  Most recently, this expertise has been expanded in the areas of serving children with additional disabilities and in technology instruction.  TSBVI has become recognized nationally for its expertise in these two areas.

A committed and excellent support staff.  Every TSBVI employee knows that she/he is employed in order to serve children, whether the job is preparing meals, providing physical therapy, or mowing the lawn.

A large campus that has the capacity to carry out its current mission.  Actions by the two previous legislatures have provided TSBVI with much-needed funds to renovate and repair its aging campus.  However, additional funding need to be appropriated from bond funds and other sources so that the students of TSBVI may continue to have a safe and home-like campus conducive to learning.

There is a climate at TSBVI that encourages personnel to explore, create, and accept new challenges.  All staff are urged to participate in decision-making and to assume shared responsibility for our efforts.

TSBVI is a recognized leader in technological development, both for its staff and for students. Recent advances in technology have the potential to open unlimited professional and personal doors for blind and visually impaired persons.  We are providing our students with instruction in state-of-the-art technology.

TSBVI is committed to the philosophy that, when possible, blind and visually impaired children should be educated in their home schools while living with their families.   Therefore, we take very seriously our role of providing intensive services in needed educational areas in order to enable children to return home as soon as possible.  Also, through our Outreach Program, we are able to offer technical assistance to local resources that often results in quality local services.

TSBVI and the Texas Department of Assistive and Rehabilitative Services (formerly known as Texas Commision for the Blind) share a common interest, good working relationship, and geographic proximity.  This interagency partnership has created the opportunity to provide excellent transition services to young people preparing to leave school and enter the world of work and independent living.  We are developing an even closer working relationship with TCB so that our students will receive the best preparation for adulthood from us, and then, as necessary, take full advantage of appropriate services at TCB.

The citizens of Texas, through their elected legislators, have demonstrated a commitment to quality education for blind and visually impaired children at TSBVI.  This is evidenced by the continuing strong fiscal support for our school by the Legislature.

TSBVI recognizes its responsibility to provide our students with opportunities to interact with non-disabled peers, and we have developed a community program that brings sighted children onto our campus for social and recreational activities, as well as provide opportunities for our students to access community activities off-campus.

Our curriculum department has published curriculum guides and other documents that greatly enhance the education of children on our campus and throughout the state.  TSBVI is known nationally and internationally as the source for the best curriculum materials in the world.

The TSBVI web site has become a vital tool for the TSBVI staff, educators and administrators throughout Texas, and colleagues and parents throughout the world.  For the month of April 2002, the TSBVI web site received over 103,078 visits from all over the world.

Working with Local, State, and Federal Entities

TSBVI works with local school districts and local Education Service Centers throughout the state to develop an appropriate, individualized educational program for each student.  TSBVI is mandated by the Legislature to provide services to all blind and visually impaired children in the state.  This requires that the School maintain and nurture effective working relationships with local school districts and Education Service Centers.  An increasing number of staff development activities are the result of collaboration between TSBVI, ESCs, and school districts.

TSBVI will work with state agencies such as the Texas Department of Assistive and Rehabilitative Services (formerly known as Texas Commision for the Blind) , the Texas Education Agency, the Texas Rehabilitation Commission, the Texas Workforce Commission, and the Texas Department of Mental Health and Mental Retardation to assist in locating and delivering services to the students served by TSBVI.

Federal funds continue to provide the state and TSBVI with the resources necessary to coordinate state-wide programs and services for deafblind students. The School also receives federal and state funds through TEA, and in one case through the Region XI (Fort Worth) Education Service Center, to provide many of the School’s Outreach services that enrich the educational programs for all blind and visually impaired students in the State.

Key Technological, Capital, Human and Community Resources Available

The School has initiated a program to obtain more community resources to assist the School in its mission.  An existing staff position has been assigned to enhance revenue from both public and private sources.  Community businesses in Austin and service organizations throughout the State are now much more involved with and contributing time and other resources to education.  The School will need to continue to increase its efforts to solicit and obtain such support from external sources.

Meanwhile the School will continue to avail itself of the excellent resources of the Austin community.  These include the Austin ISD which has long been a partner in providing opportunities for students at TSBVI to attend academic classes in regular public school settings.  Students from the University of Texas-Austin and Southwest Texas State University, especially the Delta Gamma sorority, continue to volunteer and provide opportunities for TSBVI students to participate in social activities in the community.  Service organizations such as the Austin Downtown Lions Club, the Texas National Federation of the Blind, the Austin Council of the Blind, church groups, corporations, and individuals continue to provide their time and some funds for special activities.  Finally, there are the ample and unique community resources of the city of Austin and its environs that are much used by the School’s students for recreation, cultural awareness, employment, and gaining consumer skills.

TSBVI now works with the Austin area Junior League, whose volunteers are currently providing recreational opportunities for our students, as well as recording recreational reading and transcribing braille.

The School is employing videoconferencing equipment as a cost effective strategy to deliver outreach services and to increase parental participation in the School. Parent videoconferences have focused on involving parents and educators from the lower Rio Grande Valley, the El Paso area, Abilene, and Wichita Falls. Plans are underway to expand the use of this strategy.

The School will continue to be a partner with universities to recruit and train teachers for the visually impaired in high-need areas of Texas.  Currently, TSBVI is collaborating with Stephen F. Austin University and with Texas Tech University.

Employee Attitudes Regarding TSBVI

In December of 2001, TSBVI participated in the Survey of Organizational Excellence (SOE) administered through the University of Texas at Austin School of Social Work.  The survey results are summarized in Appendix F.

A relatively new tool for assessing employee attitudes is the State Auditor's Office Employee Exit Survey.  Despite our efforts, participation by our terminating employees so far has been minimal and probably does not yet provide a basis for valid inferences.  Nevertheless, in an agency of this size, it is relatively simple to obtain meaningful anecdotal information about the reasons people leave employment here.  Although by far the most frequent reason officially given for resignation is "personal reasons unrelated to the job," it is our impression that staff often leave for reasons directly or indirectly related to pay, and this belief is supported by the Survey of Organizational Excellence results. They might be leaving for a higher paying job, or they might be planning to start or return to school which they hope will lead to a higher paying job. Very seldom do staff express dissatisfaction with the work itself. Many departing staff members comment in their resignation letters on the satisfaction of working with students and their own growth while working here. Staff take pride in the work that they do with students, and even staff who don't work directly with students often get involved in student activities or attend student events.  The focus at TSBVI is, first and foremost, on students, and that is reflected in the attitude of all staff.

The fact that TSBVI has very few grievances and a low incidence of complaints filed with the Texas Commission on Human Rights and/or Equal Employment Opportunity Commission is, we believe, indicators of generally positive employee attitudes.  Furthermore, many former staff members of TSBVI return to employment here. At the beginning of the 2001-02 school year, four of the twelve vacant teaching positions we had were filled by returning teachers. These were certified teachers of the visually impaired who had many job options and chose to return to TSBVI.  Four other vacancies were filled by individuals who had been employed at TSBVI as paraprofessionals and eventually completed training programs to continue or resume employment here as certified professionals.

Further discussion of employee attitudes toward the organization is contained within Appendix F.

GOAL 1:        Students who are visually impaired or deafblind will demonstrate the skills and knowledge to lead vocationally, personally, and socially satisfying lives as demonstrated by academic success and successful transition to the community.

OBJECTIVES:

Students will demonstrate increased knowledge and skills, increased participation and independence, and ability to generalize and apply their knowledge and skills in meaningful ways.  By fiscal year 2006:

 
  • 60% of responding LEAs, parents, and students will rate the students’ progress during the regular school year as very satisfactory or above.
  •  
  • Students attending short-term programs will annually demonstrate success in their educational programs.  By fiscal year 2006:
  •  
  • 90% of students attending short-term programs will demonstrate progress as measured by pre- and post-assessment.
  •  
  • 75% of responding LEAs, parents, and students will rate the students’ experiences in the short-term programs as very satisfactory or above.
 

Students will have beneficial experiences at TSBVI summer programs. By fiscal year 2006:

 
  • 80% of students’ learning experiences in summer programs will be rated by local districts as very satisfactory or above.
  • 82% of students’ learning experiences in summer programs will be rated by parents as very satisfactory or above.
 
  •  
  • Students will make successful transitions.  By fiscal year 2006:
  • 77% of responding local school districts will rate TSBVI as satisfactory or above in meeting the student’s reason for referral.
  
  • 77% of responding parents will rate TSBVI as satisfactory or above in meeting the student’s reason for referral.
  • 55% of students who have graduated from TSBVI within the past 5 years will be employed or enrolled in post-secondary education or training.
 
Outcome Measures:
  • Percent of Student Learning Performance Indicator Attained
  • Percent of Responding LEA's, Parents and Students Rating the Students' Progress During the Regular School Year as Very Satisfactory or Above
  • Percent of Students Attending Short-term Programs Demonstrating Progress as Measured by Pre- and Post-assessment
  • Percent of Responding LEAs, Parents, and Students Rating the Students’ Experiences in the Short-term Programs as Very Satisfactory or Above
  • Percent of Students Whose Responding Local School Districts Rated             Their Learning Experience at TSBVI Summer Programs as Very Satisfactory or Above
  • Percent of Students Whose Responding Parents Rated Their Learning Experience at TSBVI Summer Programs as Very Satisfactory or Above
  • Percent of Responding Local School Districts Rating TSBVI as Satisfactory or Above in Meeting the Student’s Reason for Referral
  • Percent of Responding Parents Rating TSBVI as Satisfactory or Above in Meeting the Student’s Reason for Referral
  • Percent of Students Graduated from TSBVI During the Past 5 Years Who are Currently Employed or Enrolled in Post-Secondary Education or Training

STRATEGY:Provide a well-balanced curriculum which includes disability-specific skills and which meets either State Board of Education requirements for regular education or individual education plan (IEP) goals.  Provide instruction in academic/functional, vocational, and orientation and mobility skills and promote the successful transition of students to local schools, community placements, work or further education.

Output Measures:
  • Number of Students Enrolled in Day Programming During     the Regular School Year
  • Number of Students Working Off-Campus or Attending Class Off-Campus
  • Number of Students Returned to Local School Districts
  • Number of Students Graduated
  • Number of Students Enrolled Who Have Multiple Disabilities
Efficiency Measure:

Average Cost of Instructional Program per Student per Day

Explanatory Measure:

Average Length of Enrollment in Regular School Year Program (months)

STRATEGY: Conduct residential programming that provides instruction in independent living skills and social skills.

Output Measure:

Number of Students Enrolled in Residential Programming During the Regular School Year

Efficiency Measure:

Average Cost of Residential Program per Student per Night

 

STRATEGY:Provide a variety of instructional and residential Special Programs including summer enrichment and short-term programs designed to meet the educational needs of students with visual impairments.  Curriculum will be provided in the following content areas:  (a) compensatory academic skills, including communication modes; (b) social interaction skills; (c) recreation and leisure skills; (d) use of assistive technology; (e) orientation and mobility; (f) independent living skills; (g) career education; and (h) visual efficiency skills.

Output Measures:
  • Number of Students Enrolled in Short-term Programs
  • Number of Students Enrolled in Summer Programs
Efficiency Measure:

Average Cost of Special Programs per Student

STRATEGY:Provide related and support services during the regular school year and short-term  Special Programs that support the instruction of students attending TSBVI.

  • Output Measures:
  • Number of Students Receiving Physical/Motor Services
  • Number of Students Receiving Counseling and Assessment Services
  • Average Weekly Number of Residential Students Participating in the "Weekends Home" Program
Efficiency Measures:

Average Cost of Related and Support Services per Student

GOAL 2: Families, professionals, and paraprofessionals will have the knowledge and skills necessary to improve educational programming and other services for all Texas students who are visually impaired or deafblind.

OBJECTIVE:

By fiscal year 2006, 85% of families, professionals, and paraprofessionals will rate as very satisfactory or above the improvement of their knowledge and skills as a result of services products received from TSBVI.

Outcome Measures:
  • Percent of Families, Professionals, and Paraprofessionals Rating as Very Satisfactory or Above the Improvement of their Knowledge and Skills as a Result of the Services or Products Received from TSBVI
  • Percent of Families, Professionals, and Paraprofessionals Rating as Very Satisfactory or Above the Effectiveness of the TSBVI Consultant in Addressing the Reason for the On-site Visit/Workshop
  • Percent of Families, Professionals, and Paraprofessionals Agreeing that there was a Positive Change for the Student, Staff or Family as a Result of the On-site Visit

STRATEGY:Provide technical assistance and information and referral services for families of and programs serving children with visual impairments and children with deaf-blindness through pre-service, inservice and family services programs.

Output Measures:
  • Number of Education Regions Receiving On-Site Consultation and/or Workshops in Their Regions
  • Number of Districts/Special Education Cooperatives Receiving On-Site Consultations
  • Number of Conferences/Workshops-Local, Regional, Statewide, and National
  • Number of On-Site Visits
  • Number of Participants at Local, Regional, Statewide, and National Conferences and Workshops
  • Number of Participants in Video-conferencing Events
Efficiency Measures:
  • Average Cost of Each On-Site Consultation
  • Average Cost of Workshop per Person

GOAL 3:        We will establish and carry out policies governing purchasing and public works contracting that foster meaningful and substantive inclusion of historically underutilized businesses.

OBJECTIVE:

TSBVI will include historically underutilized businesses (HUBs) in at least 18% of the total value of contracts and subcontracts awarded annually by the agency in purchasing and public works contracting by fiscal year 2006.

Outcome Measure:

Percent of Total Dollar Value of Purchasing and Public Works Contracts and Subcontracts Awarded to HUBs

STRATEGY:    Develop and implement a plan for increasing the use of historically underutilized businesses through purchasing and public works contracts and subcontracts.

Output Measures:
  • Number of HUB Contractors and Subcontractors Contacted for Bid Proposals
  • Number of HUB Contracts and Subcontracts Awarded
  • Dollar Value of HUB Contracts and Subcontracts Awarded

Appendix A:  Strategic Planning Process

This Agency Strategic Plan was developed with input from the School’s Instructional Planning Council (IPC), TSBVI’s Management Team, and the Board of Trustees. Members of these groups include TSBVI staff, students, parents, ex-students, individuals with visual impairments, professionals serving students with visual impairments throughout Texas, and members of the business community.

Appendix B:  Current Organizational Chart

Appendix C:  Five-Year Projections for Outcomes

TSBVI PROJECTED OUTCOMES FOR FISCAL YEARS 2003-2007

Outcome

2003

2004                               

2005

 

2006

2007

Percent of Student Learning Performance Indicator Attained

100

100

100

100

100

Percent of Responding LEA's, Parents and Students Rating the Students'  Progress During the Regular School Year as Very Satisfactory or Above

70

60

60

70

70

Percent of Students Attending Short-term Programs Demonstrating Progress as Measured by Pre- and Post-assessment

70

90

90

92

92

Percent of Responding LEAs, Parents, and Students Rating the Students’ Experiences in the Short-term Programs as Very Satisfactory or Above

70

72

75

80

80

Percent of Students Whose Responding Local School Districts Rated their Learning Experience at Summer Programs as Very Satisfactory or Above

85

80

80

80

80

Percent of Students Whose Responding Parents Rated their Learning Experience at Summer Programs as Very Satisfactory or Above

80

82

82

82

82

Percent of Responding Local School Districts Rating TSBVI as Satisfactory or Above in Meeting the Students’ Reason for Referral

70

75

77

80

82

Percent of Responding Parents Rating TSBVI as Satisfactory or Above in Meeting the Students’ Reason for Referral

70

75

77

80

82

Percent of Students Graduated From TSBVI During the Past 5 Years Who are Currently Employed or Enrolled in Post-Secondary Education or Training

50

50

55

55

55

Percent of Families, Professionals and Paraprofessionals Rating as Very Satisfactory or Above the Improvement in their Knowledge and Skills as a Result of the Services or Products Received from TSBVI

85

85

85

87

87

Percent of Families, Professionals and Paraprofessionals Rating as Very Satisfactory or Above the Effectiveness of the TSBVI Consultant in Addressing the Reason for the On-Site Visit/Workshop

85

85

85

88

88

Percent of Families, Professionals and Paraprofessionals Agreeing that there was a Positive Change for the Student, Staff or Family as a Result of the On-Site Visit

85

87

87

90

90

Appendix D:  Performance Measure Definitions

OUTCOME MEASURES

Objective 1:1

Percent of Student Learning Performance Indicator Attained

Short Definition:  This measure indicates the degree to which the School attains the standard for student learning established for it by the Texas Education Agency (TEA).  All students are evaluated to determine the knowledge and skills that they have acquired in all the curricular areas in which they receive instruction.

Purpose/Importance:  This measure reflects the School’s primary measure of student learning and also serves as a basis for determining the accreditation status of the School.  The standard for student performance that underlies this measure was jointly developed by TEA and TSBVI in response to a legislative requirement that such a measure be adopted by a joint memorandum of understanding.

Source/Collection of Data:  Each student receives a pre-test in the curricular areas in which the student is scheduled.  The number of skills in which the student has competency and generalized use are recorded on a computer database.  At the end of the school year, the student is tested again to determine the number of skills in which the student has attained competency and generalized use.  The teachers enter this data into a computer database and submit it to the Curriculum Department for compilation and analysis.  The final results are forwarded to the Texas Education Agency.

Method of Calculation:  The improvement in skills for each student is calculated at the end of each school year.  Improvement is based on attainment of the following three criteria:  a predetermined increase in the number of skills at the competency level, a predetermined increase in the number of generalized skills, and a predetermined prompt-level decrease, all of which were established in the student’s previous Individual Education Plan (IEP).  The percent of students who achieve the required level of mastery is calculated and measured against the annual standard established for TSBVI.  The percent of deviation between the aggregated scores of the students and the standard established for the School is calculated.

Data Limitations:  The evaluation data is curriculum-based and criterion-referenced.  However, the results will have some limitations based on the degree to which the evaluators demonstrate objectivity and inter-rater reliability in conducting the assessments.

Calculation Type:  Non-cumulative

New Measure:  No

Desired Performance:  Higher than Target

Percent of Responding LEAs, Parents, and Students Rating the Students’ Progress During the Regular School Year as Very Satisfactory or Above:

Short Definition:  Student progress is measured based on the perceptions of all the stakeholders interested in the learning acquired by students at TSBVI during the regular school year.

Purpose/Importance:  Student learning is the primary mission of the School.  This measure helps the School to determine whether its regular school year program is considered to be effective.

Source/Collection of Data:  All parents, all local districts, and selected students are surveyed.  Student participants are those middle school and high school students who have the cognitive ability to understand the questions in the survey.   Surveys are mailed out by, and returned to, the Superintendent's office near the time of the annual review of each student's individual education plan (IEP) and consist of a rating instrument on which the local district, parent, and student indicate their degree of satisfaction with the student's progress in 10 identified skill areas.  The rating scale consists of 5 scores:  1 = very unsatisfactory, 2 = unsatisfactory, 3 = satisfactory, 4 = very satisfactory, 5 = outstanding.   Results for each current year are reported in the annual report following the fourth quarter.

Method of Calculation:  A percentage is obtained by averaging the 10 skill area scores for each student by type of respondent (local district, parents, and student) to obtain one average score per student per type of respondent.  An average of 4 or higher is rated as very satisfactory or above.  The final reported result is calculated by determining the number of average scores of 4 or higher as compared to the total number of surveys returned.

Data Limitations:  The entire survey is somewhat subjective.  Student progress can be impacted by a number of factors beyond the School’s control including each student’s motivation to learn.

Calculation Type:  Non-cumulative

New Measure:  No

Desired Performance:  Higher than target

Percent of Students Attending Short-term Programs Demonstrating Progress as Measured by Pre- and Post-Assessment:

Short Definition:  All students are evaluated to determine the knowledge and skills that they have acquired in the special program that they attended.

Purpose/Importance:  This is the School’s primary measure of student learning in the special programs.  The results are shared with the students’ local school districts and parents.

Source/Collection of Data:  Each student receives a pre-test in the skill areas for which the student has registered.  At the end of the program, the student is tested again to determine progress.  The teachers collect this data and submit it to the principal’s office for compilation and analysis.

Method of Calculation:  On an annual basis, the cumulative number of all students who make documented progress in the special programs will be divided by the total number of students participating in all the special programs.

Data Limitations:  The evaluation data are criterion-referenced.  The results have some limitations based upon the degree to which the evaluators exercise objectivity and inter-rater reliability in conducting the assessments.

Calculation Type:  Non-cumulative

New Measure:  No

Desired Performance:  Higher than target

Percent of Responding LEAs, Parents, and Students Rating the Students’ Experiences in the Short-term Programs as Very Satisfactory or Above:

Short Definition:  This is a measure of customer satisfaction with students’ experiences during the short-term programs provided during the regular school year.

Purpose/Importance:  Student learning is the primary mission of the School.  The School uses this measure to determine whether the short-term programs are considered to be beneficial to students.

Source/Collection of Data:  Surveys are mailed out and returned to the Principal’s Office following each short program.  Local school districts, parents and students will indicate their degree of satisfaction with the instructional experience.  The rating scale consists of 5 scores:  1 = very unsatisfactory, 2 = unsatisfactory, 3 = satisfactory, 4 = very satisfactory, 5 = outstanding.

Method of Calculation:  The total number of local district, parents and students rating the students’ experiences as a 4 or higher is divided by the total number of respondents to the survey question.

Data Limitations:  Customer satisfaction surveys are based primarily on the subjective perceptions of the respondents.  The ratings depend heavily on information provided to the respondents by the students themselves as well as the customers’ individual interpretations of the purposes of the programs.  Customer satisfaction is not based on measurement of actual student learning.

Calculation Type:  Non-cumulative

New Measure:  No

Desired Performance:  Higher than target

Percent of Students Whose Responding Local School Districts Rated their Learning Experience at TSBVI Summer Programs as Very Satisfactory or Above:

Short Definition:  The measurement of student progress is based on the perceptions of all the stakeholders interested in the learning experience of students attending a summer program at TSBVI.

Purpose/Importance:  Student learning is the primary mission of the School.  This measure helps the School to determine whether its summer programs are considered to be effective.

Source/Collection of Data:  Surveys are mailed out by, and returned to, the Superintendent's office early in the fall and include a rating instrument on which local school district personnel indicate their degree of satisfaction with the student's learning experience.  The rating scale consists of 5 scores:  1 = very unsatisfactory, 2 = unsatisfactory, 3 = satisfactory, 4 = very satisfactory, 5 = outstanding.   Results for the summer program sessions are reported in the following calendar year in the annual report following the fourth quarter.

Method of Calculation:  The total number of local districts rating the students’ learning experiences as a 4 or higher is measured against the total number of respondents to the survey question.

Data Limitations:  Customer satisfaction surveys are based primarily on the subjective perceptions of the respondents.  The ratings depend heavily on information provided to the respondents by the students themselves and are not based on measurement of actual student learning.

Calculation Type:  Non-cumulative

New Measure:  No

Desired Performance:  Higher than target

Percent of Students Whose Responding Parents Rated their Learning Experience at TSBVI Summer Programs Satisfactory or Above:

Short Definition:  The measurement of student progress is based on the perceptions of all the stakeholders interested in the learning experience of students attending a summer program at TSBVI.

Purpose/Importance:  Student learning is the primary mission of the School.  This measure helps the School to determine whether its summer programs are considered to be effective.

Source/Collection of Data:  Surveys are mailed out by, and returned to, the Superintendent's office early in the fall and include a rating instrument on which parents indicate their degree of satisfaction with the student's learning experience.  The rating scale consists of 5 scores:  1 = very unsatisfactory, 2 = unsatisfactory, 3 = satisfactory, 4 = very satisfactory, 5 = outstanding.   Results for the summer program sessions are reported in the following calendar year in the annual report following the fourth quarter.

Method of Calculation:  The total number of parents rating the students’ learning experiences as a 4 or higher is measured against the total number of respondents to the survey question.

Data Limitations:  Customer satisfaction surveys are based primarily on the subjective perceptions of the respondents.  The ratings depend heavily on information provided to the respondents by the students themselves and are not based on measurement of actual student learning.

Calculation Type:  Non-cumulative

New Measure:  No

Desired Performance:  Higher than target

Percent of Responding Local School Districts Rating TSBVI as Satisfactory or Above in Meeting the Student’s Reason for Referral:

Short Definition:  All students enrolled in the regular school year at TSBVI are referred by their local schools to acquire specific knowledge and skills.  This measure is intended to show the degree to which the School met the needs identified by the local districts.

Purpose/Importance:  This measure of customer satisfaction reflects perceptions about how well the School addressed each student’s initial reason for referral to TSBVI.  It is a measure of quality of the School’s instructional and residential programs.  The measure also meets statutory requirements related to the provision of appropriate educational services in the least restrictive environment.

Source/Collection of Data:  Surveys are mailed out by the Superintendent’s office each winter for students transitioned during the previous school year.  The rating scale consists of 5 scores:  1 = very unsatisfactory, 2 = unsatisfactory, 3 = satisfactory, 4 = very satisfactory, 5 = outstanding.   An average rating is obtained and manually calculated by the agency on an annual basis and reported in the annual report following the fourth quarter.

Method of Calculation:  The total number of local district personnel rating how well TSBVI addressed the student’s reason for referral as a 3 or higher is measured against the total number of respondents to the survey question.

Data Limitations:  The number of students who transition each year is less than 30 and the number of surveys returned is usually less than 10.  Therefore, the final percentage obtained can be easily skewed by the responses given by one person.

Calculation Type:  Non-cumulative

New Measure:  No

Desired Performance:  Higher than target

Percent of Responding Parents Rating TSBVI as Satisfactory or Above in Meeting the Student’s Reason for Referral:

Short Definition:  All students enrolled in the regular school year at TSBVI are referred by their local schools to acquire specific knowledge and skills.  This measure is intended to show the degree to which the School met the needs identified by the local districts.

Purpose/Importance:  This measure of customer satisfaction reflects perceptions about how well the School addressed each student’s initial reason for referral to TSBVI.  It is a measure of quality of the School’s instructional and residential programs.  The measure also meets statutory requirements related to the provision of appropriate educational services in the least restrictive environment.

Source/Collection of Data:  Surveys are mailed out by the Superintendent’s office each winter for students transitioned during the previous school year.  The rating scale consists of 5 scores:  1 = very unsatisfactory, 2 = unsatisfactory, 3 = satisfactory, 4 = very satisfactory, 5 = outstanding.   An average rating is obtained and manually calculated by the agency on an annual basis and reported in the annual report following the fourth quarter.

Method of Calculation:  The total number of parents rating how well TSBVI addressed the student’s reason for referral as a 3 or higher is measured against the total number of respondents to the survey question.

Data Limitations:  The number of students who transition each year is less than 30 and the number of surveys returned is usually less than 10.  Therefore, the final percentage obtained can be easily skewed by the responses given by one person.

Calculation Type:  Non-cumulative

New Measure:  No

Desired Performance:  Higher than target

Percent of Students Graduated from TSBVI during the Past Five Years Who are Currently Employed or Enrolled in Post-Secondary Education or Training

Short Definition:  Percentage of students who graduated from TSBVI five years before, and up through, May of the previous year, who had paid employment for at least 4 hours during the month prior to the survey, or who are enrolled in a college, a university, a proprietary school recognized by the state’s accrediting agency, or a training program clearly aimed at future employment.

Purpose/Importance:  This measure provides information about the employability of TSBVI graduates, the rate at which they are enrolled in post-secondary education or training and the effectiveness of TSBVI’s career education programs.

Source/Collection of Data:  Surveys are mailed out by the Superintendent’s office each summer to the last known location of TSBVI graduates, including to their own homes, to their parents’ homes and to adult living centers.  Respondents are asked to state the employment and education and training history of the graduate since leaving the School.  Because the return rate for written surveys is low, a telephone survey is initiated later in the summer to locate students and learn their history.  Data are reported in the annual report following the fourth quarter.

Method of Calculation:  The total number of graduates who were employed for at least 4 hours during the month prior to the survey or who are currently enrolled in post-secondary education or training  is measured against the total number of respondents to the surveys.  The measure includes those employed in competitive employment, sheltered workshops, and those self-employed.

Data Limitations:  Employment of graduates and enrollment into post-secondary education or training are contingent upon many factors, many of which are beyond the control of TSBVI.  A graduate’s motivation to work or to receive further education or training, as well as an employer’s willingness to hire an individual who has a visual impairment have a strong impact on the results of this measure.

Calculation Type:  Non-cumulative

New Measure:  Yes  (new definition)

Desired Performance:  Higher than target

Objective 2.1

Percent of Families, Professionals, and Paraprofessionals Rating as Very Satisfactory or Above the Improvement of their Knowledge and Skills as a Result of the Services or Products Received from TSBVI:

Short Definition:  Parents and professionals throughout Texas who have received services and products from the School’s Outreach Program are surveyed to measure their satisfaction with these services and products.

Purpose/Importance:  This is a key question to indicate whether the TSBVI training and materials provided new or valuable information in a format useful to participants.

Source/Collection of Data:  Surveys are distributed following each workshop and along with written reports mailed out following each on-site consultation.  Surveys are mailed annually for the “See/Hear Newsletter”, and for customers of the Technology Loan Program and Instructional Materials Center.  The surveys include a rating instrument on which Outreach customers indicate their degree of satisfaction according to the following rating scale:  1 = very unsatisfactory, 2 = unsatisfactory, 3 = satisfactory, 4 = very satisfactory, 5 = outstanding.  Data are compiled manually and reported in the Annual Performance Report following the fourth quarter.

Method of Calculation:  The total number of Outreach customers rating how well Outreach products or services improved their knowledge and skills as a 4 or higher is measured against the total number of respondents to the survey question.

Data Limitations:  Success is based on the perceptions of those who have received the products and services.  A degree of subjectivity is inherent but the measure offers reliable information on program results and customer satisfaction.

Calculation Type:  Non-cumulative

New Measure:  No

Desired Performance:  Higher than target

Percent of Families, Professionals, and Paraprofessionals Rating as Very Satisfactory or Above the Effectiveness of the TSBVI Consultant in Addressing the Reason for the On-site Visit/Workshop:

Short Definition:  Parents, professionals, or paraprofessionals attending Outreach workshops or receiving on-site technical assistance rate the effectiveness of the consultant.

Purpose/Importance:  This measure of customer satisfaction provides information about whether Outreach staff effectively address the specific needs of parents, professionals and paraprofessionals receiving consultation or training.

Source/Collection of Data:  Outreach customers are provided with written surveys following each workshop and on-site visit on which to rate their satisfaction according to a five-point rating scale:

1 =  very unsatisfactory, 2 = unsatisfactory, 3 = satisfactory, 4 = very satisfactory, 5 = outstanding.  Data are manually compiled and reported in the Annual Performance Report following the fourth quarter.

Method of Calculation:  The total number of Outreach customers rating the effectiveness of the Outreach consultant as a 4 or higher is measured against the total number of respondents to the survey question.

