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AFB Solutions Forum
October 2001

Survey of Training and Availability of Braille Transcribers:

Below are the action steps/issues that were identified from the analysis of the national survey dealing with training and availability of braille transcribers. 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 area.

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

The Training and Other Needs Work Group has developed an action plan and addressed many of these issues.

Suggested action steps:

  • Develop an in-service training program for existing braille transcribers on how to use XML and publishers' electronic files. 26
  • Create a list of advantages for becoming a braille transcriber. Develop a recruitment and cause-related marketing packet. Develop a public education paper about why the career as a braille transcriber is so important. 14
  • Create a training and certification program for tactile illustrators. 13
  • Advocate for training programs for Music, Science and Nemeth codes. 9
  • Conduct a national study on student use of braille: reading speed and competency (what barriers are there to learning braille with miscue analysis). 9
  • Develop training for using alternative techniques for producing braille when there is no braille transcriber on staff. 5
  • Work with organizations to provide distance learning for training in all forms of braille. 4
  • Work with other organizations to change international copyright law to cover production and/or distribution of specialized formats. (Work with World Blind Union) 4
  • Provide workshops for parents about the importance of braille. 2
  • Contact drafting and engineering firms and training programs about getting involved with tactile graphics. 2
  • Create and define title and job description for classroom assistants who do braille transcription. 2
  • Collect job descriptions and career ladders regarding braille transcribers. 1
  • Publicize American Printing House for the Blind's national registry of braille transcribers and other national resource services, i.e. training of transcribers. 0
  • Establish an international database of music braille transcribers. 0

December 2001

Statement of Purpose:

The Training Work Group focuses on the training needs of those who create and use textbooks and instructional materials for students who are blind or visually impaired. The focus is to identify the necessary steps required to increase the number of qualified braille transcribers and identify the skill sets needed in training people associated with the creation and use of textbooks and instructional materials for students with visual impairments. The target audiences include among others: braille transcribers, textbook publishers, producers of specialized materials, parents, and educators.

Activity Areas - Completed:

  1. Completed a national survey that was sent to representatives in each state to gain a national overview of the numbers of trained braillists, their skill levels, and the types of tasks they typically perform.
  2. Completed charts that list training issues for the different groups who are often involved in decisions related to instructional materials or who need more information, such as administrators, parents, the students themselves, etc. This enabled the Training Work Group to work in partnership with the Communication and Collaboration Workgroup to ensure that correct and up-to-date information will be shared with everyone.
  3. Distributed survey results with analysis completed by Dr. Anne L. Corn and Dr. Rob Wall of Vanderbilt University. 
    www.tsbvi.edu/textbooks/afb/train-survey-results.htm and www.afb.org/education.asp
  4. Completed a fact sheet about the Training and Other Needs Survey. 
  5. Participated in the initial steps to develop a new occupation as a Literary Braille Textbook Transcriber.  A series of courses and curricula are being developed through the collaborative efforts among AFB, Northwest Vista College in San Antonio, Texas, and the Texas Education Agency.  Work Group representatives participated in the initial focus group and job analysis activities.   See report. www.tsbvi.edu  and at http://www.afb.org/education.asp.

Activity Areas - Projected for 2002

  1. Continue participation in the development of a new occupation identified as Literary Braille Textbook Transcriber.
  2. Support the graphics research project by the Braille Authority of North America, Technical Committee on Tactile Graphics and the Canadian Braille Authority.
  3. Support passage of federal legislation:  Instructional Materials Accessibility Act (IMAA) of 2002.
  4. Participate in the development of the AFB Solutions Forum's national training and web-based instructional project to train existing braille transcribers to use publishers' electronic files.
  5. Participate with the AFB Joint Technology Task Force (Electronic Files/Research and Development Work Group) in developing a training workshop that will assist publishers and their vendors in their use of NISO/XML tag sets.
  6. Support alternative instructional options to the National Library Service's braillist training program.
  7. Participate in policy papers for the braille textbook trancscriber profession.

Activities - Future

  1. Support implementation of the Instructional Materials Accessibility Act of 2002 by assisting states and/or local education agencies to develop the required "statewide plan designed to ensure that instructional materials required for classroom use are made available in specialized formats..."
  2. Support states and/or local education agencies access to the proposed Capacity Building Grants as identified in the Instructional Materials Accessibility Act of 2002.
  3. Support development of training programs in the use of the projected NISO/XML file format standards for production of materials in specialized formats, which is being introduced through the IMAA 2002.
  4. Support development of training programs in the use of new software developed to efficiently use the new file format standards for production of materials in specialized formats.

AFB Textbooks and Instructional Materials Solutions Forum
October 2001

Survey of Multimedia Presentations for Students with Visual Impairments:

Below are the action steps/issues that were identified from the analysis of the national survey dealing with multimedia presentations for children with visual impairments. 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 responding to each action step.

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

The Electronic Files and Research and Development Work Group has developed an action plan and addressed many of these issues.

Suggested action steps:

  • Provide cross-training opportunities for teachers of students with visual impairments (TVI) and assistive state technology teams so they can conduct appropriate assistive technology assessments for visually impaired students. 24
  • Publicize and define what an assistive technology assessment is and provide guidelines for its use. 20
  • Educate administrators about the need for, purpose of, and importance of assistive technology assessments. Create an information portfolio for administrators. Coordinate with National Agenda state teams who are already working on this issue. 15
  • Explore funding sources for assistive technology. 7
  • Involve organizations currently working on finding answers to the issues surrounding caseload size to coordinate efforts to determine appropriate solutions. 5
  • Develop extensive in-service training to help teachers and parents learn about assistive technology. 5
  • Coordinate with the Center for Applied Special Technology, Inc. (CAST), WGBH (National Center for Accessible Media) and other groups to define universal design strategies for multimedia presentations. 5
  • Encourage state level administrators and textbooks coordinators to implement purchasing policies for accessible textbooks. 5
  • Support national legislation efforts to ensure accessible media is provided to students. 4
  • Encourage assistive technology vendors to develop teaching curriculums for the technology they develop. 3
  • Coordinate with the National Association of State Directors of Special Education (NASDE) to include access to textbook issues with their in-service presentations to administrators. 2
  • Inform teacher-training facilities of the opportunity to access technology equipment from suppliers. 1
  • Work with the Association of Technology Act Projects (ATAP) and state technology projects (funded through the Assistive Technology Act of 1998-P.L. 105-394) to facilitate appropriate technology assessments. 1
  • Create a web page to distribute information about funding sources. 1
  • Document models of assistive technology training and provision of assistive technology services for students, including existing assistive technology loan programs and funding plans. 1
  • Coordinate with AFB's National Employment and Technology Programs about the development of an assistive technology training curriculum.0
  • Educate teachers of students with visual impairments about the expanded core curriculum. 0
  • Identify age appropriateness for using various types of assistive technology. 0

The following appears on web pages of the AFB Solutions Forum and is used with permission.

Recognizing that timely provision of textbooks and instructional materials in the appropriate accessible media continues to be a major problem confronting students who are blind or visually impaired in America's classrooms, the American Foundation for the Blind formed the Textbooks and Instructional Materials Solutions Forum. This collaborative national effort addresses one of the most serious issues affecting the education of students with visual impairments today. The AFB Solutions Forum is represented by agencies and organizations involved in the production and distribution of textbooks and instructional materials and has as its goal the development of a coordinated action plan for ensuring equality of access to instructional materials for students who are blind or visually impaired.

The AFB Solutions Forum is directly related to Goal #7 of the National Agenda for the Education of Children and Youths with Visual Impairments, Including those with Multiple Disabilities. The National Agenda identified timely access to textbooks and instructional materials as a critical issue needing direct solutions.

October 14, 1998--Louisville, KY--Initial Meeting of the AFB Textbooks and Instructional Materials Solutions Forum Held

Textbook publishers, producers of specialized media, assistive technology specialists, policymakers, educators, representatives from the Instructional Materials Resource Centers, parents, consumers, and others joined with AFB to identify the barriers impacting students who are blind or visually impaired from receiving accessible textbooks and instructional materials at the same time as their sighted peers and to initiate a coordinated plan of action for ensuring equal access to instructional materials for this population. Thirty-five representatives participated in the initial meeting. Five work groups were formed:

  1. Electronic Files and Research and Development
  2. Legislative and Policy-Making
  3. Production
  4. Training and Other Needs
  5. Communication and Collaboration

Each of the five work groups was asked to examine the multifaceted process of producing and delivering educational materials in accessible media and to determine ways to improve the delivery of textbooks and instructional materials in appropriate media.

January 1999--Nationwide--Work Groups Held Teleconferences

Each work group held teleconference meetings to discuss the issue of accessible learning media and ways to address topics particular to their area of concern. Each of the five work groups began outlining a plan of action specific to the issues associated with their areas of concern.

March 6 & 7, 1999--Washington, DC--AFB Solutions Forum Featured at the Josephine L. Taylor Leadership Institute's (JLTLI) Education Work Group Session

As the leading policy conference in the field of blindness, the JLTLI provided an opportunity for 125 Education Work Group participants to discuss the issue of accessible textbooks and instructional materials and identify the most significant areas needing solutions within the framework of the AFB Solutions Forum's five work group areas: electronic files and research and development; legislative and policy-making; production; training and other needs; and communication and collaboration. A plan of action for the AFB Solutions Forum was identified with significant input by the Association of American Publishers.

April 22, 1999--Dallas, TX--Administrative Structure is Defined for the AFB Solutions Forum

The administrative structure for the AFB Solutions Forum was defined to include five work group facilitators:

  • Electronic Files--Jim Allan, Texas School for the Blind and Visually Impaired
  • Legislative and Policy-Making--Mark Richert, AFB Governmental Relations
  • Production--Phyllis Campana, Braille Authority of North America (BANA)
  • Training and Other Needs--Frances Mary D'Andrea, AFB
  • Communication and Collaboration--Marie Amerson, Association for Education and Rehabilitation of the Blind and Visually Impaired (AER)

July 26, 1999--Nationwide--Solutions Targeted

Beginning in May 1999, eighty-five stakeholders provided input into the wording for the five work groups' statements of purpose. Short and long-term solutions to the most critical issues with time lines for implementation were finalized in July 1999. The statements of purpose include:

Electronic Files --The Electronic Files and Research and Development Work Group is primarily concerned with exploring and defining the following critical issues: The creation, production, and distribution of electronic files provided by textbook publishers for the production of textbooks in braille and other special media and identifying new trends, technologies and research that will positively affect production, accessibility, and delivery of textbooks to students with visual impairments.

