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From: Michigan Department of Education - Low Incidence Outreach

INTRODUCTION

The Orientation & Mobility Severity Rating Scale (O&MSRS) has been developed and revised to assist Orientation & Mobility Specialists in making recommendations for services for students who are blind or visually impaired in the state of Michigan. In addition to the Revised O&MSRS, an Orientation and Mobility Severity Rating Scale for Students with Additional Needs (O&MSRS+) has been developed.  It should be stressed that the Severity Rating Scales are not assessment / evaluation instruments, but rather tools for assisting in service delivery times. 

Each Rating Scale consists of eight categories.  Each of the categories is structured in terms of impact on independent travel skills as it relates to the student's age appropriate needs. When using either of the Scales, criteria provided within each of the categories is not all inclusive and many criteria overlap from one severity of need to the next. Additional factors may influence the selection of the severity of need by the Orientation & Mobility Specialist.

RATIONALE

A task force consisting of Orientation & Mobility Specialists throughout the state of Michigan and from the Michigan Department of Education–Low Incidence Outreach was formed to continue the process of revising the O&MSRS and to address the standardization of service delivery to students who are blind or visually impaired. Proposed revisions were presented and discussed during a working session at the 2008 Michigan AER conference.  The draft scales were also presented at the AER International Conference in July of 2008 in Chicago where they received much support and useful comments.  The need for consistency when determining the level of Orientation & Mobility services for students who are blind and visually impaired was voiced repeatedly. Other considerations frequently mentioned were:

  • Current level of age appropriate independent travel
  • Visual functioning / visual efficiency
  • Visual status as reported by an eye care specialist
  • Use of travel tools
  • Additional needs of the student such as level of communication and compliance with instruction
  • Opportunities for use of skills outside of school
  • Whether a discrepancy exists between present and projected levels of travel

Each of these considerations was discussed extensively. The Revised O&MSRS / O&MSRS+ are the result of these discussions.

PURPOSE AND DEVELOPMENT

The purpose of this manual is to define criteria and guidelines for using the Revised Orientation & Mobility Severity Rating Scale (O&MSRS) and the Orientation and Mobility Severity Rating Scale for Students with Additional Needs (O&MSRS+) with students identified as visually impaired. It is intended to assist the Individualized Education Program Team in the selection of an appropriate program of Orientation & Mobility training for students who are blind or visually impaired. The Scales may assist in documenting change from one service delivery model to another.

A Revised O&MSRS or O&MSRS+ should be completed before every Individualized Educational Planning Team meeting (IEPT). In addition, it is recommended that the SRS/SRS+ be up-dated at the end of each school year.   Listed below are the steps that are suggested to be followed when evaluating a student.

  1. Assess the student to determine O&M strengths and needs using a variety of assessment tools (see Appendix B).
  2. Complete the O&MSRS or O&MSRS+ to determine service delivery times.
  3. Include recommendations of O&M services in the O&M report and share at the IEPT meeting.

The Revised O&MSRS consists of the following eight categories:

  • Level of Vision (Clinical/Medical)
  • Level of Vision (Functional)
  • Use/Proficiency of travel tools
  • Discrepancy in travel skills between present and projected levels
  • Independence in travel in current/familiar environments
  • Spatial / environmental conceptual understanding
  • Complexity or introduction of new environment
  • Opportunities for use of skills  outside of school

The Orientation and Mobility Severity Rating Scale for Students with Additional Needs consists of the following eight categories:

  • Level of Vision (Clinical/Medical)
  • Level of Vision (Functional)
  • Use / proficiency of travel tools
  • Communication
  • Non-visual additional needs
  • Level of supervision needed for safe travel
  • Spatial / environmental conceptual understanding
  • Compliance with instruction

The Severity of Need in each of the scales is sequentially structured based upon a student's need for instruction in age appropriate travel skills by a certified Orientation & Mobility Instructor with input from the parents, other staff and other interested individuals.

Each of the eight categories is structured in terms of impact on independent travel skills as it relates to the student's age appropriate needs. The Severity of Need descriptors within each category purposely overlap to some degree. To aid the Orientation & Mobility Specialist in the selection of the Severity of Need that is most characteristic of the student with a visual impairment, additional evaluations may be necessary.

CATEGORY DEFINITIONS for O&MSRS

  • Level of Vision Clinical (Medical) - refers to the student's distance vision and/or peripheral vision as reported by an eye care specialist.   Special considerations for student with Cortical Visual Impairment (CVI):  It is recommended that students with CVI whose vision fluctuates and who may, at times, have usable vision for travel be placed in Severity of Need category that best reflects their need for O&M services.  
  • Level of Vision (Functional) - refers to the student's ability to use vision for all travel tasks (i.e. movement within the classroom, school building and community) as reported by the Orientation & Mobility Specialist.  Special considerations for student with Cortical Visual Impairment (CVI):  It is recommended that students with CVI whose vision fluctuates and who may, at times, have usable vision for travel be placed in Severity of Need category that best reflects their need for O&M services.     
  • Use / Proficiency of Travel Tools - refers to the student's need for use and skill level of a white cane or alternative mobility device
  • Discrepancy in Travel Skills Between Present and Projected Levels - refers to possible situations when a discrepancy exists between the student’s actual functioning in travel skills and the projected level of independence based on the O&M Specialist’s professional judgment.
  • Independence in Travel in Current/Familiar Environments - refers to the student’s ability to travel safely and proficiently in a familiar environment (i.e., school, neighborhood) based on current literature of age appropriate travel levels and expectations.
  • Spatial / Environmental Conceptual Understanding – refers to the student’s conceptual understanding and how O&M progress is affected.
  • Complexity or Introduction of New Environment - refers to the type of environment in which instruction is required (i.e., business district, new school, neighborhood).
  • Opportunities for Use of Skills Outside of School – refers to whether the student has the opportunity to use O&M skills in the community, at home, etc. outside of O&M instructional time.