Data Limitations:  Success is based on the perceptions of those who have received the services.  A degree of subjectivity is inherent but the measure offers reliable information on program results and customer satisfaction.

Calculation Type:  Non-cumulative

New Measure:  No

Desired Performance:  Higher than target

Percent of Families, Professionals, and Paraprofessionals Agreeing that There was a Positive Change for the Student, Staff or Family as a Result of the On-site Visit:

Short Definition:  Percentage of Outreach customers agreeing that the student, staff or family experienced a positive change as a result of an on-site visit.

Purpose/Importance:  The measure addresses the question as to whether the services of Outreach actually make a positive difference.  This is an important measure of program effectiveness.

Source/Collection of Data:  Outreach customers are provided with written surveys following each on-site visit on which to rate their satisfaction according to a two-point scale:  Yes or No.   Data are manually compiled and reported in the Annual Performance Report following the fourth quarter.

Method of Calculation:  The total number of Outreach customers agreeing that the on-site visit resulted in a positive change as compared to the total number of responses.

Data Limitations:  Success is based on the perceptions of those who have received the services.  A degree of subjectivity is inherent but the measure offers reliable information on program results and customer satisfaction.

Calculation Type:  Non-cumulative

New Measure:  No

Desired Performance:  Higher than target

OUTPUT, EICIENCY and EXPLANATORY MEASURES

Output Measures – Strategy 1.1.1

Number of Students Enrolled in Day Programming During the Regular School Year:

Short Definition:  The total number of individual students enrolled at TSBVI who received classroom instruction during the regular school year (August-May) including students on evaluation status.

Purpose/Importance:  Enrollment is the basis for planning and decisions related to staffing levels and funding needs.  The data is also used to determine the School’s allocation of federal IDEA funds and the local schools’ contribution of funds to TSBVI.

Source/Collection of Data:  The School’s Admissions Office enters enrollment information into a database as students enter the School and as their enrollment status changes.  A database report is compared with student enrollment lists provided by each program to determine the number of students enrolled each quarter.

Method of Calculation:  Each individual student who has attended classes during any time each quarter is counted.

Data Limitations:  None

Calculation Type:  Non-cumulative

New Measure:  No

Desired Performance:  Meet target

Number of Students Working Off-Campus or Attending Class Off-Campus:

Short Definition:  The number of students attending classes during the regular school year who participate in work experiences off-campus or attend a portion of their classes off-campus in an accredited school program.

Purpose/Importance:  Evaluates degree of students work experience and participation in the general community.  Provides information related to the statutory requirement that students with disabilities participate in the general curriculum to the maximum extent appropriate.

Source/Collection of Data:  The Career Education Program provides information about students’ work activities during each quarter.   The instructional program offices provide information about student attendance in regular public schools to receive instruction in the State’s general curriculum .

Method of Calculation:  The total number of individual students who either participate in work activities off-campus or attend classes off-campus is counted.  Students who participate in both activities are only counted once.

Data Limitations:  None

Calculation Type:  Non-cumulative

New Measure:  No

Desired Performance:  Meet target

Number of Students Returned to Local School Districts:

Short Definition:  The total number of students transitioned from TSBVI to local school districts in the state of Texas.

Purpose/Importance:  This measure reflects the number of students transitioned to local school districts through the ARD process, as having met goals designed to enable the students to successfully participate and integrate in their local school's and community's programs.  Data are obtained through the agency's automated student database system.

Source/Collection of Data:  The School’s Admissions Office enters enrollment information into a database as students enter the School and as their enrollment status changes.  A database report is compared with student enrollment lists provided by each program to determine the number of students that transitioned each quarter.

Method of Calculation:  The total number of individual students that transitioned each quarter is reported.

Data Limitations:  None

Calculation Type:  Cumulative

New Measure:  No

Desired Performance:  Meet target

Number of Students Graduated:

Short Definition:  The number of individual students who graduated from TSBVI and transitioned to a group home, private residence or supported living arrangement.  It includes students who continue to receive local educational services.

Purpose/Importance:  Number of student graduates provides data related to planning and decisions about staffing levels and funding needs.

Source/Collection of Data:  The School’s Admissions Office enters enrollment information into a database as students enter the School and as their enrollment status changes.  A database report is compared with student enrollment lists provided by each program to determine the number of students that graduated each quarter.

Method of Calculation:  The total number of individual students who graduated each quarter is reported.

Data Limitations:  None

Calculation Type:  Cumulative

New Measure:  No

Desired Performance:  Meets target

Number of Students Enrolled Who Have Multiple Disabilities:

Short Definition:  The total number of students with multiple disabilities who received classroom instruction during the regular school year.

Purpose/Importance:  The number of enrolled students with multiple disabilities is a critical factor in planning programs, allocating staff and fiscal resources, and modifying facilities.

Source/Collection of Data:  Disability status is determined at each student’s annual ARD (admission, review, and dismissal) meeting and maintained in a student database in the Registrar’s Office.   Students counted are those having "multiple disabilities" as defined in the Code of Federal Regulations 300.7(6).  The measure also includes students labeled as "deafblind".   A report from the database is generated each quarter.

Method of Calculation:  Counted are the total number of individual students who are identified as having a disability in addition to a visual impairment.

Data Limitations:  None

Calculation Type:  Non-cumulative

New Measure:  No

Desired Performance:  Meet target

Efficiency Measure – Strategy 1.1.1

Average Cost of Instructional Program per Student per Day:

Short Definition:  Daily cost per student attending the instructional component of the regular school year program, not including short-term program students.

Purpose/Importance:  Useful for long-range planning.

Source/Collection of Data:  Applicable portions of the School’s expenditure report and student enrollment database.

Method of Calculation:  Divide applicable expenses by total enrollment by the number of teacher contract days.

Data Limitations:  The total population of the School varies from year to year in terms of number and degree of disability.  Therefore, the average cost per student will fluctuate depending on the actual number of students referred by local districts, and the special needs of students related to their combinations of disabilities.

Calculation Type:  Non-cumulative

New Measure:  No

Desired Performance:  Lower than target

Explanatory Measure – Strategy 1.1.1

Average Length of Enrollment in Regular School Year Program (months)

Short Definition:  The average length of enrollment at TSBVI (in months) of students who graduate or return to local school programs during the regular school year.

Purpose/Importance:  Students come to TSBVI for specialized and intensive services related to their visual impairment. The School is committed to helping students acquire the knowledge and skills necessary for them to successfully function in their local schools. The measure when viewed over time indicates the degree to which the School is successful in preparing students for return to their families and local programs.

Source/Collection of Data:  Enrollment history is maintained in the School’s computer-based Student Data System.

Method of Calculation:  The duration of student enrollment is obtained by annually calculating the total lengths of stay (in months) of all students who exited TSBVI during the past regular school year, divided by the total number of students who exited the same school year.   Data is reported in the fourth quarter.

Data Limitations:  The duration of each student’s enrollment is based on individual needs and the availability of appropriate programming in the local school.   Some students will require longer enrollment at TSBVI than others.  The decision is made by each student’s Annual Admission-Review-Dismissal (ARD) Committee.

Calculation Type:  Non-cumulative

New Measure:  No

Desired Performance:  Meet target

Output Measures – Strategy 1.1.2

Number of Students Enrolled in Residential Programming during the Regular School Year:

Short Definition:  The total number of individual students enrolled at TSBVI who received residential programming during the regular school year (August-May) including students on evaluation status.

Purpose/Importance:  Enrollment is the basis for planning and decisions related to staffing levels and funding needs.

Source/Collection of Data:  The School’s Admissions Office enters enrollment information into a database as students enter the School and as their enrollment status changes.

Method of Calculation:  Each individual student who was enrolled in residential programming during any time of each quarter is counted.

Data Limitations:  None

Calculation Type:  Non-cumulative

New Measure:  No

Desired Performance:  Meet target

Efficiency Measure – Strategy 1.1.2

Average Cost of Residential Program per Student per Night:

Short Definition:  Daily cost per student enrolled in the residential program during the regular school year, not including short-term programs.

Purpose/Importance:  Useful for long-range planning.

Source/Collection of Data:  Applicable portions of the School’s expenditure report and student enrollment database.

Method of Calculation:  Divide applicable expenses by total enrollment by the number of days each month.

Data Limitations:  The total population of the School varies from year to year in terms of number and degree of disability.  Therefore, the average cost per student will fluctuate depending on the actual number of students referred by local districts, and the special needs of students related to their combinations of disabilities.

Calculation Type:  Non-cumulative

New Measure:  No

Desired Performance:  Lower than target

Output Measures – Strategy 1.1.3

Number of Students Enrolled in Short-term Programs:

Short Definition:  The total number of individual students enrolled in instructional short-term programs offered during the regular school year.

Purpose/Importance:  Enrollment is the basis for planning and decisions related to staffing levels and funding needs.

Source/Collection of Data:  The School’s Registrar enters enrollment information into a database.  A report is generated each quarter to determine the number of students enrolled each quarter.

Method of Calculation:  This is a cumulative, non-duplicated count of individual students who are enrolled in instructional programming in any short-term program during each quarter.

Data Limitations:  None

Calculation Type:  Cumulative

New Measure:  Yes

Desired Performance:  Meet target

Number of Students Enrolled in Summer Programs:

Short Definition:  The total number of individual students receiving instruction during the summer programs.

Purpose/Importance:  Enrollment is the basis for planning and decisions related to staffing levels and funding needs.

Source/Collection of Data:  The School’s Registrar enters enrollment information into a database.  A report is generated in the fourth quarter to determine the number of students enrolled.

Method of Calculation:  The number of students attending each summer program is added to attain this information.

Data Limitations:  None

Calculation Type:  Non-cumulative

New Measure:  Yes

Desired Performance:  Meet target

Efficiency Measure – Strategy 1.1.3

Average Cost of Special Programs per Student:

Short Definition:  Average total cost per student of all short-term programs offered during the regular school year and summer.

Purpose/Importance:  Useful for planning, and for the allocation of budget, personnel and facilities.

Source/Collection of Data:  Applicable sections of the School’s expenditure report and student enrollment database.

Method of Calculation:  Divide applicable expenses by total enrollment of students in short-term and summer programs.

Data Limitations:  The average cost per student will fluctuate depending on the actual number of students participating in all short-term programs (regular school year and summer), and the special needs of students related to their combinations of disabilities.

Calculation Type:  Non-cumulative

New Measure:  No

Desired Performance:  Lower than target

Output Measures – Strategy 1.1.4

Number of Students Receiving Physical/Motor Services:

Short Definition:  This measure reflects the number of students attending classes in the regular school year, short-term and summer programs who receive occupational therapy, physical therapy, health services, speech-language therapy, audiological services and orientation and mobility instruction, including direct, consultative, and infused services.

Purpose/Importance:  Measure is useful for planning, for determining staffing needs, and for documenting compliance with the statutory requirements related to special education.

Source/Collection of Data:  Students’ schedules, providers’ schedules, and students’ IEPs are the sources for this information.

Method of Calculation:  Each individual student receiving physical/motor services during each of the four quarters is tallied.

Data Limitations:  None

Calculation Type:  Non-cumulative

New Measure:  No

Desired Performance:  Meet target

Number of Students Receiving Counseling and Assessment Services:

Short Definition:  This measure reflects the number of students attending classes in the regular school year, short-term and summer programs who receive psychological, counseling services, assessments and social work services, including direct, consultative, and infused services.

Purpose/Importance:  Measure is useful for planning, for determining staffing needs, and for documenting compliance with the statutory requirements related to special education.

Source/Collection of Data:  Students’ schedules, providers’ schedules, and students’ IEPs are the sources for this information.

Method of Calculation:  Each individual student receiving counseling and assessment services during each of the four quarters is tallied.

Data Limitations:  None

Calculation Type:  Non-cumulative

New Measure:  No

Desired Performance:  Meet target

Average Weekly Percent of Residential Students Participating in the “Weekends Home” Program:

Short Definition:  The average weekly percent of regular school year residential students participating in the Weekends Home Program.

Purpose/Importance:  All residential students enrolled during the regular school year (August-May) are provided the opportunity to go home on weekends via commercial transportation, parent transportation, or TSBVI vehicles.  The measure is important for allocating drivers and escorts, maintaining and replacing vehicles, and allocating funds.

Source/Collection of Data:  Transportation logs and dormitory records are completed weekly.

Method of Calculation:  A percentage of weekly participation is obtained by dividing the number of students participating in the program by the total number of residential students enrolled that week.  The weekly percentages are then totaled and divided by the number of weeks the program operates.  The program does not operate when TSBVI is closed for school holidays/vacations.

Data Limitations:  Many factors beyond the School’s control affect the number of students participating in the program.  Among these factors are the desires of the students’ families, distances to home, and students’ desires.

Calculation Type:  Non-cumulative

New Measure:  No

Desired Performance:  Higher than target

Efficiency Measures – Strategy 1.1.4

Average Cost of Related and Support Services per Student:

Short Definition:  This measure calculates the per student cost of related and support services for all programs conducted on the School’s campus.  Related and support services include orientation and mobility, social work services, occupational and physical therapy services, psychological services, counseling, educational diagnostician services, speech and audiological services, library services, curriculum services, staff development, health services, food services, recreation services, and transportation service.

Purpose/Importance:  The measure provides the School with cost data for services required by federal and state laws and rules related to special education, and for services required because of the residential component of the School’s programs.

Source/Collection of Data:  Applicable sections of the School’s expenditure report and student enrollment database.

Method of Calculation:  This measure is calculated by dividing the total cost of the related and support services strategy (Strategy 1.1.4) by the total number of students enrolled in the regular school year and in all short-term programs.

Data Limitations:  The total population of the School varies from year to year in terms of number and degree of disability.  Therefore, the average cost per student will fluctuate depending on the actual number of students referred by local districts, student participation in all short-term programs, and the special needs of students related to their combinations of disabilities.

Calculation Type:  Non-cumulative

New Measure:  No

Desired Performance:  Lower than target

Output Measures – Strategy 2.1.1

Number of Education Regions Receiving On-site Consultation and/or Workshops in their Regions:

Short Definition:  The measure reflects how many of the twenty Education Service Center regions throughout the State received consultation or workshops from Outreach staff concerning services for children with visual impairments and deafblindness.  Consultation consists of suggestions for instructional methodologies, materials and equipment, staffing needs, educational placement, behavior programs, related services, or other local and regional resources.

Purpose/Importance:  Measures the degree to which TSBVI Outreach Services are provided to all regions of the State.

Source/Collection of Data:  Outreach staff submit monthly reports that are entered into a spreadsheet that records Outreach Services provided throughout the State and specifically listing the regional education service centers in which they were provided.

Method of Calculation:  The total number of regions receiving services each quarter.

Data Limitations:  Outreach services are provided to regional education service centers or their constituents only upon request.

Calculation Type:  Non-cumulative

New Measure:  No

Desired Performance:  Meet target

 

Number of Districts/Special Education Cooperatives Receiving On-site Consultations:

Short Definition:  The number of independent school districts, special education cooperatives, families, and local service providers receiving on-site consultations coordinated by TSBVI Outreach Programs. Consultation consists of suggestions for instructional methodologies, materials and equipment, staffing needs, educational placement, behavior programs, related services, or other local and regional resources.

Purpose/Importance:  The measure indicates the impact of Outreach consultations in terms of quantity and geographical dispersion.

Source/Collection of Data:  Outreach staff submit monthly reports that are entered into a spreadsheet listing the content and location of the services provided.

Method of Calculation:  Tally the total number of individual local school districts or special education cooperatives receiving on-site consultations.

Data Limitations:  Outreach services are provided to districts and special education cooperatives only upon request.

Calculation Type:  Cumulative

New Measure:  No

Desired Performance:  Higher than target

Number of Conferences/Workshops – Local, Regional, Statewide, and National:

Short Definition:  The number of local, regional, statewide, or national workshops sponsored or co-sponsored by TSBVI, or at which TSBVI personnel are speakers.

Purpose/Importance:  The measure indicates the degree to which the School’s services meet its statewide mission and demonstrate professional leadership in the field.

Source/Collection of Data:  Outreach staff submit monthly reports that are entered into a spreadsheet listing services provided throughout the State and nation.

Method of Calculation:  Tally the total number of conferences provided.

Data Limitations:  None

Calculation Type:  Cumulative

New Measure:  No

Desired Performance:  Higher than target

Number of On-site Visits:

Short Definition:  The number of individual on-site consultations to local school programs, families and local service providers regarding services for students with visual impairments.  Consultation consists of suggestions for instructional methodologies, materials and equipment, staffing needs, educational placement, behavior programs, related services, or other local and regional resources.

Purpose/Importance:  The measure is important for two reasons:  (1) it provides information regarding demand for the School’s services, and (2) it provides historical data for planning and budgeting costs related to travel and staffing needs.

Source/Collection of Data:  Outreach staff submit monthly reports that are entered into a spreadsheet listing services provided throughout the State.

Method of Calculation:  Tally the number of individual on-site visits.

Data Limitations:  Outreach services are provided to districts and special education cooperatives only upon request.

Calculation Type:  Cumulative

New Measure:  No

Desired Performance:  Higher than target

Number of Participants at Local, Regional, Statewide, and National Conferences and Workshops:

Short Definition:  The overall number of participants at conferences and workshops sponsored or co-sponsored by TSBVI, or those at which TSBVI staff are speakers.

Purpose/Importance:  The measure indicates the degree to which the School’s services meet its statewide mission and demonstrates professional leadership in the field.

Source/Collection of Data:  Outreach staff submit monthly reports that are entered into a spreadsheet listing the number of participants attending conferences and workshops.

Method of Calculation:  Tally the total number of participants and the locations where they work.

Data Limitations:  None

Calculation Type:  Cumulative

New Measure:  No

Desired Performance:  Higher than target

Number of Participants in Video-conferencing Events:

Short Definition:  The overall number of people at all sites participating in teleconferencing events sponsored by TSBVI.

Purpose/Importance:  The measure indicates the degree to which the School’s services meet its statewide mission to provide training and demonstrates professional leadership in the field.

Source/Collection of Data:  Outreach staff submit monthly reports that are entered into a spreadsheet listing the number of participants in teleconferencing events.

Method of Calculation:  Tally the total number of participants at each event.

Data Limitations:  None

Calculation Type:  Cumulative

New Measure:  No

Desired Performance:  Higher than target

Efficiency Measures – Strategy 2.1.1

Average Cost of Each On-site Consultation:

Short Definition:  This measure calculates the average per-trip cost to conduct consultation regarding specific students attending local programs.

Purpose/Importance:  This measure tracks expenditures on staff travel for on-site consultations.  It is important for the School to collect data on costs that are subject to the limit on travel expenditures required by the legislature for state agencies.

Source/Collection of Data:  Outreach staff provide receipts for travel expenses that are maintained in a computer-based spreadsheet.

Method of Calculation:  The sum of costs for all travel for on-site consultation is divided by the number of trips made for this purpose.

Data Limitations:  There are several independent variables in calculating this efficiency measure:

duration of each trip, distance traveled, and commercial airfares.

Calculation Type:  Non-cumulative

New Measure:  No

Desired Performance:  Lower than target

Average Cost of Workshop per Person:

Short Definition:  Average per participant cost for workshops sponsored by TSBVI Outreach.

Purpose/Importance:  This measure tracks expenditures for workshops sponsored by TSBVI.  The data is important for budget planning.

Source/Collection of Data:  Outreach staff manually track workshop expenses that are submitted for payment from funds appropriated to TSBVI.

Method of Calculation:  The cost of each workshop production is divided by the number of participants at each conference to obtain an average cost for each conference.  Each average cost is added and then divided by the number of workshops.  The total cost of each workshop’s expenses, including speaker fees, travel expenses for speakers and/or Outreach staff, audio/visual media, facility rental, copying costs, interpreter fees, and travel assistance for participants, when applicable.

Data Limitations:  There are several independent variables in calculating this efficiency measure: number of participants, duration of each workshop, distance traveled, commercial airfares, cost for presenters, and the costs paid by other co-sponsors.

Calculation Type:  Non-cumulative

New Measure:  No

Desired Performance:  Lower than target

Appendix E:  Strategic Workforce Analysis Plan

Strategic Workforce Analysis and Plan

I.          Overview

Originally created by the Texas Legislature in 1856, the Texas School for the Blind and Visually Impaired has been established as part of the public education system that serves as a special school in the continuum of statewide alternative placements for students who have a visual impairment. It is also a statewide resource to parents of these children and professionals who serve them.

Mission of TSBVI

The mission of the Texas School for the Blind and Visually Impaired is to provide opportunities for children and youth who are visually impaired, including those with additional disabilities, to develop the skills necessary to lead vocationally, personally, and socially satisfying and productive lives.

Primary Functions

The School provides services both directly and on an outreach basis, as follows:

  • TSBVI provides a free public education to school-aged visually impaired children and youth when it has been determined that they cannot be served appropriately in their local school districts.  While a few students live in the Austin area and attend TSBVI as day students, by far the majority are served residentially.
  • TSBVI also provides summer and other short-term programs to students who are primarily being educated in their local school districts but who can benefit from supplemental programs offered here.
  • The School provides statewide services to parents of students with visual impairments, school districts, regional education service centers, and other agencies through its Outreach program. These services include training, consultation, technical assistance, and the development and dissemination of materials such as curriculum, instructional methodology, and educational technology.  The Outreach program also includes facilitation of the preparation of teachers for visually impaired students and mentorship for newly certified VI professionals.

Strategic Goals, Objective, and Strategies:

GOAL 1:   Students who are visually impaired or deafblind will demonstrate the skills and knowledge to lead vocationally, personally, and socially satisfying lives as demonstrated by academic success and successful transition to the community.

OBJECTIVES:    Students will demonstrate increased knowledge and skills, increased participation and independence, and ability to generalize and apply their knowledge and skills in meaningful ways.

Students attending short-term programs will annually demonstrate success in their educational programs.

Students will have beneficial experiences at TSBVI summer programs.

Students will make successful transitions.

Strategies:

Provide a well-balanced curriculum which includes disability-specific skills and which meets either State Board of Education requirements for regular education or individual education plan (IEP) goals.  Provide instruction in academic/functional, vocational, and orientation and mobility skills and promote the successful transition of students to local schools, community placements, work or further education.

Conduct residential programming that provides instruction in independent living skills and social skills.

Provide a variety of instructional and residential Special Programs including summer enrichment and short-term programs designed to meet the educational needs of students with visual impairments.  Curriculum will be provided in the following content areas:  (a) compensatory academic skills, including communication modes; (b) social interaction skills; (c) recreation and leisure skills; (d) use of assistive technology; (e) orientation and mobility; (f) independent living skills; (g) career education; and (h) visual efficiency skills.

Provide related and support services during the regular school year and short-term Special Programs that support the instruction of students attending TSBVI.

GOAL 2:  Families, professionals, and paraprofessionals will have the knowledge and skills necessary to improve educational programming and other services for all Texas students who are visually impaired or deafblind.

OBJECTIVE:       By fiscal year 2006, 85% of families, professionals, and paraprofessionals will rate as very satisfactory or above the improvement of their knowledge and skills as a result of services or products received from TSBVI.

Strategy:

Provide technical assistance and information and referral services for families of and programs serving children with visual impairments and children with deaf-blindness through pre-service, inservice and family services programs.

Anticipated Changes

It is expected that the primary functions of TSBVI will remain the same over the next five years; therefore, the mission, goals, and objectives of the School will remain relatively stable. However, the following types of changes will cause us to adjust some of our strategies, or at least the manner in which those strategies are executed:

Changes in the number and types of students we are requested to serve. The past two years have seen the reversal of a previous trend toward declining enrollment.  Enrollment is now on the rise. We are also serving an increasing number of students with significant medical and/or behavioral disorders.

Increased demand for short-term programs to supplement the programming of students who are primarily served in their local districts.

Increased specialization. TSBVI will focus more effort on instruction in those areas that are disability specific, such as Orientation & Mobility (O&M), adaptive technology, daily living skills; and on academic subjects which, due to their spatially-oriented nature (biology, math, geography), are best taught by certified teachers of the visually impaired who are also certified in these subjects.

Increased need for ESL (English as a Second Language) Services.

Within Outreach services, increased emphasis on O&M, transition (i.e., services which facilitate the success of students transitioning between school and adult placement), parent education, and distance learning.

II.         Current Workforce Profile

The staff of the Texas School for the Blind and Visually Impaired is comprised of 468 budgeted full- and part-time positions, totaling 386.32 FTEs. Of the FTEs, 297.19 are classified and one, the Superintendent, is line item exempt. The remaining 88.13 are teachers, principals, counselors, and other educational positions which, by statute (Texas Education Code 30.024(b)(1)), are paid in accordance with Austin Independent School District pay scales for comparable positions.  These positions are exempt from the Position Classification Act and are coded in USPS as "unclassified regular."

Among the classified positions, the single largest staff group (110.83 FTEs) consists of residential instructors. Classified as Resident Specialists, these are the staff that provide care, instruction, and supervision of students in their non-school hours. Other classified positions range from nurses to maintenance mechanics, from accountants to technology specialists. Our single-campus-based workforce is a small community with nearly every occupational field represented.

TSBVI's contract workforce primarily consists of contract custodial services that replace 2.5 FTE's and heat-air conditioning-ventilation services that replace one FTE.  Additionally, to meet residential students' medical needs, we contract with two pediatricians who share the responsibility of staffing three clinics per week for our students, an optometrist who conducts low-vision clinics twice per month, and a psychiatrist on an as-needed basis.  We contract for Spanish translation services due to the large volume of documents required to be translated for parents whose primary language is Spanish. TSBVI uses contract workers to fill temporary state employee vacancies, to perform highly specialized duties, to lower the cost of services, and/or to compensate in areas where our agency is unable to attract or retain state employees.  Contract services are also used to provide services where full- or part-time positions are not needed.

 Demographics

Staff Ethnicity by EEO Category Compared to Statewide Availability

Job Category

African American

TSBVI %          State %

Hispanic American

TSBVI %         State %

Officials, Administrat'n

0

7%

0

11%

Professional

1.4%

9%

6.8%

10%

Technical

0

14%

0

18%

Protective Services

25%

18%

25%

21%

Paraprofessional

17.4%

18%

8.2%

31%

Admin. Support

10.3%

19%

29.9%

27%

Skilled Craft

31%

10%

47.4%

28%

Service & Mainten.

46.8%

18%

27.7%

44%

As is typical of an education setting, almost two-thirds of TSBVI employees are female.  Over half are over the age of 40, and over one-third have more than 10 years of our experience at this school.

Among the EEO occupational categories, the "Officials, Administration," "Technical," and "Service & Maintenance" categories do not contain sufficient numbers of employees from which to make reliable inferences. For example, there are only two TSBVI employees designated as being in the "Officials, Administration" category.  Nevertheless, racial minorities are still underrepresented in several categories of the TSBVI workforce, with two of the most notable discrepancies (considering the size of the categories) being in the percentage of African American professionals and Hispanic American paraprofessionals.  Although we are addressing this in our recruiting plan, we are limited by the fact that the majority of our professional staff consists of certified VI teachers, and it is known that minorities are vastly underrepresented in this specialized teaching field.

Retirement Projections

The task of projecting the number of retirements is more difficult for TSBVI than it might be for other agencies because our school changed retirement systems eight years ago. In September 1994, the School moved from the Teacher Retirement System of Texas (TRS) to the Employees Retirement System (ERS); therefore, the data available from ERS about retirement eligibility is incomplete because it is based on ERS service only. We know that the ERS projection of 14 retirements within the next five years is very low. To further complicate matters, we cannot reliably project retirements based on length of TSBVI service because our employees were able to withdraw their TRS service without terminating employment when we moved to ERS. We know that some, perhaps many, employees did so, but this information is not formally available to us.

Fortunately, in an agency of this size, it is possible to acquire a reasonable amount of information through informal means. The following projections are based in part on length of service data augmented by anecdotally acquired information.

Administrators and Department Heads:  This is the area in which we have the highest percentage of potential retirements. Among the 15 managers who are the school's top administrators or major department heads, approximately 65% will be eligible to retire within five years.

      Educational and Related Services Professionals:  Teachers, educational diagnosticians, school psychologists, speech pathologists, social workers, physical/occupational therapists and similar professionals make up this group. Approximately 23% of them should be eligible to retire within five years if they have not withdrawn their TRS service.

      Mid-managers and Non-educational Professionals: This is a varied group which includes smaller department heads, living unit managers, programmers, an engineer, and nurses, among others. Expected retirement eligibility within the next five years is approximately 25% but, again, this assumes that they have not withdrawn their TRS service.

      Instructional and Residential Paraprofessionals:  This is our largest group of staff and consists primarily of Residential Instructors and Teaching Assistants.  Although there are about 165 employees in this group, the anticipated retirement rate within it is negligible.  These jobs are primarily done by younger individuals who will leave TSBVI employment well before retirement eligibility.  Only about 5% of these employees have the age and length of service to retire within five years, but it is thought that many people in this group of staff withdrew their TRS retirement contributions when we moved to ERS.

      Technical/Clerical Support Staff:  Out of this group of about 40 staff, three or 7.5% will be eligible to retire within the next five years.

        Other Support Services:  This group includes about 44 maintenance, food service, and custodial workers, drivers, and security personnel.  Of these, eight or about 18% should be eligible to retire within the next five years, but this is another group that includes several people who withdrew their TRS retirement contributions.

In summary, within the coming five years, TSBVI appears subject to experience the most significant losses through retirement among the top administrators, managers, and professionals in the School. The fact that retirement eligibility is primarily concentrated among TSBVI's most experienced and highly skilled employees is of more concern than the actual number of prospective retirees. We know, however, that many who plan to retire within this time frame will be interested in returning to work post-retirement and will be able to do so; therefore, the losses might not be as severe as appears possible.

Turnover and Projected Attrition

The State Auditor's Office (SAO) Annual Report on Full-time State Employee Turnover for Fiscal Year 2001 indicates that TSBVI had a 23.02% turnover rate last year, which is higher than the statewide rate of 17.6%.  This information is limited in one very significant way: It does not include the 102 members of our staff who are not classified because they are teachers and other educational professionals who, by law, are employed by contract and paid in accordance with Austin Independent School District pay scales. The turnover rate for this group last year was only 7.8%, and when this group is added to full-time classified staff, the turnover rate for the combined group is approximately 18.5%.

Not surprisingly, turnover at TSBVI tracks overall economic conditions and, like all agencies, we benefit when general unemployment is higher. The 23.02% turnover rate among full-time classified employees in FY 01 was down appreciably from 29% in FY 99, but as the economy regains strength, we can reasonably expect more attrition through increased turnover, particularly if State salaries continue to lag the general market.  The opportunity for many employees to retire will add to the usual economic and personal factors for leaving employment. It is not possible to fully know how the ability of staff to return to employment after retirement will mitigate this trend, but, as stated above, informal information suggests that a significant number of employees will wish to do so.