Legislative and Policy-Making --The Legislative and Policy-Making Work Group is primarily concerned with the analysis and development of public policies impacting the Solutions Forum's goal of ensuring equal access to the printed word, and more specifically, to the full range of educational materials. This work group is the Forum's point of contact for ongoing efforts among representatives of the publishing industry, blindness advocacy organizations and the National Library Service to determine the appropriate electronic file format and markup language to efficiently produce braille, large-print and audio textbooks. Additionally, this work group will serve as a mechanism to package, present and disseminate the Solutions Forum's outcomes for future advocacy efforts.

Production --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.

Training and Other Needs --The Training Work Group focuses on the training needs of those who create and use textbooks and instructional materials for students who are blind or visually impaired. The work group will identify the necessary steps required to increase the number of qualified braille transcribers and identify the skill sets needed in training people associated with the creation and use of textbooks and instructional materials for students with visual impairments. The target audiences include among others: braille transcribers, textbook publishers, producers of specialized materials, parents, and educators.

Communication and Collaboration --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, publishers, and the general public regarding issues and strategies for ensuring equal access to textbooks and instructional materials in accessible formats.

October 21, 1999--Louisville, KY--AFB Solutions Forum Met and Defined the Essential Questions for Three National Surveys

Work group committees developed questions for three national surveys to reflect the following:

  • Investigation by the Electronic Files and Research and Development Work Group of how students with visual impairments currently access multimedia information and to identify initiatives that will increase students' access to multimedia presentations;
  • National review of issues associated with the production and delivery of textbooks by the Production Work Group in order to focus on improving production and
  • acquisition of specialized textbooks and instructional materials in all 50 states;
  • Identification of up-to-date information regarding the training needs of braille transcribers by the Training and Other Needs Work Group, including data on the number of braille transcribers from each state, the skill sets needed by transcribers, the training currently available to transcribers, the resources for continued training, and suggestions for recruitment and retention of braille transcribers.
  • Various organizations and publications were identified for receiving articles and information about the data from the surveys, as well as other AFB Solutions Forum activities.

November 10, 1999--New York, NY and Austin, TX--AFB Solutions Forum Web Sites Launched

Information about the AFB Solutions Forum appeared on the Internet sites of the American Foundation for the Blind and the Texas School for the Blind and Visually Impaired with pages dedicated to the AFB Solutions Forum. Go to www.afb.org/info_documents.asp?CollectionID=8&KitID=124 and www.tsbvi.edu for current information and a summary of AFB Solutions Forum activities.

November 15, 1999--Nationwide--New Facilitators Took Charge

Two of the five work groups welcomed new facilitators. The new facilitators are Alicia McAninch (New Mexico) for Production, and Larry Brown (Oregon) for Training and Other Needs. They both represent the Association of Instructional Resource Centers for the Visually Handicapped (AIRC).

December 1999--New York, NY--National Press Release Announced Alliance with Publishers

A national press release was developed that noted the strategic partners in the AFB Solutions Forum and outlined six major barriers in equal access to textbooks and information. The major barriers identified were:

  • Lack of standardization of electronic file formats provided by textbook publishers;
  • Inaccessibility of multimedia textbooks, especially those delivered via the Internet and CD-ROM;
  • Variation in state textbook regulations regarding accessible instructional materials;
  • High expense of producing specialized materials and the lack of fiscal incentives to develop new technologies; and
  • Shortage of qualified braille transcribers and production resources; and communication and collaboration barriers, including duplication of efforts.

March 2, 2000--Dallas TX--AFB Solutions Forum Meets at Josephine L. Taylor Leadership Institute (JLTLI)

Prior to the annual JLTLI, 45 people representing textbook publishers, producers of specialized media, educators, parents, assistive technology specialists, and consumers met to discuss outstanding issues and work from the July 1999 work plan of the AFB Solutions Forum. In addition, participants reviewed the three surveys in preparation of the pilot study being conducted in March 2000.

April 10, 2000--Nationwide--AFB Solutions Forum Surveys Distributed

Three national surveys were finalized and distributed. Final reports of the surveys will supply general information to encourage states to create policies and procedures for producing textbooks and other instructional materials in accessible media. The final reports will be ready in October 2000.

Multimedia Survey --The multimedia survey was distributed throughout the United States to 2,500 teachers of students with visual impairments. The purpose of this survey is to provide national data on how multimedia textbooks and presentations are used in educational settings. The survey asks for information on teachers' methods of adapting multimedia information and on the training needed for the use of such presentations in classrooms with students who are visually impaired.

Production Survey --The purpose of the third survey is to assist in long-range planning to improve production and acquisition of textbooks and instructional materials for students who are visually impaired. It was sent to one stakeholder in each state who was asked to coordinate answers with all entities within the state.

Training Survey --This survey was sent to a stakeholder responsible for braille transcription in all 50 states. The stakeholder was asked to coordinate answers throughout the state. The purpose of the survey is to provide a national overview of the numbers of trained braille transcribers, skill sets for the job, recruitment and retention issues for braille transcribers, and the tasks they typically perform.

April 18, 2000--Washington, DC--Federal Legislation Emerges

AFB Solutions Forum stakeholders began defining legislative language with the Association of American Publishers (AAP) and the National Federation of the Blind (NFB), among other organizations. The goal was to develop a consensus on federal legislation that would provide students with greater access to textbooks and other instructional materials.

May 5, 2000--Washington, DC--National Legislation Moves Forward

Major steps were taken to develop a consensus among the field of blindness, publisher representatives, and NFB concerning national legislation.

May 10, 2000--Macon, GA, and Dallas, TX--Training Segment Developed for National Project

The AFB Solutions Forum's Communication and Collaboration Work Group developed a training segment on accessible textbooks for a project coordinated by the Council of Schools for the Blind (COSB) and the National Association of State Directors of Special Education, Inc. (NASDSE). The state training project was developed to provide administrators, parents, and professionals throughout the United States with information about educational guidelines for students who are visually impaired.

May 19, 2000--New York, NY--AFB Solutions Forum Partner, George Kerscher, Selected to Chair Open E-Book Forum

By unanimous vote the prestigious national organization, Open eBook Forum (OeBF), selected George Kerscher, Senior Officer, Accessible Information, Recording For the Blind & Dyslexic ( RFB&D) as chairperson. The OeBF is an association of hardware and software companies, publishers and users of electronic books and related organizations whose goals are to establish common specifications for electronic book systems, applications, and products that will benefit creators of content, makers of reading systems, and consumers. Mr. Kerscher, a long-standing member in the AFB Solutions Forum, will chair the OeBF. The OeBF is helping to catalyze the adoption of electronic books, encourage the broad acceptance of specifications on a worldwide basis, and increase awareness and acceptance of the emerging electronic publishing industry. The OeBF develops the specifications for electronic books.

June 10, 2000--Nationwide--Work Groups Develop Fact Sheets and Position Papers

Members of several AFB Solutions Forum Work Groups developed four fact sheets and/or position papers, including:

  1. Production of Braille Textbooks;
  2. Common Acronyms Used When Speaking About Accessible Textbooks;
  3. What Is ASCII?: An Outdated File Development System, An Outmoded Communications Medium, An Outgoing Accessibility Tool;
  4. Surpassing Gutenberg: A Historic Opportunity in Access to Published Information for Blind Readers.

Text of these papers is available on both AFB Solutions Forum web sites at www.afb.org/education.asp and www.tsbvi.edu and as part of the Accessible Textbooks Tool Kit.

June 15, 2000--Washington, DC--Meeting Held to Build Collaboration Among Publishing Industry and the Field of Blindness

The Joint Technology Task Force, co-hosted by the Association of American Publishers, the American Foundation for the Blind, and Recording for the Blind and Dyslexic, Inc., met to discuss important news in electronic publishing. The 41 participants, two-thirds of whom represented publishers, discussed new technology and capabilities for electronic file conversion that allows greater accessibility to the visually impaired community. Development of a cross-platform standard for electronic files, dual stream publishing (both print and eBook), synchronized audio and text, and how organizations serving people with disabilities can work together with innovative publishers were among the topics discussed.

June 22, 2000--Washington, DC--Consensus on Federal Legislation Moves Forward

Experts in publishing textbooks, state issues, electronic file format, access technology, production of textbooks in specialized formats, and policy-making met to discuss potential language for the "Instructional Materials Act of 2000" with discussion about the best policy solutions to achieve the objectives.

July 5, 2000--Princeton, NJ--Microsoft Announced Support for DAISY Consortium

The Digital Audio-Based Information System Consortium (DAISY Consortium) announced that software giant, Microsoft Corporation, has pledged financial and technical support for the consortium's ongoing work to establish global accessibility standards for the next generation of digital talking book technology. Several AFB Solutions Forum partners (including AFB, American Printing House for the Blind, National Library Service, and Recording for the Blind and Dyslexic) are members of the DAISY Consortium, a group of nearly 40 nonprofit libraries and organizations worldwide that produce and distribute books, journals and other types of information in accessible formats. Its mission is to identify and create global standards for information technology for people with print disabilities such as blindness.

July 17, 2000--Denver, CO--Presentations Relevant to AFB Solutions Forum Were Presented at International AER Conference

Several presentations were made by AFB Solutions Forum partners at the biennial international conference of the Association for Education and Rehabilitation of the Blind and Visually Impaired (AER). A central theme included new technologies being developed that will strengthen accessible textbooks for every child who is blind or visually impaired.

July 19, 2000--Denver, CO--AER Accepted "The Accessible Textbooks and Instructional Materials Resolution"

Membership of AER unanimously accepted "The Accessible Textbooks and Instructional Materials Resolution," a document that expresses the commitment of the members of AER to support cooperative efforts within the field of blindness and visual impairment and within the publishing industry to improve timely provision of braille, large-print and audio textbooks and instructional materials to students who are visually impaired. The resolution notes that literacy is basic to successful education for children, that textbooks and instructional materials provide the foundation for education of all children, and that new technology exists that is designed to hasten the transfer of information into accessible formats. The resolution also concedes that, despite recent technological advances, many students who are visually impaired still do not receive accessible textbooks and learning materials at the same time as their classmates, and this discrepancy needs to be eliminated.

August 25, 2000--Nationwide--Consensus Building Continues Through the AFB Solutions Forum

Continuing the discussions on the development of language for federal legislation, a broad-based review was held with stakeholders in the blindness community representing state issues, electronic file format, braille software developers, access technology, production of textbooks in specialized formats, and policy-making.

September 19, 2000--Washington, DC--Joint Technology Task Force Formed

From the compelling demonstrations at the Emerging Technology meeting held on June 15, 2000, AFB, AAP, and RFB&D formed the Joint Technology Task Force (JTTF). The task force was created so that publishers and stakeholders from the AFB Solutions Forum could discuss the testing and use of emerging technologies and the utilization of those files by the visually impaired community for the production of accessible textbooks. The two main goals of the JTTF are:

  1. To analyze the National Information Standards Organization (NISO) Extensible Markup Language (XML) file format to determine its suitability for converting textbook content into braille and other accessible formats.
  2. To promote and demonstrate to accessible book producers and braille transcribers the efficiency and benefits of using publishers' files in NISO XML format.

