Main content

Alert message

March 31, 1997

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

 


Table of Contents


EXECUTIVE SUMMARY

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Go to Top of Page


INTRODUCTION

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The mission and philosophy of the instructional technology program follows:

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

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

Technology can facilitate the following:

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

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

Go to Top of Page


PLANNING ASSUMPTIONS AND FACTORS

Underlying Assumptions

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

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

the cost of technology will continue to decline

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

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

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

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

Planning Factors

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

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

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

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

technical staff involvement in administrative planning and policy development

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

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

Go to Top of Page


GOALS

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

[Texas Education Code 11.062]

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

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

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

Action Item #1 Assess viability of current technologies

#2 Review current equipment to assess functionality

#3 Target equipment to be replaced

#4 Prepare funding proposal

#5 Procure and install replacement equipment

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Action item#1 explore new methods of technology service delivery

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

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

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

#5 Establish a software review committee

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

Go to Top of Page

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

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

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

Action Item #1 continue to expand the TSBVI web site

#2 explore and develop guidelines for establishment of intranet

#3 Train information providers in system update methods

IR Strategy #8 Implement Library and Circulation system.

Action Item #1 Review design of circulation module

#2 explore availability of commercial software

#3 establish task force for software selection

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

IR Strategy #9 Further refine Student Course Information System

Action Item #1 Assess current status of system

#2 Modify Report Card format

#3 Implement schedules and grades by course

#4 Train staff

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

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

Action Item #1 improve Budget management module

#2 improve analysis reporting from USAS extraction data

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

Action Item #1 Asses current system and review potential enhancements

#2 Establish system design and implementation timelines

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

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

Action Item #1 Identify year 2000 issues and impact factors

#2 Review application software and existing hardware

#3 take preventative steps to minimize agency risks

IR Strategy#13 review disaster recovery planning

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

#2 identify new areas of risk exposure

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

Go to Top of Page

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

[Texas Education Code 11.062]

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

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

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

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

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

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

IR Strategy #15 Develop support tools for Outreach staff.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Go to Top of Page

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

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

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

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

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

Go to Top of Page


Attachment A Organization and Personnel

Technical Support Staff

Director of Technology Services

Serves as the agency Information Resources Manager.

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

Application Development Programmer

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

System Support Specialist I

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

Hardware Technician

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

Computer Technician

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

Instructional Technical Staff

StateWide Technical Support Specialist

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

Educational Technology Coordinators

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

Outreach Technology Teacher

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

Classroom teacher

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

Instructional Technician;

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

Go to Top of Page


Attachment B Policies and Practices

Priority Setting and Planning

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

Staff Training and Continuing Education

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

Operating System Standards

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

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

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

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

Interagency Communications

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

Security

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

Disaster Recovery

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

Use of Computing resources

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

Use of contract Services and Consultants

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

No consultants are used.

Use of Computer-Aided Software Engineering

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

Quality Assurance and Risk Management

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

User Acceptance

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

Go to Top of Page


Attachment C Methodology and Information Resource Planning

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

Go to Top of Page


Attachment D Configuration

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

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

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

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

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

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

Go to Top of Page


Attachment E Telecommunication Infrastructure

Voice Communications

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

Data Communications

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

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

Go to Top of Page


Attachment F Interagency Network Participation

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Go to Top of Page


Attachment G Databases

Database Name: Student Database

File Structure: Rdb

Access Software: RDO/SQL, COBOL

Hardware: VAX 4000-200

Location: Technology Services Department

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

Database Name: Medical Limitations

File Structure: Rdb

Access Software: RDO/SQL, Rally

Hardware: VAX 4000-200

Location: Technology Services Department

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

Database Name: Maintenance Work Order

File Structure: Rdb

Access Software: RDO/SQL, Rally

Hardware: VAX 4000-200

Location: Technology Services Department

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

Database Name: Registration Tracking

File Structure RMS indexed sequential

Access Software All-In-1

Hardware VAX 4000-200

Location Technology Services Department

Description Contains elements to track flow of paperwork, student

requests/requirements for fall and summer registration processing.

Database Name: ARD Tracking

File Structure RMS indexed sequential

Access Software All-In-1

Hardware VAX 4000-200

Location Technology Services Department

Description Contains elements to track ARD set-up and coordination

with other staff and agencies.

Database Name: Student Course Information

File Structure Rdb

Access Software: RDO/SQL, Rally

Hardware: VAX 4000-200

Location: Technology Services Department

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

Database Name: Incident Reporting

File Structure Rdb

Access Software Rally

Hardware VAX 4000-200

Location Life Skills

Description Contains information concerning behavior and injuries.

Database Name: Warehouse

File Structure RMS ISAM

Access Software: COBOL, Datatrieve

Hardware: VAX 4000-200

Location: Technology Services Department

Description All warehouse receipts and issues

Database Name: Student Trust

File Structure RMS ISAM

Access Software: COBOL, Datatrieve

Hardware: VAX 4000-200

Location: Technology Services Department

Description All student account receipts and expenditures

Database Name: Accounts Payable/Purchasing

File Structure Fox Pro

Access Software Fox Pro for Dos

Location Business Office

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

Database Name: Staff Database

File Structure Rdb

Access Software: RDO/SQL, Rally

Hardware: VAX 4000-200

Location: Technology Services Department

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

Database Name: Library System

File Structure Rdb

Access Software: RDO/SQL, COBOL

Hardware: VAX 4000-200

Location: Learning Resource Center

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

Database Name: Discipline Log System

File Structure Rdb

Access Software: RDO/SQL, Rally

Hardware: VAX 4000-200

Location: Secondary Office

Description Tracking and email notification system for student dicipline information.

Database Name: Software Archive System

File Structure Rdb

Access Software: RDO/SQL, Rally

Hardware: VAX 4000-200

Location: Technology Services Department

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

Database Name: Data Dictionary System

File Structure Rdb

Access Software: RDO/SQL, Rally

Hardware: VAX 4000-200

Location: Technology Services Department

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

Go to Top of Page


Attachment H Major Applications

Financial Administration

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

Student Administration

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

Office Automation

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

Library Management system

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

Student Course Information system

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

Accounts Payable/Purchasing System (APPS)

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

Student Registration Tracking

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

Service Request System

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

Data Dictionary

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

Technology Loan Catalog

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