CATEGORY DEFINITIONS for O&MSRS+

  • Level of Vision Clinical (Medical) - refers to the student's distance vision and/or peripheral vision as reported by an eye care specialist.  Special considerations for student with Cortical Visual Impairment (CVI):  It is recommended that students with CVI whose vision fluctuates and who may, at times, have usable vision for travel be placed in Severity of Need category that best reflects their need for O&M services.     
  • Level of Vision (Functional) - refers to the student's ability to use vision for all travel tasks (i.e. movement within the classroom, school building and community) as reported by the Orientation & Mobility Specialist.  Special considerations for student with Cortical Visual Impairment (CVI):  It is recommended that students with CVI whose vision fluctuates and who may, at times, have usable vision for travel be placed in Severity of Need category that best reflects their need for O&M services.    
  • Use / Proficiency of Travel Tools - refers to the student's need for use and skill level of a white cane or alternative mobility device.
  • Communication – refers to the ability of the student to communicate with the O&M Specialist and benefit from instruction.  Students with little ability to communicate with the O&M Specialist may not benefit from a high level of direct O&M service.
  • Non-visual Additional Needs – refers to the impact of the additional needs on the instructional process.   Students whose additional needs prevent progress in travel skills may not benefit from a high level of direct O&M service.
  • Level of Supervision for Safe Travel – refers to the supervision needed to maintain the safety of the student during travel.  Students requiring a certain level of supervision many not benefit from a high level of direct O&M service. 
  • Spatial / Environmental Conceptual Understanding – refers to the impact that the student’s level of concept development has on progress in travel skills.  Students who are unable to improve in conceptual understanding may not benefit from a high level of direct O&M service.
  • Compliance with Instruction – refers to the amount of time needed to manage the student’s behavior so that learning can take place.  Students needing a certain level of behavioral management may not benefit from a high level of direct O&M service.

RECOMMENDATIONS OF SERVICES

SERVICE NOT INDICATED -- The student does not require Orientation & Mobility services provided by a Certified Orientation & Mobility Specialist.

ONE TO FIVE TIMES PER YEAR -- Contact by the Certified Orientation & Mobility Specialist may be with the student or other pertinent individuals, 1 to 5 times per school year.  An annual evaluation may be conducted by the Certified Orientation & Mobility Specialist.

THREE TO FOUR TIMES PER SEMESTER-- The student is seen directly by a Certified Orientation & Mobility Specialist 3 to 4 times per semester. Services may consist of direct instruction in short “units” of instruction clustered within several days or weeks.  Consultation is with the student and other pertinent individuals.

ONE TO TWO TIMES PER MONTH -- The student is seen directly by the Certified Orientation & Mobility Specialist 1 to 2 times a month for 20 to 60 minutes each. In addition, the Certified Orientation & Mobility Specialist may provide consultation with pertinent individuals.

ONE TO TWO TIMES PER WEEK -- This recommendation is designed for a student with a severe visual impairment who may need to carry a cane for identification purposes or for limited use for some travel safety tasks.  Also included may be a traveler with emerging orientation and mobility skills or a traveler who is non-visual and who is maintaining and applying orientation and mobility skills in various settings. The student requires direct service from the Certified Orientation & Mobility Specialist 1 to 2 times a week for 30 to 45 minutes each. The Certified Orientation & Mobility Specialist provides regular communication to pertinent individuals regarding the student's needs.

TWO OR MORE TIMES PER WEEK-- The student is seen by the Certified Orientation & Mobility Specialist 2 or more times a week for 30 to 60 minutes each. This recommendation is designed primarily for a traveler who is non-visual and who requires an inclusive program in all areas of instruction related to becoming a safe and independent traveler.

CONTRIBUTING FACTORS TO SERVICE DELIVERY

The professional judgment of the Certified Orientation & Mobility Specialist can influence the selection of a “Recommendation of Service” that has been determined by the Severity of Need Score. The selection of one or more of the Contributing Factors to Service Delivery may be used to place a student at a higher or lower level “Recommendation of Service” than indicated by the Severity of Need Score alone.

The use of the Contributing Factors to Service Delivery may be necessary when it appears that the Recommendations of Services indicated by the Severity Rating does not reflect the true needs of the student. Based upon the professional judgment of the Certified Orientation & Mobility Specialist, all factors which influence the modification of the Recommendation of Services should be marked with a plus (.5) or a minus (-.5).

