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Copyright 1999 American Foundation for the Blind. All rights reserved.
Journal of Visual Impairment and Blindness, November 1999, pp. 736-737.

Textbook and Instructional Materials Solutions Forum

Marie Amerson

"Do you know what I know?" are the words of a holiday song or a curious child, but they are also a reminder to colleagues in the field of visual impairment and to the American Foundation for the Blind's (AFB) Textbook and Instructional Materials Solutions Forum participants. When the Solutions Forum began its work in October 1998, it became clear that there were many ideas about why textbooks and instructional materials were not readily accessible to students with visual impairments and that a solution identified by one group might not be understood fully by another group. As we know, continuous communication and collaboration are critical to understanding diverse issues. In all situations, a clear understanding of the issues brings opportunities for building solutions.

The Communication and Collaboration Workgroup of the Solutions Forum serves as a clearinghouse for information related to the Solutions Forum and shares knowledge with participants and other colleagues. An overall statement of the challenges related to the production and acquisition of textbooks and instructional materials in specialized media has been developed and is available on request.

The Communication and Collaboration Workgroup has targeted various audiences (including the Association for Education and Rehabilitation of the Blind and Visually Impaired, National Association of Parents of the Visually Impaired, Council of Exceptional Children, National Association of State Directors of Special Education, educational journals, and publications) to receive information about the Solutions Forum as it becomes available. Discussing solutions with a variety of colleagues about the challenges facing students who do not receive textbooks at the same time as their sighted peers will strengthen the message that students who are visually impaired need access to textbooks in the appropriate medium. The Solutions Forum also has information about its activities posted at two Web sites, and As information relevant to the issue of accessible textbooks and instructional materials becomes available, the Communication and Collaboration Workgroup will strive to disseminate it to groups and individuals so that solutions can become realities.

For more information, contact Marie Amerson, facilitator, Communication and Collaboration Workgroup:    or Mary Ann Siller:   or Susan Spungin:  . Suggestions for developing the Web site list, glossary of key terms, and other ideas are welcome.