Critical Workforce Skills

TSBVI relies primarily on teachers and other educational professionals to carry out its core mission.  Additionally, direct care paraprofessionals extend the capabilities of teachers during the school day and provide care, supervision, and instruction to students during non-school hours.  Finally, employees with a wide variety of administrative, technical, manual and other skills provide the support activities that allow our campus to function programmatically and physically. As such, we consider the following skills and credentials to be critical to the performance of our mission:

  • Certification as a teacher of visually impaired students.
  • Certification or licensure in the professional areas that comprise special education related services required for our students: O&M Specialist, Licensed Specialist in School Psychology, Educational Diagnostician, Speech-Language Pathologist, Physical Therapist, Occupational Therapist, Librarian, Social Worker, Nurse
  • Proficiency in working with students with multiple disabilities.
  • For direct care paraprofessionals, individuals who have:
  • A human service orientation with a sincere desire to work with children with disabilities.
  • Good basic skills such as literacy, problem solving, and the ability to learn and apply knowledge related to working with children with visual impairments and other disabilities.
  • Proficiency in leadership and management skills, and educational administration certification if required for position.
  • Proficiency in technology and skilled trade areas.
  • Proficiency in business and administrative support areas.

III.       Future Workforce Profile

Factors Driving Expected Workforce Changes

  • Enrollment is likely to increase as the state's population grows and local school districts increasingly encounter students they cannot appropriately serve.
  • Students will continue to present more severe and complex disabling conditions, particularly behavioral disorders, along with visual impairment. They will have more intense needs while enrolled at TSBVI, and will require more indirect services to help ensure their success in local school districts.
  • Federal and state education and special education regulations will require more services and impose more standards.
  • A seven-year building program will increase the number of structures on campus and increase the need for physical plant support staff accordingly.
  • Increased reliance on technology, both to execute the school's core mission and to assist in all support activities, will demand greater technical competence of staff.

Future Workforce Skills Needed for Critical Functions

The mission of TSBVI and its key goals are unlikely to change in the coming years. The critical functions will continue to be the direct and indirect provision of services to the visually impaired, school-aged children of Texas. While the mission will remain the same, it will be implemented with a changing student population and within a changing regulatory environment, by an evolving staff. As such, we anticipate the following future workforce skill needs:

  • TSBVI will continue to have a steady demand for certified VI teachers, but will also need teachers who are certified in VI along with math, science, ESL, and geography.
  • We will continue to need certified or licensed professionals in the related services areas, but with particular emphasis on counseling and assessment personnel because of (a) anticipated attrition through retirement in this area, and (b) the need for more intensive services related to student behavioral disorders.
  • We will need administrators and managers with strong organizational and leadership skills.
  • All staff who provide direct services to students, whether professional or paraprofessional, must develop skills to manage students' behavior problems.
  • All staff must have an adequate working knowledge of technology appropriate to their assignment.

Anticipated Changes in the Number of Employees Needed

TSBVI is adequately staffed for the students we currently serve, but assuming that both the number and complexity of students we serve increases as we anticipate, we will be insufficiently staffed.  As enrollment rises, more staff will be needed, but that increase in staff will not necessarily be proportionate.  When the students referred to TSBVI from their local school districts have more complex, multiply disabling conditions, the staff ratios to serve those students safely and effectively must intensify.  We also anticipate growth in our short-term programs. This is extremely difficult to forecast because we cannot ordinarily predict how many or which students will be referred to TSBVI, and we cannot know the extent of their needs until they have been assessed.  A referral from a local district to TSBVI can take place at anytime, and it is a complex, highly regulated process which does not give us much flexibility to decline to accept students we do not feel adequately staffed to serve.

IV.       Gap Analysis

Anticipated Surplus or Shortage of Employees and Skills

As noted above, we anticipate a shortage of employees, the extent of which we cannot accurately predict, based on our belief that the number and complexity of students will increase in coming years.  We are also anticipating some attrition through retirement.  Furthermore, the skill set required to work with students is changing, as are the needs of our physical plant. The following gaps are either likely or possible if these issues are not addressed:

  • Staff will lack the knowledge and skills in behavior management required to work with students who are presenting increasingly challenging disabilities.
  • We will have an insufficient supply of VI teachers, educational administrators and related service professionals due to increased demand coupled with retirement and other attrition.
  • Our physical plant support functions will be inadequately staffed. Our buildings are antiquated, high maintenance structures inadequate to meet the changing needs of our student population. Fortunately, due to the availability of bond funds, over the coming seven years TSBVI will build 10 to 15 new buildings and remodel several others, but we will eliminate only seven structures. The net gain in buildings will necessitate more custodial support and possibly more maintenance. If our recent exploratory efforts to use contract services for certain maintenance functions prove successful, we may replace additional current FTEs and meet expanded needs with contract workers, but whether through contract services or with staff, we will definitely need more physical plant support.
  • As technology becomes more integral to most jobs, staff will need to increase their technical competence accordingly.  In some jobs, the required competence level will be quite high due to the complex technology related to visually impairment.
  • To ensure that training needs related to behavior, technology, VI core curricular areas, and other content are met, we need to increase the personnel assigned to staff development.

V.        Strategies for Workforce Transition

      The first two goals below reflect what has become a cornerstone of our workforce planning strategy: Grow our own. The large number of paraprofessional positions at TSBVI provide a supply of staff who start with good basic skills and a genuine interest in working with children with disabilities and eventually decide they want to make a professional career of this work. When those staff have bachelor's degrees, they can become certified VI teachers with a minimum of personal expense and no lost work time.  VI teachers can also develop professionally and benefit TSBVI by further specializing in additional subject matter, becoming administrators, or becoming related services specialists.

      The third goal concerns behavior management training. Not every direct care employee will become a professional teacher, but all TSBVI staff must be able to manage student behavior safely and effectively.  Workers, even professionals, do not arrive at our doorstep with these skills. It is imperative that we develop and rely on our own training to meet the complex behavioral needs of the students we serve.

      The fourth goal focuses on retention.  Recent economic conditions have shown many workers that the relatively stable employment and good benefits offered by the state can be attractive, but state salary levels are still not competitive and nor keeping pace with the cost of living.

      The fifth and final goal recognizes that we cannot meet all of our needs by training, promoting, and retaining our existing staff. The expanding and changing needs of our school will demand that we add staff in certain areas.  This goal does not necessarily imply that the overall staff or contract workforce size must increase, since some positions may be able replace other, less critical ones.

Goal 1: Increase the supply of VI teachers.

Action Steps or Components

A.  Continue to administer the VI teacher preparation project established by legislative rider. This includes:  Financially supporting the Texas universities (Texas Tech and Stephen F. Austin) who offer VI teacher preparation in return for their assurance of a minimum number of graduates per year; providing mentors for teachers in training; and providing workshops for new teachers to minimize attrition.

B.  Work to assure the continued funding of the VI teacher preparation project by documenting the outcomes of the program and communicating them to the funding sources.

C.  "Create" VI teachers from TSBVI staff:

1.   Identify and encourage degreed paraprofessionals (e.g., teaching assistants) who could complete alternative teacher certification in Special Education through the Region XIII Education Service Center program. After completion of this program, employ them as first year classroom teachers to fulfill their internship.

2.   Hire promising teacher candidates who already have Generic Special Education or other related certification.

3.   Require all teachers hired under both circumstances to obtain VI certification over a designated period of time. Provide tuition reimbursement for those who complete coursework toward VI certification.

4.   Provide ongoing training to enhance the skills of recently certified teachers.

Goal 2:  Train existing VI teachers to meet future staffing needs in administration, related services needs, and special teacher certification areas.

Action Steps or Components

A.  Identify likely vacancies through consideration of retirement and attrition information and develop a list of "high need" credentials.

B.  Identify funds and create a procedure whereby teachers may receive tuition reimbursement for completing coursework toward credentials designated by the School's management as "high need."

C.  Actively solicit interest among current VI teaching staff in these opportunities.

Goal 3:  Ensure that all staff who work with students have adequate knowledge and skills in behavior management.

Action Steps or Components

A.  Develop modules and training packages to train staff in TSBVI's Behavior Support System.

B.  Identify and train trainers.

C.  Begin implementation of training in2002-03 school year.

Goal 4:  Improve our ability to attract and maintain staff.

Action Steps or Components

A.  Complete all aspects of our career progression programs (CPP's).

1.   Finish developing criteria for movement through all CPP's.

2.   Develop and disseminate all supporting documentation (i.e., criteria, rules and procedures).

3.   Develop methods to more systematically include career progression in recruitment strategies.

4.   Develop a system for CPP "maintenance," i.e., ensuring that new positions get CPP's, that old CPP's are reviewed periodically, etc.

B.  Continue efforts to move staff through the salary ranges for their jobs by making more funds available for merit pay.

C.  Develop a system to increase terminating employees' participation in the Online Exit Survey to better understand causes of turnover.

D.  Seek legislative authority to pay our teachers "signing" bonuses as is done for special education teachers in AISD and other local districts so that we do not remain in an unfavorable competitive position relative to these employers.

Goal 5:  Increase staff in needed areas.

A.  Further refine our determination of areas in which we will need to add workers (through employment or by service contract) and then prioritize them (e.g., physical plant support, training, direct care, technology).

B.  For each identified need and in order of priority, develop a proposed solution for how to fund the position or service contract.

C.  Develop a contingency plan for how each need will be met if workers cannot be added due to lack of funding.

Appendix F:  Survey of Organizational Excellence

In December of 2001, TSBVI participated in the Survey of Organizational Excellence (SOE) administered through the University of Texas at Austin School of Social Work.  Although our staff's participation rate of 29% was not as high as we would have liked, we were generally pleased with the results.  The Survey Dimensions are:

  • Work Group
  • Work Setting
  • Organizational Features
  • Information
  • Personal.

In all dimensions except for Work Setting/Accommodations, TSBVI scored significantly higher than the benchmark scores for organizations of similar size and mission and, in fact, for all organizations.  In Work Setting (which covers pay, benefits, employee development, and physical environment), we were right at the benchmarks. According to the SOE's guidelines for interpreting scores, on all but one of the 20 constructs included in the five dimensions, TSBVI's scores indicated areas of substantial strength for the organization or areas about which employees felt more positively than negatively.  The only construct in which our score fell into the range of "more negative than positive" was Fair Pay.  This result was somewhat disappointing in light of the efforts we have made to achieve more favorable compensation for our staff, as discussed earlier in the "Human Resources Strengths and Weaknesses"section. However, further examination of this construct revealed that it only accounted for three of the survey's 86 questions, and the average score for these three questions, though low relative to our other scores, did not fall into the "significant source of concern" range.

The next-to-the-lowest construct, which actually received an average score, was Internal Information, which captures the flow of information within the organization upwards, downwards, and laterally. According to the descriptive information accompanying our SOE results, an average score in this area tends to indicate that employees feel that information is either difficult to obtain or not timely. A common cause of this problem, which we feel is true in our case, is lack of training in modern communication technology.

In the "Employee Attitudes Regarding TSBVI" section of this and previous versions of the Strategic Plan, we have contended that the low number of internal grievances and external complaints filed by employees supports the notion that TSBVI is considered a good place to work by most staff. Some of the SOE constructs on which we received higher scores lend further support to this belief. The constructs that were areas of substantial strength for us were:

  • Quality, indicating that employees feel the organization delivers at the state of the art for customers.
  • Strategic, indicating that employees view the organization as able to quickly relate its mission and goals to environmental changes and demands.
  • Burnout, indicating that employees view their lives positively and feel in control of work and other responsibilities.

In summary, we were mostly pleased with the survey results but (1) our optimism is cautious due to a low participation rate, and (2) we recognize that we have room for improvement.  Our plans to address these concerns are as follows:

A.  Work harder to publicize the SOE and improve response rate when it is next administered to gain a more accurate picture of staff attitudes.

B.   Do a better job of informing staff of the efforts we have made on their behalf to improve their compensation, and continue those efforts. Clearly document and consistently inform staff of all compensations programs that are in place. Clearly distinguish the factors that are and are not within local agency control.

C.  Ensure that all staff, including staff who do not routinely use computers in their jobs, have the access and the knowledge to use a computer so that we can increase our reliance on the school's intranet as a means of communicating important information to staff. Instill regular checking of the Intranet into staff routines.

Appendix G:

Texas School for the Blind and Visually Impaired

Information Resources Strategic Plan For Fiscal Years 2003-2007

Executive Summary.................................................................................................................... 89

key strategic areas of development............................................................................. 90

Tenets of the TSBVI Instructional Technology Program................................. 92

Planning Factors and Assumption Table..................................................................... 93

IR Goals.............................................................................................................................................. 94

TSBVI Databases............................................................................................................................ 96

Major Applications.................................................................................................................. 101

Information Resources Environment........................................................................ 105

Organization and Personnel     105

Administrative Technology Staff 105

Instructional Technical Staff       107

Outreach Technical Staff             108

Telecommunication Infrastructure  109

IR Policies and Practices Table  110

Figure 1, Categories of assistive technology......................................................... 113

Figure 2, Agency Platforms and Systems.................................................................... 115

Figure 3, Server Configuration........................................................................................ 117

Executive Summary

The Texas School for the Blind and Visually Impaired derives its authority to operate and its purposes from the Texas Education Code (TEC 30.021).  In brief, the law describes the scope and functions of the school “to serve as a special school in the continuum of statewide alternative placements for students who are 21 years of age or younger …and who have a visual impairment and who may have one or more other disabilities”.  The law also sets forth these additional purposes for TSBVI:

  • Conduct supplemental programs such as summer programs
  • Provide statewide services to parents of students with visual impairments, school districts, regional education service centers, and other agencies serving students with visual impairments, deaf blindness, and other additional disabilities
  • Develop and provide local, regional, and statewide training for parents and professionals
  • Provide consultation and technical assistance to parents and professionals related to special education and special services for students
  • Develop and disseminate reference materials in the areas of curriculum, instructional methodology, and educational technology
  • Provide information related to library resources, adapted materials, current research, technology resources, and teaching, assessment, and transition of students
  • Operate programs for lending educational and technological materials to school districts and education service center
  • Facilitate the preparation of teachers for visually impaired students by providing assistance to institutions of higher education and other teacher preparation programs
  • Cooperate with public and private agencies and organizations in the planning, development,
  • and implementation of effective educational and rehabilitative service delivery systems to maximize and make efficient use of state resources

The technology systems of the TSBVI support the varied activities in place at the school to accomplish these purposes.  The acquisition,use, and management of information technology at TSBVI supports the State Strategic plan to ensure that decisions are driven by the recognition and understanding of user needs in its varied program offerings.   A primary focus of TSBVI’s mission is to support local school districts.  The School serves as a clearinghouse for reference information, including instructional methods and materials.  It is equally important that the staff of TSBVI have the knowledge and skills to teach students, and to serve as resources to teachers, professionals working with persons with visual impairments, and parents throughout the State.

For several years, the School has dedicated staff and fiscal resources to expand services and updated equipment resources for instruction. The majority of TSBVI students are involved with technology at their individual level of proficiency. Involvement ranges from the use of switch systems and augmentative communication devices for some students, to advanced telecommunication and personal computing for other students. As technology integration into teaching and learning expands, an interdisciplinary and integrated approach to technology planning and implementation will be vital to apply our technological resources effectively and efficiently.  A primary emphasis for past planning years has been to build the network and client architecture.  Now that the infrastructure is in place, network refinement and standardization are a priority along with the development of new application systems to support the administration of the school including student registration, demographics, classroom management, achievement reporting, IEP preparation, student assessment, budget, and fiscal management.

The key strategic areas of development for Funding Years 2003-2007 include:

Implementation of administrative applications

New systems are required to coordinate and manage administrative and student information.  These systems are to be developed using the J2EE web development standard with the expectation that they will be fully accessible and will meet the data management needs of the school.  The deployment of school-wide web-based applications with this technology will provide universal access to applications from existing desktops, including both IBM-compatible and Macintosh computers, integration with other TSBVI information systems, and security of sensitive student data.  Purchased software for accounting will replace the VAX-based software and provide more comprehensive reporting and funds management.

Computer upgrades and increased student access

We will continue to expand the number of computers and assistive devices (Figure 1) available to students in the instructional and residential settings to provide resources for communication, homework completion, development of life-long leisure skills, and exploration of the Internet environment.  Continued upgrades for the school’s classroom desktop computers as well as portable computers, internet-ready Braille devices, CRTs, and software on a planned schedule will provide access to information resources and print media for students who are blind and visually impaired.  Because TSBVI models state-of-the-art programming to distracts throughout the state, exploration of “cutting-edge” adaptive technologies is critical to provide support and consultation to other districts for planning and implementation issues.

Expanded teacher and staff training

Training is an ongoing need for TSBVI staff. As systems become more complex and technology applications more prevalent, staff must expand their skills to support student learning. With the advent and expansion of networked computers, training will address utilization of the expanded tool-set. The Agency and IR Strategic Plans include staff training and distance education models for integrating technology use with teaching and learning across the curricula areas, particularly in specialty areas related to technology for students with visual impairments.  Training for administrative support staff will increase efficient use of the Microsoft Office environment.  Instructional staff will continue training on software and systems that assist in the development of documentation required by federal and state laws governing special education.

Migration of the electronic mail and web server to a fault-tolerant server platform

The NT networking environment supports the Windows and Macintosh clients and provides access to LAN-based applications, file sharing, and printing.  The Solaris cluster servers will be integrated into the Windows NT server environment to support critical functions in a fault-tolerant, scalable server environment and reduce the number of NT-based servers.

Expanded distance learning technology

By continuing to expand the capability and application of our teleconferencing facilities, the School will be able to enhance the learning of children with visual impairments both on campus as well as those served in local districts. By use of this technology, TSBVI provides valuable information concerning curricula, materials, technology, teaching strategies, and pre-service training to professionals, parents, and other interested individuals by creating electronic links to regional education service centers, school districts, institutions of higher education, and other agencies. Such technology has been proven to provide information, training, and follow-up while reducing the time and expense of travel.  Expansion in the use of such equipment for ARD meetings, transition training, informal video conferencing, and increased parent involvement will be a focus for the next several years as we continue to exploit the capabilities of the technology and expand program content.  This technology will increase the ability of parents and local districts to participate in their children’s education regardless of their physical distance from the school.

Expanded Application of world wide web technologies

Web-based development has proven effective in service delivery.  New applications will be developed to assist in data collection from various sources throughout the state.  Introduction of new methods to perform agency duties will be explored.  For example, 70% of the orders for materials from the American Printing House for the Blind are now made through email requests.  Redesign of the TSBVI web site, www.tsbvi.edu, to a content management model will make the site easier to navigate and manage.

Tenets of the TSBVI Instructional Technology Program

  • The School is committed to providing the training necessary for students with disabilities to use assistive hardware and software to interact with computers for the purpose of gaining access to information, products, and services.   
  • Technology offers students with disabilities independence at their individual level of potential, equitable access to information, and increased vocational opportunities. As an educational institution, TSBVI is committed to providing all students the skills and knowledge related to technology to enhance their lives educationally vocationally, socially, and personally.
  • Assistive Technology is defined as any item, piece of equipment or product system, whether acquired commercially or customized, that is used to increase, maintain or improve the functional capabilities of persons with disabilities. Technology is included in but is not limited to: adapted input, adapted output, augmentative and alternative communication, environmental control, mobility aid, multi-sensory modifications, physical education/recreation/leisure, positioning, and self-care devices.
  • Technology can facilitate language development, communication, independence, interdependence, emergent literacy, development of social and cooperative learning skills, access to information, alternative means of expression, training for more efficient and effective use of vision, and maintenance of skills previously mastered.  Literacy, in the form of communication skills, is achieved for all our students, primarily through creative uses of technology, in keeping with state and national educational goals.
  • Technology instruction is an essential part of the Core Curriculum for students who are blind, deaf blind, or visually impaired. Instructional technology is used to support, enhance, and facilitate existing classroom instruction--not to replace it. Technology must be integrated into the classroom/curriculum to the maximum degree possible. To accomplish this goal, all students and staff will have appropriate and necessary training in the technology they use.
  • Accessibility to information means providing students an equal opportunity to learn. Accessibility is defined relative to the users’ needs and requirements for a task. TSBVI will strive to provide access through system infrastructure that allows for add-on assistive software to enable specialized input and output capabilities.

Planning Factor

Assumption

Need for adequate budget management, general ledger reporting, and local funds management

The Uniform State-Wide Accounting System will not satisfy agency accounting, budgeting, and management needs

Need for incorporation of video conferencing technologies

Continued expansion of outreach services and delivery of services via distance learning

Increased demand on information and support systems

Need for increased reliability and capacity scalability of internal systems

Need for ongoing technical training of staff in use and integration of technology systems

As use of technology becomes more pronounced in the organization, the need for training becomes more critical for successful use of the systems and employee effectiveness

Increased complexity of technical systems

Technology planning will be integrated within various technology committees that span instructional and administrative applications

Increased need for technical standards will increase as systems become more sophisticated and complex.

Under the leadership of the IRM, technical staff and administrators will develop information resources standards and policy

Increased CPU processing and memory requirements for adaptive software

Funds will be available to upgrade instructional desktop computers to run assistive/adaptive software for student access as needed

Need new models for support of VI professionals throughout Texas

Development of technology systems for the inter-networking of TSBVI with other agencies serving persons with visual impairments to access students and teachers, regardless of distance separation.

TSBVI should demonstrate leadership in developing accessible websites and applications

Staff with disabilities and primary constituency will need to access and use developed applications and websites

Develop application systems using standards driven process to provide maximum accessibility

TSBVI should assume leadership in defining accessibility and technical presentation of web accessibility content

VAX computer will become less supportable as hardware and software elements are retired.  This component presents increased risk

Funds and staff resources will be available to migrate existing applications and server functions to server platforms.

Open systems software is required for application development

Object-oriented application environments will support adaptive/assistive client environments and provide for multiple client interfaces

 Need for technical resources

Adequate staff resources will be maintained to support existing applications and develop systems for efficient processing of fiscal and student information

Network capacity demands will increase and reliability expectations will increase

Network planning for distance education is based on adequate capacity to engage a videoconference from any networked location on campus and to establish connections to sites throughout the state

IR Goals

  • Agency Goal #1:  Students who are visually impaired or deaf/blind will demonstrate the skills and knowledge to lead vocationally, personally, and socially satisfying lives, as demonstrated by academic success and successful transition to the community.

State Strategic Plan for Information Resources, Goal 4

Texas state government's acquisition, use, and management of information technology will be driven by the recognition and understanding of user needs.

  • IR Goal 1-1:  The School will facilitate the use of technology to maximize independence and productivity of all students who are blind, have a visual impairment, or who are deaf blind, including those with additional disabilities.
  • Objective 1-1-1:  Students will have current instructional technology available to them with the capabilities appropriate to their special needs.
  • Strategy:  Upgrade current instructional technology systems to replace outdated systems according to assessed upgrade needs.

Biennial Operating Plan Project reference: 2,3

Objective 1-1-2:  Students will use technology commensurate with their abilities to enhance personal productivity.

Strategy:  Implement technology instruction curriculum

Biennial Operating Plan Project reference: 2,3

  • Objective 1-1-3:  Train all instructional staff as appropriate in the use of technology for teaching

Strategy:  Expand existing training plan for all instructional, residential, and paraprofessional staff to integrate technology into teaching subject areas.

Biennial Operating Plan Project reference: 2,3

  • Objective 1-1-4:  Students will learn to use appropriate technology in order to acquire the knowledge and skills specified in their Individual Education Plan’s.
  • Strategy: Teachers will integrate technology use into content areas to enhance student learning
  • Biennial Operating Plan Project reference: 2,3

State Strategic Plan for Information Resources, Goal 1

Texas state government will integrate government services by developing, implementing, and maintaining a statewide information resources infrastructure.

  • IR Goal 1-2: Create and maintain information systems and procedures that efficiently accommodate Legislative and/or Board rule changes and interface efficiently with other government entities, provide functional and efficient administration of school business.

Objective 1-2-1:  Make all agency data systems and pertinent information accessible to persons with visual impairments.

Strategy:  Utilize electronic publishing software to provide an accessible, standards-based, centralized repository of agency information.

Biennial Operating Plan Project reference: 1, 4

Objective 1-2-2:  Develop, deploy, and document enterprise applications.  These systems will promote electronic inter-change with external agencies and constituents.  Train staff in systems and promote technical skill development.

Strategy:  Deploy applications that meet agency data management needs and coordinate with state systems.

Biennial Operating Plan Project reference: 1

Strategy:  Document the School’s core technology architecture and improve fault-tolerance of existing systems.

Biennial Operating Plan Project reference: 1

Strategy:  Provide opportunities for TSBVI staff to develop new computer skills.

  • Biennial Operating Plan Project reference: 1, 4

Agency Goal #2:  Families professionals and paraprofessionals will have the knowledge and skills necessary to improve educational programming and other services for Texas students who are visually impaired or deaf blind.

State Strategic Plan for Information Resources, Goal 1

Texas state government will integrate government services by developing, implementing, and maintaining a statewide information resources infrastructure.

IR Goal 2-1:  TSBVI will provide adaptive technology training and support to local school districts, Regional Education Service Centers, educators, students, and families to maximize the use and effectiveness of technology for students who are blind, have a visual impairment, or are deaf blind, including those with additional disabilities.

Objective 2-1-1:  Provide adaptive technology equipment, software, training, and technical support to students attending their local schools.

Strategy: Maintain, expand, and upgrade the Technology Loan Program

Biennial Operating Plan Project reference: 7

Strategy:  Develop and provide statewide training and assistance in adaptive technology to families, professionals, and paraprofessionals.

Biennial Operating Plan Project reference: 7

Objective 2-1-2:  School instructional staff, field-based educators, those participating in pre-service certification programs, and families will gain technical knowledge and skills for learners who are blind, visually impaired, and deaf blind, including those with additional secondary disabilities.

Strategy: Expand the use of video conferencing technologies to increase interaction between TSBVI professionals and district VH  VI professionals, student families, and other individuals serving the blind community.

Biennial Operating Plan Project reference: 7

TSBVI Databases

Category            Provide           

Database Name

Student Database (SDS)

Database Description

A complex, highly normalized base that contains relations for a variety of student-related data.  Extensive linking to other software systems by student SSN and integrated with office automation systems.

Database System

Rdb/Oracle RDO/SQL, COBOL

Estimated Physical Storage Requirements

Eleven Megabytes

GIS Data Classification

NA

Sharing

We are currently exploring the feasibility of uploading of this data to the TEA PEIMS database

Future

This system is scheduled to be re-written from VAX/VMS to the PC platform in 2002 using the DB2 database structure and the J2EE development model

Database Name

Accounting Reporting Database

Database Description

Contains relations for repository accounting data from USAS.

Database System

Rdb/Oracle RDO/SQL, COBOL

Estimated Physical Storage Requirements

30 Megabytes

GIS Data Classification

NA

Sharing

Built from USAS transaction file.

Future

This system is scheduled to be deployed in an overall accounting software project using commercial software.

Category               Provide 

Database Name

Medical Limitations

Database Description

Stores medical data on students concerning medical limitations, medications, immunizations, and medical history.

Database System

Rdb/Oracle

Estimated Physical Storage Requirements

1.25 Megabyte

GIS Data Classification

N/A

Sharing

Uses core student data from Student Database.

Future

This system is scheduled to be re-written from VAX/VMS to the PC platform in 2003 using the DB2 database structure and the J2EE development model.

Database Name

Maintenance Work Order

Database Description

Tracks work orders to provide status, repair history, and assignment information.

Database System

Access 2000

Estimated Physical Storage Requirements

Nine Megabytes

GIS Data Classification

N/A

Sharing

N/A

Future

The system is in the implementation phase using MS2000 commercial software on the Windows NT platform

Database Name

Registration Tracking

Database Description

Contains elements to track flow of paperwork, student requests/requirements for fall and summer registration.

Database System

Access 2000

Estimated Physical Storage Requirements

Two megabytes

GIS Data Classification

N/A

Sharing

Uses core student data from Student Database.

Future

This system will be incorporated in the Student Database re-write in 2004 using the DB2 database structure.

Database Name

Student Incident Reporting (SIR)

Database Description

Contains information concerning behavior and injuries

Database System

Rdb/Oracle

Estimated Physical Storage Requirements

1.25 Megabytes.

GIS Data Classification

N/A

Sharing

Uses core student data from Student Database.

Future

This system will be migrated from VAX/VMS as part of the Student Database specifications in 2003 using the DB2 database structure and the J2EE development model.

Database Name

Warehouse

Database Description

All warehouse receipts and issues.

Database System

RMS ISAM

Estimated Physical Storage Requirements

Eight Megabytes.

GIS Data Classification

N/A

Sharing

N/A

Future

This system will be integrated with the Accounting system in the year 2003 using the DB2 database structure and the J2EE development model

Database Name

Student Trust System (STF)

Database Description

All student accounts receipts and expenditures.

Database System

RMS ISAM

Estimated Physical Storage Requirements

Seven Megabytes

GIS Data Classification

N/A

Sharing

N/A

Future

This system will be migrated as part of the Accounting system in the year 2004.  The unique nature of this software may require that we write it with in-house staff.

Database Name

Accounts Payable/Purchasing (APPS)

Database Description

Requisition and payable information and status. Several files linked by requisition number.

Database System

FoxPro 2.6

Estimated Physical Storage Requirements

Six megabytes.

GIS Data Classification

N/A

Sharing

Expenditures, Encumbrance, and payable transactions from this system are uploaded to the USAS system via FTP transport.

Future

This system may be migrated as part of the Accounting system in the year 2004.  An alternative is to develop an interface to the accounting software system.

Database Name

Library Management System (LRC)

Database Description

Catalog information for library media and books.  Allows for future development of circulation system.

Database System

Rdb/Oracle

Estimated Phys. Storage Require.

13 Megabytes

GIS Data Class.

N/A

Sharing

We have transmitted Mark format files with State Library & Archives agency

Future

This system will be replaced by a commercial software named Athena and is scheduled for deployment in 2002.  The new system will be web-based.

Database Name

American Printing House Materials Management System

Database Description

Maintains inventories and order information to support the management of the VH materials from Federal quota funds

Database System

FoxPro 2.6

Estimated Physical Storage Requirements

8 Megabytes

GIS Data Classification

N/A

Sharing

Data is uploaded to the Texas Education Agency upon request.  Order status and availability is planned for Web-content distribution.

Future

Planned migration in 2005 to Web-based processing of requests.

Database Name

VI Registration Database

Database Description

Contains annual registration of all visually impaired students in Texas

Database System

Access 2000

Estimated Physical Storage Requirements

10 Megabytes

GIS Data Classification

N/A

Sharing

Data is uploaded to the Texas Education Agency annually.  On-line registration is planned.

Future

Planned migration to Web-based submission of registration information.  Testing scheduled for 2003 with production in 2004

Database Name

Technology Loan Program

Database Description

Contains all inventory and descriptions for equipment available for loan to students with visual impairments

Database System

FoxPro 2.6

Estimated Physical Storage Requirements

6 megabytes.