The following factors are to be considered:

  • Posture, gait and motor development
  • Other physical or health impairments (O&MSRS only)
  • The nature of eye disease or condition
  • Transition support needed (O&MSRS+ only)
  • Transition to a new school, neighborhood, worksite, etc. (O&MSRS only)
  • Recent vision loss
  • New, hazardous, complex or difficult environment (O&MSRS only)
  • Complexity or introduction of new environment (O&MSRS+ only)
  • Potential for improvement of travel skills
  • Age of onset of visual impairment
  • Maturity and motivation (O&MSRS only)
  • Team availability for follow-up
  • Travel time needed to transport student to area of instruction affects frequency of instruction (O&MSRS only)
  • Instruction in low vision aids
  • Community Based Instruction opportunities (O&MSRS+ only)
  • Instruction in use of GPS (O&MSRS only)
  • Other (explain)

Remember, each of these factors may be either positive or negative and should be marked when modifying a “Recommendation of Services”.


DIRECTIONS FOR COMPLETING THE ORIENTATION & MOBILITY STUDENT PERFORMANCE PROFILE AND SUMMARY

  • Category names are listed vertically along the left hand side of the O&M Student Performance Profile Worksheet. Refer to definitions on the preceding page as necessary.
  • Descriptors are listed horizontally for each category. The descriptors are listed sequentially in terms of severity of need, from none to profound. ***
  • The numbers attached to each severity of need are considered part of a continuum. The specific number under each severity of need name is the numerical rating to be given for that level. For example, under MILD, a numerical rating of 1 is possible, while under SEVERE, a numerical rating of 3 is possible.
  • For each category, mark the descriptor that best describes the student. Place the appropriate severity of need number in the right hand column (SEVERITY SCORE COLUMN).   
  • Total the right hand column to get a SEVERITY OF NEED SCORE.   This can be done on paper after printing the SRS or on the computer using the Excel Worksheet.  If completing the SRS on the computer, the Severity of Need column will be added up automatically and copied onto the Student Performance Summary.
  • If appropriate, fill out the Contributing Factors to Service Delivery on the Student Performance Summary by adding or subtracting .5 points.   If completing the SRS on the computer, the column will automatically add up the factors.  This number will be combined with the Severity of Need Score on the Student Performance Profile and the result will be placed in the Final Severity of Need Score box on the Student Performance Summary.
  • Using the Student Performance Summary, refer to the table titled “Severity of Need Score and Frequency”. Locate the range which contains the Final Severity of Need Score to determine the frequency of service.

APPENDIX A
EXAMPLES OF VISION RELATED TRAVEL TASKS

Student is able to:

  • visually track a moving object
  • imitate gross motor movements based on visual observation
  • see facial expressions and gestures
  • visually discriminate basic colors and geometric shapes
  • visually scan area and avoid large obstacles in path
  • visually locate or identify familiar rooms in school
  • visually read signage to aid with locating unfamiliar rooms, streets, businesses, etc.
  • visually distinguish shorelines and/or intersecting sidewalks
  • visually detect steps and drop-offs
  • visually detect blended curbs
  • see turn signals on cars while standing at a corner
  • see drivers inside cars motioning to pedestrians
  • see color change on walk/don't walk signal
  • see color change on traffic signal
  • read walk/don't walk signal without a distance aid
  • read name of approaching bus without a distance aid
  • visually determine desired bus stop without assistance from driver
  • visually locate doors to stores and other commercial buildings
  • read grocery store aisle signs without a distance aid
  • understand how lighting conditions affect travel skills
  • explain the status of own vision related to travel (day / night)

APPENDIX B
RESOURCES FOR INFORMATION ON ORIENTATION & MOBILITY

  • Beyond Arms Reach
  • Concept Development for Visually Handicapped Children
  • Early Focus
  • Move with Me
  • Reaching / Crawling / Walking / Let's Get Moving
  • Preschool O&M Screening
  • Standing on My Own Two Feet
  • TAPS Curriculum
  • Foundations of Orientation and Mobility
  • The Oregon Project for Preschool Children who are Blind or Visually Impaired
  • Where In the World Am I
  • BRIGANCE® Inventory of Early Development
  • Hill Performance Test of Selected Positional Concepts
  • Body Image of  Blind Children
  • Perkins Activity and Resource Guide: A Handbook for Teachers and Parents of Students with Visual and Multiple Disabilities
  • Teaching Orientation and Mobility in the Schools
  • Imagining the Possibilities: A Creative Approach to Orientation and Mobility Instruction for Persons Who Are Visually Impaired
  • The Art and Science of Teaching Orientation and Mobility to Persons with Visual Impairments
  • Orientation and Mobility:  Techniques for Independence
  • Orientation and Mobility Techniques: A Guide for the Practitioner
  • Independent Movement and Travel in Blind Children

This is the final product of many rewrites of the Orientation and Mobility Severity Rating Scale and the Orientation and Mobility Severity Rating Scale for Students with Additional Needs. The MDE-LIO Orientation and Mobility Task Force has spent hours upon hours sifting through the input gathered at O&M Task Force meetings, MAER conference presentations, and the presentation at the 2008 AER International Conference.