Stakeholders in this effort have expertise in Extensible Markup Language (XML), which is used for all modern IT systems. The Digital Audio-Based Information System (DAISY) Consortium and the National Information Standards Organization (NISO) both use the XML notation. The DAISY/NISO XML 3.0 Document Type Definition (DTD) is used to define markup for textbooks. The structure guidelines of DAISY clarify the usage for braille applications and for Digital Talking Books (DTB). In addition, expertise is from braille software developers; expert users of braille translation software with publishers' electronic files; and publishers of textbooks.

Stakeholders include: American Foundation for the Blind; American Printing House for the Blind; Association of American Publishers (with Harcourt, Houghton Mifflin, McGraw-Hill, Pearson, and Scholastic); Braille Authority of North America; Duxbury, Inc.; Ed-IT PC; National Braille Association; National Library Service; Recording for the Blind and Dyslexic; Texas Education Agency's producers of alternate formats; and educators of children with visual impairments.

September 21, 2000--Flint, MI--Accessible Technology Demonstrated for President Clinton

AFB President, Carl Augusto, was with President Clinton as AFB's Director of Information Systems and Research and Development, Janina Sajka, demonstrated an innovative electronic book technology. The technology is part of an initiative of Time-Warner Trade Publishing and AFB to release to the general public the first commercial title using the NISO/DAISY publication format. This format will enable readers to see the text of the book displayed on screen or read it in braille, while fully synchronized with the audio of a narrator. President Clinton cited Time-Warner Trade Publishing and AFB for their leadership toward accomplishing a joint partnership to provide equal access to information.

October 11, 2000--Louisville, KY--AFB Solutions Forum Held Third Annual Fall Meeting

The fall meeting of the AFB Solutions Forum was attended by 77 people, including seventeen by phone. The meeting featured the significant findings from the three national surveys conducted during the spring/summer 2000, an update on national legislation concerning the "Equal Access to Instructional Materials Act of 2000" and the goals of the Joint Technology Task Force.

The Production Work Group welcomed a new facilitator, Lorri Quigley, director, Educational Resource Center for the state of Utah.

1999-2000--Ongoing--AFB Solutions Forum Reports Appear in Publications

  • June 1999--AER Report
  • September 1999--JVIB, Vol. 93, Number 9
  • October 1999--JVIB, Vol. 93, Number 10
  • Fall 1999--NAPVI Awareness
  • November 1999--JVIB, Vol. 93, Number 11
  • Spring 2000--NAPVI Awareness
  • April 2000--AER Report
  • June 2000--JVIB, Vol. 94, Number 6
  • August 2000--JVIB, Vol. 94, Number 8
  • September 2000--AAP newsletter
  • March 2001--JVIB, Vol 95, Number 3
  • November 2001--AER Report
  • April 2002--JVIB, Vol 96, Number 4

March 15, 2001--Washington, D.C.--AFB Solutions Forum National Meeting

Eighty-four participants took part in the spring meeting to build work plans for 2002. Twenty-five goals were identified.

May 2001--San Antonio, Texas--Partnership to Develop a New Career

AFB, Northwest Vista College in San Antonio, Texas, and the Texas Education Agency began a partnership to develop a new profession/career of a braille textbook transcriber through a curriculum and a series of college courses.

June 27, 2001--Nationwide--Instructional Materials Accessibility Act IMAA

Representatives of the American Council of the Blind, American Foundation for the Blind, American Printing House for the Blind, Association of American Publishers, Association for Education and Rehabilitation of the Blind and Visually Impaired, National Federation of the Blind, Recording for the Blind & Dyslexic, Texas Education Agency, and other major stakeholders of the AFB Solutions Forum reached final agreement on both the text of legislation to take to Capitol Hill and to work collaboratively to achieve its enactment. This legislation will dramatically improve access to instructional materials required for classroom use in elementary and secondary schools.

July 2001--Atlanta, GA--Design of the National Training for Braille Transcribers

Twenty-three experts in web-based learning, DAISY/NISO/XML file format, and braille transcription began developing a national training program for braille transcribers to learn how to use electronic files produced by commercial textbook publishers.

August 2001--Texas--Development of Job Skills for the Career of a Braille Textbook Transcriber

Northwest Vista College in San Antonio, Texas, conducted two meetings with eighteen experts with firsthand knowledge of the requirements of a braille textbook transcriber. The goal was to develop an occupational profile of a braille textbook transcriber. The end result was a list of 31 tasks that are critical to the job and the identification of a series of job skills needed to perform the tasks.

October 2001--Louisville, KY--National Meeting

Seventy-five stakeholders met in Louisville to discuss the critical next steps in moving the IMAA forward on Capitol Hill and the upcoming college program of a braille textbook transcriber. Representative from ACB, AAP, AFB, and NFB spoke about the strategies.

January 2002--Nationwide--Development of a National Training Manual on How to Work with Publishers' Files

Expert braille transcribers assisted in developing a training seminar and manual that offers new skills to current braille transcribers. The contents identify key steps in managing publishers' electronic files. The manual and seminar will become a web-based, self-paced program on AFB's web in the spring of 2003.

March 6, 2002--Washington, D.C.--ANSI/NISO Standard for the Digital Talking Book (DTB) was Approved

The DTB is a collection of electronic files arranged to present information in a powerful, flexible reading system. The system easily adapts to different types of documents and different user needs. The American National Standards Institute (ANSI) unanimously adopted a DTB standard that allows for files to be arranged presenting information to the target population via alternative media. These media include: human or synthetic speech, refreshable braille, or visual display (i.e. large print).

March 7, 2002--Washington, D.C.--AFB joins the Get Caught Reading Campaign

Two new celebrities joined the Association of American Publishers' long list of people who "get caught reading." Patty Duke and Erik Weihenmayer are part of the public service campaign to show that reading is cool and braille literacy is fundamental.

March 14, 2002--San Diego, CA--National Training for Braille Transcribers

Training was conducted at the California Transcribers and Educators of the Visually Handicapped (CTEVH) Conference for braille transcribers who were knowledgeable about textbook production, but who were not experienced in working with publishers' files.

April 10, 2002--Alexandria, VA--National Training for Braille Transcribers

Training was conducted at the National Braille Association Conference for braille transcribers who were knowledgeable about textbook production, but who were not experienced in working with publishers' files.

April 24, 2002--Washington, D.C.--Instructional Materials Accessibility Act (IMAA) Press Conference

National legislation that will dramatically improve access to textbooks for students who are blind or who have other print disabilities in elementary and secondary schools was introduced in both the U.S. House of Representatives and the U.S. Senate. The purpose of this bipartisan legislation is to ensure that instructional materials for blind or other people with print disabilities are received in an accessible medium at the same time as their nondisabled peers. Senators Christopher Dodd (D-CT) and Thad Cochran (R-MS) and Representatives Thomas Petri (R-WI) and George Miller (D-CA) are the lead sponsors of this legislation.

June 5, 2002--Dallas, TX--AFB and Verizon National Campaign for Literacy, Textbooks, Transcribers and Technology

Verizon Communications announced a three-year partnership with AFB to build a public awareness and advocacy program that will promote the new career (braille textbook transcriber) at the federal and state levels, and raise general awareness of the needs of blind and low-vision schoolchildren for timely access to textbooks and learning materials. Erik Weihenmayer, first blind athlete to summit Mount Everest, has agreed to serve as the national spokesperson and Verizon Literacy Champion.

July 1, 2002--Ogden, UT--Accessible Textbooks Tool Kit is now Available

The Communication and Collaboration Work Group spearheaded the development of a resource kit of information about the AFB Solutions Forum, issues, critical resources, and potential solutions for the right books at the right time. Expert assistance from the Utah Schools for the Deaf and the Blind was given through the graphic design and production of the Accessible Textbooks Tool Kit.

Communication and Collaboration Work Group
Marie Amerson, facilitator; Alicia McAninch; and Mary Ann Siller

For more information, contact the American Foundation for the Blind, Mary Ann Siller, .

Meeting Summary

I.Background:

Textbooks and related instructional materials are essential tools in all educational settings. Indeed, it is difficult to imagine a public school classroom in which students would be expected to achieve academically without the benefit of textbooks directly related to the subjects being studieHowever, for students who are blind or have low vision, this scenario is all too frequent. Despite everyone's best efforts and advancements in access technology, many visually impaired students do not receive textbooks in braille, large-print, audio or other needed special media at the same time as their sighted classmates.

Recognizing the importance of timely provision of instructional materials in appropriate media, authors of the National Agenda for the Education of Children and Youths with Visual Impairments, Including Those With Multiple Disabilities identified this as one of the eight most critical national issues affecting the education of students with visual impairments. Based upon input received via a national survey of teachers, administrators and others the National Agenda: A Report to the Nation, recently published by AFB Press, includes the following observation:

"The Goal 7 survey revealed very few surprises to individuals currently providing specialized materials to students with visual impairments. It is apparent that instructional materials can (be) and are offered to our students in specialized formats, but these instructional materials certainly are not provided at the same time as those for their sighted peers."

Recognizing this as one of the most critical issues affecting the education of students who are blind or visually impaired, the American Foundation for the Blind, (AFB) is acting as catalyst in the development of the Textbook and Instructional Materials Forum. Textbook publishers, producers of specialized media, assistive technology experts, educators, Instructional Materials Resource Centers, parents and others are examining the multi-faceted process of producing and delivering educational materials in accessible mediTextbook and Instructional Materials Solutions Forum participants have initiated and expressed commitment to a coordinated action plan for assuring equality of access to instructional materials for all students with impaired vision.