GIS Data Class.

N/A

Sharing

N/A

Future

Catalog access is planned via Web in Fiscal year 2004.  Order status and availability will follow.

Database Name

Weekends Home

Database Description

Contains travel data for students.  Used for reimbursement calculations from local districts

Database System

Filemaker Pro

Estimated Physical Storage Requirements

6 megabytes.

GIS Data Class.

N/A

Sharing

N/A

Future

No specific plans at present

Database Name

Teacher Solutions

Database Description

Contains IEP goals and objectives for all students, associated with progress notes and various instructional measurements

Database System

Filemaker Pro

Estimated Physical Storage Requirements

10 megabytes.

GIS Data Class.

N/A

Sharing

N/A

Future

Scheduled for replacement in 2004

Database Name

Parent Mentor Database

Database Description

Storage and collection of parent mentor contacts to provide contact resources.

Database System

Access 2000

Estimated Physical Storage Requirements

10 megabytes.

GIS Data Class.

N/A

Sharing

N/A

Future

 

TSBVI Applications

Application Name

Financial Administration

Application Description

The Financial Accounting system used by TSBVI is the Uniform State-Wide Accounting System (USAS) supported by the comptroller's office.  We are an internal user of this software and the State-Wide Property Accounting System.  The Supplies Inventory (Warehouse) used is a proprietary software system written in COBOL.   We use the Uniform State-Wide Payroll System and a PC-based Purchasing/Obligation system.  Supplementary reporting and fund management software has been written to increase the functionality of accounting reports from the data downloaded from USAS.  All proprietary accounting software systems at TSBVI have data extraction features that provide data upload to USAS to avoid duplicate entry.  Since this has basically only provided a single-entry, and not a complete accounting system, an Accounting Task Force was formed to evaluate options.  The most promising option at this point is to purchase the MIP software solution with components for General Ledger, Accounts Receivable, budget management, data import/export from USAS. 

Database System

Vax/VMS

Development Language

RDO, Datatrieve

New System Requirements

The new Accounting System will need to:

Be accessible as required to staff with visually impairments

Provide department budget information

Link to existing systems that may not be included (Warehouse, APPS, Student Trust)

Sharing

Accounting transfer of batches to/from USAS.

Future

System will be purchased and installed using vendor implementation services, coordinated with agency technical staff.  The project will begin in 2004

Application Name

Accounts Payable/Purchasing System (APPS)

Application Description

All purchase requisitions are entered and the system provides receiving reports for the warehouse, status tracking of requisitions, and generation of payable transactions for general ledger update.  After the requisition is filled, data is exported to the payment modules for voucher printing and generation of encumbrance transactions for general ledger update. 

Database System

FoxPro 2.6

Development Language

FoxPro 2.6

Sharing

Expenditure transactions from the Payment system are transferred via FTP to USAS.  Processed History Extract are returned by USAS and uploaded to our reporting database.  Transaction Extract files from USAS are moved to the reporting database and appear as Accounts Payable on budget reports.  Payables and Encumbrances from the Payment and Purchasing systems respectively are also uploaded to the reporting database.

Future

Purchasing and payment systems are under consideration for deployment in 2004.

Application Name

Student Administration

Application Description

The Student Database system contains demographic and enrollment information on students in attendance at the Texas School for the Blind.  Phase I of the system has been operational since 1988 and migrated to the in-house VAX in 1991 after a processor upgrade.  A system re-write is underway to remove it from the VAX.  The data from this system is collected and distributed in a variety of ways to meet the needs of the School. 

Database System

VAX Rdb/Oracle

Development Language

COBOL, FMS

New System Requirements

The new Student Database system will need to:

Be accessible as required to staff with visually impairments

Be accessible to wide group of users

Be able to integrate with a wide range of other systems that will use segments of its data (i.e. central collection point for data on school districts, professional contacts, any public information that eventually should be accessible from the web)

Ability to accommodate changing enrollment plans and summer sessions

Include or be able to interface with related systems (Student Medical Info, Registration Tracking, Student Incident Reporting)

Sharing

Backbone for many other systems, reporting to other agencies, and public info access.  We are currently exploring the feasibility of uploading of this data to the TEA PEIMS database Provide method for users to generate their own queries/reports

Future

Phase I design began September 2001, Design scope completed and system requirements defined by spring 2002.  Core system ready for beta testing by September 2002.  Estimated system completion by January 2003.

Application Name

Library Management system

Application Description

The system written in-house is being phased out.  A commercial product called Mitinet was purchased to format data entered into Marc format for eventual import into the Athena Library Management system.  All records from the in-house system are being transferred to Mitinet.

Database System

Mark Format Database

Development Language

Web-based

New System Requirements

Accessible to visually impaired via the web.

Sharing

The data is transferred to the Texas Library Cooperative. 

Future

Purchase commercial system and make available via intranet in FY 2002.

Application Name

APH Materials Management System

Application Description

Manages the ordering, shipping, and receipt of Federal Quota funded equipment from the American Printing House for the Blind.

Database System

FoxPro 2.6

Development Language

FoxPro 2.6

System Requirements

Future ability to accept requests for equipment via the web.

Sharing

None

Future

Systems to be web-accessible by 2003.

Application Name

Student Registration Tracking

Application Description

Tracks registration elements during fall and summer student enrollment.  Provides numerous status and management reports.  Integrated with word processing system for generation of form letters.  Entry performed in Center for School Resources with read-only access to numerous school staff for program planning.

Database System

Access 2000

Development Language

Access 2000

New System Requirements

 

Sharing

None

Future

It will be included in Phase II of the Student Database migration scheduled for FY2004.

Application Name

VI Registration System

Application Description

Manages annual registration of all students with visual impairments.  Provides numerous status and management reports.  Information is received from school districts throughout Texas to indicate enrollment, reading medium, etc.

Database System

Access 2000

Development Language

Visual Basic

System Requirements

Ability to accept enrollment information from districts via Web.

Sharing

Registration data of visually impaired students in Texas is provided by TEA annually to TSBVI.

Future

Web-accessible for district updates by 2004

Application Name

Teacher Solution/IEP System

Application Description

Application developed by the Curriculum department to create student IEPs.  Adding a segment to do grade reporting and maintain attendance information. 

Database System

FileMaker Pro

Development Language

FileMaker Pro

System Requirements

 

Sharing

Imports core student data from Student Database System.

Future

This system will be migrated in the year 2003 using the DB2 database structure and the J2EE development model

Application Name

Student ARD Assessment Folders

Application Description

HTML application that stores and distributes various assessments reports as a repository of student information for staff review 

Database System

HTML

Development Language

HTML

System Requirements

HTTP Server

Sharing

Na

Future

This system will be migrated as part of the Accounting system in the year 2003 using the DB2 database structure and the J2EE development model

Application Name

Weekends Home

Application Description

Records, manages, coordinates and tracks student travel between TSBVI and local school districts. 

Database System

FileMaker Pro

Development Language

FileMaker Pro

System Requirements

 

Sharing

Na

Future

This system will be migrated as part of the Accounting system in the year 2004 using the DB2 database structure and the J2EE development model

Departmental Applications and Databases

Key inventory   Operations

Time-Keeping  Comprehensive Programs

Video Library   Outreach

Outreach Mailing List    Outreach

Instructional Materials   Curriculum

Curriculum Sales           Business Office

Data Dictionary            Technology Services

Phone Directory           Switchboard

Media Archive System  Technology Services

Information Resources Management Organizations, Policies, and Practices

Organization and Personnel

Administrative Technology Staff

Director of Technology Services

Designated as Information Resources Manager for TSBVI.

Duties: Supervise and direct all agency administrative computer applications.  Manage Technology Services department activities including budget coordination, technical oversight, network planning and integration, and the overall technical environment.  Assist instructional and administrative staff in the technical review and planning of educational systems/equipment.  Analyze, design, and manage the implementation new programs/systems.  Plan and coordinate agency procurement and operational management of computer hardware and software.  Financial Accounting system analysis and management.  Coordinate agency use of Department of Information Resources common software.  System manager of the VAX 4000-200 computer.  Responsible for network and email account set-up, and software maintenance.  Oversee management of NT Server and NT-based network environment.  Manage all campus data and telephone network equipment and software. Keep up with current technologies.  Directs development of agency standards and operational practices.

Programmer Analyst (half-time)

Duties: Analysis, design, and development of new programs/systems with primary responsibility for financial management/accounting systems and student administration systems.  Technical support for agency administrative applications on VAX, Windows, and Macintosh platform environment.  Development of technical software documentation and task analysis.  Development of Web-based Java applications.

Programmer I

Duties:  Assists Programmer Analyst with development activities.

System Support Specialist III

Duties:  Development of user documentation and standards.  Application systems support.  Initial user point of contact for training and technical support in the use of office automation and application systems.  Performs special projects to research policy or implementation issues.  Develop training materials and provide direct technical instruction to staff.

Web Master Assistant

Duties:  Coordinate development of agency Intranet.  Development materials for Web publication.  Training and troubleshoot non-technical staff publication of Intranet documents.   Serve as backup to TSBVI Web Master.  Provide technical support of Macintosh computers.  Provide technical resource for agency staff.  Coordinates HTML development in web-deployed applications.

System Support Specialist I

Duties: Application systems support.  Validation of client computers.  Troubleshoot desktop, network, and telephone problems.  Assists with the purchasing of repair equipment and coordination with service providers.  Documentation of technical interfaces and campus wiring topology.  Responsible for desktop computer upgrades.

Network specialist (half-time)

Duties:  Performs maintenance, hardware setup, and hardware troubleshooting on PC-based and specialized adaptive equipment.  Documentation of technical interfaces and operational procedures.  Performs software trouble-shooting and problem resolution.  Performs evaluation of new adaptive equipment and development of documentation.   Upgrade and support of WindowsNT Servers, network operations, and server software.

Administrative Technician (half-time)

Duties:  Operational management of Technology Services procurement tracking, inventory, equipment repair, and employee time reporting.  Assists in the maintenance of centralized PBX circuit assignments, call-accounting, and Audix Voice mail settings.  Maintains various departmental databases for central support activities.

Instructional Technical Staff

Educational Technology Coordinators

Divide responsibilities among the 5 curricular areas

Divide service delivery between direct instruction and consultation

Manage computer labs

Provide staff development

Develop training and instructional materials

Test, acquire and allocate software/hardware

Providing outreach services

Technology assessment of students

Develop curriculum

Maintain current inventory of equipment for which each is responsible

Develop multimedia-training systems

Support teachers in the integration of technology into the curriculum

Instructional Database Manager

Performs routine work providing assistance in the development, maintenance, and monitoring of an integrated database system.  Provides user assistance and training for all school personnel as needed.  Organizes and manages data to ensure data integrity and control redundancy.  Performs archival procedures to store pertinent school information. Works with administrators and technology services staff to develop and maintain systems for managing information effectively.

Instructional Technician

This position assists the technology teachers by performing troubleshooting, set-up, configuration, and problem solving for instructional hardware/software as well as assists in equipment and software management.

Residential Technician

This position assists the residential instructor by performing troubleshooting, set-up, configuration, and problem solving for conventional and assistive hardware/software as well as assists in equipment and software management.

Outreach Technical Staff

Statewide Technical Support Specialist

Design, implement, and maintain TSBVI web site

Provide telephone support for state personnel who work with visually impaired students.  Provide technical support to Outreach Program for distance education initiatives.  Coordinate with other state agencies to ensure accessibility of web-based information.  Provide national and international technical presence at assistive and other technology conferences.  Document technical and evaluative information pertaining to assistive technology.  Assist in teacher training during Technology institutes at TSBVI.  Maintain vigilance concerning accessibility of state adopted instructional materials, textbooks, etc.   Provides expert-level advice, consultation, and information in various support and presentational roles

Outreach Technology Teachers

Statewide staff development

Student assessment

Student training

Consultation

Staff development (TSBVI)

Curriculum development

Development of instructional materials for staff development

Software/hardware evaluation

Development of multimedia training systems

Telecommunication Infrastructure

Voice Communications

The Texas School for the Blind uses a Definity G3i analog private branch exchange (PBX) for voice communications.  The PBX is currently configured to provide 400 single-line service ports.  This system provides off-campus service via 14 local two-way trunks and 16 Direct In-dial trunks.  The school uses 1 bulk-billed watts line with AT&T as the carrier for in-state service.  The PBX console has been adapted to provide an audible tone to alert the visually impaired operator that an outside call is incoming or an inside call is requesting assistance or connection to a TEXAN circuit.  The use of voice mail has been well received.  After hours coverage of the TSBVI main phone number is an automated attendant system that provide the caller with directory information for call routing.

Data Communications

All campus buildings are networked with fiber optic components. The only remaining fiber optic cable installations will be to provide redundancy between four Gigabit backbone switch to eliminate single point of failure.  The standard communication rate is fully transitioned from a 10MB to a 100MB Ethernet over fiber optic cable.  Twisted pair wiring within the networked building is standardized on Category 5 passive wiring components to each office location meeting the EIA568 standard.  A wiring connection for telephones is also included.  One TI circuit provides interface with General Services Commission network, the other connects through Educational Service Center.  GSC provides domain name services and routes the TCP/IP network traffic from TSBVI to the Internet.  This circuit also routes all incoming electronic mail, host telnet connections, FTP and production data traffic to other agencies.  All remote printing from the USAS system is accomplished over this link and TSBVI uses the link to upload and download data files to the USAS via FTP.  The T1 connection to region XIII handles workstation traffic for video conferencing and serves as a backup T1.  A DSL circuit provides web browsing (http) transport.  A 24 channel PRI circuit connected through a video gateway router, provides the ability for ISDN dial-up from any client location on campus for high-frame video conferencing.

IR Policies and Practices Table

Category                

Provide Brief Summary/Overview

IR Priorities

Priorities for administrative systems are determined at the administrative management level with planning and coordination through the Technology Services Department.  Responsibility for the integration and coordination of information resources is at the department level.  The Technology Services Department is responsible for enterprise-wide technical design, integration, and coordination.  Instructional priorities are determined by a committee that consists of the key instructional staff that establish budget, develop instructional goals, and determine instructional protocols.

IR Planning Methodology

Planning priorities are identified by the relevant department or task force and the input is provided to the Technology Services department for incorporation into  technology plans.

Quality Assurance Practices

New software systems are designed and developed within a multi-disciplinary design team and this approach examines risk as part of the process.  Generally, the System Life Cycle methodology is followed for the development of new software. Development of secure student administration systems within adequate protection of sensitive or confidential data is required. TSBVI subscribes to its mandate to serve as an accessible environment in regard to its information systems.

Personal Computer Replacement Schedule

TSBVI computers are replaced on a 3-year cycle.  Laptops are replaced on a 2-year cycle.  Annually, criteria are established for minimum capacities.  In preparation for each school semester the existing computers are reviewed according to those criteria and a replacement list is prepared.  Configurations for the computers to be purchased are selected on a price-performance basis.  Competitive, negotiated, quotes are obtained and equipment is purchase and deployed according to the replacement list.  Computers that are considered outdated are removed from service.  Computers that are old, but still viable are reassigned to locations that have less demanding requirements.  All desktop computers are purchased with a three-year on-site warranty.  Laptops are purchased with a two-year warranty.

Procurement

The technology item is researched and specifications are developed.  Potential vendors are identified from the QISV, HUB, and other sources.  Quotes are obtained and the requisition is routed for departmental approval and identification of funding source.  The requisition is then routed to the IRM who validates that the purchase is consistent with the agency’s IR strategy and in some cases a critical review is prepared.  The package is then routed to the Superintendent who considers the information and approves or disapproves the purchase.  The requisition is then routed to the purchasing department for procurement.

Disaster Recovery/ Business Continuity Planning

In the event of a catastrophic disaster, it is anticipated that a VAX computer could be leased and installed within an acceptable time period.  Servers could be acquired and configured within a reasonable timeframe.  Archived backup data could restore the system to normal operation.  In normal operation, a complete backup of all VAX data are made each evening and stored in a off-site location.  A redundant backup the TSBVI web site is maintained at all times.  Backup of desktop data is departmental responsibility.  All networked servers utilize RAID technology to limit data loss due to disk failure.  Agency plans to explore use of the WTDROC to provide redundancy fail over services for the TSBVI Website and other agency-critical services such as email.

Data Center Operations

Legacy administrative systems have been implemented within the VAX/VMS environment.  The School has migrated major functions such as printing, file sharing, and user validation to the Windows NT environment.   Desktop configurations are based on Windows98/2000 with TCP/IP as network transport. Macintosh computers communicate over Encapsulated Appletalk over Ethernet.  Terminal emulation is provided by software on PC client computers to communicate with the VAX.  Access to USAS, USPS, and SPA is accommodated by 3270 terminal emulation on desktop computers.  All queued printers support Postscript Level II and the Adobe Postscript drivers are used for all printers, See Figure 2, Agency Platforms, Systems, and Telecommunications.

Standards

Software Development

Applications on VAX/VMS that are written in the COBOL language with conventional indexed sequential and/or relational database (Rdb) file structures, RALLY, and Datatrieve software will be re-written.  For departmental level development, several systems are written in Filemaker Pro for its ease of use and simplified forms-based development.  Some departments also use Microsoft Access.  For enterprise development, use of the Java language in the J2EE standard is underway.  By using this enterprise development architecture, it is our intention to deploy systems that are accessible by all client configurations such as PC or Macintosh computers running a web browser, conventional or assistive PDA device, cell phone, or by single-threaded TTD.  Although this model is more complex to deploy and staff have had a significant learning curve, we feel that it is our responsibility to establish systems that can be used by all visitors and can serve as an example of how to build a scalable, open, and object-oriented application to meet accessibility laws and expectations.

Office Automation

TSBVI has standardized on Microsoft Office suite for PC and Mac.  Use of this product-set enables easier sharing of files between the PC and Macintosh systems in use at TSBVI and our service constituency.  

Software licenses

Centralized license compliance is the responsibility of the Information Resources Manager.  Department license compliance is the managed within the individual departments.  Required H.B. 1895 legislative software audit reporting is the responsibility of the internal auditor.  In consideration of an internal audit performed in FY2002, efforts are underway to reevaluate the software management program at TSBVI.  This process is to be completed and the new program in place by September 1, 2002.  Responsibility for required H.B. 1895 legislative software audit reporting will be decided as part of the software management program.

 

Standards Development

Performance and operational standards for technology is developed from collaborations of individuals assembled for the particular task or objective. 

Development Methodology

Most administrative planning is performed within a Task Force or management team context.  The planning model for instructional technology is through committees that consist of instructional technology teaching staff.  For school-wide planning within the management team; technology policy, application development implementation, distance education, and budget planning, the agency Information Resource Manager is represented by the Director of Business, Technology, and Operation.  The Director of Technology Services and members of his staff make recommendations to the management team on school-wide technology issues.

Change Control

This is part of the development process.  Typically, due to the specialized nature of application at TSBVI, minor system modifications and enhancements are made after the software system has been used for several months.  Promotion of software is enable through journalized audit accounts for technical staff.   

Security

TSBVI complies with state and professional standards to secure information from unlawful access and follow established state reporting guidelines.  Access to confidential student records is limited to those individuals who have been authorized by school administrators.  Various software tools and structures monitor VAX system security.  Security considerations and guidelines are reviewed with new computer users in conjunction with system training.

Geographic Information Systems

NA

Resource Use

Video conferencing is in place at TSBVI.  Videoconferences take place on a regular basis and additional content programs are under development to use this new technology.  For TSBVI computers, voice synthesis is commonplace.  Speech recognition systems assist students with impaired dexterity.

Contract/

Consultant

Hardware contracts are maintained on VAX components that are too heavy to easily transport to local repair depots.  Other school components are self-maintained.  Professional consultants are used for specific purposes within the context of assisting in-house Technical staff to assist in the development of applications and provide a peer review context.

Interagency Information Sharing

This is primarily limited to E-mail and transport of data files to/from USAS and USPS data systems.  A school official authorizes public release of TSBVI data to maintain confidentiality.  Electronic data is shared for special purposes such criminal history checks.  Sharing school student data with TEA for the PEIMs system is under consideration.

 

Training and Continuing Education

Training is provided to technical staff by attending various seminars and conferences.  Due to the specialized nature of adaptive technology application at TSBVI, training often entails out-of-state travel to obtain information.  Instructional technology staff are responsible for training other TSBVI and statewide ISD staff in these specialized areas.  The Systems Support Specialist provides training to staff in TSBVI proprietary software, Microsoft Office, and the network environment.  There are efforts underway to explore the use of web technology to present tutorial and content information within a browser context.  The varied scheduling of TSBVI staff present unique challenges to assess the level of the employee’s technology skill and design relevant training to all staff. 

Figure 1, Categories of assistive technology

Assistive Technology for Low Vision and Blind Users

Function Provided

Screen Reader Software

Allows users to navigate through windows, menus, and controls while receiving text and limited graphics information through speech output or Braille display.

Braille Display

Provides line-by-line Braille display of on-screen text using a series of pins to form Braille symbols that are constantly updated as the user navigates through the interface.

Text to Speech

Used with a Screen Reader, converts electronic text into speech via a speech synthesizer.

Optical Scanner

Imports print materials into a computer and through a word processor, the data can be saved, read on screen with or without large print or with speech or Braille output, edited, and printed in regular print, large print or Braille.

Braille Notetaker

Provides for Braille input with speech or Braille output for word processing, calculations using the calculator functions, interface with a computer and Braille or print output. These devices can be used as the speech synthesizer for desk or laptop computers.

Closed Circuit Television (CCTV)

Through a camera system this device magnifies print and other materials up to more than 30 times. It can be used with computers allowing for split screen images to view simultaneously the materials from the computer and CCTV.

Self-voicing Web Browsers

A true web browser with speech output. Allows much easier and efficient navigation of the World Wide Web for blind users.

Braille Translation Software

Translates and formats text and word processing files into Braille. Allows easier production of Braille materials. Can be used in conjunction with scanners and internet materials.

Screen Magnification

Provides magnification of a portion or all of a computer screen, including graphics and windows as well as text. Allows users to track position of the input focus. Comes with some speech output to assist users.

Assistive Technology for Hearing Disabilities and Deafblindness

Function Provided

Telecommunications Device for the Deaf (TDD)

Provides a means for users to communicate over telephone lines using text terminals.

Closed Captioning

Provides text transcription of spoken material on video media. Important computer applications include distance learning, CD-ROM, video teleconferencing, and other forms of interactive video

FM Systems

Provides an increased volume level for speech reception while blocking out other environmental sounds through use of a microphone by the speaker and earmolds by the listener. FM signal transmitted directly from microphone to earmold speakers.

Refreshable Braille TDD

For individuals who are deafblind, this device provides Braille output and input for communication with another TDD or the telephone deaf relay system.

ShowSounds

System utility provides visual translation of sound information. Nonspeech audio such as system beeps would be presented via screen flashing or similar methods. This capability would be provided by the operating system.

Assistive Technology for
Physical Disabilities

Function Provided

Alternate Pointing Device

Gives users with limited or no arm and hand fine motor control the ability to control mouse movements and functions. Examples include foot operated mice, head-mounted pointing devices and eye-tracking systems.

On-Screen Keyboard

On-screen keyboard which provides the keys and functions of a physical keyboard. On-screen keyboards are typically used in conjunction with alternate pointing devices.

Alternative In-put Devices

Devices such as touch windows, alternative keyboards, switches for input, and scanning software provide alternative means of input for individuals with physical or cognitive limitations.

Switch Toys

Action toys that have on/off external switch capabilities to assist students in learning cause and effect.

Augmentative Communication Devices

Computerized communication devices that can be programmed to speak words or phrases to be selected by an individual who is unable to use their voice to speak.

Word Prediction Software

Predictive software speed typing by predicting words as the user types them, and offering those words in a list for the user to choose.

Speech Recognition

Allows the user with limited or no arm and hand fine motor control to input text and/or control the user interface via speech.

Figure 2, Agency Platforms and Systems

Agency Platforms and Systems

Category

Type

Operating

System

Database Mgmt. System

Capacity/

Size/Count

Comments/

Descriptive Information

Mainframe

NA

NA

NA

NA

 

Minicomputer

Digital Equipment Corporation

VMS 6.1

Rdb/Oracle

5 VUPS

50 concurrent processes

VAX 4000-200

LAN Servers (Central)

Intel-based, migrating to Unix-based

(see figure 3)

Windows NT 4.0, Sun Solaris

DB2, Access, FileMaker Pro

Various, 7 servers

Used for Web site, printing, etc.

LAN Servers (Remote)

NA

Na

Na

Na

 

LAN Client/Work-stations (Central)

Mac

Mac OS x

Filemaker Pro

30

 

LAN Client/Work-stations (Central)

PC

Window98/2000

Foxpro 2.6, Filemaker Pro, Access

300 Desktops

All desktops on Windows networking

LAN Client/ Work-stations (Remote)

N/A

N/A

N/A

N/A

 

Standalone PC Workstations

PC Laptops

Windows 98/2000

Na

30

 

Standalone MAC Workstations

Mac Laptops

Mac OS

Filemaker Pro

20

 

Category

Type

Capacity/

Size/Count

Comments/

Descriptive Information

Gigabit Backbone Data Switches

Cisco 6500

4

10Mbps, each hub is its own bridged segment

Hub Routers & Switches (Remote)

Cisco Catalyst 2900 XL

25

100MB - Migrating to this architecture

IP Routers

Cisco MC3800 Cisco 1700

Cisco 2600

3

 

Video Gateway

Cisco IP/VC 3500

1

 

Firewall/Security

Cisco PIX

1

 

Remote Bandwidth Analog

N/A

NA

 

Remote Bandwidth Digital 56K or less

N/A

NA

 

Remote Bandwidth Digital T1

N/A

2

General Serviices Commission Telecommications Division, Education Service Center XIII for Video Network

Remote Bandwidth ISDN (PRI)

PRI

24

Scheduled for implementation in Summer 2000

DTE/End User Equipment Arrangement

Workstations, LANs, Mainframe Devices, Other

N/A

 

Supported Protocols

TCP/IP, Appletalk, NetBEUI (limited), Telnet, FTP, HTTP, Ethertalk, DECnet, H320 video

N/A

 

Internet Service Provider

Texas Building and Procurement Agency, Education Service Center XIII, Southwestern Bell

2 T1 Circuits

1 ISDN PRI,

DSL

 

Shared Network

Education Service Center XIII for Video Network, ESCONETT

N/A

 

Figure 3, Server Configuration   (under construction)

Server Name

Manufacture Model

Server Function

Operating System

CPU

Storage Capacity

RAM

Louis

Gateway ALR7200

Primary domain controller

Windows NT v4.0, Service Pack 5

Intel P3 450MHz

7GB, RAID1

256MB

Emerson

Gateway ALR9200

Intranet, Email, Server

Windows NT v4.0, Service Pack 5

Intel XEON 400

37GB, RAID5

512MB

Berthold

Gateway ALR9200

Application Server, DB2, WebSphere

Windows NT v4.0, Service Pack 5

Intel XEON 400

37GB, RAID5

512MB

Tommy

Wallingford

Filemaker Pro Server

Windows NT v4.0, Service Pack 5

Intel P3 450MHz

Intel P3 450MHz

19GB, RAID1

130MB

Taylor

Gateway ALR7200

Distance Education Web-based Courseware server

Windows NT v4.0, Service Pack 5

Intel P3 350MHz

Intel P3 350MHz

54GB, RAID1

256MB

Texwide

Wallingford

Web Site Server

Windows NT v4.0, Service Pack 5

Intel P3 450MHz

Intel P3 450MHz

51GB, RAID5

130MB

Helen

Gateway ALR7200

Video Server

Windows NT v4.0, Service Pack 5

Intel P3 350MHz

Intel P3 350MHz

18GB, RAID1

256MB

Sun Cluster

         

Appendix F: Information Resources 
Strategic Plan For Fiscal Years 2001-2005

paper page number

Executive Summary

89

Introduction

91

External/Internal Assessment 

94

Planning Factors and Assumption Table

94

Budget Strategies

 95

Goals

 96

Information Resources Environment 

104

--Organization and Personnel 

104

--Administrative Technology Staff 

104

Instructional Technical Staff

106

Implementation of the Strategic Plan

107

IR Policies and Practices Table

 108

Agency Platforms, Systems, and Telecommunications (see Appendix C) 

111

Telecommunications Information 

112

Telecommunication Infrastructure 

112

Categories of Assistive Technology 

115

TSBVI Databases 

117

Major Applications

 121

Appendix A - Server Configuration

 125

Appendix B - Web Site Monthly Trends

126

Appendix C - 18 Month Distance Education Plan

 128

 

 

Executive Summary

The technology needs and objectives of the Texas School for the Blind and Visually Impaired (TSBVI) are broad in scope and have become a primary focus of the School's resources and service offerings. The School's planning for technology has focused on administrative applications, instructional support, staff training, and outreach capabilities that serve as a statewide resource in the field of blindness. Instruction for students has expanded to include the integration of technology into content areas for both teaching and learning. The development of the technology program has been created through a coordinated, multi-disciplinary effort. Adaptive technology systems provide access to information for literacy, vocational opportunity, and personal development. These systems, as well as use of the computer for classroom administration application can be complex and difficult to master. As the integration of technology systems into instruction continues to progress, a professional development plan has been implemented to meet the training needs of the instructional staff. This training enables new technical innovation to evolve as staff and students become more technically sophisticated.

Over the past several years, the School has dedicated staff and fiscal resources to expand services and updated equipment resources for instruction. The majority of TSBVI students are involved with technology at their particular level of proficiency. Involvement ranges from the use of switch systems and augmentative communication devices for some students, to advanced telecommunication and personal computing for other students. As technology integration into teaching and learning expands, an interdisciplinary and integrated approach to planning and implementation will be vital to apply our technological resources effectively and efficiently.

The proliferation of desktop systems for administrative support is expected to continue to provide benefits and increased efficiency as new systems and techniques are developed and implemented. The acquisition of new technology was accelerated by the School's receipt of a significant grant from Technology Integration in Education (TIE) grant in the 1998-1999 school year. This grant provided training for instructional staff, new equipment, and a distance education facility to support the School's mandate to serve as a statewide resource to families and professionals. Continued development of our technological infrastructure to open more channels to more sites throughout Texas will enable realization of our distance education strategy.

The key strategic areas of development for Funding Years 2001-2005 include:

Computer upgrades and Increased student access - We continue to expand the number of computers available to students in the instructional and residential settings to facilitate communication, complete homework, develop life-long leisure skills, and explore the networked Internet environment. Continued upgrades for the school's classroom desktop computers as well as portable computers, devices, and software on a planned schedule will provide access to information resources and print media for students who are blind and visually impaired.