The O&M Task Force tried to address all needs and concerns and feel that the final products are tools which you will find to be extremely useful Susan Bradley, COMS, and Susan Langendonk, COMS

Co-chairs of the 2007-2008 MDE-LIO O&M Task Force

edited by:
Susan Bradley, COMS, MDE-LIO
Amanda English, COMS, Kalamazoo RESA
Judy Holmes, COMS, Macomb ISD
Erica Ihrke, COMS, Leader Dog for the Blind
Susan Langendonk, COMS, Ingham ISD
Lynn Pensari, COMS, Livonia Public Schools 
Amy Schreiner, COMS, Association for the Blind and Visually Impaired
Dawn Staley, COMS, Traverse Bay ISD
Dr. Annette Skellenger, COMS, Western Michigan University
Carol Walker, COMS, Detroit Public Schools
Crystal Yachak, COMS, Genesee ISD
Anne Zanger, COMS, Genesee ISD

Return to Michigan's Vision Severity Rating Scales List 1996 - 2008

The American Foundation for the Blind (AFB) and Verizon launched the National Campaign for Literacy, Textbooks, Transcribers, and Technology was launched in October 2002 with the help of partners from 44 organizations throughout the United States. The advocacy campaign seeks to raise general awareness of the needs of schoolchildren who are blind or who have low vision to have timely access to textbooks and learning materials, of the extreme shortage of braille transcribers, and of the importance of promoting the new career of braille textbook transcriber at the federal and state levels.

The National Campaign for Literacy, Textbooks, Transcribers, and Technology was developed to alleviate the critical shortage of braille transcribers throughout the United States. In part because of this shortage, schoolchildren who are blind or visually impaired frequently receive their textbooks later than their sighted peers. In response to this crisis, AFB and the 44 organizational partners, have developed a Call to Action packet to support the campaign's advocacy initiative. The materials can be used to engage business leaders, policymakers, school boards, librarians, and the general public in the efforts to ensure the timely delivery of textbooks and instructional materials to schoolchildren who are blind or who have low vision. The packet includes an explanatory cover letter, background materials, sample letters to Congress, an advocacy video, poster, and bookmarks.

The Verizon Literacy Champion and spokesperson for the campaign is Erik Weihenmayer, a world-class athlete who was the first blind man to attain the summit of Mt. Everest and the only blind athlete to conquer the "seven summits", the world’s highest peaks. "Literacy has helped me touch the top of the world," Weihenmayer says. "I want every blind or visually impaired child to have the same opportunity." Hence the campaign's slogan, "Literacy helps you reach the summit of your dreams."

The campaign supports the efforts of the AFB Textbooks and Instructional Materials Forum to raise broad-based awareness of the needs of schoolchildren who are blind or have low vision for access to textbooks and instructional materials. Members of the field are invited to become a part of the team by promoting the new career of braille textbook transcriber and encouraging the U.S. Department of Labor to formally recognize this profession. To receive complimentary copies of the packet, visit the Free Materials section of AFB’s online bookstore at: <www.afb.org/store> or call 800-232-5463. For more information, contact

Mary Ann Siller, director, National Education Program, AFB, 260 Treadway Plaza, Dallas, TX 75236; phone: 214-352-7222, extension 15; e-mail: <>.

Wednesday, June 25, 2003

Dear AHEAD Member:

The Board of Directors of AHEAD would like to inform you about an exciting new program -the American Foundation for the Blind’s National Campaign for Literacy, Textbooks, Transcribers and Technology. This program seeks to increase awareness of issues surrounding textbook accessibility, both in braille and electronic forms.

The campaign supports federal legislation to increase accessibility through the Instructional Materials Accessibility Act (IMAA). Although the IMAA applies only to the K-12 environment, its passage will have a positive impact on future efforts to solve higher education's accessible text issues, including the adoption of a national electronic textbook format. For further information on the IMAA visit

http:// www.afb.org/

The campaign also advocates for institutions to offer programs in braille Transcription. Until we are able to receive accessible electronic copies of text materials in a timely manner, braille transcription is the only method of representing certain kinds of information to our students with visual impairments. As an example, checkout Northwest Vista College in San Antonio, Texas, at

http://www.alamo.edu

http://www.afb.org/education.asp

Northwest Vista College is the first higher education institution to offer a curriculum and series of courses in braille transcription under the AFB campaign.

Please join us in lending your support to this effort.

Sincerely,

David Sweeney, Director of Marketing
Association on Higher Education and Disability

University of Massachusetts Boston, 100 Morrissey Boulevard, Boston, MA 02125-3393 (v) 617-287-3880 (fax) 617-287-3881 (t) 617-287-3882 e-mail: www.ahead.org

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, www.afb.org and www.tsbvi.edu/textbooks/afb. 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.

The purpose of the Forum Proceedings is to highlight information from the Spring 2004 Meeting of the AFB Textbooks and Instructional Materials Solutions Forum which was held March 4 in Washington D. C.

The AFB Solutions Forum continues to attract stakeholders concerned about providing the “right book at the right time” to students who are blind or visually impaired and this year’s meeting, which was held just prior to AFB’s Josephine L. Taylor Leadership Institute, brought together 40 participants for the day.

Highlights of the Forum included review and development of an important guideline document which will help states develop a strategic plan for delivering accessible textbooks; information on national and grassroots legislative efforts; and training to help participants keep the messages from the Solutions Forum alive.

Look for more details about each of these activities in the Forum Proceedings.

– Mary Ann Siller, Director, National Education Program, AFB

LEGISLATIVE UPDATE

Mark Richert, Executive Director of AER and Facilitator for the Legislative and Policy-Making Work Group led the discussion concerning the progress of instructional materials legislation and its relationship to the pending reauthorization of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). Along with Steve Driesler, Executive Director, School Division of AAP, Richert briefly described how the Senate’s version of IDEA would, if it survives the legislative process, establish not only a single national file format for publisher-provided electronic materials, but also the much-needed national repository of such files. Joy Relton, Government Relations Representative, AFB Government Relations Group, rounded out the overview by offering some observations about amendments likely to be offered when the Senate IDEA bill goes to the floor.