IParticipants and Agency Affiliation

*Participated via Telephone

  • Chair: Susan Jay Spungin, American Foundation for the Blind (AFB)
  • Jim Allan, Texas School for the Blind and Visually Impaired (TSBVI)
  • Marie Amerson, Association for Education and Rehabilitation of the Blind and Visually Impaired (AER)
  • Christine Anderson, American Printing House for the Blind (APH)
  • Katie Blough, Association of American Publishers (AAP)
  • Bob Brasher, American Printing House for the Blind (APH)
  • Rod Brawley, California Department of Education (CDE)
  • Diane Croft, National Braille Press NBP)
  • Natalie Hilzen, American Foundation for the Blind Press (AFB)
  • Phyllis Campana, Braille Authority of North America (BANA)
  • Eileen Curran, National Braille Press (NBP)
  • Frances Mary D'Andrea, American Foundation for the Blind (AFB)
  • Warren Figueiredo, Louisiana School for the Visually Impaired (LSVI)
  • Phil Hatlen, Texas School for the Blind and Visually Impaired (TSBVI)
  • George Kerscher, Recording for the Blind and Dyslexic (RFB&D)
  • Susan LaVenture, National Association for Parents of Visually Impaired (NAPVI)
  • *Scott Marshall, American Foundation for the Blind (AFB)
  • *Chuck Mayo, Texas Education Agency (TEA)
  • Barbara McCarthy, Association of Instructional Resource Centers for the Visually Handicapped (AIRC)
  • Mary Nelle McLennan, American Printing House for the Blind (APH)
  • Pearce McNulty, Houghton Mifflin Company (HMC)
  • Herbert Miller, Council of Schools for the Blind (COSB)
  • Michael Moodie, U.S. Library of Congress National Library Service (NLS)
  • Steve Noble, Recording for the Blind and Dyslexic (RFB&D)
  • *Mark Richert, American Foundation for the Blind (AFB)
  • *Madeleine Rothberg, National Center for Accessible Media (NCAM)
  • Frank Ryan, American Foundation for the Blind (AFB)
  • Mary Ann Siller, American Foundation for the Blind (AFB)
  • Larry Skutchan, American Printing House for the Blind (APH)
  • Mary Lou Stark, U.S. Library of Congress National Library Service (NLS)
  • Ian Stewart, Association of State Education Consultants for Visually Impaired (ASECVI)
  • Tuck Tinsley, American Printing House for the Blind (APH)
  • Robert Winn, Hadley School for the Blind (HSB)

IIGoal and Objectives

The over-arching goal of this national effort is to assure that students who are blind or visually impaired have access to textbooks and other instructional materials in appropriate media and at the same time as their sighted classmates.

The following were identified as specific objectives for this initial meeting:

  • An open discussion among individuals from organizations and agencies which play key roles in the selection, production, distribution and/or use of educational materials for students who are blind or visually impaire
  • Identification of priority issues and factors to be addresse
  • Identification of the next steps in this collaborative process.
  • Commitment by participants to achieve the goal through resolution of the issues.

IV. Issues and Factors

The group brainstormed the many issues, concerns, and challenges relating to textbooks and specialized materials. Attachment A lists those determined to be of a high priority. These issues and factors were grouped into six general categories, with the realization there is some overlap or crossover. Each participant identified specific categories in which his or her agency or organization has particular interest or expertisFollowing are the categories and indications of agency commitment:

Category A: ELECTRONIC FILES

(AFB, AIRC, AAP, APH, NLS, HSB, CDE, TSBVI, LSVI, NCAM, RFB&D)

Category B: LEGISLATIVE

(AFB, AIRC, AAP, APH, NAPVI, AER)

Category C: PRODUCTION PROCESS

(AFB, BANA, AIRC, AAP, APH, NLS, NBP, NCAM, RFB&D)

Category D: TRAINING AND OTHER NEEDS

(AFB, AIRC, BANA, AER, AAP, NLS)

Category E: COMMUNICATION AND COLLABORATION

(AFB, AIRC, AER, AAP, APH, NAPVI, ASECVI)

Category F: RESEARCH AND DEVELOPMENT

(AFB, AIRC, AAP, APH, HSB, TSBVI, NCAM, RFB&D)

V. Next Steps

The following general commitments were made:

  • The American Foundation for the Blind (AFB) will establish a system for ongoing communication, sharing of information and networking among participants. AFB will continue to serve as a catalyst in this collaborative effort.
  • Participants, together with others to be identified, will address the issues and factors through working within six category- specific work groups.
  • Activities and progress over the next few months relative to these issues and factors will be reported upon and further developed by the Education Work Group at the 1999 Josephine L. Taylor Leadership Institute (JLTLI). JLTLI convenes in Washington, D.March 5 through 7, 199

The following were identified as priority activities or tasks to be accomplished by the respective working groups for each category.

  • Define the Category
  • Identify "lead individual(s)," i.facilitator, recorder, contact person. et
  • Identify and prioritize both immediate and long-term needs, resources, strategies, etc.
  • Search for, collect and disseminate information regarding whatever work is going on or which has been done relative to the category.
  • Identify additional individuals and organizations that can bring expertise to the category work group.
  • Develop an "action plan" which is proactive in approach and includes assignments for individuals and/or organizations.
  • Report on the above tasks to the Education Work Group at AFB's Josephine L. Taylor Leadership Institute (JLTLI), March 5 - 7, 1999, in Washington, D.C.

ATTACHMENT A

Category A

Electronic Files

  1. Formatting/preparation of files for production of books in Specialized mediComment: Publishers do not provide files which are pre-formatted for conversion to braille, large print, digital recording, etc.
  2. Consider establishment of a National Repository for electronic files.
  3. Instructional materials other than textbooks need to be included when considering the uses to which electronic files can be put.
  4. Procedures for obtaining, "cleaning up" and outputing of e-text files in multiple formats need to be specified and standardized; e.specify the mark-up language used in the conversion process.
  5. Identify what is needed to make the overall production process flow.
  6. Explore development and implementation of an Electronic Data Management System (EDMS) which has applications for all special media and formats. Chart was presented by George Kersher of RFB&D and modified by Jim Allan of TSBVI.
  7. Special formatting problems encountered with math, science, foreign language and tactile graphics need to be addressed.
  8. Availability and timely delivery of files from publishers need to be assured.
  9. Availability of and access to copyrights in excess of 3 years old need to be assured.
  10. Accessibility of materials presented in multi-media and via the Internet needs to be "built-in" to the instructional packages.
  11. 1Publishers' concerns regarding security of copyright privileges need to be alleviated.

Category B

LEGISLATIVE

  1. Uniformity among states' legislation and regulations is lacking.
  2. Copyright law provisions are not fully and universally understood.
  3. 3 . Large-print and certain categories of book subjects are not addressed in recent copyright legislation.
  4. International Copyright laws need to be considered.
  5. What impact will Se508 of Rehab Act have on web sites?
  6. What are the implications of universal accessibility for the World Wide Web Consortium?
  7. As a matter of policy, states' with textbook adoption programs should include requirements that publishers must assist in making their books available in accessible formats as a condition for inclusion on their state adoption lists. This could specify the type(s) of accessible format(s) to be referenced.
  8. A model set of textbook adoption processes would benefit states which currently do not have them. The adoption process could be extended to instructional materials other than textbooks.
  9. Encourage and/or require states with textbook adoption programs to share electronic production files with other states. States which do not have adoption programs especially need this.
  10. Pull costs from federal government spending to help publishers with costs of formatting files or disks.
  11. 1Include parents in all advocacy efforts.

Category C

PRODUCTION PROCESS

  1. Braille is not the only specialized medium.
  2. Costs and related financial concerns need to be addressed.
  3. Duplication of efforts exists.
  4. Consider the impact of emerging technologies.
  5. Encourage publishers to make files available which are pre-formatted for various specialized media so as to cut production costs.
  6. Special production issues exist for tactile graphics. Guidelines for preparing tactile graphics need to be standardized.
  7. Synchronize with current RFB&D developments relating to DAISY/NISO.
  8. Demands for special format textbooks is not uniform throughout the school year ("spikes" and "lulls").
  9. Due to insufficient resources for purchasing specialized textbooks and materials, state departments of education and school districts direct existing resources to areas of greatest need or urgency, i.the "squeaky wheel" concept.
  10. Due to heavy use of graphics, many preschool and primary grade textbooks and materials do not lend themselves to specialized format or media production.
  11. Accessibility of standardized tests and other assessment instruments also need to be addressed.
  12. Production of textbooks in specialized formats is no longer a "cottage industry." It needs to be recognized and professionalized as "big business."
  13. "DTD" (document type definition) needs to be standardized early in the textbook production process so that electronic files can be formatted for specialized mediNote: Dialog has already begun on this with some publishers. Question: Will braille translation software accept this mark-up language?
  14. Quality control, especially relating to braille codes and formats, must be exercised throughout the process.
  15. "Documents on demand" is becoming the plea in many schools and classrooms.
  16. Consider providing students with appropriately formatted disks and laptop computers and/or refreshable braille display devices.
  17. Supplemental instructional materials also need to be included; e."trade books", work or studybooks, and other ancillary items which frequently accompany the actual textbook.
  18. Special accessibility problems are presented by interactive multi-media programs.
  19. Educational materials with built-in sound capabilities can benefit many students with unique learning styles.

Category D

TRAINING AND OTHER NEEDS

  1. Pre-service and in-service training for braille transcribers is needed to both update their access technology skills and increase their numbers.
  2. Evaluate the role/future of braillists and others who currently produce books and other instructional materials in special media.
  3. Provide training for Teachers, braille transcribers and others as appropriate in the following areas:
    1. Expansion of course offerings relating to braille in personnel preparation programs.
    2. Use and applications of new access technology.
    3. Best use of E-text files for meeting specialized media needs of students.
    4. Use of standard file format conversions
    5. "Tagging" or "marking up" of E-text files
    6. Formatting of electronic files
    7. Tactile graphics production
    8. Transitioning into an auditory/digital arena
    9. Analysis of pictures, charts, graphs, etfor conversion to tactile representation
    10. Best use of E-text for production of materials in special media
    11. Unified Braille Code and other code revisions as they tie- in with and/or impact production of specialized medi
  4. Training of visually impaired students in following areas:
    1. Use of new technology and access devices
    2. How to "read" tactile graphics
  5. Training of publishers as to the needs of visually impaired students with a view toward improving production capacities and appropriateness of products.

Category E

COMMUNICATION AND COLLABORATION

  1. Match solutions to needs of students and teachers.
  2. Dialog regarding input and evaluation must be open and ongoing between and among:
    1. braille code specialists and producers of specialized materials,
    2. publishers, producers of specialized materials, educators (both regular and special education), personnel preparation programs and the end users, i.visually impaired students.
  3. Universal definition of "Accessibility" is neede
  4. Provide an updated list of states which have enacted legislation relating to braille or other specialized media.
  5. Impress upon publishers the access problems presented by the extensive use of graphics and visuals in textbooks.
  6. Get to agreement upon and implementation of Document Type Definition (DTD) ASAP.
  7. Public education and awareness of the need for, costs of and problems related to providing textbooks and other instructional materials in specialized media.
  8. Establish a system for contacting/notifying key contact persons at publishers and vice versa.
  9. Educators and producers of specialized media need to be proactive in informing publishers of accessibility issues.
  10. Accessibility must be "built-into" the publishing process at the earliest possible stage so as to avoid costly retrofitting after the textbook is completed.
  11. Working with publishers of multi-media and educational software involves a different "cast of characters" than for traditional textbooks.
  12. Awareness by educators and producers of all that is involved on the publisher's end as textbooks progress from concept to product.
  13. "Turf" issues need to be replaced by collaboration.
  14. Visual impairment field should collaborate with other disability areas regarding benefits from and needs for materials in specialized formats or media; the "strength in numbers" concept.
  15. Collaborate with the Web Access Initiative (WAI) and the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C).
  16. Create a listserve for communication and networking among Forum participants to keep this momentum goin

Category F

RESEARCH AND DEVELOPMENT

  1. Issues relating to Tactile Graphics,
    1. What constitutes good graphics? What are best production precesses? How to teach people to read them.
  2. Issues relating to refreshable braille displays and speech devices,
    1. "paperless books", multi-line displays of refreshable braille, etc.
  3. Issues relating to electronic transmission of files/documents, i.equipment and training needs.
  4. Create central database of work/research already underway.
  5. Get to Document Type Definition (DTD) ASAP.
  6. Explore refinement and implementation of the Electronic Data Management System (EDMS) suggested by George Kirscher.
  7. Research and training in what constitutes "readability" of materials produced in specialized media and integration of audio descriptions with tactile graphics.