Expanded teacher and staff training - Training is an ongoing need for TSBVI staff. As systems become more complex and technology applications more prevalent, staff must expand their skills to support student learning. With the advent and expansion of networked computers, training will address utilization of the expanded tool-set. The Agency and IR Strategic Plans includes staff training and distance education models for integrating technology use with teaching and learning across the curricula areas. Training for administrative support staff will increase efficient use of the Microsoft Office environment. The new Teacher Solution software will assist instructional staff to develop documents required by federal and state laws governing special education.

Continued implementation of network infrastructure and administrative application - New standards and skills are required to coordinate and manage Internet document publishing, configuration of desktops, and adaptation devices. The number of networked desktop computers will continue to increase as workstations are added in the residential areas.

Migration of the current VMS-based VAX 4000-200 processor and application software to Windows NT-based servers- The NT networking environment supports Windows and Macintosh clients and provides access to LAN-based applications, file-sharing, and printing. Upgrade of the technical environment to 100MB switched connections will be a logical transition of the network to provide more bandwidth to support the technical base. The VAX computer is scheduled to be de-installed in fiscal year 2003. Use of the DFAS/GFAS software supported by Northrup-Gruman is considered the most cost-effective alternative since the scope of the application is too broad for development by in-house technical staff and other alternatives are too expensive. In-house development of the Student Database software in platform-independent Web-based Java software is considered cost-effective since that application comprises the core functions of the school and commercial student management software is not suitable for our unique environment.

Distance Learning Technology - The School received a Technology Integration in Education grant in 1998 to deploy distance education programs. By developing the capability to use teleconferencing media, the School will be able to enhance the learning of children with visual impairments. This technology is intended to allow the TSBVI to provide valuable information concerning curricula, materials, technology, teaching strategies, and pre-service training to professionals, parents, and other interested individuals by creating electronic links to regional education service centers, school districts, institutions of higher education, and other agencies. Such technology is intended to provide information, training, and follow-up while reducing the time and expense of travel.

Expanded application of World Wide Web Technologies - Web-based development has proven effective in service delivery. Continued development for online query of statewide resources will be developed. Expanded use of Intranet technology will provide new levels of agency collaboration and productivity. Deploy school wide web-based applications using Java Server Pages resulting in the following advantages:

  1. Use of the Web to allow universal access to applications from existing desktops, including both IBM-compatible and Macintosh computers.
  2. Seamless integration with other TSBVI information systems.
  3. A high level of security, reflecting the sensitivity of the data.
  4. Accommodation for ongoing evolution and expansion.

Introduction

The Texas School for the Blind and Visually Impaired derives its authority to operate and its purposes from the Texas Education Code (TEC 30.021). In brief, the law describes the scope and functions of the school "to serve as a special school in the continuum of statewide alternative placements for students who are 21 years of age or younger .and who have a visual impairment and who may have one or more other disabilities". The law also sets forth these additional purposes for TSBVI:

  • Conduct supplemental programs such as summer programs
  • Provide statewide services to parents of students with visual impairments, school districts, regional education service centers, and other agencies serving students with visual impairments, deafblindness, and other additional disabilities
  • Develop and provide local, regional, and statewide training for parents and professionals
  • Provide consultation and technical assistance to parents and professionals related to special education and special services for students
  • Develop and disseminate reference materials in the areas of curriculum, instructional methodology, and educational technology
  • Provide information related to library resources, adapted materials, current research, technology resources, and teaching, assessment, and transition of students
  • Operate programs for lending educational and technological materials to school districts and education service centers
  • Facilitate the preparation of teachers for visually impaired students by providing assistance to institutions of higher education and other teacher preparation programs
  • Cooperate with public and private agencies and organizations in the planning, development, and implementation of effective educational and rehabilitative service delivery systems to maximize and make efficient use of state resources

The School is governed by a nine-member Board of Trustees comprised of parents of children with visual impairments, individuals with visual impairments, and professionals with experience in the field of visual impairment. TSBVI is a complex organization in the scope of services it provides and the multiple service delivery models it maintains. TSBVI is a 24-hour residential school program that provides intensive instructional programming for students with diverse educational needs. Students' exposure to technology ranges from adaptive and conventional technology training with academic students to the use of cause and effect switch technology with multiply impaired students. As an organization, the school administers a fourteen million dollar budget, accounting and financial management systems, personnel and budget management four almost four hundred employees, and federal fund management and accounting. Various state-wide functions are provided by TSBVI and numerous programs for students with visual impairments depend on services provided by the School's Technology Services Department.

TSBVI requires effective information management systems to support the mandate of the State Strategic Plan to integrate government services by developing, implementing, and maintaining a statewide information resources infrastructure. These systems assist staff in processing new students, tracking progress in learning, and supporting the intensive instructional programs provided to students. Another important area of technology application at TSBVI is providing appropriate computing resources to staff. These resources range from desktop publishing of curriculum publications on Macintosh computers to support of over 250 staff using Windows and Macintosh computers for classroom management, report writing, and student instruction. In developing the systems at TSBVI, a prevailing concern must be to develop systems that are accessible to visually impaired staff and students, and that can easily output the data into Braille, large print, voice output, and regular text. Many TSBVI staff have varying work schedules and limited "office-time." Use of electronic mail is extremely effective to enable communication between the various departments during slotted periods of employees' work schedules. Use of electronic mail enables more productive and time-efficient communication, providing staff more available time for student-related activities. As mandated in the State Strategic Plan, all TSBVI technical resources are based on industry standard architectures to ensure coordinated resource sharing.

Acquisition, use, and management of information technology at TSBVI supports the State Strategic plan to ensure that decisions are driven by the recognition and understanding of user needs in its varied program offerings. A primary focus of TSBVI's mission is to support local school districts. The School serves as a clearinghouse for reference information, including instructional methods and materials. It is equally important that the staff of TSBVI have the knowledge and skills to teach students, and to serve as resources to other teachers and parents throughout the State.

A major initiative since 1995 has been to implement a campus-wide local area network. It is vitally important that teachers and students have access in the classroom to network-based instructional resources. This network connects most of the desktop computers. Though most wiring preparations have been completed, numerous issues are yet to be resolved in the use and configuration of networked computers with the variety of adaptive equipment and software in use at TSBVI. Documentation of these configurations will be critical to develop a base of information to support students using the devices at TSBVI, and to assist local school district teachers and students throughout the state.

Internet access enables staff members to use electronic resources such as the World Wide Web, the Texas Library Connection, the Educational Software Selector (TESS), resources available through the Web site of the Texas Education Agency, online resources from the Region 13 Education Service Center, and electronic mail. With the availability of electronic mail and the World Wide Web, instructional staff has started the process of documenting their expertise so that their unique skills and abilities may be shared with other professionals through the TSBVI web site  (www.tsbvi.edu). The best examples of this information sharing are in the See/Hear newsletter that is produced monthly (considered one of the best resources in the nation for specific content information) and a series of resource pages for math instruction of students with visual impairments. Access to these two content areas on the Web-site have grown exponentially over time, indicating the significant need for continued development of such resources. (See appendix B to see trend analysis reporting of the Web site activity.)

To increase student access to computers outside the classroom, the local area network has been expanded to the residential areas to provide 24-hour access to network resources. In addition to supporting instruction and staff development, the School's technology systems must also support the administrative functions of the School. The use of the Uniform Statewide Accounting System (USAS) and Uniform Statewide Payroll System (USPS) accounting system has not been completely effective. TSBVI has found that the USAS and USPS systems do not meet budget management and cash accounting requirements to accommodate needs of the agency. Use of extensive uploads to the USAS from in-house systems has greatly assisted accounting staff and has limited the need for direct data entry into USAS.

The School has a cooperative contract with the Region XI Education Service Center in Ft. Worth to develop software for managing the ordering, shipping, and tracking of instructional devices and materials available to Texas schools as part of the American Printing House for the Blind program. This electronic management system has resulted in materials being provided to teachers statewide on a "when needed, where needed" basis. The School's technical staff also provides support for the electronic database for statewide Registry of Students with Visual Impairments reported to the Texas Education Agency and for the School's Technology Loan program to students in local schools.

Tenets of the School's approach to instructional technology:

  1. The School is committed to providing the training necessary for students with disabilities to use assistive hardware and software to interact with computers for the purpose of gaining access to information, products, and services.
  2. Technology offers students with disabilities independence at their individual level of potential, equitable access to information, and increased vocational opportunities. As an educational institution, TSBVI is committed to providing all students the skills and knowledge related to technology to enhance their lives educationally vocationally, socially, and personally.
  3. Assistive Technology is defined as any item, piece of equipment or product system, whether acquired commercially or customized, that is used to increase, maintain or improve the functional capabilities of persons with disabilities. Technology is included in but is not limited to: adapted input, adapted output, augmentative and alternative communication, environmental control, mobility aid, multi-sensory modifications, physical Education/ recreation/leisure, positioning, and self-care devices.
  4. Technology can facilitate language development, communication, independence, interdependence, emergent literacy, development of social and cooperative learning skills, access to information, alternative means of expression, training for more efficient and effective use of vision, and maintenance of skills previously mastered.
  5. Technology instruction is an essential part of the Core Curriculum for students who are blind, deafblind, or visually impaired. Instructional technology is used to support, enhance, and facilitate existing classroom instruction--not to replace it. Technology must be integrated into the classroom/curriculum to the maximum degree possible. To accomplish this goal, all students and staff will have appropriate and necessary training in the use of the technology.
  6. Accessibility to information means providing students an equal opportunity to learn. Accessibility is defined relative to the users' needs and requirements for a task. TSBVI will strive to provide access through system infrastructure that allows for add-on assistive software to enable specialized input and output capabilities.

External/Internal Assessment

The Agency Strategic plan contains an extensive review of Information Resources External/Internal Assessment.

Planning Factors and Assumption Table

Planning Factor

Assumption

Need for adequate budget management, general ledger reporting, and local funds management

The Uniform State-Wide Accounting System will not satisfy agency accounting needs

Need for incorporation of video conferencing technologies

Continued expansion of outreach services and delivery of services via distance learning

Increase in demand on information and support systems

Continued emphasis on transition planning policies for student intake/dismissal

Need for ongoing technical training of staff in use and integration of technology systems

As use of technology becomes more pronounced in the organization, the need for training becomes more critical for successful use of the systems.

Increased complexity of technical systems

Technology planning will be integrated within various technology committees that span instructional and administrative applications

Need for standards development for core technologies architecture

Technical staff will be involved in administrative planning and policy development

Increased CPU processing and memory requirements for adaptive software

Funds will be available to upgrade instructional desktop computers to run assistive/adaptive software for student access as needed

Support of VH professionals throughout Texas

Development of systems for the inter-networking of TSBVI with other agencies serving persons with visual impairments to access students and teachers, regardless of distance separation

VAX computer will become less supportable as hardware and software elements are retired

Funds will be available to migrate existing applications and server function to Windows NT

Open systems software is required for application development

Screen review and magnification software will support modern object-oriented application environments

Need for technical resources

Adequate staff resources will be maintained to support existing applications and develop systems for efficient processing of fiscal and student information

Increase bandwidth for Distance Education

Network planning for distance education is based on adequate capacity to engage a video conference from any networked location on campus and to more sites.

Budget Strategies

There are five primary strategies that the School can employ to acquire and maintain the hardware, software, professional development, and other services to implement the Technology Plan:

  • Expend funds currently allocated in the following expense categories:
    a. Purchase computer hardware and software
    b. Maintain and repair hardware
    c. Employ Trainers (2.0 FTEs)
    d. Departmental Operating Budgets for Training

Timeline: Funding Years 2000 and 2001

  • Reallocate budgeted dollars:
    a. The School has the flexibility to shift a portion of appropriated funds to established priorities.
    b. The School may use the process of debt refinancing to purchase technology in excess its current year's operating budget by committing to use funds from future operating budgets. Timeline: Funding Years 2000 through 2005
  • Request continuation of funds for instructional technology within base-level of the School's next Legislative Appropriation Request.
    Timeline: Funding Years 2002 - 2003
  • Seek external funds, hardware, and software from a variety of external sources, including the following:
    a. Dell Foundation: Timeline: Spring, 1998. Granted.
    b. Hitachi Foundation: Timeline: Spring, 1998. Granted.
    c. Grant: Federal E-Rate: Timeline, Spring, 1998, 1999. Granted.
    Federal E-Rate: Timeline, Summer 2000. Requested.  
    d. Gifts from corporations, service organizations, individuals: Ongoing
    e. Grant: Federal Technology Integration in Education through TEA: Timeline, Spring 1998. Granted.
    f. Texas Infrastructure Fund: Timeline, FY2000. Granted.
    g. IBM Corporation: Timeline, FY 1999. Granted
  • Maintain a 4-5 year plan for replacement, repair, and purchase of administrative technology and instructional materials.

Goals

Agency Goal #1: Students who are visually impaired or deafblind will demonstrate the skills and knowledge to lead vocationally, personally, and socially satisfying lives, as demonstrated by academic success and successful transition to the community.Agency Objective: Students attending TSBVI during the regular school year and short-term programs will demonstrate success in their education programs. IR Goal #1: The School will facilitate the use of technology to maximize independence and productivity of all students who are blind, have a visual impairment, or who are deafblind, including those with additional disabilities.IR Objective #1: Students will have current instructional technology available to them with the capabilities appropriate to their special needs.IR Strategy #1: Upgrade current instructional technology systems to replace outdated systems according to assessed upgrade needs.Action Item 1: Review new or emerging technologies and assess viability of current technologies Action Item 2: Review current equipment to assess functionalityAction Item 3: Target equipment to be replacedAction Item 4: Prepare funding proposalAction Item 5: Procure and install replacement equipment

Timeline: Funding Year (FY) 2000-2001

IR Strategy #2: Expand distribution of computing resources through the improvement of the school-wide local area network.Action Item 1: Increase network capabilities to 100MB Ethernet to each classroom and residential network computerAction Item 2: Establish Gigabit backbone segments between key network concentrations

Timeline: FY 2001-2002

Evaluation Strategies for Objective: By 1999, the School will meet the technology equipment targets for students adopted in the Long-Range Plan for Technology, 1996-2010 of a student-to-workstation ratio of 3:1. By 2001, 90 percent of classrooms will have a minimum of one computer workstation linked to a school-wide local area network on 100MB switched Ethernet .IR Objective #2: Students will use technology commensurate with their abilities to enhance personal productivityIR Strategy #1: Continue to integrate technology applications into the five curricular strands

Timeline: FY 2000-2002

IR Strategy #2: Implement instruction for students designed to promote the

following uses of technology:

  • Students will use various forms of information access to electronic text of educational materials and current events that are not available in Braille or large print
  • Students will participate in activities in information access that encourage communication and interaction with a variety of individuals of varying interests such as electronic mail
  • Students develop reading, writing, and listening skills through computer access to support individual acquisition of literacy
  • Students will expand their awareness of the ways in which personal online services, such as banking, shopping, bill paying, special interest sites, etc., can improve their quality of life as consumers and members of society
  • Students will increase their likelihood of finding employment by learning to use the tools that are evident in the workplace

Action Item 1: Develop and implement curricula in the areas of keyboarding, word processing, access hardware and software, personal tools

Action Item 2: Develop and implement a technology assessment for students' needs for and use of adaptive/assistive technology tools

Action Item 3: Expand the use of computer-assisted instruction in the curricular areas.

Timeline: FY 2000-2005

Evaluation Strategies for Objective: By 2000, the School's written curriculum will contain elements in the areas of computer skills, applications, and access hardware and software. By 2001, one hundred percent of enrolled students will be assessed to determine students' needs for and use of adaptive/assistive technology devices.

IR Objective #3: Train all instructional staff as appropriate in the use of technology for teaching

IR Strategy #1: All instructional staff will acquire a working knowledge of the following: screen reading programs in a Windows environment, screen enlarger software, Braille translation software, electronic Braille input devices, word processing software, an Internet browser, and e-mail.

Action Item 1: Expand existing training plan for all instructional, residential, and paraprofessional staff to integrate technology into teaching subject areas

Action Item 2: Expand current training modules and implementation checklists for all assistive software and adaptive devices used by students

Action Item 3: Determine training groups based on their levels of knowledge and skills

Action Item 4: Determine a training schedule and number of training hours during scheduled and during after work-hours for which participants receive extra-duty pay

Action Item 5: Develop and implement a system for individual follow-up training by peer mentors

Timeline: FY 2002-2004

IR Strategy #2: Training groups will learn to identify and use appropriate assistive/adaptive technology tools to increase individual student learning by enabling full access to the curriculum.

Action Item 1: Identify activities in content areas appropriate for use of different add-on assistive software and adaptive/augmentative devices.

Action Item 2: Assess students' needs to match technology to instruction.

Action Item 3: Expand expertise in using Internet resources.

Action Item 4: Develop and implement use of checklists as evidence of classroom use of technology and portfolios as evidence of student progress.

Timeline: FY 2002-2004

IR Strategy #3: Provide opportunities for Technology Specialists to receive ongoing training in emerging technologies and new applications of technology for blind, visually impaired, and deafblind students.

Action Item 1: Seek external funding sources to support out-of-state training

Action Item 2: Expand the Trainer-of-Trainers model using TSBVI staff as lead trainers.

Timeline: FY 2002-2004

Evaluation Strategies for Objective: By 2002, the training plan will be updated to address ongoing professional development activities for all instructional staff in the use of instructional technology. By 2002, ninety percent of instructional, residential, and para-professional staff will have received training and demonstrate proficiency in the use of technology on a skills checklist or other written assessment instrument.

IR Objective #4: The curriculum will be revised to reflect integration of technology to implement learning activities in the content areas

IR Strategy #1: Revise Basic Skills, Functional Academics, Academic, and Early Concepts curricular approaches

Timeline: FY 2000-2002

IR Strategy #2: Develop Applied Academics curriculum to include technology integration

Timeline: FY 2000-2002

Evaluation Strategies for Objective: By 2002, the scope and sequence of the School's curriculum will contain learning activities integrating technology into learning.

IR Objective #5: Students will learn to use appropriate technology in order to acquire the knowledge and skills specified in their Individual Education Plan's.

IR Strategy #1: Teachers will integrate technology use into content areas to enhance student learning

Action Item 1: Teachers will design instructional units to incorporate individual technology uses by students.

Action Item 2: Student use of technology will be considered in the development of each student's IEP.

Timeline: FY 2002-2004

IR Strategy #2: Teachers and students will have access to appropriate technology.

Action Item 1: Expand and update hardware and software configurations across curricular areas and school-wide locations.

Action Item 2: Upgrade current equipment and software. Purchase new equipment and software with the capability to run assistive add-on applications.

Action Item 3: Expand access to technology across instructional, vocational, and residential programs.

Action Item 4: Deploy technology review committees as needed.

Action Item 5: Expand contacts with vendors for opportunities for beta testing new technologies, evaluating accessibility, previewing new products, and disseminating product information.

Timeline FY 2001-2005

Evaluation Strategies for Objective: By 2003, one hundred percent of students' IEPs will contain goals, objectives, or modifications integrating the use of appropriate technology, when technology assessments indicate such a need.

IR Goal #2: Create and maintain information systems and procedures that efficiently accommodate Legislative and/or Board rule changes, interface efficiently with other government entities, and provide functional management and efficient administration of school business.

IR Objective #1: Document and make accessible to persons with visual impairments all agency data systems.

IR Strategy #1: Utilize electronic publishing software to provide an accessible, standards-based, centralized repository of agency information.

Action Item 1: Continue to expand the TSBVI web site.

Action Item 2: Continue to exploit the School's intranet technologies.

Action Item 3: Develop school wide applications with standards-based hardware and software tools

Action Item 4: Continue participation in standards-setting bodies

Action Item 5: Continue development of standards guidelines for web accessibility

Timeline: FY 2001-2005

Evaluation Strategies for Objective: Through years 2000-2005, the number of individuals accessing the School's Web site will increase by 10 percent annually. A monthly written report will document the usage.

IR Objective #2: Coordinate administrative technology applications and information exchange with external agencies including, but not limited to: local education agencies, Commission for the Blind, State Comptroller, Texas Education Agency, state agencies, state institutions of higher education, consumer organizations, and other organizations or individuals serving visually impaired individuals.

IR Strategy #1: Continue to support and integrate the Uniform Statewide Accounting System, Uniform Statewide Payroll System, and State Property Accounting.

Action Item 1: Implement new accounting application to increase reporting reliability.

Action Item 2: Improve analysis reporting from GFAS/DFAS, SPA, and USPS extraction data.

Timeline: FY 2001-2005

IR Strategy #2: Design and implement new Student Database System.

Action Item 1: Identify additional reports, query, and data analysis requirements.

Action Item 2: Incorporate new requirements such as PEIMS data reporting and interchange.

Action Item 3: Identify Student data correlates with TEA staff for PEIMS.

Action Item 4: Review Fiscal data correlates with TEA staff for PEIMS.

Action Item 5: Establish comprehensive system design and specification requirements.

Action Item 6: Employ contract programming services to assist software development.

Timeline: FY 2001

IR Strategy #3: Exploit Web-based technologies.

Action Item 1: Review existing applications that support the statewide .registration of VI students, theTech Loan Program, and the APH Materials/Management Program for potential deployment of Web-based query.

Action Item 2: Explore automation opportunities in new systems.

Action Item 3: Expand existing Intranet applications to coordinate agency resources.

Timeline: FY 2001-2005

IR Strategy #4: Complete the migration of systems from VAX to Windows NT operating systems and hardware.

Action Item 1: Move electronic mail to NT server.

Action Item 2: Identify and define design requirements for VAX-based application software .

Action Item 3: Rewrite or purchase commercial software to replace VAX-based software

Timeline: FY 2000-2002

IR Strategy #5: Provide opportunities for administrative staff to develop new computer skills to increase staff productivity.

Action Item 1: Provide Windows 95/98 and general networking training.

Action Item 2: Create and distribute user training materials tailored to needs of TSBVI staff.

Action Item 3: Provide training for staff updating of web-based information.

Timeline: FY 2000-2005

IR Strategy #6: Review disaster recovery planning.

Action Item 1: Review procedures and contingency planning and assess relevancy.

Action Item 2: Identify new areas of risk exposure.

Action Item 3: Identify new resources and methods to assist in disaster recovery.

Timeline: FY 2001

IR Strategy #7: Document the architecture of the School's core technology.

Action Item 1: Identify areas requiring development of local standards.

Action Item 2: Review existing standards that apply to state facilities.

Action Item 3: Establish working group(s) to develop standards content.

Action Item 4: Compile standards into central document for TSBVI.

Evaluation Strategies for Objective: The VAX computer will be de-installed by 2003 and VAX-based software will be migrated to NT platform. By 2003, one hundred percent of the agency's needed technical standards will be written.

Agency Goal #2: Families professionals and paraprofessionals will have the knowledge and skills necessary to improve educational programming and other services for Texas students who are visually impaired or deafblind.

Agency Objective: By fiscal year 2004, 85% of families, professionals, and paraprofessionals will rate as very satisfactory or above the improvement of their knowledge and skills as a result of services or products received from TSBVI.

IR Goal #2: TSBVI will provide adaptive technology training and support to local school districts, Regional Education Service Centers, educators, students, and families to maximize the use and effectiveness of technology for students who are blind, have a visual impairment, or are deafblind, including those with additional disabilities.

IR Objective #1: Provide adaptive technology equipment, software, training, and technical support to students attending their local schools

IR Strategy #1: Maintain, expand, and upgrade the Technology Loan Program.

Action Item 1: Maintain and refine the TSBVI "Guide to Services" as a source of information

Action Item 2: Offer the "Guide to Services" as an online, interactive resource.

Action Item 3: Develop a web-based application for the Technology Loan program.

Action Item 4: Maintain an adequate level of funding and equipment local ISD needs.

Timeline: FY 2002-2004

IR Strategy #2: Develop and provide statewide training and assistance in adaptive technology to families, professionals, and paraprofessionals.

Action Item 1: Assist Regional Education Service Centersl, local school districts, and agencies who serve visually impaired students with the design and implementation of appropriate technology

Action Item 2: Provide service providers with on-site technical assistance and assessment of student technology needs.

Action Item 3: Assist families of blind, deafblind, and visually impaired students with technology issues related to their children.

Timeline: FY 99-2003

Evaluation Strategies for Objective: Annually, ninety percent of students and LEAs participating in the Technology Loan Program will indicate their satisfaction with this service as measured on a survey instrument. Ninety percent of a sample of parents and professionals surveyed will rate as satisfactory or above the training and assistance received in adaptive technology.

IR Objective #2: Families, professionals, and paraprofessionals will have access to resources related to technology.

IR Strategy #1: The School will use technology as a method to fulfill its mandate to serve as a statewide resource to families, professionals, and paraprofessionals.

Action Item 1: Maintain and expand an electronic repository that is equally accessible by blind and sighted individuals.

Action Item 2: Provide online classes and instructional materials through TSBVI's Web site, the Internet, video conferencing, and other distance learning strategies.

Timeline: FY 98-2000

Evaluation Strategies for Objective: Document 100 percent completion of Action Items by 2003

IR Objective #3: School instructional staff, field-based educators, those participating in pre-service certification programs, and families will gain knowledge and skills in the area of technology use for learners who are blind, visually impaired, deafblind, and including those with additional disabilities.

IR Strategy #1: Create and use an onsite training/distance learning facility to provide a model location for the delivery of accessible content via distance education technologies (see Appendix D).

Action Item 1: Upgrade/improve existing infrastructure to accommodate new technology.

Action Item 2: Integrate new technology with existing technology to ensure interoperability with ESCONETT and the Internet.

Timeline: FY 98-2002

IR Strategy #2: School staff will use the training/distance learning facility to deliver and receive distance learning information.

Action Item 1: Establish an advisory group to plan and design distance learning content.

Action Item 2: Train distance education users and presenters to use equipment.

Action Item 3: Train content developers in distance education instructional design.

Action Item 4: Train content developers to use content development tools to ensure accessible content.

Action Item 5: Develop and maintain an accessible distance education component fon the School's existing Web site

Timeline: FY 98-2002

IR Strategy #3: Design and implement distance learning programs for staff and families through partnerships with the Regional Education Service Centers and local school districts to meet expectations for technology proficiencies.

Action Item 1: Provide training statewide to teachers of students who are blind, visually impaired, or deafblind on technology assessments.

Action Item 2: Conduct interactive technology assessments .

Action Item 3: Provide training to educators and families on current assistive technology software and devices for students with disabilities

Timeline: FY 98-2002

IR Strategy #4: Provide disability-specific training toward certification in Visual Impairment using distance education in collaboration with Texas Tech University, Stephen F. Austin University, and the Texas Education Agency.

Action Item 1: Design and implement distance learning methodologies for pre-service certification programs to learn about new technologies and using technologies effectively.

Action Item 2: Deliver interactive courses via distance education from the School's distance learning facility .

Timeline: FY 98-2002

Evaluation Strategies for Objective: Document one hundred percent completion of Action Items by 2002.

Agency Goal #3: TSBVI will implement policies governing purchasing and contracting that foster meaningful and substantive inclusion of historically underutilized businesses.

Agency Objective: TSBVI will include historically underutilized businesses (HUBs) in at least 18% of the total value of contracts and subcontracts awarded annually by the agency in purchasing and public works contracting by fiscal year 2004.

IR Goal #3: TSBVI will increase purchases of product and service offerings from historically underutilized businesses

IR Objective #1: Increase volume of competitive purchases from historically underutilized businesses

IR Strategy #1: Review and consider product and service offerings from historically underutilized businesses whenever possible.

Action Item 1: Review purchasing catalogs and materials from historically underutilized businesses before making purchases

Timeline: FY 97

Evaluation Strategies for Objective: The School will meet the targets suggested by the Legislature for meeting this goal.

Information Resources Environment

Organization and Personnel

Administrative Technology Staff

Director of Technology Services

Designated as Information Resources Manager for TSBVI.

Duties: Supervise and direct all agency administrative computer applications. Manage Technology Services department activities including budget coordination, technical oversight, network planning and integration, and the overall technical environment. Assist instructional and administrative staff in the technical review and planning of educational systems/equipment. Analyze, design, and manage the implementation new programs/systems. Plan and coordinate agency procurement and operational management of computer hardware and software. Financial Accounting system analysis and management. Coordinate agency use of Department of Information Resources common software. System manager of the VAX 4000-200 computer with responsibility for all account set-up, maintenance, and hardware/software installation and support. Oversee management of NT Server and NT-based network environment. Manage all campus data and telephone network equipment and software. Keep up with current technologies.

Programmer Analyst

Duties: Analysis, design, and development of new programs/systems with primary responsibility for financial management/accounting systems and student administration systems. Technical support for agency administrative applications on VAX, Windows, and Macintosh platform environment. Development of technical software documentation and task analysis. Development of Web-based Java applications.

Programmer I

Duties: Assists Programmer Analyst with development activities.

System Support Specialist III

Duties: Development of user documentation. Application systems support. Initial user point of contact for training and technical support in the use of office automation and application systems. Performs special projects to research policy or implementation issues. Develop training materials and provide direct technical instruction to staff.

Web Master Assistant

Duties: Coordinate development of agency Intranet. Development materials for Web publication. Training and troubleshoot non-technical staff publication of Intranet documents. Serve as backup to TSBVI Web Master. Provide technical support of Macintosh computers. Provide technical resource for agency staff.

Hardware Technician

Duties: Assigned approximately 50% time to perform duties of maintenance, hardware setup and hardware troubleshooting. The remaining 50% of time is spent in maintenance and installation of communication media and support of the Schools telephone system. The technician assists with the purchasing of repair equipment and coordination with service providers. Documentation of technical interfaces and campus wiring topology.

Computer Technician (half-time)

Duties: Performs maintenance, hardware setup, and hardware troubleshooting on PC-based and specialized adaptive equipment. Documentation of technical interfaces and operational procedures. Performs software trouble-shooting and problem resolution. Performs evaluation of new adaptive equipment and development of documentation. Upgrade and support of WindowsNT Servers, network operations, and server software.

Administrative Technician (half-time)

Duties: Operational management of Technology Services procurement tracking, inventory, equipment repair, and employee time reporting. Assists in the maintenance of centralized PBX circuit assignments, call-accounting, and Audix Voice mail settings. Maintains various departmental databases for central support activities.

Instructional Technical Staff

Statewide Technical Support Specialist

  • Design, implement, and maintain WWW site
  • Provide telephone support for state personnel who work with visually impaired students
  • Provide technical support to Outreach Program for distance education initiatives
  • Coordinate with other state agencies to ensure accessibility of web-based information
  • Provide national and international technical presence at assistive and other technology conferences
  • Document technical and evaluative information pertaining to assistive technology
  • Assist in teacher training during Technology institutes at TSBVI
  • Maintain vigilance concerning accessibility of state adopted instructional materials, textbooks, etc.
  • Provides expert-level advice, consultation, and information in various support and presentational roles.