In general, the legislative work group report was structured around frequently asked questions about the IMAA, how it is currently in play in Congress, and how we can ensure its ultimate enactment. Topics included an update about the current status of the IMAA provisions which have been included in the IDEA reauthorization legislative language (H.R. 1350 and S. 1248). Differences with the provisions in H.R. 1350 and S. 1248 were discussed. Two key provisions from the IMAA concerning a mandatory National Instructional Materials Accessibility Standard (NIMAS) and the creation of a National Repository/National Access Center for publishers’ files are part of the Senate’s bill called the Individuals with Disabilities Education Improvement Act of 2003 (S. 1248). However, H.R. 1350 (Improving Education Results for Children with Disabilities Act of 2003) only has the NIMAS standard. The presenters stressed the importance of both the standardized file format provision and the repository provision surviving the upcoming process in the House and Senate to reconcile both IDEA bills. Richert urged the AFB Solutions Forum attendees to celebrate the victory, nearly made official, of having the standardized file format language in both bills; this is an accomplishment that demonstrates the hard work of the Solutions Forum and that of our many stakeholder partners. For more information about the suggested steps the AFB Solutions Forum stakeholders must take to reach their Representative and Senators, go to www.afb.org/idea.asp and to the AFB Solutions Forum web page at www.tsbvi.edu.

However, without S.1248 coming to the Senate floor soon for a vote, IDEA will not move forward during this 108th Congress. If it does not move quickly, there will not be time to complete the legislative process to reauthorize IDEA before the elections in November 2004. Therefore, all legislative work would completely start over after January 2005.

The Senate has postponed taking S. 1248 to the floor for a vote numerous times. There has been no solid date given by Senator Majority Leader (Frist, R-TN). After the Senate brings their IDEA bill to the floor for a vote, a conference committee with members from U.S. Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) and U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Education and the Workforce will be convened and the IDEA language will be negotiated. Richert and the legislative team emphasized that we are in a holding pattern, but must be ready to address our points to the conference committee when they are selected.

Skip Stahl, Co-Director of the Universal Learning Center, CAST, reported on the status of the National Instructional Materials Accessibility Standard (NIMAS) report. He offered this update: At the direction of the Office of Special Education Programs of the United States Department of Education (DOE) and with the assistance and leadership of the National Center on Accessing the General Curriculum (NCAC) at CAST, the forty member National File Format Technical Panel was given a charge in October 2002 by the DOE to present the Secretary of Education with a set of technical specifications to facilitate the efficient delivery of accessible, alternate format versions of print textbooks to PreK–12 students with disabilities, a timeline for implementation of the proposed standards and process for assessing the success. The Technical Panel represented educators, publishers, technology specialists, and advocacy groups. Many of the AFB Solutions Forum stakeholders were selected to be on the panel. The panel unanimously believed that the adoption of the National Instructional Materials Accessibility Standard Version 1.0 will significantly enhance the opportunity of students with disabilities to access, participate and progress in the general education curriculum.

The Panel added an important statement that the creation of a National Repository to facilitate the secure and efficient validation and distribution of NIMAS-compliant digital source files was necessary.

The Panel delivered its report in October 2003 to the DOE. Thus far, no acknowledgment of the report has been received by NCAC, even with ongoing communication to OSEP. Recommendations were made by the March 2004 AFB Solutions Forum participants to immediately write a letter to OSEP stating the necessity to have the NIMAS report publicly acknowledged by the DOE. The letter was immediately drafted by committee that day.

Mary Ann Siller gave an update on the successful and ongoing state network activities intended to reinforce the message that we need both the file format standard and the repository. Important phone meetings have been held with team leaders and stakeholders in numerous states to share workable steps they can take to make the objectives embodied in the IMAA the shared goals of advocates and policymakers. Working with team leaders to strengthen efforts in their communities has been the organizing principle. This effort will continue and increase in importance once the conference committee members are chosen. This committee will oversee the IDEA negotiations between the House and Senate. A complete legislative packet emphasizing our message and the tools for delivering it is available by contacting Mary Ann at .

GUIDELINES DOCUMENT DRAFTED: STATEWIDE IMPLEMENTATION STRATEGIES FOR DELIVERY OF TEXTBOOKS AND INSTRUCTIONAL MATERIALS TO CHILDREN WITH VISUAL IMPAIRMENTS

After the October 2003 meeting of the AFB Solutions Forum, work group leaders used information generated by Forum stakeholders to draft a document as requested by the group. The draft, Statewide Implementation Strategies for Delivery of Textbooks and Instructional Materials to Children with Visual Impairments, was reviewed and work groups considered additional elements needed for a final document. The purpose of the final document will be to provide guidelines for states as they implement instructional materials accessibility principles of the IDEA reauthorization. Elements identified by the work group included Background Information to identify the challenges related to this issue; Framework for Action, to assist the reader in developing an action plan for their particular state; Summary of Guidelines, the specific suggestions for addressing instructional materials accessibility; and References and Resources to direct readers to additional information.

The next step identified for development of the Guidelines Document is to put the elements together and determine if the proposed document is helpful enough, while at the same time offering enough flexibility to be useful to individual states.

Lorri Quigley, Facilitator for Production Work Group, led a discussion of the introduction to the guidelines document which will provide background information to readers new to the issue of accessible textbooks and instructional materials.

Another work group led by Larry Brown, Facilitator of the Training Work Group, focused efforts on identifying suggestions for ways to use the guidelines document in various states.

Jim Allan, Facilitator for Electronic Files and Research and Development, worked with a group to summarize the major points of the guidelines document.

Information developed by all of these work groups will be incorporated into the guidelines document projected to be made available to state textbook administrators, school personnel, state directors of special education, families, teachers, and others involved in the education of students who are blind or visually impaired.

It is expected that the guidelines document will include a consideration checklist or decision tree to assist the user in looking at their individual situation in order to develop strategies that will be most effective for students in their state.

Watch for more news on this guidelines document in the future.

EFFECTIVELY COMMUNICATING YOUR MESSAGE: MEDIA TRAINING

A new feature of the AFB Solutions Forum was the opportunity for participants to be involved in media/message training. The purpose of this activity was to provide pointers on how to keep the message of the Solutions Forum viable and how best to communicate to legislators, education personnel not familiar with the issue, and other intended audiences.

Kelly Parisi and Carrie Fernandez from the AFB Communications Division presented the session.

Five major steps to developing effective messages were identified:

  • Set goals
  • Identify target audience
  • Identify a news hook
  • Develop the message
  • Deliver the message

Participants learned about the “message triangle” which suggests that a message should always: 1) identify the problem; 2)note the importance of the problem; and 3) suggest action or resolution targeted to the goals of your message.

Parisi and Fernandez noted the importance of keeping the message short and always staying on the three most important points of the message. They suggested the use of stories as opposed to statistics, as well as reminding participants to avoid jargon that might not be familiar to the audience. According to the presenters, noting shared values — fairness, equality, family, education, opportunity, justice, safety/security — makes the message stronger and relates to a larger number of people.

The media/message training provided an opportunity for participants to practice developing messages related to passing IDEA with language of two key IMAA principles included (National Instructional Materials Accessibility Standard and an access center for publishers’ files). One result of the practice session was the draft of a letter sent to Dr. Troy R. Justesen, Assistant Secretary, Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services in the U.S. Department of Education. Go to the AFB Solutions Forum web page at www.tsbvi.edu to view a copy of this important letter.

AFB Solutions Forum stakeholders can look forward to ongoing opportunities for media/message training as this service continues to be offered.

SPEAKERS AND PANELISTS

  • Mary Ann Siller, Director, National Education Program, American Foundation for the Blind (AFB); Coordinator of the AFB Textbooks and Instructional Materials Solutions Forum
  • Marie J. Amerson, Facilitator for the Communications and Collaboration Work Group; representative for Association for Education and Rehabilitation of the Blind and Visually Impaired (AER)
  • Larry Brown, Facilitator for the Training Work Group; Director, Oregon Textbook and Media Center
  • Lorri Quigley, Facilitator for the Production Work Group; Director, Utah Educational Resource Center
  • Jim Allan, Facilitator for the Electronic Files and Research and Development Work Group; Texas School for the Blind Web master
  • Mark Richert, Facilitator for the Legislative and Policy-Making Work Group; AER Executive Director
  • Joy Relton, Government Relations Representative, AFB Government Relations Group
  • Steve Driesler Executive Director, School Division, Association of American Publishers
  • Skip Stahl, Co-Director, Universal Learning Center, Center for Applied Special Technology (CAST)
  • Kelly Parisi, Vice President, Communications Department, AFB
  • Carrie Fernandez, Senior Communications Manager, Communications Department, AFB

The American Foundation for the Blind Textbooks and Instructional Materials Solutions Forum is a collaborative national effort on behalf of children who are blind or visually impaired. The 44 stakeholders represent textbook publishers; educators; access technology specialists; producers of braille, large print and recorded textbooks; parents of children who are blind or visually impaired; and adults who are blind or visually impaired. They are focused on finding ways to ensure that students have “the right book at the right time.”

For additional information about the AFB Solutions Forum or to volunteer in this effort, contact Mary Ann Siller, Director, AFB National Education Program, 260 Treadway Plaza, Dallas TX 75235, Phone: 214-352-7222 or email at

Hold this date for the next meeting of the AFB Solutions Forum in Louisville, Kentucky October 13, 2004

Sidebar notes:

AFB Solutions Forum Work Groups

  • Legislative and Policy-Making
  • Electronic Files and Research and Development
  • Training
  • Production
  • Communication and Collaboration

For more information or to volunteer for one of the work groups, contact:

Copyright 2000 American Foundation for the Blind. All rights reserved. Journal of Visual Impairment and Blindness, November 2000.