AFB Textbooks and Instructional Materials Solutions Forum

The sixth annual meeting of the AFB Textbooks and Instructional Materials Solutions Forum opened with a welcome from project coordinator Mary Ann Siller, Director of the National Education Program for AFB and introductions were made of on-site and teleconference participants.

  • The first agenda item, discussion of Instructional Materials Accessibility Policy, was led by Mark Richert, Executive Director of AER and facilitator of the Solution Forum's Legislative and Policy-Making Work Group. Richert noted that the original plan for separate legislation addressing instructional materials accessibility had no chance of passage outside of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) and it was important to incorporate major principles of the original bill into IDEA. The House version of IDEA was passed in April 2003. The expectation is that the Senate version would pass the full Senate. At the time of the October meeting, the Senate has not scheduled their bill for a full committee vote. Unfortunately, because of significant differences in the versions of IDEA, it was expected that conference committee members will have a long road ahead to work out differences and create the final IDEA bill.

    Issues related specifically to the key principles from the Instructional Materials Accessibility Act (IMAA) which must be addressed by the conference committee include the need for a central file repository for electronic files and the standard file format to be used by publishers. While there is no longer a mandate for a "state plan" to address these issues, the Senate bill calls for coordination among entities within the state to facilitate production of accessible materials. It was asked that we continue to communicate our messages to legislators.

    The conference committee will be chosen after the Senate has taken their IDEA bill to full committee for a vote. Once the conference committee people have been chosen, it was requested that all SF participants contact key members of the conference committee and keep in frequent contact with them to remind them of the importance of the provisions which address the key principles for instructional materials accessibility. However, the legislative work group suggested that we should contact Senators right now to thank them for their help in providing for both key principles from the IMAA and preparing them to be champions of our points surrounding access to textbooks and instructional materials when IDEA moves forward in 2004. For updated information about the legislative process and committee members go to www.afb.org/idea.asp

  • The next agenda item provided a review of local efforts within states to develop networks which can address legislative issues at a local level. Several state networks developed letter-writing campaigns; one state network coordinator drafted a list of questions for parents, students, and others to discuss in their contacts with legislators; another sent an initial letter to legislators and followed up with a postcard listing the important bullets about the issue.

  • An update was provided on the National Instructional Materials Accessibility Standard. Skip Stahl with the Center for Applied Special Technology (CAST) noted that the U.S. Department of Education assigned them the task of identifying the recommendations for a national instructional materials accessibility standard (national file format). At the direction of and in consultation with the U.S. Department of Education, the National Center for Accessing the General Curriculum (NCAC) that is part of CAST, in collaboration with the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) at the Department of Commerce, assembled a Technical Panel consisting of 40 members representing consumers, technical experts, and feasibility experts (see www.cast.org). The final document will be sent to the Office of Special Education Programs (OSEP) in November 2003. Skip commented that textbook publishers have some issues with the standard but there was an expectation that those could be resolved. Input from the Solutions Forum's Joint Technology Task Force was considered in developing the voluntary standard. The result of the voluntary standard would be that publishers would provide digital files with standard markup which could then be manipulated by vendors such as Instructional Materials Resource Centers, APH or RFB&D to add features needed for production of materials for students who are visually impaired.

    The report also explains that the panel feels that a centralized national repository is essential to ensuring the delivery of consistent, high quality accessible materials to blind, low vision and print-disabled students.

  • Because media stories often get the attention of legislators, AFB's Communications Department, Governmental Relations Group and National Education Program collaborated with a media project. The IDEA Media project puts emphasis on media outreach which can tell the story of the needs of students with visual impairment. AFB staff, Carrie Fernandez and Paul Schroeder, provided the background of the project and asked for more local attention to media stories. They requested the AFB Solutions Forum stakeholders to become involved in getting stories out to the media. The AFB IDEA Media Project is available to provide assistance in coordinating such efforts.
  • Information was provided by work group leaders Marie Amerson (Communication and Collaboration) and Mark Richert (Legislative and Policy-Making) on ideas for the development of model strategies for statewide coordination for delivering accessible textbooks to students who are visually impaired. The information was developed as part of a work group session at a previous Solutions Forum and identified the stakeholders who should be involved as well as some of the components that should be in place.

  • Various updates were also provided to the AFB Solutions Forum

    • Joint Technology Task Force

    • Textbooks and Instructional Materials Tool Kit (2nd Printing - June 2003)

    • Training Seminar for Braille Transcribers and an Upcoming AFB Web-based Seminar

    • Braille Textbook Transcriber Community College Courses

    • National Braille Association Textbook Formatting Course

    • Tactile Graphics Fact Sheet

    • AFB and Verizon National Campaign for Literacy, Textbooks, Transcribers, and Technology - Call to Action (www.afb.org/verizon.asp)

  • AFB Solutions Forum on-site participants divided into two work groups to draft model implementation strategies for states with state-adoption policies and those without state adoption of textbooks. The work groups compiled lists of concerns and questions and it was noted that there are similarities with the issues that would be presented to the different adoption model states. The statements will be complied and be presented at the next AFB Solutions Forum meeting on March 4, 2004 meeting in Washington, D.C. The AFB Solutions Forum will work to create a model framework that state leaders can use to develop implementation strategies for providing accessible textbooks to students who are visually impaired. (The issues identified in the review will be condensed and categorized at some point in the near future.)

American Foundation for the Blind

Textbooks and Instructional Materials Solutions Forum

NIMAS Guidelines Checklist: A Self-Study Tool

The following checklist has been formulated as a tool for reviewing a state or local district’s current system of providing accessible textbooks and instructional materials to students who are blind or visually impaired. It is not a survey but a self-assessment tool to determine issues that need to be addressed in order to improve services to students. It can also be used to create a model profile of efficient systems that could be used as states and local districts begin implementing components of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Improvement Act of 2004 (IDEA), P.L. 108-446, regarding production and delivery of accessible textbooks and instructional materials.

Participants in the AFB Textbooks and Instructional Materials Solutions Forum identified the guidelines in this checklist. It is important to note that those participants all agreed that each state and local district is very different in:

  • how they provide services
  • how accessible instructional materials are funded
  • how guidelines and procedures are developed and implemented

The participants also agreed that each state or local district must have a system identified to ensure timely delivery of accessible textbooks and instructional materials.

This system provides guidance for implementing the National Instructional Materials Accessibility Standard (NIMAS) established by the IDEA 2004 statute and the technical specification published in the Federal Register.

NIMAS, as defined in the checklist, is a collection of consistent and valid XML-based source files created by K-12 curriculum publishers. From these well-structured source files, accessible, alternate-format versions of textbooks and core instructional materials (i.e. braille, Digital Talking Book, etc.) can subsequently be created (www.afb.org/nimas.asp).

This NIMAS Guidelines Checklist may serve as a foundation for creating a report specific to your state or local district. The report can then be used to communicate with stakeholders about the services provided, improvements needed, or other important information to ensure that students with visual impairments have “the right book at the right time.”

Please feel free to copy and use this checklist as an outline for creating a profile of your state or local district’s efforts to provide accessible textbooks and instructional materials. Your committee may determine additional questions or issues specific to your situation. It is also suggested that you attach supporting documentation to clarify an answer or enhance the report being produced. If the AFB Solutions Forum can be of assistance to you in this process, please contact Mary Ann Siller, American Foundation for the Blind, 11030 Ables Lane, Dallas TX 75229, phone: 469-522-1803 or email at .

Coordinating Instructional Materials Accessibility

NIMAS Guidelines Checklist for: ___________________ (Name of State)

*NOTE: The following is based on current information and is subject to change pending publication of IDEA rules.

Guideline Checklist Items Comments

1. A procedure is in place to ensure delivery of accessible instructional materials to students with visual impairments at the same time those materials are made available to all students in the classroom.

YES - In addition to communicating information about your system to stakeholders in your state, please provide resource information to the AFB Solutions Forum or Instructional Resource Center for the Blind and Visually Impaired (IRCBVI).

NO - Proceed through this worksheet for ideas on establishing such a system.

 

2. A stakeholder group has been identified to formulate strategies to coordinate print instructional materials for students with visual impairments or to review the current system in place and make appropriate recommendations.

YES - List the names, titles, and affiliations of members of this group.

NO - Identify key stakeholders who might serve on such a group. Potential candidates include: state Department of Education (DOE) personnel (vision consultant, state textbook coordinator, director of instructional materials center, etc.), member of legislative finance committee, local director of special education, general educator, parents, teachers of the visually impaired, braille transcribers (knowledgeable in all braille formats, including tactile graphics), persons knowledgeable about publishers' electronic files and other alternative formats.

 

3. Procedures for selecting and purchasing textbooks for all students are identified and communicated to appropriate stakeholders. Check all that apply.

- Statewide decision

- Local school system decision

-- Individual school decision

YES - Identify source for reviewing this information at the state level, local school system level, and individual school level.

NO - Identify a strategy for determining how decisions are made for selecting and purchasing textbooks at the state level, local school system level, and individual school level.

 

4. Selection of textbooks addresses the need for accessible copies, and procedures are in place to ensure that accessible textbooks are available for students who are blind or visually impaired.

YES - Identify process used for selection and purchase of textbooks.

NO - Consider whether assurance of accessible textbooks can be addressed through:

___ purchase contracts

___ other means

 

5. Timelines have been established for adoption, selection, purchase, and delivery of new textbooks so that accessible copies can be procured for delivery along with other print editions. For example, consideration is given to the amount of time needed for obtaining source files, transcribing, proofing, embossing, and delivering accessible materials.

YES - Identify those timelines at the state level, local school system level, and individual school level.

NO - Consult with publishers or your state's instructional materials center to determine appropriate timelines and disseminate the information at the state level, local school system level, and individual school level.

 

6. Information is published about the expected timelines for production and delivery of braille or other accessible media within the state.

YES - Identify the location where this information is published and how it is communicated to stakeholders.