 Educational Technology Coordinators

  • Divide responsibilities among the 5 curricular areas
  • Divide service delivery between direct instruction and consultation
  • Manage computer labs
  • Provide staff development
  • Develop training and instructional materials
  • Test, acquire and allocate software/hardware
  • Providing outreach services
  • Technology assessment of students
  • Develop curriculum
  • Maintain current inventory of equipment for which each is responsible
  • Develop multimedia training systems
  • Support teachers in the integration of technology into the curriculum

Outreach Technology Teacher

  • Statewide staff development
  • Student assessment
  • Student training
  • Consultation
  • Staff development (TSBVI)
  • Curriculum development
  • Development of instructional materials for staff development
  • Software/hardware evaluation
  • Development of multimedia training systems

Classroom Teacher

  • Facilitate completion of student's IEP
  • Coordinate with ITFs to infuse technology into the curriculum
  • Utilize technology for administrative tasks and transition services
  • Seek in-service training to further develop curricula that infuses technology as well as to gain the knowledge to assist students with the adaptive technology that each uses

Instructional Technician

This position assists the technology teachers by performing troubleshooting and problem-solving for instructional hardware/software as well as assists in equipment and software management.

Implementation of the Strategic Plan

The administration of the School's strategic plan for technology is deliberately decentralized to support the School's wide-ranging purposes and mission. There is school-wide participation in the planning process. Technology Services staff work in collaboration with instructional and support staff to support the hardware and software systems. The School Principal directs the instructional and residential programs. Teachers and support staff' in these two programs utilize technology to perform student assessment, develop curriculum, acquire or adapt specialized hardware and software, and to provide technology instruction to students and to other staff. Short Term programs are coordinated and managed by the Principal for Short-Term programs.

The Technology Services department also supports the outreach program of the School, a separate administrative division sometimes assisted by staff from either the Technology Services Department or from the instructional- residential programs. The Technology Outreach Teacher provides technical assistance to educators in local school districts, especially in the areas of infrastructure and special adaptations of electronic technology for blind and visually impaired students. The Outreach department administers a Technology Loan Program whereby specialized electronic devices, including laptop computers with speech synthesizers; Braille input and output devices; and other such devices, peripherals, or software are loaned to school districts for use by students.

IR Policies and Practices Table

Category

Provide Brief Summary/Overview

IR Priorities

Priorities for administrative systems are determined at the administrative management level with planning and coordination through the Technology Services Department. Responsibility for the integration and coordination of information resources is at the department level. The Technology Services Department is responsible for enterprise-wide technical design, integration, and coordination.

IR Planning Methodology

Planning priorities are identified by the relevant department or task force and the input is provided to the Technology Services department for incorporation into technology plans

Operating Systems

Historically, administrative systems have been implemented within the VAX/VMS environment. The School has now moved several major functions such as printing, file sharing, and user validation to the Windows NT environment. Desktop configurations are based on Windows95/98 with TCP/IP as network transport. Macintosh computers communicate over Encapsulated Appletalk on Ethernet. Terminal emulation is provided by software on PC client computers to communicate with the VAX. Access to USAS, USPS, and SPA is accommodated by 3270 terminal emulation on desktop computers.

Software Development

With the advent of client-server architecture, new applications have been written and supported in Foxpro v2.6 over the past several years. Applications on VAX/VMS that are currently written in the COBOL language with conventional indexed sequential and/or relational database (Rdb) file structures, RALLY, and Datatrieve software will be re-written. For departmental level development, several systems are written in Filemaker Pro for its ease of use and simplified forms-based development. Some departments also use Microsoft Access. For enterprise development, use of the Java language and Servlet technology will be utilized. Java Server pages with extensive use of Enterprise Java Beans is planned for enterprise development. Java is based on open standards and is accessible to individuals who are disabled.

Office Automation

TSBVI has standardized on Microsoft Office suite for PC and Mac. Use of WordPerfect has been phased out with the advent of this standard. Use of this product-set enable sharing of files between the PC and Macintosh systems with run-time platform conversion.

Software licenses

Centralized license compliance is the responsibility of the Information Resources Manager. Department license compliance is the managed within the individual departments. Required H.B. 1895 legislative software audit reporting is the responsibility of the internal auditor.

Instructional Technology

Performance and operational standards for the instructional technology program are developed from collaborations of individuals assembled for the particular task or instructional objective.

 

Development Methodology

Most administrative planning is performed within a Task Force or management team context. The planning model for instructional technology is through committees that consist of instructional technology teaching staff. For school-wide planning within the management team; technology policy, application development implementation, and budget planning, the agency Information Resource Manager is represented by the Director of Business, Technology, and Operation. The Director of Technology Services and members of his staff make recommendations to the management team on school-wide technology issues.

Quality Assurance Practices

New software systems are designed and developed within a multi-disciplinary design team and this approach examines risk as part of the process. Generally, the System Life Cycle methodology is followed for the development of new software. Development of secure student administration systems within adequate protection of sensitive or confidential data is required. TSBVI subscribes to its mandate to serve as an accessible environment in regard to its information systems.

Change Control

This is part of the development process. Typically, due to the specialized nature of application at TSBVI, minor system modifications and enhancements are made after the software system has been used for several months. Self promotion of software is enable through journalized audit accounts for technical staff.

Security

TSBVI complies with state and professional standards to secure information from unlawful access. Access to confidential student records is limited to those individuals who have been authorized by school administrators. VAX system security is monitored by various software tools and structures. Though several break-ins have been attempted, to our knowledge, none have been successful. Security considerations and guidelines are reviewed with new computer users in conjunction with system training.

Geographic Information Systems

NA

Disaster Recovery/ Business Continuity Planning

In the event of a catastrophic disaster, it is anticipated that a VAX computer could be leased and installed within an acceptable time period. Servers could be acquired and configured within a reasonable timeframe. Archived backup data could restore the system to normal operation. A complete backup of all VAX data are made each evening and stored in a off-site location. A redundant backup the TSBVI web site is maintained at all times. Backup of desktop data is a departmental responsibility. All networked servers utilize RAID technology to limit data loss due to disk failure.

Resource Use

Video conferencing is under development at TSBVI. Videoconferences have taken place and content programs are under development to use this new technology. Voice synthesis is commonplace and speech recognition assists students with impaired dexterity.

Contract/Consultant

Hardware contracts are maintained on VAX components that are too heavy to easily transport to local repair depots. Other school components are self-maintained. Professional consultants are used for specific purposes within the context of assisting in-house Technical staff to develop client-server applications.

 

Interagency Information Sharing

This is primarily limited to E-mail and transport of data files to/from USAS and USPS data systems. A school official authorizes public release of TSBVI data to maintain confidentiality. Electronic data is shared for special purposes such criminal history checks. Sharing school student data with TEA for the PEIMs system is under consideration.

Training and Continuing Education

Technical staff receives training by attending various seminars and conferences. Due to the specialized nature of adaptive technology application at TSBVI, training often entails out-of-state travel to obtain information. Instructional technology staff are responsible for training other TSBVI and statewide ISD staff in these specialized areas. Technology Services staff also receive training in conferences and seminar but less-so since there are more local training opportunities available. Often, Technology Services staff train from manuals since travel funds are limited. The Systems Support Specialist provides training to staff in TSBVI proprietary software, Microsoft Office, and the network environment.

 

 

Agency Platforms, Systems, and Telecommunications  (see Appendix C)

Agency Platforms and Systems

Category

Type

Operating

System

Database Mgmt. System

Capacity/

Size/Count

Comments/

Descriptive Information

Mainframe

NA

NA

NA

NA

 

Minicomputer

Digital Equipment Corporation

VMS 6.1

Rdb/Oracle

5 VUPS

50 concurrent processes

VAX 4000-200, 160 All-In-1 Office Automation users, average of.

LAN Servers (Central)

Intel-based

(appendix C)

WindowsNT 4.0, Service Pack 5

DB2

Various, 7 servers

Used for Web site, printing, etc.

LAN Servers (Remote)

NA

Na

Na

Na

 

LAN Client/Work-stations (Central)

Mac

Mac OS x

Filemaker Pro

30

 

LAN Client/Work-stations (Central)

PC

Windows95/98

Foxpro 2.6, Filemaker Pro, Access

40@ 586,

70@Pentium II,

130@AMD P2

All desktops on Windows networking

LAN Client/ Work-stations (Remote)

N/A

N/A

N/A

N/A

 

WAN Servers

VAX 4000-200

VAX/VMS

Pathworks

1

 

Standalone PC Workstations

PC Laptops

Windows 95/98

Na

20

Student Use

Standalone MAC Workstations

Mac Laptops

Mac OS

Filemaker Pro

20

Student Use

 

Telecommunications Information

Category

Type

Capacity/

Size/Count

Comments/

Descriptive Information

Hubs

DEChub 90/Digital Equipment Corp.

12

10Mbps, each hub is its own bridged segment

Hub Routers & Switches (Remote)

Cisco Catalyst 2900 XL

13

100MB - Migrating to this architecture

Remote Bandwidth Analog

N/A

NA

 

Remote Bandwidth Digital 56K or less

N/A

NA

 

Remote Bandwidth Digital T1

N/A

2

General Serviices Commission Telecommications Division, Education Service Center XIII for Video Network

Remote Bandwidth ISDN (PRI)

N/A

Number

of Lines

Scheduled for implementation in Summer 2000

DTE/End User Equipment Arrangement

Workstations, LANs, Mainframe Devices, Other

N/A

 

Supported Protocols

TCP/IP, Appletalk, NetBEUI (limited), Telnet, FTP, HTTP, Ethertalk, DECnet, H320 video

N/A

 

Internet Service Provider

General Service Commission, Education Service Center XIII

2 T1 Circuits

 

Shared Network

Education Service Center XIII for Video Network, ESCONETT

N/A

 

 

Telecommunication Infrastructure

Voice Communications

The Texas School for the Blind uses a Definity G3i analog private branch exchange (PBX) for voice communications. The PBX is currently configured to provide 400 single-line service ports. This system provides off-campus service via 14 local two-way trunks and 16 Direct In-dial trunks. The school uses 1 bulk-billed watts line with AT&T as the carrier. For in-state service, the system uses 5 Station-to-Station (STS) trunks. One PBX console that has been adapted to provide an audible tone to alert the visually impaired operator that an outside call is incoming or an inside call is requesting assistance or connection to a TEXAN circuit. The use of voice mail has been well-received and an automated attendant system is under review.

Data Communications

As of summer of 2000, all but three campus buildings are networked with fiber optic components. Fiber optic cable will be installed in the remaining buildings in FY2001.

The standard communication rate is transitioning from a 10MB to a 100MB bridged Ethernet over fiber optic cable. Each fiber optic cable element is terminated with ST connectors that connect to DecHub 90 hub backplanes through a Fiber Optic bridge. All terminal servers have been retired and we now only have PC and Mac computers connected through 10-Base-T repeaters. New workstation installations use 100MB switched Ethernet connections. The existing 10MB connections will migrate to the 100MB switched connections over the next several years. Twisted pair wiring within the networked building is standardized on Category 5 passive wiring components to each office location meeting the EIA568 standard. A wiring connection for telephones is also included. Primary installation is performed in-house. In the Technology Services office area a thin-wire Ethernet circuit provides networked connection for the Printserver 20, X-Window workstations, terminal servers, and two Cisco Routers. One TI circuit provides a DECnet and TCP/IP protocols interface with General Services Commission network, the other connects through Educational Service Center. GSC provides domain name services and routes the TCP/IP and DECnet network traffic from TSBVI to the Internet. This circuit also routes all incoming electronic mail, host telnet connections, FTP and production data traffic to other agencies. All remote printing from the USAS system is accomplished over this link and TSBVI uses the link to upload and download data files to the USAS via FTP. The T1 connection to region XIII handles workstation traffic for email, web browsing, and video conferencing. Various network segments are associated through server and router routing tables.

 

Categories of Assistive Technology

Assistive Technology for Low Vision and Blind Users

Function Provided

Screen Reader Software

Allows users to navigate through windows, menus, and controls while receiving text and limited graphics information through speech output or Braille display.

Braille Display

Provides line by line Braille display of on-screen text using a series of pins to form Braille symbols that are constantly updated as the user navigates through the interface.

Text to Speech
(Screen Reader)

Translates electronic text into speech via a speech synthesizer.

Optical Scanner

Imports print materials into a computer and through a word processor, the data can be saved, read on screen with or without large print or with speech or Braille output, edited, and printed in regular print, large print or Braille.

Braille Notetaker

Provides for Braille input with speech or Braille verification for word processing, calculations using the calculator functions, interface with a computer and Braille or print output. These devices can be used as the speech synthesizer for desk or laptop computers.

Closed Circuit Television (CCTV)

Through a camera system this device magnifies up to more than 30 times. It can be used with computers allowing for split screen images to view simultaneously the materials from the computer and CCTV.

Talking WebBrowsers

Allows much easier and efficient navigation of the World Wide Web for blind users.

Braille Translation Software

Allows easier production of Braille materials. Can be used in conjunction with scanners and internet materials.

Screen Magnification

Provides magnification of a portion or all of a screen, including graphics and windows as well as text. Allows users to track position of the input focus. Comes with some speech output to assist users.

Assistive Technology for Hearing Disabilities and Deafblindness

Function Provided

Telecommunications Device for the Deaf (TDD)

Provides a means for users to communicate over telephone lines using text terminals.

Closed Captioning

Provides text transcription of spoken material on video media. Important computer applications include distance learning, CD-ROM, video teleconferencing, and other forms of interactive video

FM Systems

Provides an increased volume level for speech reception while blocking out other environmental sounds through use of a microphone by the speaker and earmolds by the listener.

Refreshable Braille TDD

For individuals who are deafblind, this device provides Braille output and input for communication with another TDD or the telephone deaf relay system.

ShowSounds

System utility provides visual translation of sound information. Nonspeech audio such as system beeps would be presented via screen flashing or similar methods. This capability would be provided by the system infrastructure.

Assistive Technology for
Physical Disabilities

Function Provided

Alternate Pointing Device

Gives users with limited or no arm and hand fine motor control the ability to control mouse movements and functions. Examples include foot operated mice, head-mounted pointing devices and eye-tracking systems.

On-Screen Keyboard

On-screen keyboard which provides the keys and functions of a physical keyboard. On-screen keyboards are typically used in conjunction with alternate pointing devices.

Alternative In-put Devices

Devices such as touch windows, alternative keyboards, switches for input, and scanning software provide alternative means of input for individuals with physical or cognitive limitations.

Switch Toys

Action toys that have on/off external switch capabilities to assist students in learning cause and effect.

Augmentative Communication Devices

Computerized communication devices that can be programmed to speak words or phrases to be selected by an individual who is unable to use their voice to speak.

Predictive Dictionary

Predictive dictionaries speed typing by predicting words as the user types them, and offering those words in a list for the user to choose.

Speech Recognition

Allows the user with limited or no arm and hand fine motor control to input text and/or control the user interface via speech.

     

TSBVI Databases

Category Provide

Database Name

Student Database (SDS)

Database Description

A complex, highly normalized base that contains relations for a variety of student-related data. Extensive linking to other software systems by student SSN and integrated with office automation systems.

Database System

Rdb/Oracle RDO/SQL, COBOL

Estimated Physical Storage Requirements

Eleven Megabytes

GIS Data Classification

NA

Sharing

We are currently coordinating with TEA to investigate upload of this data to the PEIMS database

Future

This system is scheduled to be re-written from VAX/VMS to the PC platform in 2001 using the DB2 database structure

Category Provide

Database Name

Medical Limitations

Database Description

Stores medical data on students concerning medical limitations, medications, immunizations, and medical history.

Database System

Rdb/Oracle

Estimated Physical Storage Requirements

1.25 Megabyte

GIS Data Classification

N/A

Sharing

Uses core student data from Student Database.

Future

This system is scheduled to be re-written from VAX/VMS to the PC platform in 2001 using the DB2 database structure.

 

Database Name

Maintenance Work Order

Database Description

Tracks work orders to provide status, repair history, and assignment information.

Database System

Rdb/Oracle

Estimated Physical Storage Requirements

Nine Megabytes

GIS Data Classification

N/A

Sharing

N/A

Future

The system will need to be migrated from VAX/VMS before 2003. Investigation/Evaluation of commercial software will be reviewed as an initial planning event.

 

Database Name

Registration Tracking

Database Description

Contains elements to track flow of paperwork, student requests/requirements for fall and summer registration.

Database System

RMS indexed sequential file

Estimated Physical Storage Requirements

Two megabytes

GIS Data Classification

N/A

Sharing

Uses core student data from Student Database.

Future

This system will be incorporated in the Student Database re-write in 2001 using the DB2 database structure.

 

Database Name

Student Course Information System (SCI)

Database Description

Contains entry for all student courses, grades, and scheduling.

Database System

Rdb/Oracle

Estimated Physical Storage Requirements

5 Megabytes.

GIS Data Classification

N/A

Sharing

Uses core student data from Student Database.

Future

This application is being replaced by the FileMaker Pro Teacher Solution system being developed by the Curriculum department with the help of a consultant. Tech Services will eventually take over training on use of the system and basic support. Any software updates will need to be contracted.

 

Database Name

Student Incident Reporting (SIR)

Database Description

Contains information concerning behavior and injuries

Database System

Rdb/Oracle

Estimated Physical Storage Requirements

1.25 Megabytes.

GIS Data Classification

N/A

Sharing

Uses core student data from Student Database.

Future

This system will be migrated from VAX/VMS as part of the Student Database specifications in 2001 using the DB2 database structure.

 

Database Name

Warehouse

Database Description

All warehouse receipts and issues.

Database System

RMS ISAM

Estimated Physical Storage Requirements

Eight Megabytes.

GIS Data Classification

N/A

Sharing

N/A

Future

This system will be migrated as part of the Accounting system in the year 2000 using the DB2 database structure

 

Database Name

Student Trust System (STF)

Database Description

All student accounts receipts and expenditures.

Database System

RMS ISAM

Estimated Physical Storage Requirements

Seven Megabytes

GIS Data Classification

N/A

Sharing

N/A

Future

This system will be migrated as part of the Accounting system in the year 2000. The unique nature of this software may require that we write it with in-house staff.

 

Database Name

Accounts Payable/Purchasing (APPS)

Database Description

Requisition and payable information and status. Several files linked by requisition number.

Database System

FoxPro 2.6

Estimated Physical Storage Requirements

Six megabytes.

GIS Data Classification

N/A

Sharing

Expenditures, Encumbrance, and payable transactions from this system are uploaded to the USAS system via FTP transport.

Future

This system may be migrated as part of the Accounting system in the year 2000. An alternative is to develop an interface to the accounting software system.

 

Database Name

Library Management System (LRC)

Database Description

Catalog information for library media and books. Allows for future development of circulation system.

Database System

Rdb/Oracle

Estimated Phys. Storage Require.

13 Megabytes

GIS Data Class.

N/A

Sharing

We have transmitted Mark format files with State Library & Archives agency

Future

This system will be replaced by a commercial product and is scheduled for 2000. The new system will be web-based.

 

Database Name

American Printing House Materials Management System

Database Description

Maintains inventories and order information to support the management of the VH materials from Federal quota funds

Database System

FoxPro 2.6

Estimated Physical Storage Requirements

8 Megabytes

GIS Data Classification

N/A

Sharing

Data is uploaded to the Texas Education Agency upon request. Order status and availability is planned for Web-content distribution.

Future

Planned migration to Web-based processing of requests.

 

Database Name

VI Registration Database

Database Description

Contains annual registration of all visually impaired students in Texas

Database System

FoxPro 2.6

Estimated Physical Storage Requirements

10 Megabytes

GIS Data Classification

N/A

Sharing

Data is uploaded to the Texas Education Agency annually. On-line registration is planned.

Future

Planned migration to Web-based submission of registration information.

 

Database Name

Technology Loan Program

Database Description

Contains all inventory and descriptions for equipment available for loan to students with visual impairments

Database System

FoxPro 2.6

Estimated Physical Storage Requirements

6 megabytes.

GIS Data Class.

N/A

Sharing

N/A

Future

Catalog access is planned via Web in Fiscal year 2000. Order status and availability will follow.

Major Applications

 

Application Name

Financial Administration

Application Description

The Financial Accounting system used by TSBVI is the Uniform State-Wide Accounting System (USAS) supported by the comptroller's office. We are an internal user of this software and the State-Wide Property Accounting System. The Supplies Inventory (Warehouse) used is a proprietary software system written in COBOL. We use the Uniform State-Wide Payroll System and a PC-based Purchasing/Obligation system. Supplementary reporting and fund management software has been written to increase the functionality of accounting reports from the data downloaded from USAS. All proprietary accounting software systems at TSBVI have data extraction features that provide data upload to USAS to avoid duplicate entry. Since this has basically only provided a single-entry, and not a complete accounting system, an Accounting Task Force was formed to evaluate options. The most promising option at this point is to contract with Northrop Grumman to run a state-owned package (DFAS/GFAS) on their hardware. This would provide the agency with an accounting system at the most reasonable cost compared with the other systems evaluated. The system is currently being revised/improved and there are plans to include a Purchasing System. In the meantime, we will need to write links to our existing local systems such as Purchasing/Payment, Warehouse, and Student Trust Fund.

Database System

VMS/Alpha owned and operated by Northrop Grumman

Development Language

PowerBuilder GUI interface to existing DFAS system in Cobol

New System Requirements

The new Accounting System will need to:

  • Be accessible to visually impaired
  • Provide department budget information via Intranet
  • Link to existing systems that may not be included (Warehouse, APPS, Student Trust)
  • Facilitate accounting process

Sharing

TSBVI makes annual summary data report to the State Purchasing and General Services Commission of property transactions. Accounting transfer of batches to/from USAS.

Future

Initial conversion done with in-house staff with contracted assistance as needed, training and ongoing modifications contracted and shared with other participating agencies whenever applicable. The project will begin in spring 2000, completed September 2000.

 

Application Name

Student Administration

Application Description

The Student Database system contains demographic and enrollment information on students in attendance at the Texas School for the Blind. Phase I of the system has been operational since 1988 and migrated to the in-house VAX in 1991 after a processor upgrade. A system re-write is planned to remove it from the VAX. The data from this system is collected and distributed in a variety of ways to meet the needs of the School.

Database System

VAX Rdb/Oracle

Development Language

COBOL, FMS

New System Requirements

The new Student Database system will need to:

· Be accessible to visually impaired

· Be accessible to wide group of users via the intranet

· Communicate with PEIMS for data reporting

· Provide method for users to generate their own queries/reports

· Be able to integrate with a wide range of other systems that will use segments of its data (i.e. central collection point for data on school districts, professional contacts, any public information that eventually should be accessible from the web)

· Ability to accommodate changing enrollment plans and summer sessions

· Include or be able to interface with related systems (Student Medical Info, Registration Tracking, Student Incident Reporting)

Sharing

Backbone for many other systems, reporting to other agencies, public info access, PEIMS

Future

Design begins September 2000, Design scope completed and system requirements defined by spring 2000. Core system ready for beta testing by September 2001. Estimated system completion by September 2002.

 

Application Name

Library Management system

Application Description

The system written in-house is being phased out. A commercial product called Mitinet was purchased to format data entered into Marc format for eventual import into another commercial product that has not yet been selected. All records from the in-house system are being transferred to Mitinet. The Athena software system is being procured.

Database System

 

Development Language

Web-based

New System Requirements

Accessible to visually impaired via the web.

Sharing

The data is transferred to the Texas Library Cooperative.

Future

Purchase commercial system and make available via intranet in FY 2000.

 

Application Name

Accounts Payable/Purchasing System (APPS)

Application Description

All purchase requisitions are entered and the system provides receiving reports for the warehouse, status tracking of requisitions, and generation of payable transactions for general ledger update. After the requisition is filled, data is exported to the payment modules for voucher printing and generation of encumbrance transactions for general ledger update.

Database System

FoxPro 2.6

Development Language

FoxPro 2.6

Sharing

Expenditure transactions from the Payment system are transferred via FTP to USAS. Processed History Extract are returned by USAS and uploaded to our reporting database. Transaction Extract files from USAS are moved to the reporting database and appear as Accounts Payable on budget reports. Payables and Encumbrances from the Payment and Purchasing systems respectively are also uploaded to the reporting database.

Future

A purchasing system may be in the development plans of the DFAS/GFAS system. Rewrite system in FY 2002.

 

Application Name

APH Materials Management System

Application Description

Manages the ordering, shipping, and receipt of Federal Quota funded equipment from the American Printing House for the Blind.

Database System

FoxPro 2.6

Development Language

FoxPro 2.6

System Requirements

Future ability to accept requests for equipment via the web.

Sharing

None

Future

Systems to be web-accessible by 2003.

 

Application Name

Student Registration Tracking

Application Description

Tracks registration elements during fall and summer student enrollment. Provides numerous status and management reports. Integrated with word processing system for generation of form letters. Entry performed in Center for School Resources with read-only access to numerous school staff for program planning.

Database System

VAX RMS

Development Language

All-In-1 Scripting language

New System Requirements

 

Sharing

None

Future

This system will be migrated from the VAX/VMS environment to the desktop platform. It will be included in the Student Database migration scheduled for FY2001.

 

Application Name

VI Registration System

Application Description

Manages annual registration of all students with visual impairments. Provides numerous status and management reports. Information is received from school districts throughout Texas to indicate enrollment, reading medium, etc.

Database System

FoxPro 2.6

Development Language

FoxPro 2.6

System Requirements

Ability to accept enrollment information from districts via Web.

Sharing

Registration data of visually impaired students in Texas is provided by TEA annually to TSBVI on floppy disk.

Future

Scheduled to be rewritten in FY2000 by TEA contract staff in Access.

 

Application Name

Technology Loan System

Application Description

Manages inventory and loan processing of Technology equipment loans provided to students with visual impairments from school districts around the state.

Database System

FoxPro 2.6

Development Language

FoxPro 2.6

System Requirements

Ability to accept equipment requests via Web.

Sharing

None

Future

Completion of on-line catalog. Investigation of Web-based processing of loan requests/equipment availability in FY2000

 

Application Name

Teacher Solution/IEP System

Application Description

Application developed by the Curriculum department to create student IEPs. Adding a segment to do grade reporting and maintain attendance information.

Database System

FileMaker Pro

Development Language

FileMaker Pro

System Requirements

 

Sharing

Imports core student data from Student Database System.

Future

Contract staff and curriculum staff will deliver completed system by September 2000. Technology Services will assume responsibility for support and maintenance with contracted technical services.

Appendix A - Server Configuration

Server Name

Manufacture Model

Server Function

Operating System

CPU

Storage Capacity

RAM

Louis

Gateway ALR7200

Primary domain controller

Windows NT v4.0, Service Pack 5

Intel P3 450MHz

7GB, RAID1

256MB

Emerson

Gateway ALR9200

Intranet, Email, Server

Windows NT v4.0, Service Pack 5

Intel XEON 400

37GB, RAID5

512MB

Berthold

Gateway ALR9200

Application Server, DB2, WebSphere

Windows NT v4.0, Service Pack 5

Intel XEON 400

37GB, RAID5

512MB

Tommy

Wallingford

Filemaker Pro Server

Windows NT v4.0, Service Pack 5

Intel P3 450MHz

19GB, RAID1

130MB

Taylor

Gateway ALR7200

Distance Education Web-based Courseware server

Windows NT v4.0, Service Pack 5

Intel P3 350MHz

54GB, RAID1

256MB

Texwide

Wallingford

Web Site Server

Windows NT v4.0, Service Pack 5

Intel P3 450MHz

51GB, RAID5

130MB

Helen

Gateway ALR7200

Video Server

Windows NT v4.0, Service Pack 5

Intel P3 350MHz

18GB, RAID1

256MB

Appendix B - Web Site Monthly Trends

(please note that January 2000 was uncharacteristically low due to technical problems)

Monthly Trends

 

Shows trends for requests, visits, visitors, etc.

 

Covering the period Monday, September 1, 1997 to Tuesday, May 02, 2000 (inclusive)

 

Visits Per Month

Shows the total number of visits during the time period for every month of the year.

Year and Month

Visits

September 1997

1,134

October 1997

1,746

November 1997

2,236

December 1997

2,443

January 1998

2,723

February 1998

3,781

March 1998

4,574

April 1998

4,694

May 1998

4,606

June 1998

5,431

July 1998

5,471

August 1998

4,571

September 1998

6,164

October 1998

5,461

November 1998

7,706

December 1998

6,961

January 1999

8,465

February 1999

11,685

March 1999

18,901

April 1999

20,033

May 1999

16,359

June 1999

19,655

July 1999

18,291

August 1999

18,072

September 1999

23,779

October 1999

27,834

November 1999

28,775

December 1999

24,357

January 2000

6,616

February 2000

32,595

March 2000

44,271

April 2000

37,802

 

 

 

Total Number of Visitors Per Month

Shows the total number of visitors (unduplicated count) that came to the site each month.

Month

Unique IP Addresses

September 1997

721

October 1997

1,271

November 1997

1,560

December 1997

1,691

January 1998

1,928

February 1998

2,738

March 1998

3,027

April 1998

3,210

May 1998

3,208

June 1998

3,339

July 1998

3,315

August 1998

2,553

September 1998

3,591

October 1998

3,238

November 1998

4,425

December 1998

3,692

January 1999

4,924

February 1999

5,779

March 1999

9,849

April 1999

10,596

May 1999

8,541

June 1999

10,065

July 1999

9,634

August 1999

9,977

September 1999

12,860

October 1999

14,182

November 1999

15,774

December 1999

12,048

January 2000

3,898

February 2000

16,591

March 2000

20,403

April 2000

18,332

 



Appendix C: Five-Year Projections for Outcomes

TSBVI PROJECTED OUTCOMES FOR FISCAL YEARS 2001-2005

Outcome 2001 2002 2003 2004 2005
Percent of Student Learning Performance Indicator Attained

100

100 100 100 100
Percent of Responding LEA's, Parents and Students Rating the Students' Progress During the Regular School Year as Very Satisfactory or Above

70

70 70 72 75
Percent of Students Attending Short-term Programs Demonstrating Progress as Measured by Pre- and Post-assessment

65

65 70 72 75
Percent of Responding LEAs, Parents, and Students Rating the Students' Experiences in the Short-term Programs as Very Satisfactory or Above

65

65 70 72 75
Percent of Students Whose Responding Local School Districts Rated their Learning Experience at Summer School as Very Satisfactory or Above

88

85 85 85 85
Percent of Students Whose Responding Parents Rated their Learning Experience at Summer School as Very Satisfactory or Above

80

80 80 85 85
Percent of Responding Local School Districts Rating TSBVI as Satisfactory or Above in Meeting the Students' Reason for Referral

65

65 70 72 75
Percent of Responding Parents Rating TSBVI as Satisfactory or Above in Meeting the Students' Reason for Referral

65

65 70 72 75
Percent of Students Graduated From TSBVI During the Past 5 Years Who are Currently Employed

60

45 50 50 55
Percent of Families, Professionals and Paraprofessionals Rating as Very Satisfactory or Above the Improvement in their Knowledge and Skills as a Result of the Services or Products Received from TSBVI

80

82 85 85 85
Percent of Families, Professionals and Paraprofessionals Rating as Very Satisfactory or Above the Effectiveness of the TSBVI Consultant in Addressing the Reason for the On-Site Visit/Workshop 80 85 85 85 85
Percent of Families, Professionals and Paraprofessionals Agreeing that there was a Positive Change for the Student, Staff or Family as a Result of the On-Site Visit

80

85 85 87 87

Appendix B: Current Organizational Chart



Texas School for the Blind and Visually Impaired

 



BOARD 
OF TRUSTEES
    |


INTERNAL AUDITOR


 


SUPERINTENDENT
 /     /    |     \



HUMAN RESOURCES

RISK& PROPERTY
MANAGEMENT

LEGAL

CURRICULUM







COMPREHENSIVE
PROGRAMS


SPECIAL 
PROGRAMS

          OUTREACH


BUSINESS, OPERATIONS
& TECHNOLOGY


SCHOOL & STUDENT
SERVICES


             |                |                  |                     |                |

training and resources
for professionals and families of VI and deafblind children and other statewide services


accounting, budgeting, purchasing, facilities, transportation, 
food services, security, 
technology services & telecommunications


planning 
and evaluation, admissions and records, Learning Resource Center, Health Center, staff development, distance education, and community resource development


regular school year instructional 
and residential programs


summer and other
short-term instructional programs

 

Texas School for the Blind and Visually Impaired

For the Fiscal Years 2001-2005 Period

DOWNLOAD RTF VERSION

Board Member Term Expires  Hometown
Kerry Goodwin, President 1999  Dallas
Mary Sue Welch, Vice President 1999  Dallas
Dr. Roseanna Davidson, Secretary 1999 Lubbock
Fidel Menchaca 2001 McAllen
Frankie Swift 2001 Nacogdoches
Vacant Position 2001
Bruce Best 2003 Spring
Barbara Cherry 2003 Garrison
Zena Pearcy 2003 Austin

June 1, 2000

Signed: __________________________________

(Superintendent)

Approved: ________________________________

(Board President)

 

Texas School for the Blind and Visually Impaired

 

TABLE OF CONTENTS

Name

Paper Page Number

STATEWIDE VISION, MISSION AND PHILOSOPHY      4
RELEVANT STATEWIDE GOALS AND BENCHMARKS 5
MISSION OF THE TEXAS SCHOOL FOR THE BLIND AND VISUALLY IMPAIRED  5
PHILOSOPHY OF THE TEXAS SCHOOL FOR THE BLIND AND VISUALLY IMPAIRED  5
EXTERNAL/INTERNAL ASSESSMENT  6
TSBVI GOALS, OBJECTIVES, OUTCOME MEASURES, STRATEGIES, OUTPUT MEASURES AND EFFICIENCY MEASURES 46

APPENDICES:

For Fiscal Years 1999-2003

Table of Contents

  • Download Strategic Plan - (RTF 667K)
  • Executive Summary
  • Introduction
  • External/Internal Assessment
  • Planning Factors and Assumption Table
  • Budget Strategies
  • Goals
  • Information Resources Environment
  • Organization and Personnel
  • IR Policies and Practices Table
  • Telecommunication Infrastructure
  • Major Applications
  • Executive Summary

    The technology needs and objectives of the Texas School for the Blind and Visually Impaired (TSBVI) are broad in scope and have become a primary focus of the School's resources and service offerings. Instruction for students has expanded to include the integration of technology into content areas for both teaching and learning. This development of the technology program has been created through a coordinated multi-disciplined effort. Adaptive technology systems provide access to information for literacy, vocational opportunity, and personal development. These systems, as well as use of the computer for classroom administration application can be complex and difficult to master. As the integration of technology systems into instruction continue to progress, a systematic professional development plan will be implemented to meet the training needs of the instructional staff. The five curricular strands that comprise the curriculum will be revised to reflect the integration of technology to implement learning activities in the content areas. This cycle of training enables new technical innovation to evolve as staff become more technically sophisticated and student instruction becomes more structured.

    Over the past several years, the School has dedicated staff and fiscal resources to expand service offerings to students and update the equipment resources for instruction. The majority of TSBVI students are involved with technology at their particular level of proficiency. Involvement ranges from the use of switch systems and augmentative communication devices for some students, to advanced telecommunication and personal computing for other students. As technology integration into teaching and learning expands, an interdisciplinary and integrated approach to planning and implementation will be vital to apply our resources effectively and efficiently.

    The proliferation of desktop systems for administrative support is expected to continue to provide benefits and increased efficiency as new systems and techniques mature and develop. Among the key areas of new technologies, our challenge by 2002 will be to satisfy the expectations of the Technology Integration in Education grant (See Attachment 1).

    This grant will fund development of technology to fulfill the School's mandate to serve as a statewide resource to families, professionals, and paraprofessional by employing distance learning technologies.

    The key strategic areas of development for Funding Years 1997-2002 include:

    Computer upgrades and Increased student access - Expanding the number of computers available to students in the instructional and residential settings will increase access to shared resources so students can have a context to do homework, pursue leisure activities, and explore the networked environment. Since many of the school's laptop computers are based on older, slower micro-processors, they need to be upgraded to current performance levels. Continued upgrade of the school's classroom desktop computers to multimedia computers will provide access to CD-ROM resources and full access to the curriculum through student use of add-on assistive software and adaptive/ augmentative devices.

    Expanded teacher and staff training - Training is an ongoing need of TSBVI staff. As systems become more complex and applications more prevalent, staff must expand their skills to support student learning. With the advent and expansion of networked computers, training will address how to fully utilize the expanded tool-set. The school-wide Strategic Plan includes staff training and distance education models for integrating technology use with teaching and learning across the curricular areas. Training for administrative support staff will increase efficient use of the Microsoft Office environment and ease the transition from the older All-In-1 office automation software.

    Continued implementation of network infrastructure and administrative application - New standards and skills are required to coordinate and manage Internet document publishing, configuration of desktops, and adaptation devices. The number of networked desktop computers will continue to increase as terminals are phased out and the resources shift to NT-based networking. Remote network access will be implemented to accommodate residential areas and work areas that do not have access to the fiber-optic network infrastructure.

    Migration of the current VMS-based VAX 4000-200 processor and application software to Windows NT-based servers -This environment will support networked Windows-based and Macintosh clients, provide access to LAN-based applications. Upgrade of the technical environment will be a logical transition of the network to provide a more contemporary and supportable technical base. The migration planning would have the VAX computer uninstalled in fiscal year 2003. As part of that migration, all CRT terminals need to be replaced with desktop computers that provide expanded functionality. Funding and implementation of new accounting software will provide interpretive reports for end-user evaluation and analysis of accounting information, improving our use of the USAS and USPS systems. Budget management, General Ledger/cash status, and local fund accounting functions are not available in existing VAX/VMS reporting applications. These functions are not expected to materialize from the core USAS and USPS systems. Procurement of software is considered the only available alternative since the scope of the application is too broad for development by in-house technical staff. Various alternatives continue to be explored by TSBVI and other agencies in similar circumstances.

    Distance Learning Technology - The School has received a Technology Integration in Education grant awarded by the Texas Education Agency to embark upon distance education programs. By developing the capability to use teleconferencing media, the School will be able to enhance the learning of children with visual impairments throughout Texas. This technology would allow for the School to provide valuable information about curriculum, materials, technology, teaching strategies, and pre-service training to professionals, parents, and other interested individuals by creating electronic links to regional education service centers, school districts, institutions of higher education, and other agencies. Such technology can provide information, training, and follow-up while reducing the time and expense of travel.

    Expanded application of World Wide Web Technologies - Web-based development has proven effective in service delivery. Continued development in providing on-line query of TSBVI statewide functions, such VI Registration and Technology Loan equipment status and availability will be developed. Exploitation of Intranet technology is expected to provide new levels of agency collaboration and productivity.

    Introduction

    The Texas School for the Blind and Visually Impaired derives its authority to operate and its purposes from the Texas Education Code (TEC 30.021). In brief, the law describes the scope and functions of the school "to serve as a special school in the continuum of statewide alternative placements for students who are 21 years of age or younger ...and who have a visual impairment and who may have one or more other disabilities". The law also sets forth these additional purposes for the School:

  • Conduct supplemental programs such as summer programs
  • Provide statewide services to parents of students with visual impairments, school districts, regional education service centers, and other agencies serving students with visual impairments, deafblindness, and other additional disabilities
  • Develop and provide local, regional, and statewide training for parents and professionals
  • Provide consultation and technical assistance to parents and professionals related to special education and special services for students
  • Develop and disseminate reference materials in the areas of curriculum, instructional methodology, and educational technology
  • Provide information related to library resources, adapted materials, current research, technology resources, and teaching, assessment, and transition of students
  • Operate programs for lending educational and technological materials to school districts and education service centers
  • Facilitate the preparation of teachers for visually impaired students by providing assistance to institutions of higher education and other teacher preparation programs
  • Cooperate with public and private agencies and organizations in the planning, development, and implementation of effective educational and rehabilitative service delivery systems to maximize and make efficient use of state resources
  • The School is governed by a nine-member Board of Trustees comprised of parents, blind individuals, and people with experience working in the profession. TSBVI is a complex organization in the scope of services it provides and the multiple service delivery models it maintains. TSBVI is a 24-hour residential school program that provides intensive instructional programming for students with diverse educational needs. The students' exposure to technology range from adaptive and conventional technology training with academic students to the use of cause and effect switch technology with multiply impaired students. As an organization, the school administers an eleven million dollar budget and requires accounting and financial management systems to manage diverse fiscal systems that range from student banking accounting to personnel and budget management of almost 400 contract and classified employees to federal fund management and accounting. Various state-wide functions are provided by TSBVI and numerous programs for students with visual impairments depend on services we provide.

    In order to support the State Strategic Plan to integrate government services by developing, implementing, and maintaining a statewide information resources infrastructure, the School requires effective information management systems. These systems assist program staff in processing new students, tracking progress in learning, and supporting the intensive instructional programs provided to students. Another important area of technology application at TSBVI is providing appropriate computing resources to staff. These resources range from desktop publishing of curriculum publications on Macintosh computers; support of over 170 staff accounts on the VAX-based office automation software, All-In-1; using over 200 Windows and Macintosh computers for classroom management; report writing; and student instruction. In developing the systems at TSBVI, a prevailing concern must be to develop systems that are accessible to visually impaired staff and students and can easily output the data into Braille, large print, voice output, and regular text. Many TSBVI staff have varying work schedules and limited "office-time." Use of electronic mail is extremely effective to enable communication between the various departments during slotted periods of the employees' work schedules. Use of electronic mail enables more productive and time-efficient communication, providing staff more available time for student-related and qualitative activities. As mandated in the State Strategic Plan, all TSBVI technical resources are based on industry standard architectures to insure coordinated resource sharing.

    Acquisition, use, and management of information technology at TSBVI supports the State Strategic plan to insure that decisions are driven by the recognition and understanding of user needs in its varied program offerings. A primary focus of TSBVI's mission is to support local school districts. The School serves as a clearinghouse for reference information and identified areas of need. In order for the School to offer services where they are most needed staff of the School's outreach programs provide those services through multiple delivery methods. It is equally important that the staff of TSBVI have the knowledge and skills to both teach students and to serve as resources to other teachers and parents throughout the State. The technical abilities of staff at the School currently range from the inexperienced to the sophisticated. Effective technology systems must be easy to use, require relatively short training programs, and be supportable by a small technical staff.

    A major initiative since 1995 has been to implement a campus-wide local area network. This network connects most of the desktop computers. Though most wiring preparations have been completed, numerous issues are yet to be resolved in the use and configuration of networked computers with the variety of adaptive equipment and software in use at TSBVI. Documentation of these configurations will be critical to develop a base of information not only to assist in the support of students using the devices at TSBVI, but also to assist local school district teachers and students throughout the state. Teachers and students have access in the classroom to instruction-oriented software systems such as the school library system, grade reporting/scheduling system, student database, and other systems oriented to reduce the paperwork of instructional staff and provide support tools to improve instructional effectiveness. The IEP progress reporting system has provided instructional staff a structured method to create, store, retrieve, revise, and update student performance information.

    Internet access enables staff members to use electronic resources such as the World Wide Web, The Texas Library Connection, the Educational Software Selector (TESS), and resources available through the Web site of the Texas Education Agency, and online resources from Regional Education Service Center XIII, and electronic mail. With the availability of electronic mail and the World Wide Web, instructional staff has started the process of documenting their expertise so that their unique skills and abilities may be shared with other professionals through the TSBVI web site. The best examples of this information sharing are in the See/Hear newsletter that is produced monthly (considered one of the best resources in the nation for specific content information) and a series of resource pages for Math instruction of students with visual impairments. Access to these two content areas on the Web-site have grown exponentially over time, indicating the significant need that exists for the development of such resources.

    To increase student access to computers outside the classroom, the local area network will be expanded to the residential areas with dial-up access to provide remote access to network resources. In addition to applications of micro-processor based hardware and software systems to support the instruction of students and the professional development of teachers and related service staff, the School's technology systems must also support the administrative functions of the School. The use of the Uniform Statewide Accounting System (USAS) and Uniform Payroll System (USPS) accounting system has not been completely effective. TSBVI has found that the USAS and USPS systems do not meet budget management and cash accounting requirements to accommodate needs of the agency. Use of extensive uploads to the USAS from in-house systems has greatly assisted accounting staff and has limited the need for direct data entry into USAS. Meaningful interpretive reports for end-user evaluation and analysis from data integrated from USAS will hopefully be procured commercially.

    The School has entered into a cooperative contract with the Region XI Education Service Center in Ft. Worth to develop software for managing the ordering, shipping, and tracking of instructional devices and materials available to Texas schools as part of the American Printing House for the Blind program. This electronic management system has resulted in materials being provided to teachers statewide on a "when needed-where needed" basis. The School is also providing support to the electronic database for statewide registration of students with visual impairments reported to the Texas Education Agency. Information management system for the Technology Loan program was written for desktop processing from the old VAX-based system, improving the application and positioning the system for web-based distribution of status and availability information on loans and equipment.

    Tenets of the School's approach to instructional technology:

  • The School is committed to providing the training necessary for students with disabilities to use assistive hardware and software to interact with computers for the purpose of gaining access to information, products, and services.
  • Technology offers students with disabilities independence at their individual level of potential, equitable access to information, and increased vocational opportunities. As an educational institution, TSBVI is committed to providing all students the skills and knowledge related to technology to enhance their lives educationally vocationally, socially, and personally.
  • Assistive Technology is defined as any item, piece of equipment or product system, whether acquired commercially or customized, that is used to increase, maintain or improve the functional capabilities of persons with disabilities. Technology is included in but is not limited to: adapted input, adapted output, augmentative and alternative communication, environmental control, mobility aid, multi-sensory modifications, physical education/ recreation/leisure, positioning, and self-care devices.
  • Technology can facilitate language development, communication, independence, interdependence, emergent literacy, development of social and cooperative learning skills, access to information, alternative means of expression, visual training learning of new skills, and maintenance of skills previously mastered.
  • Technology instruction is an essential part of the Core Curriculum for students who are blind, deafblind, or visually impaired. Instructional technology is used to support, enhance, and facilitate existing classroom instruction--not to replace it. Technology must be integrated into the classroom/curriculum to the maximum degree possible. To accomplish this goal, all students and staff will have appropriate and necessary training in the use of the technology.
  • Accessibility to information means providing students an equal opportunity to learn. Accessibility is defined relative to the users' needs and requirements for a task. TSBVI will strive to provide assistive access through system infrastructure that allow add-on assistive software to enable specialized input and output capabilities. Assistive technology tools for users who are blind, have low vision, hearing impairment, deafness, deafblindness, and additional motor impairments fall into the following general categories.
  • External/Internal Assessment

    The Agency Strategic plan contains an extensive review of Information Resources External/Internal Assessment.

    Planning Factors and Assumption Table

    Planning Factor Assumption
    Need for adequate budget management, general ledger reporting, and local fund management The Uniform State-Wide Accounting System will not satisfy agency accounting needs
    Need for incorporation of video conferencing technologies Continued expansion of outreach services and delivery of services via distance learning through implementation of the TIE grant.
    Increased in demand on information and support systems Continued emphasis on transition planning policies for student intake/dismissal
    Need for ongoing technical training of staff in use and integration of technology systems As use of technology becomes more pronounced in the organization, the need for training becomes more critical for successful use of the systems.
    Increased complexity of technical systems Technology planning will be integrated within various technology committees that span instructional and administrative applications
    Need for Standards Development for Core Architecture Technical staff will be involved in administrative planning and policy development
    Increased CPU processing and memory requirements for adaptive software Funds will be available to upgrade instructional desktop computers to run assistive/adaptive software for student access
    Support of VH professionals throughout Texas

    Development of systems for the inter-networking of TSBVI with other agencies serving persons with visual impairments to access students and teachers, regardless of distance separation

    VAX computer will become less supportable over time as hardware and software elements are retired Funds will be available to migrate existing applications and server function to Windows NT
    Existing Mac Server Software (Pathworks) has been retired by the manufacturer Alternative server functions will continue to be available with the Windows NT platform
    Open systems software is required for application development Speech and screen review software will support modern object-oriented application environments
    Need for technical resources Adequate staff resources will be maintained to support existing applications and develop systems for efficient processing of fiscal and student information

    Budget Strategies

    There are four primary strategies that the School can employ to acquire and maintain the hardware, software, professional development, and other services to implement the Technology Plan:

    1. Expend funds currently allocated in the following expense categories:
      1. Purchase computer hardware and software
      2. Maintain and repair hardware
      3. Employ Trainers (2.0 FTEs)
      4. Departmental Operating Budgets for Training
        Timeline: Funding Years 1998 & 1999
    2. Reallocate budgeted dollars:
      1. The School has the flexibility to shift budgeted dollars to established priorities.
      2. The School may reallocate savings from unexpended salaries and operating expenses to technology priorities under authority granted to the School by the Texas Legislature.
      3. The School may use the process of debt refinancing to purchase technology in excess of its current year's operating budget by committing to use funds from future operating budgets.
        Timeline: Funding Years 1998 through 2003
    3. Request additional funds within the School's biennial Legislative Appropriation Request to the Legislature.
      Timeline: Summer 1998 for Funding Years 2000 - 2001
    4. Seek external funds, hardware, and software from a variety of sources, including the following:
      1. Dell Foundation: Timeline: Spring, 1998. Granted.
      2. Hitachi Foundation: Timeline: Spring, 1998. Applied.
      3. Grant: Federal E-Rate: Timeline, Spring, 1998. In Process.
      4. Gifts from corporations, service organizations, individuals
      5. Grant: Federal Technology Integration in Education through TEA:
        Timeline, Spring, 1998. In Process

    Goals

     Agency Goal #1: Students who are visually impaired or deafblind will demonstrate the skills and knowledge to lead vocationally, personally, and socially satisfying lives, as demonstrated by academic success and successful transition to the community.

    Agency Objective: Students attending TSBVI during the regular school year will annually demonstrate success in their education programs.

    IR Goal #1: The School will facilitate the use of technology to maximize independence and productivity of all students who are blind, have a visual impairment, or who are deaf/blind, including those with additional disabilities.

    IR Objective #1: Students will have current instructional technology available to them with the capabilities appropriate to their special needs.

    IR Strategy #1: Upgrade current instructional technology systems to replace outdated systems according to assessed upgrade needs.

    Action Item 1: Assess viability of current technologies

    Action Item 2: Review current equipment to assess functionality

    Action Item 3: Target equipment to be replaced

    Action Item 4: Prepare funding proposal

    Action Item 5: Procure and install replacement equipment

    Timeline: Funding Year (FY) 97-98

    IR Strategy #2: Expand distribution of computing resources through the implementation of a school-wide local area network.

    Action Item 1: Assess logical expansions of the network to buildings without access

    Action Item 2: Instruct staff in new technology systems

    Timeline: FY 97-99

    Evaluation Strategies for Objective: By 1999, the School will meet the technology equipment targets for students adopted in the Long-Range Plan for Technology, 1996-2010 of a student-to-workstation ratio of 3:1. By 1999, 90 percent of classrooms will have a minimum of one computer workstation linked to a school-wide local area network.

    Objective #2: Students will use technology commensurate with their abilities to enhance personal productivity

    Strategy 1: Integrate technology applications into the five curricular strands

    Timeline: FY 98-2000

    Strategy 2: Implement instruction for students designed to promote the following uses of technology:

  • Students will use the Internet to access electronic text of educational materials and news of current events that are not available in Braille or large print for learners who are blind and visually impaired
  • Students will participate in activities on the Internet that encourage communication and interaction with a variety of individuals of varying interests
  • Students develop reading, writing, and listening skills through computer access to support individual acquisition of literacy
  • Students will expand their awareness of the ways in which personal online services, such as banking, shopping, bill paying, special interest sites, etc., can improve their quality of life as consumers and members of society
  • Students will increase their likelihood of finding employment by learning to use the tools that are evident in the workplace
  • Action Item 1: Develop and implement curriculae in the areas of keyboarding, word processing, access hardware and software, personal tools

    Action Item 2: Develop and implement a technology assessment for students' needs for and use of adaptive/assistive technology tools

    Action Item 3: Explore the feasibility of using computer-assisted instruction in the curricular areas.

    Timeline: FY 98-2000

    Evaluation Strategies for Objective: By 2000, the School's written curriculum will contain elements in the areas of computer skills, applications, and access hardware and software. By 1999. 100 percent of enrolled students will be assessed to determine students' needs for and use of adaptive/assistive technology devices.

    Objective #3: Train all instructional staff in the use of technology for teaching

    Strategy 1: All instructional staff will acquire a working knowledge of screen reading programs in a Windows environment, screen enlarger software, Braille translation software, electronic Braille input devices, word processing software, an Internet browser, email.

    Action Item 1: Develop and implement a plan to train all instructional staff to integrate technology use into teaching of content areas

    Action Item 2: Develop training modules and implementation checklist for each assistive add-on software, augmentative, and adaptive device used by students in learning

    Action Item 3: Determine training groups based on existing knowledge and skills

    Action Item 4: Determine a training schedule and number of training hours during scheduled work hours and training time after work hours for which participants receive extra-duty pay

    Action Item 5: Develop and implement a system for follow-up training on an individual basis by peer mentors

    Timeline: FY 98-2000

    Strategy 2: Training groups will learn to identify and use appropriate assistive/adaptive technology tools to increase individual student learning by enabling full access to the curriculum.

    Action Item 1: Identify activities in content areas appropriate for use of different add-on assistive software and adaptive/augmentative devices

    Action Item 2: Assess students' needs to match technology to instruction

    Action Item 3: Use Internet resources

    Action Item 4: Develop and implement use of checklist as evidence of classroom use of technology and portfolios as evidence of student progress

    Timeline: FY 98-2000

    Strategy 3: Provide opportunities for Technology Specialists to receive ongoing training in emerging technologies and new applications of existing technology for blind, visually impaired, and deafblind students.

    Action Item 1: Seek external funding sources to support out-of-state training

    Action Item 2: Develop and implement a Trainer-of-Trainer model

    Timeline: FY 97-2000

    Evaluation Strategies for Objective: By 2000, a written plan will be implemented describing ongoing professional development activities to train and maintain the skills of all instructional staff in the use of technology for teaching. By 2000, 90 percent of instructional staff will have received training and demonstrated proficiency in the use of technology on a skills checklist or other written assessment instrument.

    Objective #4: The curriculum will be revised to reflect integration of technology to implement learning activities in the content areas

    Strategy 1: Revise Basic Skills, Functional Academics, Academic, and Early Concepts

    Timeline: FY 98-2000

    Strategy 2: Develop Applied Academics to reflect technology integration

    Timeline: FY 98-2000

    Evaluation Strategies for Objective: By 2000, the scope and sequence of the School's curriculum will contain learning activities integrating technology into learning.

    Objective 5: Students will learn to use appropriate technology in order to acquire the knowledge and skills specified in their Individual Education Plan (IEP).

    Strategy 1: Teachers will integrate technology use into content areas to enhance student learning

    Action Item 1: Teachers will design instructional units to incorporate individual technology uses by students.

    Action Item 2: Student use of technology will be considered in the development of each student's IEP.

    Timeline: FY 98-2000

    Strategy 2: Teachers and students will have access to appropriate technology

    Action Item 1: Develop and implement minimum hardware and software configurations across curricular areas and school-wide locations.

    Action Item 2: Upgrade current equipment and purchase new equipment to ensure the capability to run assistive add-on applications

    Action Item 3: Expand access to technology across instructional, vocational, and residential programs

    Action Item 4: Create a software review committee

    Action Item 5: Expand contacts with vendors for opportunities for beta testing new technologies, evaluating accessibility, previewing new products, and disseminating product information

    Timeline FY 98-2000

    Evaluation Strategies for Objective: By 1999, 100 percent of students' IEPs will contain goals, objectives, or modifications integrating the use of technology, when technology assessments indicate such a need.

    Information Resources Goal 2: Create and maintain information systems and procedures that efficiently accommodate Legislative and/or Board rule changes as they occur, interface efficiently with other government entities, and provide functional management and efficient administration of school business.

    Objective 1: Document and make accessible to persons with visual impairments all agency data systems.

    Strategy: Utilize electronic publishing software to provide an accessible, centralized repository of agency information.

    Action Item 1: Continue to expand the TSBVI web site

    Action Item 2: Explore and develop guidelines and implementation strategies for establishment of intranet

    Action Item 3: Train information providers in system update methods

    Timeline: FY 98-2000

    Evaluation Strategies for Objective: Through years 1998-2000, the number of individuals accessing the School's Web site will increase by 20 percent annually. A monthly written report will document the usage.

    Strategy Implement Library and Circulation System

    Action Item : Review current system requirements

    Action Item : Purchase Commercial Software

    Action Item : Implement system

    Timeline: FY 2002

    Evaluation Strategies for Objective: Through years 2002, Updating and cataloging of Library resources to determine functional specifications for the new system. New system will be cross platform and accessible via the World Wide Web.

    Objective 2: Coordinate administrative technology applications and information exchange with external agencies including, but not limited to: Local Education Agencies, Commission for the Blind, Texas Education Agency, State Agencies, the University of Texas, and other organizations or individuals serving visually impaired individuals.

    Strategy 1: Continue to support and integrate the Uniform Statewide Accounting System, Uniform Statewide Payroll System, and State Property Accounting

    Action Item 1: Investigate internal modifications to increase reporting reliability

    Action Item 2: Improve analysis reporting from USAS, SPA, USPS extraction data

    Timeline: FY 99-2001

    Strategy 3: Asses risk and impact of year 2000 issues to agency information systems

    Action Item 1: Identify year 2000 issues and impact factors

    Action Item 2: Review application software and existing hardware

    Action Item : Modify Student Trust Fund system to correct failure points

    Action Item : Modify Warehouse Inventory System to remove failure points

    Action Item 3: Take preventative steps to minimize agency risks

    Timeline: FY 97-99

    Strategy 4: Investigate and implement new accounting system.

    Action Item 1: Define system requirements/enhancements

    Action Item 2: Research options

    Action Item 3: Select and implement system

    Timeline: FY 2000

    Strategy 5: Investigate and implement new Student Database System

    Action Item 2: Identify additional reports, query, and data analysis requirements

    Action Item 3: Incorporate new requirements such as PIEMS data reporting and interchange

    Action Item ?: Identify Student data correlates with TEA staff for PIEMS.

    Action Item ?: Review Fiscal data correlates with TEA staff for PIEMS

    Action Item 1: Establish comprehensive system design and specification requirements

    Action Item ?: Research availability of commercial software solutions and purchase and implement or employ contract programming services to develop software with project management provided by agency technical staff.

    Timeline: FY 2001

    Strategy 6: Exploit Web-based technologies

    Action Item 1: Review existing applications, VI Registration, Technology Loan, APH Materials/Management for potential deployment of Web-based query

    Action Item 2: Establish system design and implementation timelines

    Action Item 3: Deploy Intranet to coordinate agency resource development and distribution

    Timeline: FY 99-2001

    Strategy 8: Migration of system from VAX to Windows NT

    Action Item 1: As staff become more competent with new desktop mail and Microsoft Office, phase out their use of VAX-based All-In-1

    Action Item 3: Identify and define new requirements for VAX application software such as Weekends Home, Student Course Information system, Warehouse Inventory, Student Trust Fund, Outreach contact database.

    Action Item 2: Establish timeline and schedule the rewrite or purchase of commercial software to replace VAX-based software functions.

    Action Item 3: Migrate existing print server functions from the VAX to Windows NT

    Timeline: Ongoing through 2003

    Strategy ?: Provide opportunities for administrative staff to develop new computer skills to increase staff productivity.

    Action Item 1: Provide Windows 95/98 training.

    Action Item 2: Create and distribute user training materials on Microsoft Office oriented to needs of TSBVI staff

    Action Item 3: Provide training for staff updating of web-based resource information

    Timeline: FY 99-2003

    Strategy 4: Review disaster recovery planning

    Action Item 1: Review procedures and contingency planning and assess relevancy

    Action Item 2: Identify new areas of risk exposure.

    Action Item 3: Identify new resources/methods to assist in disaster recovery interchange

    Timeline: FY 1999

    Evaluation Strategies for Objective: (Strategies 1-8 are completed) By 1999, the School's Technology Services Department will have a written disaster recovery plan.

    Agency Goal 2: Families professionals and paraprofessionals will have the knowledge and skills necessary to improve educational programming and other services for all Texas students who are visually impaired or deafblind.

    Information Resources Goal: The School will provide adaptive technology training and support to local school districts, Regional Education Service Centers, educators, students, and families to maximize the use and effectiveness of technology for students who are blind, have a visual impairment, are deafblind, including those with additional disabilities.

    Objective 1: Provide adaptive technology equipment, software, training, and technical support to students attending their local schools

    Strategy 1: Maintain, expand, and upgrade the Technology Loan Program

    Action Item 1: Determine funding system to provide maintenance, upgrade, and expansion

    Action Item 2: Establish a system to replace and upgrade equipment and software

    Action Item 3: Maintain and refine the Program catalog as a source of information

    Action Item 4: Consider incentives for families to become knowledgeable about their child's technology use

    Timeline: FY 97-98

    Strategy 2: Develop and provide training and assistance in adaptive technology on a statewide basis to families, professionals, and paraprofessionals

    Action Item 1: Assist Regional Education Service Center personnel, local school district personnel, and agency personnel who serve blind, deafblind, and visually impaired students with the design and implementation of appropriate technology

    Action Item 2: Provide local, onsite technical assistance and assessment of student technology needs to direct service providers

    Action Item 3: Assist families of blind, deafblind, and visually impaired students with technology issues related to their child

    Time line: FY 97-98

    Evaluation Strategies for Objective: Annually, 90 percent of students and LEAs participating in the
    Technology Loan Program will indicate their satisfaction with this service as measured on a survey
    instrument. Ninety percent of a sample of parents and professionals surveyed will rate as satisfactory or above the training and assistance received in adaptive technology.