American Foundation for the Blind Textbooks and Instructional Materials Solutions Forum

Mary Ann Siller and Marie Amerson

The Association of American Publishers (AAP) hosted a one-day meeting on June 15, 2000, in Washington, DC, to hear presentations from the American Foundation for the Blind (AFB) Solutions Forum members on emerging technologies that could provide better access to textbooks and other instructional materials for students with visual impairments. The 41 participants--two-thirds of the participants represented publishers--discussed important news in electronic publishing, such as the development of a cross-platform standard for electronic files, dual stream publishing for print books and e-books, synchronized audio and text, and how organizations serving people with disabilities can work together with publishers. As a result of this meeting, AAP, AFB Solutions Forum, and Recording for the Blind and Dyslexic have formed the Joint Technology Task Force. The goals of the new task force include analyzing the National Information System Organization (NISO) XML (Extensible Markup Language) file format to determine its suitability for converting textbook content into braille and other accessible formats and promoting and demonstrating to accessible book producers the efficiency and benefits of using publisher files in NISO XML format. For more information, contact: Mary Ann Siller, coordinator, AFB Solutions Forum Project, AFB Southwest, 260 Treadway Plaza, Exchange Park, Dallas, TX 75235; phone: 214-352-7222; E-mail: ; Web site: www.afb.org

The AFB Solutions Forum has been working closely with other blindness organizations and the AAP to develop a consensus on federal legislation that could hasten the delivery of textbooks to children who are blind or visually impaired. AFB Solutions Forum experts in technology, production, and policy making have met repeatedly to discuss potential legislation to ensure the availability of texts in a standardized electronic format, suitable for conversion into accessible media. The best policies to achieve these objectives are still under discussion.

For more information, contact: Mark Richert, AFB Governmental Relations, 820 First Street, NE, Suite 400, Washington, DC 20002; phone: 202-408-8170; E-mail: .

 

The American Foundation for the Blind (AFB) and the
Center for Applied Special Technology (CAST) are proud to present:

 

On December 3, 2004, President Bush signed legislation that reauthorized the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, P.L. 108-446. The IDEA is the main federal program authorizing state and local aid for special education and related services for children with disabilities. One significant area of improvement in this landmark legislation included the provision of textbooks and instructional materials in accessible formats for students with print-related disabilities.

Please join us at a national information forum to discuss the function and features of new provisions in the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), P.L. 108-446 that will benefit your state, school district, or publishing organization when dealing with the development of source files for textbooks or when developing the best system for the production and delivery of textbooks and instructional materials to students who are blind or print disabled. A half-day seminar will be devoted to defining, discussing and demonstrating the impact of the new provisions in IDEA surrounding the National Instructional Materials Accessibility Standard (NIMAS) and the central repository or National Instructional Materials Access Center (NIMAC) that will provide for the storage and distribution of electronic textbook source files from publishers.

When textbooks and classroom materials are produced using the NIMAS, they will be more efficiently adapted and produced into products ranging from braille, audio, to digital editions of textbooks. In past years, the lack of a standardized format meant that publishers had to produce materials in multiple file formats, which often caused delays that meant students with visual or print disabilities did not receive their textbooks in time or in the appropriate medium for the beginning of the school year.

WHEN: Thursday, March 10, 2005

12:00 p.m. registration and light refreshments

1:00 p.m. to 5:30 p.m. Discussion, Question and Answer and Demonstration of the Unique Features of NIMAS

COST: $100.00

Please complete the reservation form below, make your check payable to AFB and mail it to: American Foundation for the Blind, Mary Ann Siller, 11030 Ables Lane, Dallas, Texas 75229

If you are attending AFB’s Josephine L. Taylor Leadership Institute (JLTLI), which is being held at the Boston Marriott Long Wharf Hotel from March 11-13, 2005, AFB will reduce the rate of the March 10 meeting by $50.00.

For more information about AFB’s 19th annual JLTLI

WHERE: Boston Marriott Long Wharf Hotel

296 State Street
Boston, Massachusetts
Phone 1-617-227-0800

Special hotel rates apply for March 11-13, please call ASAP at 1-800-228-9290 and ask for the AFB rate.

WHO SHOULD ATTEND?

Publishers of K-12 textbooks and instructional materials, state directors of special education, assistive technology specialists, educators, staff from the instructional materials centers for the blind and visually impaired,braille production centers, state textbook administrators, and braille transcribers.

INVITED PRESENTERS:

  • American Foundation for the Blind
  • American Printing House for the Blind
  • Association of American Publishers
  • CAST
  • Duxbury Systems, Inc.
  • Houghton Mifflin Company
  • Recording for the Blind & Dyslexic
  • U.S. Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services
  • U.S. Office of Special Education Programs

RESERVATION FORM:

For more information and reservations, contact Mary Ann Siller, Director, AFB National Education Program at or in Dallas, Texas, at 469-522-1803

___Yes, I will be at the March 10, 2005 meeting and my check will be sent to AFB, Mary Ann Siller, 11030 Ables Lane, Dallas, Texas 75229

____ Yes, I will be at the March 10, 2005 meeting, and I will pay by credit card

Please provide your credit card information below:

Card Type (American Express, Visa, MasterCard, Discover) _________________

Total Amount:_____________________________

Card Number:______________________________

Expiration (mm/yy) _________________________

Full Name as Appears on your Credit Card __________________________________________

____No, I can’t attend but please put me on AFB’s e-mail list for NIMAS and IDEA

E-mail your intent to attend with the above information to or FAX to 214-352-3214

The American Foundation for the Blind (AFB)—the organization to which Helen Keller devoted her life—is a national nonprofit whose mission is to eliminate the inequities faced by the 10 million Americans who are blind or visually impaired. The American Foundation for the Blind is dedicated to addressing the critical issues of literacy, independent living, employment and technology for Americans who are blind or visually impaired.

American Foundation for the Blind
Textbooks and Instructional Materials Solutions Forum

Statement of Purpose:

The Communication and Collaboration Work Group serves as a clearinghouse for sharing information related to the activities of the five Solutions Forum Work Groups. The primary focus is to inform and educate the field of blindness and the general public regarding issues and strategies for ensuring equal access to textbooks and instructional materials in accessible formats.