NO - Identify procedures for publishing and disseminating this information.

 

7a. A central agency within the state acquires and disseminates accessible instructional materials to students who are blind or visually impaired.

YES - Identify the agency; provide contact information and details about using their services.

NO - If there are multiple agencies, see part b of this question.

 

7b. There are multiple agencies within the state that acquire and disseminate print instructional materials to students who are blind or visually impaired.

YES - Identify the agencies, provide contact information, the services they provide, how the services are funded (private/state funds), and other appropriate information.

NO - If there is a central agency, see part a of this question.

 

8. Appropriate information about fund source(s) for purchasing accessible educational materials is readily available to school personnel to enable them to determine how/where to order accessible textbooks and instructional materials.

YES - Identify method of determining and disseminating this information and identify different funding resources available at the state level, local school system level, and individual school level.

NO - Create a method for determining and disseminating this information.

 

9. Funds have been allocated at the appropriate administrative level to address the increased cost of accessible textbooks and educational materials.

YES - Provide clear documentation of the sources and processes (including timelines and contacts) for each budget cycle.

NO - Determine possible resources, contacts, processes, and timelines for the establishment of reliable fund streams.

 

10. Agencies have been identified to receive publishers' electronic files from the National Instructional Materials Access Center (NIMAC) at American Printing House for the Blind (APH).

YES - Ensure documentation is in place, including contact information.

NO - Determine which agencies would be appropriate (single entity or a collaboration) and follow procedures to enable them to receive files from the access center.

 

11. State legislation or other regulations related to provision of braille that will affect the system for delivery of print instructional materials are in place.

YES - Identify state legislation or regulations and attach information created as a result of the legislation. Note the impact of 2004 IDEA reauthorization.

NO - Determine what other solutions can be pursued to achieve the same result (through contracts or other regulatory means).

 

12. Individual professionals serving students who are blind or visually impaired are knowledgeable about the system for acquiring print instructional materials.

YES - Identify in-service training or the location of the documents, URLs, or manuals that present this information.

NO - Determine the best method of communicating this information in your state. Options include in-service training, manuals, and URLs.

 

13. Information is available to appropriate stakeholders within the state to identify the agencies and organizations there involved in production of accessible educational materials.

YES - Identify the documents or resources that communicate this information and how it is disseminated.

NO - Identify approaches for communicating this information, particularly to new stakeholders.

 

14. Information is available to identify sources outside of the state from which accessible

instructional materials can be acquired.

YES - Identify the documents or access points where this information is available.

NO - Determine the need for individuals to access this information and, if appropriate, produce a document to communicate this to stakeholders.

 

15. Production facilities within the state collaborate to ensure that materials produced in accessible format are being made available to others for purchase or loan.

YES - Identify the production facilities within the state and their procedures that will facilitate this collaboration.

NO - Determine how this may be instituted so that students benefit without unnecessary duplication of resources.

 

16. Specific qualifications are available for producers of braille (including certified transcribers, proofreaders, tactile graphics experience, etc.) to ensure quality production of materials.

YES - Identify the policies or guidelines and necessary documentation.

NO - Determine the need/benefit of formulating policies or guidelines and documentation and proceed accordingly.

 

17. Procedures for submitting requests for print instructional materials ensure that the correct edition of a requested textbook is obtained. (International Standard Book Number [ISBN] matches the edition of the book needed, i.e., student edition and not the teacher edition, specific state's edition and not a generic edition, etc.)

YES - Identify procedures and documentation, including essential forms, that facilitate efficient and accurate orders for student instructional materials.

NO - Determine procedures for increasing efficient and accurate orders for student instructional materials. Forms and timelines may be a component of the activity.

Comments:

18. Guidelines exist to address the quality production of print instructional materials.

YES - Identify those guidelines and documentation.

NO - Determine the needs/benefit of creating guidelines and documentation and proceed accordingly.

 

19. Guidelines exist to address how graphics are included in print instructional materials.

YES - Identify those guidelines and documentation.

NO - Determine the needs/benefit of creating guidelines and documentation and proceed accordingly.

 

20. An evaluation process has been established to ensure that the system addressing accessibility of instructional materials continues to provide maximum benefit to students. Such a process may be a self-study, a committee or regulatory oversight study, or other evaluation at the state, local school system, or local school level.

YES - Identify the process and forms for this evaluation.

NO - Determine the need/benefit for evaluation of the acquisition process for student instructional materials and proceed accordingly.

 


GLOSSARY AND ABBREVIATIONS

American Foundation for the Blind Textbooks and Instructional Materials Solutions Forum

www.afb.org/education.asp

www.tsbvi.edu/textbooks/afb/index.htm

The American Foundation for the Blind (AFB) Solutions Forum is a national collaborative effort to ensure equal access to textbooks and instructional materials for students who are blind or visually impaired. AFB's organizational partners include the leading national organizations and associations in textbook publishing; education; literacy; access technology; production of braille, large-print, and recorded textbooks; and services for the blind and visually impaired. For additional information about the AFB Solutions Forum, contact Mary Ann Siller, 1030 Ables Lane, Dallas TX 75229, Phone: 469-522-1803or email at .

American Printing House for the Blind (APH)

www.aph.org

APH is a national nonprofit organization that promotes independence of blind and visually impaired persons by providing specialized materials, products, and services needed for education and life for people who are visually impaired.

An Authorized Entity

www.loc.gov/nls/reference/factsheets/copyright.html

Public Law 104-197: Under the Legislative Branch Appropriations Bill, H.R. 3754, Congress approved a measure, introduced by Senator John H. Chafee (R-R.I.) on July 29, 1996, that provides for an exemption affecting the NLS program. On September 16, 1996, the bill was signed into law by President Clinton. The amendment defines and limits "authorized entity" to "a nonprofit organization or a governmental agency that has a primary mission to provide specialized services relating to training, education, or adaptive reading or information access needs of blind or other persons with disabilities."

Blind or Other Persons with Print Disabilities

These are defined as students served under IDEA 2004 and who may qualify in accordance with the Act entitled "An Act to Provide Books for the Adult Blind," approved March 3, 1931 (2 U.S.C. 135a; 46 Stat. 1487), to receive books and other publications produced in specialized formats.

Chafee Amendment to the Copyright Act

Allows an authorized entity to reproduce or distribute copies or recordings of a previously published, nondramatic literary work in specialized formats exclusively for use by persons who are blind or have other disabilities. Specialized formats mean braille, audio, or digital text exclusively for use by persons who are blind or have other disabilities. IDEA 2004 expands the definition of specialized formats initially developed in the Chafee Amendment to the Copyright Act with respect to print instructional materials to include large-print formats when such materials are distributed exclusively for use by persons who are blind or have other print disabilities

Instructional Resource Centers for the Blind and Visually Impaired (IRCBVI ) 

This is a collaborative group of people who work in or with media centers whose primary mission is to provide adapted materials for students who are blind or visually impaired in local school districts or special school settings. Additional services are often included. Members of the group have worked with the American Foundation for the Blind in the successful passage of parts of IDEA 2004 related to the needs of print-handicapped students to have their adapted instructional materials available at the same time as their sighted peers.

International Standard Book Number (ISBN )

This number is the unique identifier of each published book and most instructional materials. It is a 10-digit number located on the back of the book's title page, as is the copyright year and other publication information. It will have hyphens and may end with the letter x, which represents the digit 10. The ISBN clearly identifies each book as unique between the subtitles of a series, ancillary materials, or the teacher's edition and the student's text. It also identifies books as being "national" editions or "state-specific" editions. If your adoption has a different ISBN than the one being considered, the changes may be minimal or substantial. "Classroom-compatible" is a general term that may indicate the book will work for the student. It does not have a precise definition, so a comparison would be appropriate.

LOUIS Database at APH

www.aph.org/louis

Louis Database is a resource of books and accessible materials from 180 organizations and APHinstructional materials' files. The database assists educators, individuals who are blind or visually impaired, and administrators in locating books and materials in an efficient and timely manner.

National Instructional Materials Accessibility Standard (NIMAS)

NIMAS refers to a collection of consistent and valid XML-based source files created by K-12 curriculum publishers. From these well-structured source files, accessible, student-ready alternate-format versions of textbooks and core materials (i.e., braille, e-Text, Digital Talking Book, etc.) can subsequently be created and distributed to qualified students with disabilities. NIMAS is not a student-ready version.

The NIMAS Standard was achieved by consensus through the 40-member National File Format Technical Panel during the period January, 2003, to November, 2003. The standard was subsequently endorsed as a voluntary standard by the Secretary of Education on July 27th, 2004. However, IDEA 2004, P.L. 108-446, establishes NIMAS as a national standard and requires states and local districts to adopt NIMAS for providing textbooks and instructional materials to students who are blind or print-disabled.

The timeline for states or local districts to enter into a contract with publishers for the use and delivery of NIMAS files to the National Instructional Materials Access Center will be two years after the date of enactment of IDEA 2004.

National Instructional Materials Access Center (NIMAC)

The NIMAC is a national file repository of NIMAS source files. In IDEA 2004, APH was designated to serve as the Access Center. The Secretary of Education will establish and support the Access Center at APH one year after enactment of IDEA 2004.

Print Instructional Materials

This term is defined in the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act of 2004 (IDEA 2004), P.L. 108-446, as printed textbooks and related printed core materials that are written and published primarily for use in elementary school and secondary school instruction. These materials are required by a state educational agency or local educational agency for use by students in the classroom.

Specialized Formats

Section 306 of the Copyright Act,121(d)(3) of Title 17, United States Code, defines this to include braille, audio, or digital text exclusively for use by persons who are blind or have other disabilities. Section 306 of the Copyright Act was amended by IDEA 2004 and print instructional materials now include large-print formats when such materials are distributed exclusively for use by persons who are blind or have other disabilities.

Tactile Graphics

Raised-line pictures, graphs or diagrams designed to be interpreted through touch.

American Foundation for the Blind

Textbooks and Instructional Materials Solutions Forum

NIMAS Guidelines Checklist: A Self-Study Tool

The following checklist has been formulated as a tool for reviewing a state or local district’s current system of providing accessible textbooks and instructional materials to students who are blind or visually impaired. It is not a survey but a self-assessment tool to determine issues that need to be addressed in order to improve services to students. It can also be used to create a model profile of efficient systems that could be used as states and local districts begin implementing components of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Improvement Act of 2004 (IDEA), P.L. 108-446, regarding production and delivery of accessible textbooks and instructional materials.

Participants in the AFB Textbooks and Instructional Materials Solutions Forum identified the guidelines in this checklist. It is important to note that those participants all agreed that each state and local district is very different in:

  • how they provide services
  • how accessible instructional materials are funded
  • how guidelines and procedures are developed and implemented

The participants also agreed that each state or local district must have a system identified to ensure timely delivery of accessible textbooks and instructional materials.