    Objective 2: Families, professionals, and paraprofessionals will have access to resources related to technology

    Strategy: The School will use technology as a method to fulfill its mandate to serve as a statewide resource to families, professionals, and paraprofessionals

    Action Item 1: Design a database to identify market trends in requests for and provision of outreach services

    Action Item 2: Maintain and expand an electronic repository that is equally accessible by blind and sighted individuals

    Action Item 3: Provide online classes and instructional materials through the School's Web site, the Internet, video conferencing, and other distance learning strategies

    Timeline: FY 98-2000

    Evaluation Strategies for Objective: Document 100 percent completion of Action Items by 2000

    Objective 3: School instructional staff, field-based educators, those participating in preservice certification programs, and families will gain knowledge and skills in the area of technology use for learners who are blind, visually impaired, deafblind, and including those with additional disabilities.

    Strategy 1: Create and use an onsite training/distance learning facility to provide a model location for the delivery of accessible content via distance education technologies

    Action Item 1: Upgrade/improve existing infrastructure to accommodate new technology

    Action Item 2: Integrate new technology with existing technology to ensure interoperability with ESCONETT and the Internet

    Timeline: FY 98-2002

    Strategy 2: School staff will use the training/distance learning facility to deliver and receive distance learning content.

    Action Item 1: Establish an advisory group to plan and design distance learning content

    Action Item 2: Train distance education users/presenters to use equipment

    Action Item 3: Train content developers in distance education instructional design

    Action Item 4: Train content developers to use content development tools to ensure accessible content

    Action Item 5: Develop and maintain a distance education component for the School's existing Web site

    Timeline: FY 98-2002

    Strategy 3: Design and implement educator development using distance learning for field-based staff and families through the Regional Education Service Centers and local school districts to meet expectations for technology proficiencies.

    Action Item 1: Provide training statewide to teachers of students who are blind, visually impaired, or deafblind on technology assessments

    Action Item 2: Conduct interactive technology assessments

    Action Item 3: Provide training to field-based educators and families on current assistive technology software and devices for students with disabilities

    Action Item 4: Provide incentives for families to become knowledgeable about their child's use of technology to learn

    Timeline: FY 98-2002

    Strategy 4: Provide disability-specific training toward certification in Visual Impairment using distance education in collaboration with Texas Tech University, Stephen F. Austin University, and the Texas Education Agency.

    Action Item 1: Design and implement distance learning methodologies to support those involved in pre-service certification programs to learn about new technologies and using technologies effectively

    Action Item 2: Deliver interactive courses via distance education from the School's distance learning facility

    Timeline: FY 98-2002

    Evaluation Strategies for Objective: Document 100 percent completion of Action Items by 2002

    Agency Goal 3: We will establish and carry out policies governing purchasing and public works contracting that foster meaningful and substantive inclusion of historically underutilized businesses.

    Information Resources Goal: TSBVI will increase purchases of product and service offerings from historically underutilized businesses

    Objective: Increase volume of competitive purchases from historically underutilized businesses

    Strategy: Review and consider product and service offerings from historically underutilized businesses whenever possible.

    Action Item: Review purchasing catalogs and materials from historically underutilized businesses before making purchases

    Timeline: FY 97

    Evaluation Strategies for Objective: The School will meet the targets suggested by the Legislature for meeting this goal.

    Information Resources Environment

    Organization and Personnel

    Technology Services Staff

    Director of Technology Services

    Designated as Information Resources Manager for TSBVI.

    Supervise and direct all agency administrative computer applications. Manage Technology Services department activities including budget coordination, technical oversight, network planning and integration, and the overall technical environment. Assist instructional and administrative staff in the technical review and planning of educational systems/equipment. Analyze, design, and manage the implementation new programs/systems. Plan and coordinate agency procurement and operational management of computer hardware and software. Financial Accounting system analysis and management. Administrator of the Technology Loan Program. Coordinate agency use of Department of Information Resources common software. System manager of the VAX 4000-200 computer with responsibility for all account set-up, maintenance, and hardware/software installation and support. Manage all campus data and telephone network equipment and software. Keep up with current technologies.

    Application Development Programmer

    Analysis, design, and development of new programs/systems with primary responsibility for financial management/accounting systems and student administration systems. Technical support for agency administrative applications on VAX, Windows, and Macintosh platform environment. Development of technical software documentation and task analysis. Technical support of networked computers.

    System Support Specialist III

    Development of user documentation. Application systems support.. Initial user point of contact for training and technical support in the use of office automation and application systems...Performs special projects to research policy or implementation issues.

    Hardware Technician

    Assigned approximately 50% time to perform duties of maintenance, hardware setup and hardware troubleshooting. The remaining 50% of time is spent in maintenance and installation of communication media and support of the Schools telephone system. The technician assists with the purchasing of repair equipment and coordination with service providers. Documentation of technical interfaces and campus wiring topology.

    Computer Technician (half-time)

    Performs maintenance, hardware setup, and hardware troubleshooting on PC-based and specialized adaptive equipment. Documentation of technical interfaces and operational procedures. Performs software trouble-shooting and problem resolution. Performs evaluation of new adaptive equipment and development of documentation. Operational support of the Technology Loan program. Upgrade and support of Windows 95 operating system, operational support of local area networks.

    Administrative Technician (half-time)

    Operational management of Technology Services procurement tracking, inventory, equipment repair, and employee time reporting. Assists in the maintenance of centralized PBX circuit assignments, call-accounting, and Audix Voice mail settings. Maintains various departmental databases for central support activities.

    Instructional Technical Staff

    Statewide Technical Support Specialist

  • Design, implement, and maintain WWW site
  • Provide telephone support for state personnel who work with visually impaired students
  • Provide technical support to Outreach Program for distance education initiatives
  • Coordinate with other state agencies to ensure accessibility of web-based information
  • Provide national and international technical presence at assistive and other technology conferences
  • Document technical and evaluative information pertaining to assistive technology
  • Assist in teacher training during Technology institutes at TSBVI
  • Maintain vigilance concerning accessibility of state adopted instructional materials, textbooks, etc.
  • Provides expert-level advice, consultation, and information in various support and presentational roles
  • Educational Technology Coordinators

  • Divide responsibilities among the 5 curricular areas
  • Divide service delivery between direct instruction and consultation manage computer labs and
  • Staff development
  • Development of training and instructional materials
  • Software/hardware testing, acquisition, and allocation
  • Providing outreach services
  • Technology assessment of students
  • Curriculum development
  • Maintain current inventory of equipment for which each is responsible
  • Development of multimedia training systems
  • Outreach Technology Teacher

  • Statewide staff development
  • Student assessment
  • Student training
  • Consultation
  • Staff development (TSBVI)
  • Curriculum development
  • Development of instructional materials for staff development
  • Software/hardware evaluation
  • Development of multimedia training systems
  • Classroom Teacher

  • Facilitate completion of student IEP
  • Coordinate with ITFs to infuse technology into IEP goals and objectives
  • Utilize technology for administrative tasks and transition services
  • Coordinate training and support of instructional staff
  • Instructional Technician

    This position assists the technology teachers by performing troubleshooting and problem-solving for instructional hardware/software as well as assists in equipment and software management.

    Implementation of the Strategic Plan

    The administration of the School’s strategic plan for technology is deliberately decentralized to support the School’s wide-ranging purposes and mission. There is school-wide participation in the planning process. Technology Services staff work in collaboration with instructional and support staff to support the hardware and software systems. The two instructional and residential programs are directed by two school principals. Teachers and support staff’ in these two programs utilize technology to perform student assessment, develop curriculum, acquire or adapt specialized hardware and software, and to provide technology instruction to students and to other staff.

    The Technology Services department also supports the outreach program of the School, a separate administrative division sometimes assisted by staff from either the Technology Services Department or from the instructional– residential programs. The Technology Services Department provides technical assistance to educators in local school districts, especially in the areas of infrastructure and special adaptations of electronic technology for blind and visually impaired students. It is also important to note that the Department administers a Technology Loan Program whereby specialized electronic devices, including laptop computers with speech synthesizers; Braille input and output devices; and other such devices, peripherals, or software are loaned to school districts for use by students.

    IR Policies and Practices Table

    Category Provide Brief Summary/Overview
    IR Priorities Priorities for administrative systems are determined at the administrative management level with planning and coordination through the Technology Services Department. Responsibility for the integration and coordination of information resources is at the department level. The Technology Services Department is responsible for enterprise-wide technical design, integration, and coordination.
    IR Planning Methodology Planning priorities are identified by the relevant department or task force and the input is provided to the Technology Services department for incorporation into technology plans
    Operating Systems Historically, administrative systems have been implemented within the VAX/VMS environment. The School Web server is implemented on an Alpha Server with Windows NT. Desktop configurations are based on Windows95 Network transport to Windows-based personal computers is with TCP/IP and NetBEUI protocols. Macintosh computers communicate with Encapsulated Appletalk on Ethernet or Ethertalk. Terminals communicate with the VAX through the Local Area Transport (LAT) protocols with printers connected as serial or Appletalk devices. With the addition of a web server running Windows NT, the support NT is a primary interest and focus for new development.
    Software Development With the advent of client-server architecture, new applications have been written and supported in Foxpro v2.6 over the past several years. Applications on VAX/VMS that are currently written in the COBOL language with conventional indexed sequential and/or relational database (Rdb) file structures, RALLY, and Datatrieve software will be re-written. In order to create systems that are based on open standards and accessible to individuals who are disabled, use of the Java language is under investigation for enterprise development
    Office Automation Over FY98, we have standardized on Microsoft Office suite for PC and Mac. Use of WordPerfect has been phased out with the advent of this standard. Use of this product-set enable sharing of files between the PC and Macintosh systems with run-time platform conversion. Several departmental systems are based on Filemaker Pro for its ease of use and simple forms based development modality with relational database file structures.
    Software licenses Centralized license compliance is the responsibility of the Information Resources Manager. Department license compliance is the managed within the individual departments.
    Instructional Technology Performance and operational standards for the instructional technology program are developed from collaborations of individuals assembled for the particular task or instructional objective.
    Development Methodology Over the past 2 years, the School has undergone structural changes in the management and planning of activities with the introduction of Total Quality Management ideals. Increased emphasis is placed on departmental decision-making for budget and planning. As a result, administrative planning is performed within a Task Force (or multi-disciplinary) context. The planning model for instructional technology is through a committee that consists of instructional technology teaching staff. For school-wide planning within the management team; technology policy, application development implementation, and budget planning, the agency Information Resource Manager is represented by the Director of Business, Technology, and Operation. The Director of Technology Services and members of his staff make recommendations to the management team on school-wide technology issues but do not actively participate in the decision-making process.
    Quality Assurance Practices The School's internal auditor generally reviews most software systems. Most new systems are designed and developed within a multi-disciplinary design team and this approach examines risk as part of the process. Generally, the System Life Cycle methodology is followed for the development of new software. Development of secure student administration systems within adequate protection of sensitive or confidential data is required. TSBVI intends to serve as an example of accessibility information access of the School’s administrative and instructional systems.
    Change Control This is part of the development process. Typically, due to the specialized nature of application at TSBVI, minor system modifications and enhancements are made after the software system has been used for several months. Self promotion of software is enable through journalized audit accounts for technical staff.
    Security TSBVI complies with state and professional standards to secure information from unlawful access. Access to confidential student records is limited to those individuals who have been authorized by school administrators. VAX system security is monitored by various software tools and structures. Though several break-ins have been attempted, to our knowledge, none have been successful. Security considerations and guidelines are reviewed with new computer users in conjunction with system training.
    Geographic Information Systems NA
    Disaster Recovery/ Business Continuity Planning In the event of a catastrophic disaster, it is anticipated that a VAX computer could be leased and installed within an acceptable time period. Archived backup data could restore the system to normal operation. A complete backup of all VAX data are made each evening and stored in a off-site location. A redundant backup the TSBVI web site is maintained at all times. Backup of desktop data is a departmental responsibility.
    Resource Use Currently, no voice or video computer applications are in use at TSBVI, though voice synthesis is commonplace and speech recognition is being explored to assist students with impaired dexterity and video computer applications will be implemented in FY99 with grant funding.
    Contract/Consultant Hardware contracts are maintained on VAX components that are too heavy to easily transport to local repair depots. Other school components are self-maintained. Professional consultants are used for specific purposes within the context of assisting in-house Technical staff to develop client-server applications.
    Information Sharing This is primarily limited to E-mail and transport of data files to/from USAS and USPS data systems. A school official authorizes public release of TSBVI data to maintain confidentiality. Electronic data is shared for special purposes such criminal history checks. Sharing school student data with TEA for the PEIMs system is under consideration.
    Training and Continuing Education Technical staff receive training by attending various seminars and conferences. Due to the specialized nature of adaptive technology application at TSBVI, training often entails out-of-state travel to obtain information. Instructional technology staff are responsible for training other TSBVI and statewide ISD staff in these specialized areas. Technology Services staff also receive training in conferences and seminar but less-so since there are more local training opportunities available. Often, Technology Services staff train from manuals since travel funds are limited. The Systems Support Specialist provides training to staff in TSBVI proprietary software, All-In-1 software, and the network environment. Training in the Microsoft Office suite is often obtained outside the agency with support provided by the Systems Support Specialist

     

    Agency Platforms, Systems, and Telecommunications
    Agency Platforms and Systems
    Category Type

    Operating

    System

    Database Mgmt. System

    Capacity/

    Size/Count

    Comments/

    Descriptive Information

    Mainframe NA

    NA

    NA

    NA

     
    Minicomputer Digital Equipment Corporation

    VMS 6.1

    Rdb/Oracle

    5 VUPS

    50 concurrent processes

    VAX 4000-200, 160 All-In-1 Office Automation users, average of.
    LAN Servers (Central) Digital Equipment Corporation

    Alpha NT

    Na

    96MB/?? Gig

    Used for Web site
    LAN Servers (Remote) NA

    Na

    Na

    Na

     
    LAN Client/Work-stations (Central) Mac

    Mac OS x

    Filemaker Pro

    1

     
    LAN Client/Work-stations (Central) PC

    Windows95

    Foxpro 2.6

    30, 486/33

    40, 586/100-300Mhz

    5, Pentium II

    Phasing out Pathworks networking on client side
    LAN Client/ Work-stations (Remote) N/A

    N/A

    N/A

    N/A

     
    WAN Servers VAX 4000-200

    VAX/VMS

    Pathworks

    1

     
    Standalone PC Workstations PC

    Windows 95

    Fox Pro

    20

    In residential areas
    Standalone MAC Workstations Mac

    6.1

    Filemaker Pro

    20

    In residential areas. Older processors.
    Telecommunications Information
    Category Type

    Capacity/

    Size/Count

    Comments/

    Descriptive Information

    Hubs DEChub 90/Digital Equipment Corp. 8 10Mbps, each hub is its own bridged segment
    Hub Routers & Switches (Remote) Na

    Na

     
    Remote Bandwidth Analog N/A

    Number

    of Lines

     
    Remote Bandwidth Digital 56K or less N/A

    Number

    of Lines

     
    Remote Bandwidth Digital T1 N/A

    1

    General Serviices Commission Telecommications Division
    Remote Bandwidth ISDN (BRI) N/A

    Number

    of Lines

     
    DTE/End User Equipment Arrangement Workstations, LANs, Mainframe Devices, Other

    N/A

     
    Supported Protocols TCP/IP, Appletalk, NetBEUI, LAT, Telnet, FTP, HTTP, Ethertalk, DECnet, LAT

    N/A

     
    Internet Service Provider NA

    N/A

     
    Shared Network Stephen F. Austin University for Video Network, ESCONETT

    N/A

     

    Telecommunication Infrastructure

    Voice Communications

    The Texas School for the Blind uses an Definity G3i analog private branch exchange (PBX) for voice communications. The PBX is currently configured to provide 400 single-line service ports. This system provides off-campus service via 14 local two-way trunks and 16 Direct In-dial trunks. The school uses 1 bulk-billed watts line with AT&T as the carrier. For in-state service, the system uses 5 Station-to-Station (STS) trunks. One PBX console that has been adapted to provide an audible tone to alert the visually impaired operator that an outside call is incoming or an inside call is requesting assistance or connection to a TEXAN circuit. The use of voice mail has been well-received and an automated attendant system is under review.

    Data Communications

    Twelve years age, TSBVI implemented an Information Systems Network (ISN) for the primary implementation of data communications. The ISN is currently being phased out as buildings are networked with hub-based fiber optic components. The remaining devices non-networked buildings that are connected to the ISN, will be converted to access the VAX via modem. This equipment is expected to be retired in FY99.

    The standard communication rate is 10MB Ethernet over fiber optic cable. Each fiber optic cable element is terminated with ST connectors that connect to DecHub 90 hub backplanes through a Fiber Optic bridge. This configuration will support terminal server and 10-Base-T repeaters. Twisted pair wiring within the networked building is standardized on Category 5 passive wiring components to each office location meeting the EIA568 standard. A wiring connection for telephones is also included. Currently, eight buildings are networked in this fashion with two more buildings scheduled. Installation is performed in-house. In the Technology Services office area a thin-wire Ethernet circuit provides networked connection for the Printserver 20, X-Window workstations, terminal servers, and a Cisco Router. One TI circuit provides a DECnet and TCP/IP protocols interface with General Services Commission network, connected by Cisco Routers. GSC provides domain name services and routes the TCP/IP and DECnet network traffic from TSBVI to the Internet. This circuit also routes all off-site electronic mail, host telnet connections, and production data traffic to other agencies. All remote printing from the USAS system is accomplished over this link and TSBVI uses the link to upload and download data files to the USAS via FTP.

    TSBVI Technology Infrastructure Diagram - described in text

     

     

    CATEGORIES OF ASSISTIVE TECHNOLOGY

    Assistive Technology for Low Vision and Blind Users

    Function Provided

     

    Screen Reader Software

    Allows users to navigate through windows, menus, and controls while receiving text and limited graphics information through speech output or Braille display.

     

    Braille Display

    Provides line by line Braille display of on-screen text using a series of pins to form Braille symbols that are constantly updated as the user navigates through the interface.

    Text to Speech
    (Screen Reader)

    Translates electronic text into speech via a speech synthesizer.

     

    Screen Magnification

    Provides magnification of a portion or all of a screen, including graphics and windows as well as text. Allows users to track position of the input focus.

    Assistive Technology for Hearing Disabilities

    Function Provided

    Telecommunications Device for the Deaf (TDD)

    Provides a means for users to communicate over telephone lines using text terminals.

    Closed Captioning

    Provides text translation of spoken material on video media. Important computer applications include distance learning, CD-ROM, video teleconferencing, and other forms of interactive video

    ShowSounds

    Proposed standard would provide visual translation of sound information. Nonspeech audio such as system beeps would be presented via screen flashing or similar methods. Video and still images would be described through closed captions or related technologies. This capability would be provided by the system infrastructure.

    Assistive Technology for
    Physical Disabilities

    Function Provided

     

    Alternate Pointing Device

    Gives users with limited or no arm and hand fine motor control the ability to control mouse movements and functions. Examples include foot operated mice, head-mounted pointing devices and eye-tracking systems.

     

    Screen Keyboard

    On-screen keyboard which provides the keys and functions of a physical keyboard. On-screen keyboards are typically used in conjunction with alternate pointing devices.

     

    Predictive Dictionary

    Predictive dictionaries speed typing by predicting words as the user types them, and offering those words in a list for the user to choose.

     

    Speech Recognition

    Allows the user with limited or no arm and hand fine motor control to input text and/or control the user interface via speech.

     

    Database Name Student Database (SDS)
    Database Description A complex, highly normalized base that contains relations for a variety of student-related data. Extensive linking to other software systems by student SSN and integrated with office automation systems.
    Database System Rdb/Oracle RDO/SQL, COBOL
    Estimated Physical Storage Requirements Eleven Megabytes
    Year 2000 No Year 2000 risks have been identified
    GIS Data Classification NA
    Sharing We are currently coordinating with TEA to investigate upload of this data to the PIEMS database
    Future This system is scheduled to be re-written from VAX/VMS to the PC platform in 2001.

    Category Provide

    Database Name Medical Limitations
    Database Description Stores medical data on students concerning medical limitations, medications, immunizations, and medical history.
    Database System Rdb/Oracle
    Estimated Physical Storage Requirements 1.25 Megabyte
    Year 2000 No Year 2000 risks have been identified
    GIS Data Classification N/A
    Sharing N/A
    Future This system is scheduled to be re-written from VAX/VMS to the PC platform in 2001.

     

    Database Name Maintenance Work Order
    Database Description Tracks work orders to provide status, repair history, and assignment information.
    Database System Rdb/Oracle
    Estimated Physical Storage Requirements Nine Megabytes
    Year 2000 No Year 2000 risks have been identified
    GIS Data Classification N/A
    Sharing N/A
    Future The system will need to be migrated from VAX/VMS before 2003. Investigation/Evaluation of commercial software will be reviewed as an initial planning event.

     

    Database Name Registration/ARD Tracking
    Database Description Contains elements to track flow of paperwork, student requests/requirments for fall and summer registration.
    Database System RMS indexed sequential file
    Estimated Physical Storage Requirements Two megabytes
    Year 2000 No Year 2000 risks have been identified
    GIS Data Classification N/A
    Sharing N/A
    Future This system will be incorporated in the Student Database re-write in 2001.

     

    Database Name Student Course Information System (SAA)
    Database Description Contains entry for all student courses, grades, and scheduling.
    Database System Rdb/Oracle
    Estimated Physical Storage Requirements 5 Megabytes.
    Year 2000 No Year 2000 risks have been identified
    GIS Data Classification N/A
    Sharing N/A
    Future This application will be migrated from VAX/VMS. Review of commercial software will be evaluated prior to in-house development.

     

    Database Name Student Incident Reporting (SIR)
    Database Description Contains information concerning behavior and injuries
    Database System Rdb/Oracle
    Estimated Physical Storage Requirements 1.25 Megabytes.
    Year 2000 No Year 2000 risks have been identified
    GIS Data Classification N/A
    Sharing N/A
    Future This system will be migrated from VAX/VMS as part of the Student database specifications in 2001.

     

    Database Name Warehouse
    Database Description All warehouse receipts and issues.
    Database System RMS ISAM
    Estimated Physical Storage Requirements Eight Megabytes.
    Year 2000 The system has year 2000 failure points and is currently under revision.
    GIS Data Classification N/A
    Sharing N/A
    Future This system will be migrated as part of the Accounting system in the year 2000.

     

    Database Name Student Trust System (STF)
    Database Description All student accounts receipts and expenditures.
    Database System RMS ISAM
    Estimated Physical Storage Requirements Seven Megabytes
    Year 2000 The system has year 2000 failure points and is currently under revision.
    GIS Data Classification N/A
    Sharing N/A
    Future This system will be migrated as part of the Accounting system in the year 2000. The unique nature of this software may require that we write it with in-house staff.

     

    Database Name Accounts Payable/Purchasing (APPS)
    Database Description Requisition and payable information and status. Several files linked by requisition number.
    Database System FoxPro 2.6
    Estimated Physical Storage Requirements Six megabytes.
    Year 2000 No Year 2000 risks have been identified
    GIS Data Classification N/A
    Sharing Expenditures, Encumbrance, and payable transactions from this system are uploaded to the USAS system via FTP transport.
    Future This system may be migrated as part of the Accounting system in the year 2000. An alternative is to develop an interface to the purchased accounting software system.

     

    Database Name Library Management System (LRC)
    Database Description Catalog information for library media and books. Allows forfuture development of circulation system.
    Database System Rdb/Oracle
    Estimated Physical Storage Requirements 13 Megabytes
    Year 2000 No Year 2000 risks have been identified
    GIS Data Classification N/A
    Sharing We have transmitted Mark format files with the State Library and Archives agency
    Future This system was written using the "Marc" format standard for library interchange to aide in the migration to other systems. This migration is scheduled for 2001.

     

    Database Name American Printing House Materials Management System
    Database Description Maintains inventories and order information to support the management of the VH materials from Federal quota funds
    Database System FoxPro 2.6
    Estimated Physical Storage Requirements 8 Megabytes
    Year 2000 No Year 2000 risks have been identified
    GIS Data Classification N/A
    Sharing Data is uploaded to the Texas Education Agency upon request. Order status and availability is planned for Web-content distribution in Fiscal year 2000.
    Future No migration at this time

     

    Database Name VI Registration Database (VI_REG)
    Database Description Contains annual registration of all visually impaired students in Texas
    Database System FoxPro 2.6
    Estimated Physical Storage Requirements 10 Megabytes
    Year 2000 No Year 2000 risks have been identified
    GIS Data Classification N/A
    Sharing Data is uploaded to the Texas Education Agency annually. On-line registration is planned in Fiscal year 2000.
    Future No migration plans at this time. Integration with Web-based systems planned for Fiscal year 2000

     

    Database Name Technology Loan Program
    Database Description Contains all inventory and descriptions for equipment available for loan to students with visual impairments
    Database System FoxPro 2.6
    Estimated Physical Storage Requirements 6 megabytes.
    Year 2000 No Year 2000 risks have been identified
    GIS Data Classification N/A
    Sharing Order status and availability is planned for Web-content distribution in Fiscal year 1999.
    Future No migration plans at this time.

    Major Applications

    Application Name Financial Administration
    Application Description The Financial Accounting system used by TSBVI is the Uniform State-Wide Accounting System (USAS) supported by the comptroller's office. We are an internal user of this software and the State-Wide Property Accounting system. The Supplies Inventory (Warehouse) used is a proprietary software system written in COBOL. We use the Uniform State-Wide Payroll System and a PC-based Purchasing/Obligation system. Supplementary reporting and fund management software has been written to increase the functionality of accounting reports from the data downloaded from USAS. All proprietary accounting software systems at TSBVI have data extraction features that provide data upload to USAS to avoid duplicate entry.
    Database System VAX Rdb/Oracle
    Development Language COBOL, FMS,
    Year 2000 List the compliance unit(s) associated with this application as tracked in the DIR Year 2000 Tracking System.
    Sharing TSBVI makes annual summary data report to the State Purchasing and General Services Commission of property transactions.
    Future Indicate planned modifications, conversions, or discontinuance of use during this planning period.

     

    Application Name Student Administration
    Application Description The Student Database system contains demographic and enrollment information on students in attendance at the Texas School for the Blind. Phase I of the system has been operational since 1988 and migrated to the in-house VAX in 1991 after a processor upgrade. The data from this system is collected and distributed in a variety of ways to meet the needs of the School.
    Database System VAX Rdb/Oracle
    Development Language COBOL, FMS
    Year 2000 No known year 2000 compliance issues
    Sharing  
    Future This system is scheduled to be migrated from the VAX/VMS environment in 2001. Extensive review of specifications is required to incorporate current needs.

     

    Application Name Office Automation
    Application Description The initial implementation of the school's communication network with 38 users took place May 1987. At that time each user was created an office automation (All-In-1) account on the Department of Information Resources VAXcluster. This linking of the primary administrative functions of the school proved extremely successful and as planned in the 1986 four-year plan, a MicroVAX II was procured in the fall of 1987 and installed. All user accounts were moved in February 1988 and twelve new user accounts were added. The third phase in the fall of 1988 will complete with 26 terminals installed. The system reached capacity at that point with 68 terminals and 76 user accounts. The MicroVAX system was upgraded in 1991 with an in-cabinet upgrade to a VAX 4000-200 processor. Memory was expanded to 32MB and additional terminal servers and a high-capacity laser printer was added. Office automation, and especially electronic mail, has been universally accepted by the agency staff and has proven extremely beneficial as a communications tool, given the school's scope of service coordination and intense individualized approach to education. The Macintosh and MSDOS computers are integrated with the VAX this fiscal year via the Pathworks network.
    Database System VAX RMS
    Development Language All-In-1 Scripting Language
    Year 2000 None
    Sharing N/A
    Future This system is being phased out gradually as staff are migrated to Microsoft Office products on the PC and Mac.

     

    Application Name

    Library Management system

    Application Description This system was developed by the Texas School for the Deaf and given to TSBVI. The system was then converted to conform to 'Marc' format standards and the system is currently being loaded with title information. When this process is complete, a circulation system will be added to the system modules. The system was also redesigned to accommodate the multiple forms in which library matter may exist (Braille, large print, etc.). The system also provides for inventory of materials and media to provide an efficient method for instructional staff and students to access the system via conventional or adapted technology. The system complies with established TEA guidelines for electronic library architecture.
    Database System VAX Rdb/Oracle
    Development Language COBOL, FMS,
    Year 2000 NONE
    Sharing The data has been shared with the Texas Library Cooperative as a Marc file
    Future This system will be migrated from VAX/VMS to the desktop. Commerical software will be used that will need to be accessible by the Web.

     

    Application Name

    Accounts Payable/Purchasing System (APPS)

    Application Description All purchase requisitions are entered and the system provides receiving reports for the warehouse, status tracking of requisitions, and generation of payable transactions for general ledger update. After the requisition is filled, data is exported to the payment modules for voucher printing and generation of encumbrance transactions for general ledger update. This software is written in FoxPro 2.6.
    Database System Foxpro 2.6
    Development Language COBOL, FMS,
    Year 2000 List the compliance unit(s) associated with this application as tracked in the DIR Year 2000 Tracking System.
    Sharing Indicate other organizations with which the agency shares this application. Include how the sharing occurs.
    Future Indicate planned modifications, conversions, or discontinuance of use during this planning period.

     

    Application Name

    APH Materials Management System

    Application Description Manages the ordering, shipping, and receipt of Federal Quota funded equipment from the American Printing House for the Blind.
    Database System VAX RMS
    Development Language All-In-1 Scripting language
    Year 2000 None
    Sharing None
    Future This system will be migrated from the VAX/VMS environment to the desktop platform. It will be included in the Student Database migration scheduled for FY2001.

     

    Application Name

    Student Registration Tracking

    Application Description Tracks registration elements during fall and summer student enrollment. Provides numerous status and management reports. Integrated with word processing system for generation of form letters. Entry performed in Center for School Resources with read-only access to numerous school staff for program planning.
    Database System VAX RMS
    Development Language All-In-1 Scripting language
    Year 2000 None
    Sharing None
    Future This system will be migrated from the VAX/VMS environment to the desktop platform. It will be included in the Student Database migration scheduled for FY2001.

     

    Application Name

    VI Registration System

    Application Description Manages annual registration of all students with visual impairments. Provides numerous status and management reports. Information is received from school districts throughout Texas to indicate enrollment, reading medium, etc..
    Database System Foxpro 2.6
    Development Language Foxpro 2.6
    Year 2000 None
    Sharing Registration data of visually impaired students in Texas is provided by TEA annually to TSBVI on floppy disk.
    Future Investigation of Web-based processing of registration data.