Activity Areas - Completed:

  • Develop, for dissemination as appropriate, a clear statement of the problems relating to production and acquisition of textbooks and instructional materials in specialized media which the Solutions Forum is addressing.
  • Develop, for dissemination as appropriate, a glossary of key terms and websites specifically related to producing educational materials and accessible media.
  • Identify target audiences to which press releases, journal articles, announcements, conference presentations, etc. should be addressed.
  • Establish Solutions Forum column in JVIB.
  • Prepare a "flow chart" type of document depicting the sequential steps and processes involved in the production of regular print textbooks, from a publisher''s frame of reference.

Activity Areas - Ongoing

  • Prepare articles, announcement, alerts, and updates regarding activities of the Solutions Forum for submission to appropriate journals, newsletters, electronic bulletin boards or listserves, etc.
  • Prepare, and update as warranted, a list of contact persons for the publishers of educational textbooks.
  • Reach out to publishers and producers of educational software materials to involve them in the Solutions Forum.

Activity Areas - Projected

  • Distribute AFB Accessible Textbooks Solutions Forum Tool Kit - March 2002
  • Identify additional communication and collaboration activities - ongoing

AFB Solutions Forum
October 2001

Survey of Production and Acquisition of Textbooks and Instructional Materials:

Below are the action steps/issues that were identified from the analysis of the national survey dealing with production and acquisition of textbooks and instructional materials. The national survey was conducted in the spring of 2000 by AFB. The results were announced at the October 2000 AFB Solutions Forum meeting in Louisville, Kentucky. The following action steps/major impressions were identified and prioritized during the March 15, 2001 meeting held in Washington, D.C. Each participant was asked to rank his/her top three action steps that needed to be addressed immediately to complement the purpose of the survey. The number by each action step reflects the number of people who chose that specific issue.

For the complete results of the survey, go to www.afb.org/education.asp .

The work group will be developing an action plan addressing many of these issues.

Suggested action steps:

  • Work with hardware/software developers for automated production of tactile graphics. 31
  • Advocate for the development of a new career as a braille transcriber and document existing programs in development. 19
  • Support passage of national legislation--Instructional Materials Accessibility Act of 2002. 14
  • Facilitate the creation of centralized ordering and distribution centers for each state. 11
  • Advocate for the development of a universal braille embossing utility for Windows for printing ready-to-braille files. 10
  • Explore/document alternatives for the production of daily work when no braille transcriber is available. 5
  • Develop a training package for teachers in regular education for braille and assistive technology. 4
  • Explore a better system of braille production (states are duplicating efforts).  4
  • Support a study that investigates the extent to which teachers are requesting materials in alternative media that reflect the learning media and assessed needs of their students (including assistive technology). 3
  • Advocate for the creation of small production facility in each state for creation of short run/use materials. 2
  • Compile a list of questions (certifications, textbook format) to ask transcribers to ensure quality braille production. 2
  • Provide training in the process of using XML to produce braille (NOTE: Moved to training group). 2
  • Identify sources for states that do not have the capability of producing textbooks and instructional materials. 1
  • Make a distinction between production and distribution in a state. 0
  • Develop a centrally located place to list accessible tests and where to order them (the American Printing House for the Blind has the LOUIS Database). 0

American Foundation for the Blind
Textbook and Instructional Materials Solutions Forum

November 2001

Statement of Purpose:

The focus of the Production Work Group is to identify the processes involved in the production and dissemination of textbooks and instructional materials in specialized media needed by students who are visually impaired.  This work group will recommend guidelines and strategies for acceptable quality braille transcriptions; appropriate adaptations of materials for producing textbooks to ensure they are educationally sound for visually impaired students; and eliminating duplication of efforts.

New Activities for 2001-2002:

  • Develop a fact sheet describing best practices in the production of tactile graphics.
  • Prepare and publish a list of resource sites for obtaining tactile graphics.
  • Develop a document to support the need for State’s to have more trained braille transcribers.
  • Develop a statement of support for passage of the Instructional Materials Accessibility Act of 2002.
  • Identify each state that is currently using a centralized system for production and dissemination of accessible textbooks.
  • Develop a fact sheet describing best practices in establishing and operating a centralized textbook depository and production system.

Activity Areas – Completed:

  • Develop a list of the states that have adoption cycles.
  • This objective was completed in May of 2000 and has been posted on the TSBVI web site.
  • Develop a national survey to find out how the production process is handled in each state. The survey was developed and sent to stakeholders during the spring of 2000.  Dr. Anne Corn and Dr. Robert Wall at Vanderbilt University compiled the results.  The results were initially reviewed at the AFB Solutions Forum meeting at APH in October 2000.  They were revisited at the Solutions Forum meeting at JLTLI in March 2001.

Activities Areas – Yet to be Addressed:

  • Develop a definition of acceptable quality for braille.
  • Establish guidelines for appropriate adaptation of materials to make textbooks educationally sound for blind children.
  • Develop a list of publishers who publish standardized assessment tools.
  • Identify ways to address requests for “documents on demand.”
  • Prepare and publish a sample policies and procedure manual for Instructional Resource Centers; encourage interagency sharing of information.
  • Explore the feasibility of a tactile graphics repository where graphics are collected, cataloged, and housed for use by all.
  • Prepare and publish information about current efforts to improve computer production of tactile graphics