This system provides guidance for implementing the National Instructional Materials Accessibility Standard (NIMAS) established by the IDEA 2004 statute and the technical specification published in the Federal Register.

NIMAS, as defined in the checklist, is a collection of consistent and valid XML-based source files created by K-12 curriculum publishers. From these well-structured source files, accessible, alternate-format versions of textbooks and core instructional materials (i.e. braille, Digital Talking Book, etc.) can subsequently be created (www.afb.org/nimas.asp).

This NIMAS Guidelines Checklist may serve as a foundation for creating a report specific to your state or local district. The report can then be used to communicate with stakeholders about the services provided, improvements needed, or other important information to ensure that students with visual impairments have “the right book at the right time.”

Please feel free to copy and use this checklist as an outline for creating a profile of your state or local district’s efforts to provide accessible textbooks and instructional materials. Your committee may determine additional questions or issues specific to your situation. It is also suggested that you attach supporting documentation to clarify an answer or enhance the report being produced. If the AFB Solutions Forum can be of assistance to you in this process, please contact Mary Ann Siller, American Foundation for the Blind, 11030 Ables Lane, Dallas TX 75229, phone: 469-522-1803 or email at .

 

Coordinating Instructional Materials Accessibility

NIMAS Guidelines Checklist for: ___________________ (Name of State)

*NOTE: The following is based on current information and is subject to change pending publication of IDEA rules.

Guideline Checklist Items Comments

1. A procedure is in place to ensure delivery of accessible instructional materials to students with visual impairments at the same time those materials are made available to all students in the classroom.

YES - In addition to communicating information about your system to stakeholders in your state, please provide resource information to the AFB Solutions Forum or Instructional Resource Center for the Blind and Visually Impaired (IRCBVI).

NO - Proceed through this worksheet for ideas on establishing such a system.

 

2. A stakeholder group has been identified to formulate strategies to coordinate print instructional materials for students with visual impairments or to review the current system in place and make appropriate recommendations.

YES - List the names, titles, and affiliations of members of this group.

NO - Identify key stakeholders who might serve on such a group. Potential candidates include: state Department of Education (DOE) personnel (vision consultant, state textbook coordinator, director of instructional materials center, etc.), member of legislative finance committee, local director of special education, general educator, parents, teachers of the visually impaired, braille transcribers (knowledgeable in all braille formats, including tactile graphics), persons knowledgeable about publishers' electronic files and other alternative formats.

 

3. Procedures for selecting and purchasing textbooks for all students are identified and communicated to appropriate stakeholders. Check all that apply.

- Statewide decision

- Local school system decision

-- Individual school decision

YES - Identify source for reviewing this information at the state level, local school system level, and individual school level.

NO - Identify a strategy for determining how decisions are made for selecting and purchasing textbooks at the state level, local school system level, and individual school level.

 

4. Selection of textbooks addresses the need for accessible copies, and procedures are in place to ensure that accessible textbooks are available for students who are blind or visually impaired.

YES - Identify process used for selection and purchase of textbooks.

NO - Consider whether assurance of accessible textbooks can be addressed through:

___ purchase contracts

___ other means

 

5. Timelines have been established for adoption, selection, purchase, and delivery of new textbooks so that accessible copies can be procured for delivery along with other print editions. For example, consideration is given to the amount of time needed for obtaining source files, transcribing, proofing, embossing, and delivering accessible materials.

YES - Identify those timelines at the state level, local school system level, and individual school level.

NO - Consult with publishers or your state's instructional materials center to determine appropriate timelines and disseminate the information at the state level, local school system level, and individual school level.

 

6. Information is published about the expected timelines for production and delivery of braille or other accessible media within the state.

YES - Identify the location where this information is published and how it is communicated to stakeholders.

NO - Identify procedures for publishing and disseminating this information.

 

7a. A central agency within the state acquires and disseminates accessible instructional materials to students who are blind or visually impaired.

YES - Identify the agency; provide contact information and details about using their services.

NO - If there are multiple agencies, see part b of this question.

 

7b. There are multiple agencies within the state that acquire and disseminate print instructional materials to students who are blind or visually impaired.

YES - Identify the agencies, provide contact information, the services they provide, how the services are funded (private/state funds), and other appropriate information.

NO - If there is a central agency, see part a of this question.

 

8. Appropriate information about fund source(s) for purchasing accessible educational materials is readily available to school personnel to enable them to determine how/where to order accessible textbooks and instructional materials.

YES - Identify method of determining and disseminating this information and identify different funding resources available at the state level, local school system level, and individual school level.

NO - Create a method for determining and disseminating this information.

 

9. Funds have been allocated at the appropriate administrative level to address the increased cost of accessible textbooks and educational materials.

YES - Provide clear documentation of the sources and processes (including timelines and contacts) for each budget cycle.

NO - Determine possible resources, contacts, processes, and timelines for the establishment of reliable fund streams.

 

10. Agencies have been identified to receive publishers' electronic files from the National Instructional Materials Access Center (NIMAC) at American Printing House for the Blind (APH).

YES - Ensure documentation is in place, including contact information.

NO - Determine which agencies would be appropriate (single entity or a collaboration) and follow procedures to enable them to receive files from the access center.

 

11. State legislation or other regulations related to provision of braille that will affect the system for delivery of print instructional materials are in place.

YES - Identify state legislation or regulations and attach information created as a result of the legislation. Note the impact of 2004 IDEA reauthorization.

NO - Determine what other solutions can be pursued to achieve the same result (through contracts or other regulatory means).

 

12. Individual professionals serving students who are blind or visually impaired are knowledgeable about the system for acquiring print instructional materials.

YES - Identify in-service training or the location of the documents, URLs, or manuals that present this information.

NO - Determine the best method of communicating this information in your state. Options include in-service training, manuals, and URLs.

 

13. Information is available to appropriate stakeholders within the state to identify the agencies and organizations there involved in production of accessible educational materials.

YES - Identify the documents or resources that communicate this information and how it is disseminated.

NO - Identify approaches for communicating this information, particularly to new stakeholders.

 

14. Information is available to identify sources outside of the state from which accessible

instructional materials can be acquired.

YES - Identify the documents or access points where this information is available.

NO - Determine the need for individuals to access this information and, if appropriate, produce a document to communicate this to stakeholders.

 

15. Production facilities within the state collaborate to ensure that materials produced in accessible format are being made available to others for purchase or loan.

YES - Identify the production facilities within the state and their procedures that will facilitate this collaboration.

NO - Determine how this may be instituted so that students benefit without unnecessary duplication of resources.

 

16. Specific qualifications are available for producers of braille (including certified transcribers, proofreaders, tactile graphics experience, etc.) to ensure quality production of materials.

YES - Identify the policies or guidelines and necessary documentation.

NO - Determine the need/benefit of formulating policies or guidelines and documentation and proceed accordingly.

 

17. Procedures for submitting requests for print instructional materials ensure that the correct edition of a requested textbook is obtained. (International Standard Book Number [ISBN] matches the edition of the book needed, i.e., student edition and not the teacher edition, specific state's edition and not a generic edition, etc.)

YES - Identify procedures and documentation, including essential forms, that facilitate efficient and accurate orders for student instructional materials.

NO - Determine procedures for increasing efficient and accurate orders for student instructional materials. Forms and timelines may be a component of the activity.

Comments:

18. Guidelines exist to address the quality production of print instructional materials.

YES - Identify those guidelines and documentation.

NO - Determine the needs/benefit of creating guidelines and documentation and proceed accordingly.

 

19. Guidelines exist to address how graphics are included in print instructional materials.

YES - Identify those guidelines and documentation.

NO - Determine the needs/benefit of creating guidelines and documentation and proceed accordingly.

 

20. An evaluation process has been established to ensure that the system addressing accessibility of instructional materials continues to provide maximum benefit to students. Such a process may be a self-study, a committee or regulatory oversight study, or other evaluation at the state, local school system, or local school level.

YES - Identify the process and forms for this evaluation.

NO - Determine the need/benefit for evaluation of the acquisition process for student instructional materials and proceed accordingly.

 


GLOSSARY AND ABBREVIATIONS

American Foundation for the Blind Textbooks and Instructional Materials Solutions Forum

www.afb.org/education.asp

www.tsbvi.edu

The American Foundation for the Blind (AFB) Solutions Forum is a national collaborative effort to ensure equal access to textbooks and instructional materials for students who are blind or visually impaired. AFB's organizational partners include the leading national organizations and associations in textbook publishing; education; literacy; access technology; production of braille, large-print, and recorded textbooks; and services for the blind and visually impaired. For additional information about the AFB Solutions Forum, contact Mary Ann Siller, 1030 Ables Lane, Dallas TX 75229, Phone: 469-522-1803or email at .

American Printing House for the Blind (APH)

www.aph.org

APH is a national nonprofit organization that promotes independence of blind and visually impaired persons by providing specialized materials, products, and services needed for education and life for people who are visually impaired.

An Authorized Entity

www.loc.gov/nls/reference/factsheets/copyright.html

Public Law 104-197: Under the Legislative Branch Appropriations Bill, H.R. 3754, Congress approved a measure, introduced by Senator John H. Chafee (R-R.I.) on July 29, 1996, that provides for an exemption affecting the NLS program. On September 16, 1996, the bill was signed into law by President Clinton. The amendment defines and limits "authorized entity" to "a nonprofit organization or a governmental agency that has a primary mission to provide specialized services relating to training, education, or adaptive reading or information access needs of blind or other persons with disabilities."

Blind or Other Persons with Print Disabilities

These are defined as students served under IDEA 2004 and who may qualify in accordance with the Act entitled "An Act to Provide Books for the Adult Blind," approved March 3, 1931 (2 U.S.C. 135a; 46 Stat. 1487), to receive books and other publications produced in specialized formats.

Chafee Amendment to the Copyright Act

Allows an authorized entity to reproduce or distribute copies or recordings of a previously published, nondramatic literary work in specialized formats exclusively for use by persons who are blind or have other disabilities. Specialized formats mean braille, audio, or digital text exclusively for use by persons who are blind or have other disabilities. IDEA 2004 expands the definition of specialized formats initially developed in the Chafee Amendment to the Copyright Act with respect to print instructional materials to include large-print formats when such materials are distributed exclusively for use by persons who are blind or have other print disabilities

Instructional Resource Centers for the Blind and Visually Impaired (IRCBVI ) 

TSBVI Listing

This is a collaborative group of people who work in or with media centers whose primary mission is to provide adapted materials for students who are blind or visually impaired in local school districts or special school settings. Additional services are often included. Members of the group have worked with the American Foundation for the Blind in the successful passage of parts of IDEA 2004 related to the needs of print-handicapped students to have their adapted instructional materials available at the same time as their sighted peers.

International Standard Book Number (ISBN )

This number is the unique identifier of each published book and most instructional materials. It is a 10-digit number located on the back of the book's title page, as is the copyright year and other publication information. It will have hyphens and may end with the letter x, which represents the digit 10. The ISBN clearly identifies each book as unique between the subtitles of a series, ancillary materials, or the teacher's edition and the student's text. It also identifies books as being "national" editions or "state-specific" editions. If your adoption has a different ISBN than the one being considered, the changes may be minimal or substantial. "Classroom-compatible" is a general term that may indicate the book will work for the student. It does not have a precise definition, so a comparison would be appropriate.

LOUIS Database at APH

www.aph.org/louis

Louis Database is a resource of books and accessible materials from 180 organizations and APHinstructional materials' files. The database assists educators, individuals who are blind or visually impaired, and administrators in locating books and materials in an efficient and timely manner.

National Instructional Materials Accessibility Standard (NIMAS)

NIMAS refers to a collection of consistent and valid XML-based source files created by K-12 curriculum publishers. From these well-structured source files, accessible, student-ready alternate-format versions of textbooks and core materials (i.e., braille, e-Text, Digital Talking Book, etc.) can subsequently be created and distributed to qualified students with disabilities. NIMAS is not a student-ready version.

The NIMAS Standard was achieved by consensus through the 40-member National File Format Technical Panel during the period January, 2003, to November, 2003. The standard was subsequently endorsed as a voluntary standard by the Secretary of Education on July 27th, 2004. However, IDEA 2004, P.L. 108-446, establishes NIMAS as a national standard and requires states and local districts to adopt NIMAS for providing textbooks and instructional materials to students who are blind or print-disabled.

The timeline for states or local districts to enter into a contract with publishers for the use and delivery of NIMAS files to the National Instructional Materials Access Center will be two years after the date of enactment of IDEA 2004.

National Instructional Materials Access Center (NIMAC)

The NIMAC is a national file repository of NIMAS source files. In IDEA 2004, APH was designated to serve as the Access Center. The Secretary of Education will establish and support the Access Center at APH one year after enactment of IDEA 2004.

Print Instructional Materials

This term is defined in the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act of 2004 (IDEA 2004), P.L. 108-446, as printed textbooks and related printed core materials that are written and published primarily for use in elementary school and secondary school instruction. These materials are required by a state educational agency or local educational agency for use by students in the classroom.

Specialized Formats

Section 306 of the Copyright Act,121(d)(3) of Title 17, United States Code, defines this to include braille, audio, or digital text exclusively for use by persons who are blind or have other disabilities. Section 306 of the Copyright Act was amended by IDEA 2004 and print instructional materials now include large-print formats when such materials are distributed exclusively for use by persons who are blind or have other disabilities.

Tactile Graphics

Raised-line pictures, graphs or diagrams designed to be interpreted through touch.

The following information is a "sample" list of products and/or resources related to (and often resulting from) activities of the American Foundation for the Blind Textbooks and Instructional Materials Solutions Forum and its 44 organizational partners. The Communication and Collaboration Work Group encourages the reader to submit suggestions for additions/corrections to this list. Please contact Mary Ann Siller at or Marie Amerson at with your comments. Also, be sure to periodically check the following web sites for updates about new products/resources: www.afb.org/education.asp.

Accessible Textbooks and Instructional Materials: A Tool Kit from the AFB Solutions Forum

This is a collection of articles and information from various stakeholders in the Solutions Forum. The Tool Kit is designed to provide documents which may be reproduced and shared to increase knowledge about the issues and potential solutions relevant to instructional materials accessibility for students with visual impairments. The 296-page Tool Kit is in its second printing. It is available in print in a 3-ring binder and on a PC-formatted CD-ROM that contains a print-ready format and accessible HTML.

Source: Contact Mary Ann Siller, American Foundation for the Blind, 260 Treadway Plaza, Dallas, TX 75235;

NOTE: Several of the following entries in this list are included in the Tool Kit.

AFB Textbooks and Instructional Materials Solutions Forum: Background and History

This is a chronological history of the efforts to ensure "the right book at the right time⬠for students who are blind or have low vision.

Source: AFB Solutions Forum Tool Kit, www.afb.org/education.asp; www.tsbvi.edu

Accessible Textbooks: A Glossary of Commonly Used Terms

A document providing explanation of acronyms and terms related to the AFB Solutions Forum.

Source: www.afb.org/education.asp (Communication & Collaboration Work Group) or www.tsbvi.edu

Alphabet Soup: Common Acronyms Used When Speaking About Accessible Textbooks

A list of terms and organizations often referred to in discussions about instructional materials accessibility.

Source: AFB Solutions Forum Tool Kit; www.tsbvi.edu and www.afb.org (Communication and Collaboration Work Group)

Instructional Materials Accessibility Act: Section-by-Section Analysis; Summary of Key Areas of the IMAA

Various pieces of information are available on national legislation introduced to address the need for accessible textbooks for students who are blind, have low vision or are print disabled.

Source: Tool Kit; www.afb.org/IDEA.asp; www.afb.org/education.asp; (Legislation and Policy-Making Work Group); www.tsbvi.edu

IMAA - Frequently Asked Questions

This 2003 document provides information which advocates can use when communicating with their U.S. Representative or Senators to answer questions about the need for key principles of the IMAA to be included in the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA).

Source: www.afb.org/education.asp (Legislative and Policy-Making Work Group) and AFB Solutions Forum Tool Kit

Call to Action Packet: AFB and Verizon National Campaign for Literacy, Textbooks, Transcribers and Technology

The packet includes an advocacy video, sample letters, poster, bookmarks, policy papers, and other information to highlight this three-year national public education campaign.

Source: Go to www.afb.org then the Bookstore and free materials or contact Mary Ann Siller at to request copies of the packet.

Get Caught Reading Posters

From a campaign to highlight the joy of reading, these posters feature celebrities who have been caught reading, including Erik Weihenmayer and Patty Duke with a young friend reading braille.

Source: www.afb.org then the bookstore and free materials or www.getcaughtreading.org

Production of Braille Textbooks

This is a fact sheet prepared in June 2000 which outlines the steps for braille transcription using publishers' electronic files.

Source: AFB Solutions Forum Tool Kit, www.afb.org/education.asp (Production Process Work Group)

National Training Manual on How to Work with Publishers' Files

A training seminar was developed for braille transcribers to learn about working with publishers' electronic files. The next phase will be a web-based, self-paced seminar on the American Foundation for the Blind's web site.

Source: to be available June 2004 at www.afb.org

Community College Courses for the Braille Textbook Transcriber Career

A series of college courses are being developed in partnership with AFB, Northwest Vista College in San Antonio, Texas, and the Texas Education Agency to train people to become braille textbook transcribers. This is a 39 hour certificate program.

Survey on the Training and Availability of Braille Transcribers

Information and summary is provided on one of three national surveys conducted in 2000 by the AFB Solutions Forum.

Source: www.afb.org/education.asp (Training and Other Needs Work Group); www.tsbvi.edu

Survey of Multimedia Presentations for Students with Visual Impairments

Information and summary is provided on one of three national surveys conducted in 2000 by the AFB Solutions Forum.

Source: www.afb.org/education.asp (Electronic Files & Research Work Group) www.tsbvi.edu

Survey on the Production of Textbooks and Instructional Materials

Information and summary is provided on one of three national surveys conducted in 2000 by the AFB Solutions Forum.

Source: www.afb.org/education.asp (Production Process Work Group) www.tsbvi.edu

Basic Principles for Preparing Tactile Graphics; Deciding Whether to Create a Tactile Graphic

This document provides a checklist and information to assist in the process of preparing tactile graphics.

Source: www.afb.org/education.asp (Electronic Files & Research Work Group) and www.tsbvi.edu

 

Resources for Preparing Quality Tactile Graphics; Types and Producers of Tactile Graphics

This document includes information about organizations and agencies which produce tactile graphics or provide service in this area.

Source: www.afb.org/education.asp (Electronic Files & Research Work Group) and www.tsbvi.edu

Web Site Resources for Education

A sample list of web resources compiled for the AFB Solutions Forum.

Source: AFB Solutions Forum Tool Kit

Organizational Contact List

This 2003 list provides contact information for individuals involved in the AFB Solutions Forum and/or organizations which would be of interest to forum participants.

Source: AFB Solutions Forum Tool Kit; www.afb.org/education.asp and TSBVI AFB Toolkit

Conversion Vendors

A list of vendors who contacted the Association of American Publishers in 2003 saying they have experience in converting files to various platforms. The list was not verified for quality of services, so potential users must make their own decisions if the vendors are appropriate.

Source: AFB Solutions Forum Tool Kit

Joint Technology Task Force

The Association of American Publishers, AFB Solutions Forum, Recording for the Blind & Dyslexic and other stakeholders formed the Joint Technology Task Force in 2000 and defined two primary goals: Analyzing the American National Standards Institute and National Information Standards Organization (ANSI/NISO) XML (Extensible Markup Language) file format to determine its suitability for converting textbook content into braille and other accessible formats; and through training promote and demonstrate the efficiency and benefits of using publishers' files in ANSI/NISO XML format.

Source: AFB Solutions Forum Tool Kit and www.tsbvi.edu

ASCII: An Outdated File Development System

This is a document that describes the file format system of ASCII and why it is not satisfactory to use in the production of textbooks in the 21st Century.

Source: AFB Solutions Forum Tool Kit; www.tsbvi.edu and www.afb.org (Electronic Files and Research Work Group)

National Instructional Materials Accessibility Standard

Technical Panel and Upcoming Report

The traditional print-based materials that dominate classrooms raise barriers for many students with disabilities. Because textbooks and instructional materials are not often on time or in the appropriate medium, students with disabilities are not given a full array of opportunities to access, participate and progress in the general education curriculum.

In October 2002, a supplemental award was extended to the National Center on Accessing the Curriculum (NCAC) at the Center for Applied Special Technologies (CAST) by U.S. Department of Education. Collaborative partners included the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) at the Department of Commerce.

A technical panel was formed and charged with providing the Secretary of Education with a set of technical specifications to facilitate the efficient delivery of accessible instructional materials, a timeline for the implementation of the proposed standard and process for assessing the success of standard implementation. A key component outlined in the work of the panel was to ensure that students with disabilities are provided with equivalent access to instructional materials at the same time as their non-disabled peers.

The forty member technical panel represented the interests of disability advocates, publishers, assistive technology developers, producers of curriculum materials for students with special needs, data transformation experts, and state representatives.

The technical panel began its work in January 2003 and a full report will be given to the Secretary of Education in the fall of 2003.

Source: www.cast.org

Presentation title: The Expanded Core Curriculum: Finding the Time
Presentor name: 
E-mail:
World Wide Web: