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TSBVI PROJECTED OUTCOMES FOR FISCAL YEARS 2001-2005

Outcome 2001 2002 2003 2004 2005
Percent of Student Learning Performance Indicator Attained

100

100 100 100 100
Percent of Responding LEA's, Parents and Students Rating the Students' Progress During the Regular School Year as Very Satisfactory or Above

70

70 70 72 75
Percent of Students Attending Short-term Programs Demonstrating Progress as Measured by Pre- and Post-assessment

65

65 70 72 75
Percent of Responding LEAs, Parents, and Students Rating the Students' Experiences in the Short-term Programs as Very Satisfactory or Above

65

65 70 72 75
Percent of Students Whose Responding Local School Districts Rated their Learning Experience at Summer School as Very Satisfactory or Above

88

85 85 85 85
Percent of Students Whose Responding Parents Rated their Learning Experience at Summer School as Very Satisfactory or Above

80

80 80 85 85
Percent of Responding Local School Districts Rating TSBVI as Satisfactory or Above in Meeting the Students' Reason for Referral

65

65 70 72 75
Percent of Responding Parents Rating TSBVI as Satisfactory or Above in Meeting the Students' Reason for Referral

65

65 70 72 75
Percent of Students Graduated From TSBVI During the Past 5 Years Who are Currently Employed

60

45 50 50 55
Percent of Families, Professionals and Paraprofessionals Rating as Very Satisfactory or Above the Improvement in their Knowledge and Skills as a Result of the Services or Products Received from TSBVI

80

82 85 85 85
Percent of Families, Professionals and Paraprofessionals Rating as Very Satisfactory or Above the Effectiveness of the TSBVI Consultant in Addressing the Reason for the On-Site Visit/Workshop 80 85 85 85 85
Percent of Families, Professionals and Paraprofessionals Agreeing that there was a Positive Change for the Student, Staff or Family as a Result of the On-Site Visit

80

85 85 87 87

Appendix B: Current Organizational Chart



Texas School for the Blind and Visually Impaired

 



BOARD 
OF TRUSTEES
    |


INTERNAL AUDITOR


 


SUPERINTENDENT
 /     /    |     \



HUMAN RESOURCES

RISK& PROPERTY
MANAGEMENT

LEGAL

CURRICULUM







COMPREHENSIVE
PROGRAMS


SPECIAL 
PROGRAMS

          OUTREACH


BUSINESS, OPERATIONS
& TECHNOLOGY


SCHOOL & STUDENT
SERVICES


             |                |                  |                     |                |

training and resources
for professionals and families of VI and deafblind children and other statewide services


accounting, budgeting, purchasing, facilities, transportation, 
food services, security, 
technology services & telecommunications


planning 
and evaluation, admissions and records, Learning Resource Center, Health Center, staff development, distance education, and community resource development


regular school year instructional 
and residential programs


summer and other
short-term instructional programs

 

This Agency Strategic Plan was developed with input from the School's Instructional Planning Council (IPC), Campus Improvement Committees (CICs), TSBVI's Management Team, Board of Trustees and stakeholders from around the State. Members of these groups include TSBVI staff, students, parents, ex-students, individuals with visual impairments, and professionals serving students with visual impairments throughout Texas.

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

OBJECTIVES: 

  • Students attending TSBVI during the regular school year and short-term programs will annually demonstrate success in their educational programs. By fiscal year 2004:

- TSBVI will attain 100% of the Student Learning Performance Indicator Annually Established By TEA and TSBVI

- 70% of responding LEAs, parents, and students will rate the students' progress during the regular school year as very satisfactory or above.

  • Students attending short-term programs will annually demonstrate success in their educational programs. By fiscal year 2004:

- 70% of students attending short-term programs will demonstrate progress as measured by pre- and post-assessment.

- 70% of responding LEAs, parents, and students will rate the students' experiences in the short-term programs as very satisfactory or above.

  • Students will have beneficial experiences at TSBVI summer programs. By fiscal year 2004:

- 85% of students' learning experiences in summer programs will be rated by local districts as very satisfactory or above.

- 80% of students' learning experiences in summer programs will be rated by parents as very satisfactory or above.

  • Students will make successful transitions. By fiscal year 2004:

- 70% of responding local school districts will rate TSBVI as satisfactory or above in meeting the student's reason for referral.

- 70% of responding parents will rate TSBVI as satisfactory or above in meeting the student's reason for referral.

- 50% of students who have graduated from TSBVI within the past 5 years will be employed.

Outcome Measures:

  • Percent of Responding LEA's, Parents and Students Rating the Students' Progress During the Regular School Year as Very Satisfactory or Above
  • Percent of Students Attending Short-term Programs Demonstrating Progress as Measured by Pre- and Post-assessment
  • Percent of Responding LEAs, Parents, and Students Rating the Students' Experiences in the Short-term Programs as Very Satisfactory or Above
  • Percent of Students Whose Responding Local School Districts Rated Their Learning Experience at Summer School as Very Satisfactory or Above
  • Percent of Students Whose Responding Parents Rated Their Learning Experience at Summer School as Very Satisfactory or Above
  • Percent of Responding Local School Districts Rating TSBVI as Satisfactory or Above in Meeting the Student's Reason for Referral
  • Percent of Responding Parents Rating TSBVI as Satisfactory or Above in Meeting the Student's Reason for Referral
  • Percent of Students Graduated from TSBVI During the Past 5 Years Who are Currently Employed

STRATEGY: Provide a well-balanced curriculum which includes disability-specific skills and which meets either State Board of Education requirements for regular education or individual education plan (IEP) goals. Provide instruction in academic/functional, vocational, and orientation and mobility skills and promote the successful transition of students to local schools, community placements, work or further education.

Output Measures:

  • Number of Students Enrolled in Day Programming During the Regular School Year
  • Number of Students Working Off-Campus or AttendingClass Off-Campus
  • Number of Students Returned to Local School Districts
  • Number of Students Graduated
  • Number of Students Enrolled Who Have Multiple Disabilities

Efficiency Measures:

  • Average Cost of Instructional Program per Student per Day

Explanatory Measure:

  • Average Length of Enrollment in Regular School Year Program (months)

STRATEGY: Conduct residential programming that provides instruction in independent living skills and social skills. 

Output Measure:

  • Number of Students Enrolled in Residential Programming During the Regular School Year

Efficiency Measure:

  • Average Cost of Residential Program per Student per Night

STRATEGY: Provide a variety of instructional and residential short-term Special Programs including summer enrichment programs designed to meet the educational needs of students with visual impairments. Curriculum will be provided in the following content areas: (a) compensatory academic skills, including communication modes; (b) social interaction skills; (c) recreation and leisure skills; (d) use of assistive technology; (e) orientation and mobility; (f) independent living skills; (g) career education; and (h) visual efficiency skills.

Output Measures

  • Number of Students Enrolled in Short-term Special Programs
  • Number of Students Enrolled in Residential Programming During Short-term Special Programs

Efficiency Measure

  • Average Cost of Short-term Special Programs per Student

STRATEGY: Provide related and support services during the regular school year and short-term Special Programs that support the instruction of students attending TSBVI.

Output Measures:

  • Number of Students Receiving Physical/Motor Services or;
  • Number of Physical/Motor Related Services Received by Each Student
  • Number of Students Receiving Counseling and Assessment Servicesor;
  • Number of Counseling and Assessment Services Received by each Student
  • Average Weekly Number of Residential Students Participating in the "Weekends Home" Program

Efficiency Measures:

  • Average Cost of Related and Support Services per Student
  • Average Cost of "Weekends Home" per Student per Year

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

OBJECTIVE: By fiscal year 2004, 85% of families, professionals, and paraprofessionals will rate as very satisfactory or above the improvement of their knowledge and skills as a result of services or products received from TSBVI.

Outcome Measures:

  • Percent of Families, Professionals, and Paraprofessionals Rating as Very Satisfactory or Above the Improvement of their Knowledge and Skills as a Result of the Services or Products Received from TSBVI
  • Percent of Families, Professionals, and Paraprofessionals Rating as Very Satisfactory or Above the Effectiveness of the TSBVI Consultant in Addressing the Reason for the On-site Visit/Workshop
  • Percent of Families, Professionals, and Paraprofessionals Agreeing that there was a Positive Change for the Student, Staff or Family as a Result of the On-site Visit

STRATEGY: Provide technical assistance and information and referral services for families of and programs serving children with visual impairments and children with deaf-blindness through pre-service, inservice and family services programs.

Outcome Measures:

  • Number of Education Regions Receiving On-Site Consultation and/or Workshops in Their Regions
  • Number of Districts/Special Education Cooperatives Receiving On-Site Consultations
  • Number of Conferences/Workshops-Local, Regional, Statewide, and National
  • Number of On-Site Visits
  • Number of Participants at Local, Regional, Statewide, and National Conferences and Workshops

Outcome Measures:

  • Average Cost of Each On-Site Consultation
  • Average Cost of Workshop per Person

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

OBJECTIVE: TSBVI will include historically underutilized businesses (HUBs) in at least 18% of the total value of contracts and subcontracts awarded annually by the agency in purchasing and public works contracting by fiscal year 2004.

Outcome Measures:

  • Percent of Total Dollar Value of Purchasing and Public Works Contracts and Subcontracts Awarded to HUBs

STRATEGY: Develop and implement a plan for increasing the use of historically underutilized businesses through purchasing and public works contracts and subcontracts.

Outcome Measures:

  • Number of HUB Contractors and Subcontractors Contacted for Bid Proposals
  • Number of HUB Contracts and Subcontracts Awarded
  • Dollar Value of HUB Contracts and Subcontracts Awarded

Overview of Agency Scope and Functions

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

Statutory Basis

TEXAS EDUCATION CODE §30.021 - 30.024

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

TEXAS EDUCATION CODE § 30.025

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

TEXAS EDUCATION CODE §30.003

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

TEXAS EDUCATION CODE §30.004

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Historical Perspective

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Affected Populations 

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

Main Functions: Direct and Outreach Services 

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

To the state's educational system, we are:

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

To blind and visually handicapped youth, we are:

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

To parents of blind children and youth, we are:

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

Organizational Aspects

Size and Composition of Workforce  

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

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

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

Organizational Structure and Processes

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Geographical Location

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

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

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

Location of Service Populations

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

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

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

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

Human Resources Strengths and Weaknesses

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Capital Asset Strengths, Weaknesses and Budgetary Needs

Facilities, Furniture, and Equipment

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

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

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

Vehicles

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

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

Instructional Technology and Equipment

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

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

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

Technology Staff Development and Distance Education

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

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

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

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

Infrastructure Technology

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

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

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

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

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

Agency Use of Historically Underutilized Businesses (HUBs)

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

Key Organizational Events and Areas of Change and Impact on Organization

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Fiscal Aspects

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

DESCRIPTION

FY 1999 Budget 

FY 2000 Budget INCREASE/
DECREASE
 

 


   
OPERATING BUDGET RESOURCES


General Revenue - Regular & Emergency Appropriations

9,998,560

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

-

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

-

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

-

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

120,643

140,951 20,308
USDA Meal Reimbursements

77,000

70,000 (7,000)
Medicaid SHARS Reimbursements

100,000

100,000 -
Medicaid Administrative Claims

-

75,000 75,000
School District Travel Reimbursements

-

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

100,000

100,000 -
Per Capita Carryforward - Other

204,538

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

40,251

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

28,109

28,109 -
Local District Payments - Foundation School Fund

321,421

328,122 6,701
Technology Allotment - Textbook Fund

4,025

4,025 -
Canteen Receipts

22,000

22,000 -
Vending Machine Receipts

16,000

16,000 -
Health Department Aides

31,668

34,536 2,868
Asbestos Settlement

12,113

- (12,113)
Low Vision Assessment

3,000

3,000 -
Housing Receipts

6,000

6,000 -
Meal Ticket Sales

6,000

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

3,658

3,658 -
Surplus and Salvage Sales

5,000

5,000 -
Work/Study Reimbursements

3,000

- (3,000)

TOTAL - OPERATING BUDGET RESOURCES

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

63,000

63,000 -
Capital Budget - Van Purchase

19,000

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

35,649

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

16,000

17,702 1,702
Replace Classroom Floor Tile

98,326

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

11,626

- (11,626)
Dorms D and E Renovations

1,393,428

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

95,000

- (95,000)
Renovate Primary Power Grid

44,000

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

-

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

-

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

-

77,500 77,500
Capital Budget - Instructional Materials

-

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

-

205,000 205,000
TIFB - Technology Infrastructure Fund

-

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

-

400,000 400,000

TOTAL - CAPITAL BUDGET RESOURCES

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


Y2K, Article IX Funding

24,200

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

800

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

530,022

- (530,022)
ESEA Title VI

875

875 -
IDEA-B Formula

56,335

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

37,435

32,400 (5,035)
TCB - SWEAT

63,894

59,886 (4,008)
TCB - WALIC

32,800

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

114,403

17,273 (97,130)
Outreach Conference Accounts

35,000

35,000 -
Region XI Agreement - Statewide Services

313,544

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

75,377

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

40,000

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

302,601

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

312,279

233,484 (78,795)
Research Planning Account

5,168

5,168 -
National Agenda Account

95

95 -
Texas Learning Technology Group

1,592

1,592 -
Junior League

117

117 -
Hoblitzelle FoundationTechnology Loan Account

9,972

9,972 -
Private Sector Technology Loan Account

2,100

2,100 -
Workers' Compensation Account for Federal Grants

3,494

3,494 -
Unemployment Compensation Account for Federal Grants

4,545

4,545 -
TCB Family Training Contract

136,183

139,071 2,888

TOTAL - GRANT AND CONTRACT RESOURCES

2,102,831 1,469,457 (633,374)
       

 

Per Capita and Other States' Comparisons

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

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

Other significant costs to the TSBVI budget include:

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

Budgetary Limitations

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

Degree to Which Current Budget Meets Current and Expected Needs

General Issues

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

Current Program Initiatives

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

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

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

General Issues

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

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

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

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

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

Current and Expected Needs - Exceptional Items

Growing Demands for Services:

Short-term Programs

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

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

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

Outreach Technology Teacher

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

Reallocation of Residential Instructors in the State Schedule of Classified Positions

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

Salary Differential for Identified Direct Care Staff

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

Merit Pay for Classified Staff

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

VI Teacher Certification Incentives

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

Maintenance and Renovation of Aging Facilities

Facilities and Grounds

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

Transportation

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

Maintenance Management System

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

Maintenance Staff

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

Renovation and Replacement of Campus Facilities (Phase III)

Remodel Dormitories

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

Replace Independent Living Homes

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

Replace Swimming Pool

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

Install Elevator between Two Dormitories

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

Construct Storage Building

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

Demolish Building

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

Contract with Long Range Facility Planner

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

Administrative Technology

Application Development Software

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

Network Maintenance

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

Server Upgrades

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

Computer Training System

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

Digital Phones

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

Service Population Demographics

Historical Characteristics

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

Current Characteristics

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

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

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

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

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

Demographic Factors and Future Trends

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Technological Developments

Impact of Technology on Current Agency Operations

Instructional Technology:

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

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

Infrastructure Technology:

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

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

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

Distance Education:

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

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

Impact of Anticipated Technological Advances

Instructional Technology:

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

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

Infrastructure Technology:

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

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

Distance Education:

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

Degree of Agency Automation and Telecommunications

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

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

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

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

Economic Variables

Identification of Key Economic Variables

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

Extent to Which Service Populations are Affected by Economic Conditions

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

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

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

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

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

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

Expected Future Economic Conditions and Impact on Agency and Service

Populations

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

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

Agency Response to Changing Economic Conditions

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

Impact of Federal Statutes/Regulations

Historical Role of Federal Involvement

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

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

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

Description of Current Federal Activities

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

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

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

Anticipated Impact on Service Populations and Agency Operations of Future Federal

Actions

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

Other Legal Issues

Impact of Anticipated State Statutory Changes

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

Impact of Current and Outstanding Court Cases

TSBVI has no current or outstanding court cases.

Impact of Local Government Requirements

None

Self-evaluation and Opportunities for Improvement

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

Legally Required Services

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

Accreditation

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

Attainment of Performance Objectives

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

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

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

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

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

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

Program Evaluations

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

Audit Reports

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

Comparisons with Other States and Industry Leaders

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

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

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

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

Performance Benchmarking

Benchmarking Process

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

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

Performance Measures Identified as Agency-Level Benchmarks  

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Agency Characteristics Requiring Improvement

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

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

Key Obstacles

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

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

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

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

We will no longer be able to do this.

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

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

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

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

Opportunities

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

Our opportunities are great, including:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Working with Local, State, and Federal Entities

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

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

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

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

Key Community Resources Available

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

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

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

Employee Attitudes Regarding TSBVI

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

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

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

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

STATE GOVERNMENT GOAL AND BENCHMARKS RELEVANT TO TSBVI

 

State Government Priority Goal for Education in Public Schools

To ensure that all students in the public education system learn to read at grade level by the end of the third grade, continue reading at grade level, demonstrate exemplary performance in foundation subjects, and acquire the knowledge and skills needed to be responsible and independent Texans.

*     From Vision Texas:  The Statewide Strategic Planning Elements for Texas State Government, February 2000, developed by Governor George W. Bush and the Texas Legislative Budget Board.

 

State Benchmarks Adopted by TSBVI

  • Percent of students from third grade forward who are able to read at or above grade level (includes only those students who do not have a disability which would prevent them from attaining this benchmark)
  • Percent of students who achieve mastery of the foundation subjects of reading, English language arts, math, social studies and science (includes only those students who do not have a disability which would prevent them from attaining this benchmark)
  • Percent of students who demonstrate satisfactory performance on the Texas Assessment of Academic Skills (TAAS) (includes only those students not exempted from the TAAS under state law)
    Violence rate in school setting
  • Percent of high school graduates employed or enrolled in post-secondary education

 Together, we can make Texas a beacon state:*

  • A state where our children receive an excellent education so they have the knowledge and skills for the 21st century;
  • A state where people feel safe in their communities, have access to equal justice, and all people know the consequences of committing a crime are swift and sure;
  • A state where our institutions encourage jobs and economic opportunity;
  • A state where each resident accepts responsibility for his or her behavior; and
  • A state where our people - our greatest resource - are free to achieve their highest potential.

I envision a state where it continues to be true that what Texans can dream, Texans can do.

The Mission of Texas State Government *

To support and promote individual and community efforts to achieve and sustain social and economic prosperity for its citizens.

The Philosophy of Texas State Government *

  • State government will be ethical, accountable, and dedicated to serving the citizens of Texas well.
  • State government will operate efficiently and spend the public's money wisely.
  • State government will be based on four core principals that will guide decision-making processes.
  • Government cannot solve every problem or meet every need.
  • State government should do a few things and do them well.
Limited and Efficient Government

Government cannot solve every problem or meet every need.
State government should do a few things and do them well.

Local Control The best form of government is one that is closest to the people. State government should respect the right and ability of local communities to resolve issues that affect them. The state must avoid imposing unfunded mandates.
Personal Responsibility

It is up to each individual, not government, to make responsible decisions about his or her life. Personal responsibility is the key to a more decent and just society. State employees, too, must be accountable for their actions.

 
Support for Strong Families

The family is the backbone of society and, accordingly, state government must pursue policies that nurture and strengthen Texas families.

 

Texas state government should serve the needs of our state but also be mindful of those who pay the bills. By providing the best service at the lowest cost and working in concert with other partners, state government can effectively direct the public's resources to create a positive impact on the lives of individual Texans. The people of Texas expect the best, and state government must give it to them.

* From Vision Texas: The Statewide Strategic Planning Elements for Texas State Government, February 2000, developed by Governor George W. Bush and the Texas Legislative Budget Board.

Texas School for the Blind and Visually Impaired

For the Fiscal Years 2001-2005 Period

DOWNLOAD RTF VERSION

Board Member Term Expires  Hometown
Kerry Goodwin, President 1999  Dallas
Mary Sue Welch, Vice President 1999  Dallas
Dr. Roseanna Davidson, Secretary 1999 Lubbock
Fidel Menchaca 2001 McAllen
Frankie Swift 2001 Nacogdoches
Vacant Position 2001
Bruce Best 2003 Spring
Barbara Cherry 2003 Garrison
Zena Pearcy 2003 Austin

June 1, 2000

Signed: __________________________________

(Superintendent)

Approved: ________________________________

(Board President)

 

Texas School for the Blind and Visually Impaired

 

TABLE OF CONTENTS

Name

Paper Page Number

STATEWIDE VISION, MISSION AND PHILOSOPHY      4
RELEVANT STATEWIDE GOALS AND BENCHMARKS 5
MISSION OF THE TEXAS SCHOOL FOR THE BLIND AND VISUALLY IMPAIRED  5
PHILOSOPHY OF THE TEXAS SCHOOL FOR THE BLIND AND VISUALLY IMPAIRED  5
EXTERNAL/INTERNAL ASSESSMENT  6
TSBVI GOALS, OBJECTIVES, OUTCOME MEASURES, STRATEGIES, OUTPUT MEASURES AND EFFICIENCY MEASURES 46

APPENDICES:

For Fiscal Years 1999-2003

Table of Contents

  • Download Strategic Plan - (RTF 667K)
  • Executive Summary
  • Introduction
  • External/Internal Assessment
  • Planning Factors and Assumption Table
  • Budget Strategies
  • Goals
  • Information Resources Environment
  • Organization and Personnel
  • IR Policies and Practices Table
  • Telecommunication Infrastructure
  • Major Applications
  • Executive Summary

    The technology needs and objectives of the Texas School for the Blind and Visually Impaired (TSBVI) are broad in scope and have become a primary focus of the School's resources and service offerings. Instruction for students has expanded to include the integration of technology into content areas for both teaching and learning. This development of the technology program has been created through a coordinated multi-disciplined effort. Adaptive technology systems provide access to information for literacy, vocational opportunity, and personal development. These systems, as well as use of the computer for classroom administration application can be complex and difficult to master. As the integration of technology systems into instruction continue to progress, a systematic professional development plan will be implemented to meet the training needs of the instructional staff. The five curricular strands that comprise the curriculum will be revised to reflect the integration of technology to implement learning activities in the content areas. This cycle of training enables new technical innovation to evolve as staff become more technically sophisticated and student instruction becomes more structured.

    Over the past several years, the School has dedicated staff and fiscal resources to expand service offerings to students and update the equipment resources for instruction. The majority of TSBVI students are involved with technology at their particular level of proficiency. Involvement ranges from the use of switch systems and augmentative communication devices for some students, to advanced telecommunication and personal computing for other students. As technology integration into teaching and learning expands, an interdisciplinary and integrated approach to planning and implementation will be vital to apply our resources effectively and efficiently.

    The proliferation of desktop systems for administrative support is expected to continue to provide benefits and increased efficiency as new systems and techniques mature and develop. Among the key areas of new technologies, our challenge by 2002 will be to satisfy the expectations of the Technology Integration in Education grant (See Attachment 1).

    This grant will fund development of technology to fulfill the School's mandate to serve as a statewide resource to families, professionals, and paraprofessional by employing distance learning technologies.

    The key strategic areas of development for Funding Years 1997-2002 include:

    Computer upgrades and Increased student access - Expanding the number of computers available to students in the instructional and residential settings will increase access to shared resources so students can have a context to do homework, pursue leisure activities, and explore the networked environment. Since many of the school's laptop computers are based on older, slower micro-processors, they need to be upgraded to current performance levels. Continued upgrade of the school's classroom desktop computers to multimedia computers will provide access to CD-ROM resources and full access to the curriculum through student use of add-on assistive software and adaptive/ augmentative devices.

    Expanded teacher and staff training - Training is an ongoing need of TSBVI staff. As systems become more complex and applications more prevalent, staff must expand their skills to support student learning. With the advent and expansion of networked computers, training will address how to fully utilize the expanded tool-set. The school-wide Strategic Plan includes staff training and distance education models for integrating technology use with teaching and learning across the curricular areas. Training for administrative support staff will increase efficient use of the Microsoft Office environment and ease the transition from the older All-In-1 office automation software.

    Continued implementation of network infrastructure and administrative application - New standards and skills are required to coordinate and manage Internet document publishing, configuration of desktops, and adaptation devices. The number of networked desktop computers will continue to increase as terminals are phased out and the resources shift to NT-based networking. Remote network access will be implemented to accommodate residential areas and work areas that do not have access to the fiber-optic network infrastructure.

    Migration of the current VMS-based VAX 4000-200 processor and application software to Windows NT-based servers -This environment will support networked Windows-based and Macintosh clients, provide access to LAN-based applications. Upgrade of the technical environment will be a logical transition of the network to provide a more contemporary and supportable technical base. The migration planning would have the VAX computer uninstalled in fiscal year 2003. As part of that migration, all CRT terminals need to be replaced with desktop computers that provide expanded functionality. Funding and implementation of new accounting software will provide interpretive reports for end-user evaluation and analysis of accounting information, improving our use of the USAS and USPS systems. Budget management, General Ledger/cash status, and local fund accounting functions are not available in existing VAX/VMS reporting applications. These functions are not expected to materialize from the core USAS and USPS systems. Procurement of software is considered the only available alternative since the scope of the application is too broad for development by in-house technical staff. Various alternatives continue to be explored by TSBVI and other agencies in similar circumstances.

    Distance Learning Technology - The School has received a Technology Integration in Education grant awarded by the Texas Education Agency to embark upon distance education programs. By developing the capability to use teleconferencing media, the School will be able to enhance the learning of children with visual impairments throughout Texas. This technology would allow for the School to provide valuable information about curriculum, materials, technology, teaching strategies, and pre-service training to professionals, parents, and other interested individuals by creating electronic links to regional education service centers, school districts, institutions of higher education, and other agencies. Such technology can provide information, training, and follow-up while reducing the time and expense of travel.

    Expanded application of World Wide Web Technologies - Web-based development has proven effective in service delivery. Continued development in providing on-line query of TSBVI statewide functions, such VI Registration and Technology Loan equipment status and availability will be developed. Exploitation of Intranet technology is expected to provide new levels of agency collaboration and productivity.

    Introduction

    The Texas School for the Blind and Visually Impaired derives its authority to operate and its purposes from the Texas Education Code (TEC 30.021). In brief, the law describes the scope and functions of the school "to serve as a special school in the continuum of statewide alternative placements for students who are 21 years of age or younger ...and who have a visual impairment and who may have one or more other disabilities". The law also sets forth these additional purposes for the School:

  • Conduct supplemental programs such as summer programs
  • Provide statewide services to parents of students with visual impairments, school districts, regional education service centers, and other agencies serving students with visual impairments, deafblindness, and other additional disabilities
  • Develop and provide local, regional, and statewide training for parents and professionals
  • Provide consultation and technical assistance to parents and professionals related to special education and special services for students
  • Develop and disseminate reference materials in the areas of curriculum, instructional methodology, and educational technology
  • Provide information related to library resources, adapted materials, current research, technology resources, and teaching, assessment, and transition of students
  • Operate programs for lending educational and technological materials to school districts and education service centers
  • Facilitate the preparation of teachers for visually impaired students by providing assistance to institutions of higher education and other teacher preparation programs
  • Cooperate with public and private agencies and organizations in the planning, development, and implementation of effective educational and rehabilitative service delivery systems to maximize and make efficient use of state resources
  • The School is governed by a nine-member Board of Trustees comprised of parents, blind individuals, and people with experience working in the profession. TSBVI is a complex organization in the scope of services it provides and the multiple service delivery models it maintains. TSBVI is a 24-hour residential school program that provides intensive instructional programming for students with diverse educational needs. The students' exposure to technology range from adaptive and conventional technology training with academic students to the use of cause and effect switch technology with multiply impaired students. As an organization, the school administers an eleven million dollar budget and requires accounting and financial management systems to manage diverse fiscal systems that range from student banking accounting to personnel and budget management of almost 400 contract and classified employees to federal fund management and accounting. Various state-wide functions are provided by TSBVI and numerous programs for students with visual impairments depend on services we provide.

    In order to support the State Strategic Plan to integrate government services by developing, implementing, and maintaining a statewide information resources infrastructure, the School requires effective information management systems. These systems assist program staff in processing new students, tracking progress in learning, and supporting the intensive instructional programs provided to students. Another important area of technology application at TSBVI is providing appropriate computing resources to staff. These resources range from desktop publishing of curriculum publications on Macintosh computers; support of over 170 staff accounts on the VAX-based office automation software, All-In-1; using over 200 Windows and Macintosh computers for classroom management; report writing; and student instruction. In developing the systems at TSBVI, a prevailing concern must be to develop systems that are accessible to visually impaired staff and students and can easily output the data into Braille, large print, voice output, and regular text. Many TSBVI staff have varying work schedules and limited "office-time." Use of electronic mail is extremely effective to enable communication between the various departments during slotted periods of the employees' work schedules. Use of electronic mail enables more productive and time-efficient communication, providing staff more available time for student-related and qualitative activities. As mandated in the State Strategic Plan, all TSBVI technical resources are based on industry standard architectures to insure coordinated resource sharing.

    Acquisition, use, and management of information technology at TSBVI supports the State Strategic plan to insure that decisions are driven by the recognition and understanding of user needs in its varied program offerings. A primary focus of TSBVI's mission is to support local school districts. The School serves as a clearinghouse for reference information and identified areas of need. In order for the School to offer services where they are most needed staff of the School's outreach programs provide those services through multiple delivery methods. It is equally important that the staff of TSBVI have the knowledge and skills to both teach students and to serve as resources to other teachers and parents throughout the State. The technical abilities of staff at the School currently range from the inexperienced to the sophisticated. Effective technology systems must be easy to use, require relatively short training programs, and be supportable by a small technical staff.

    A major initiative since 1995 has been to implement a campus-wide local area network. This network connects most of the desktop computers. Though most wiring preparations have been completed, numerous issues are yet to be resolved in the use and configuration of networked computers with the variety of adaptive equipment and software in use at TSBVI. Documentation of these configurations will be critical to develop a base of information not only to assist in the support of students using the devices at TSBVI, but also to assist local school district teachers and students throughout the state. Teachers and students have access in the classroom to instruction-oriented software systems such as the school library system, grade reporting/scheduling system, student database, and other systems oriented to reduce the paperwork of instructional staff and provide support tools to improve instructional effectiveness. The IEP progress reporting system has provided instructional staff a structured method to create, store, retrieve, revise, and update student performance information.

    Internet access enables staff members to use electronic resources such as the World Wide Web, The Texas Library Connection, the Educational Software Selector (TESS), and resources available through the Web site of the Texas Education Agency, and online resources from Regional Education Service Center XIII, and electronic mail. With the availability of electronic mail and the World Wide Web, instructional staff has started the process of documenting their expertise so that their unique skills and abilities may be shared with other professionals through the TSBVI web site. The best examples of this information sharing are in the See/Hear newsletter that is produced monthly (considered one of the best resources in the nation for specific content information) and a series of resource pages for Math instruction of students with visual impairments. Access to these two content areas on the Web-site have grown exponentially over time, indicating the significant need that exists for the development of such resources.

    To increase student access to computers outside the classroom, the local area network will be expanded to the residential areas with dial-up access to provide remote access to network resources. In addition to applications of micro-processor based hardware and software systems to support the instruction of students and the professional development of teachers and related service staff, the School's technology systems must also support the administrative functions of the School. The use of the Uniform Statewide Accounting System (USAS) and Uniform Payroll System (USPS) accounting system has not been completely effective. TSBVI has found that the USAS and USPS systems do not meet budget management and cash accounting requirements to accommodate needs of the agency. Use of extensive uploads to the USAS from in-house systems has greatly assisted accounting staff and has limited the need for direct data entry into USAS. Meaningful interpretive reports for end-user evaluation and analysis from data integrated from USAS will hopefully be procured commercially.

    The School has entered into a cooperative contract with the Region XI Education Service Center in Ft. Worth to develop software for managing the ordering, shipping, and tracking of instructional devices and materials available to Texas schools as part of the American Printing House for the Blind program. This electronic management system has resulted in materials being provided to teachers statewide on a "when needed-where needed" basis. The School is also providing support to the electronic database for statewide registration of students with visual impairments reported to the Texas Education Agency. Information management system for the Technology Loan program was written for desktop processing from the old VAX-based system, improving the application and positioning the system for web-based distribution of status and availability information on loans and equipment.

    Tenets of the School's approach to instructional technology:

  • The School is committed to providing the training necessary for students with disabilities to use assistive hardware and software to interact with computers for the purpose of gaining access to information, products, and services.
  • Technology offers students with disabilities independence at their individual level of potential, equitable access to information, and increased vocational opportunities. As an educational institution, TSBVI is committed to providing all students the skills and knowledge related to technology to enhance their lives educationally vocationally, socially, and personally.
  • Assistive Technology is defined as any item, piece of equipment or product system, whether acquired commercially or customized, that is used to increase, maintain or improve the functional capabilities of persons with disabilities. Technology is included in but is not limited to: adapted input, adapted output, augmentative and alternative communication, environmental control, mobility aid, multi-sensory modifications, physical education/ recreation/leisure, positioning, and self-care devices.
  • Technology can facilitate language development, communication, independence, interdependence, emergent literacy, development of social and cooperative learning skills, access to information, alternative means of expression, visual training learning of new skills, and maintenance of skills previously mastered.
  • Technology instruction is an essential part of the Core Curriculum for students who are blind, deafblind, or visually impaired. Instructional technology is used to support, enhance, and facilitate existing classroom instruction--not to replace it. Technology must be integrated into the classroom/curriculum to the maximum degree possible. To accomplish this goal, all students and staff will have appropriate and necessary training in the use of the technology.
  • Accessibility to information means providing students an equal opportunity to learn. Accessibility is defined relative to the users' needs and requirements for a task. TSBVI will strive to provide assistive access through system infrastructure that allow add-on assistive software to enable specialized input and output capabilities. Assistive technology tools for users who are blind, have low vision, hearing impairment, deafness, deafblindness, and additional motor impairments fall into the following general categories.
  • External/Internal Assessment

    The Agency Strategic plan contains an extensive review of Information Resources External/Internal Assessment.

    Planning Factors and Assumption Table

    Planning Factor Assumption
    Need for adequate budget management, general ledger reporting, and local fund management The Uniform State-Wide Accounting System will not satisfy agency accounting needs
    Need for incorporation of video conferencing technologies Continued expansion of outreach services and delivery of services via distance learning through implementation of the TIE grant.
    Increased in demand on information and support systems Continued emphasis on transition planning policies for student intake/dismissal
    Need for ongoing technical training of staff in use and integration of technology systems As use of technology becomes more pronounced in the organization, the need for training becomes more critical for successful use of the systems.
    Increased complexity of technical systems Technology planning will be integrated within various technology committees that span instructional and administrative applications
    Need for Standards Development for Core Architecture Technical staff will be involved in administrative planning and policy development
    Increased CPU processing and memory requirements for adaptive software Funds will be available to upgrade instructional desktop computers to run assistive/adaptive software for student access
    Support of VH professionals throughout Texas

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

    VAX computer will become less supportable over time as hardware and software elements are retired Funds will be available to migrate existing applications and server function to Windows NT
    Existing Mac Server Software (Pathworks) has been retired by the manufacturer Alternative server functions will continue to be available with the Windows NT platform
    Open systems software is required for application development Speech and screen review software will support modern object-oriented application environments
    Need for technical resources Adequate staff resources will be maintained to support existing applications and develop systems for efficient processing of fiscal and student information

    Budget Strategies

    There are four primary strategies that the School can employ to acquire and maintain the hardware, software, professional development, and other services to implement the Technology Plan:

    1. Expend funds currently allocated in the following expense categories:
      1. Purchase computer hardware and software
      2. Maintain and repair hardware
      3. Employ Trainers (2.0 FTEs)
      4. Departmental Operating Budgets for Training
        Timeline: Funding Years 1998 & 1999
    2. Reallocate budgeted dollars:
      1. The School has the flexibility to shift budgeted dollars to established priorities.
      2. The School may reallocate savings from unexpended salaries and operating expenses to technology priorities under authority granted to the School by the Texas Legislature.
      3. The School may use the process of debt refinancing to purchase technology in excess of its current year's operating budget by committing to use funds from future operating budgets.
        Timeline: Funding Years 1998 through 2003
    3. Request additional funds within the School's biennial Legislative Appropriation Request to the Legislature.
      Timeline: Summer 1998 for Funding Years 2000 - 2001
    4. Seek external funds, hardware, and software from a variety of sources, including the following:
      1. Dell Foundation: Timeline: Spring, 1998. Granted.
      2. Hitachi Foundation: Timeline: Spring, 1998. Applied.
      3. Grant: Federal E-Rate: Timeline, Spring, 1998. In Process.
      4. Gifts from corporations, service organizations, individuals
      5. Grant: Federal Technology Integration in Education through TEA:
        Timeline, Spring, 1998. In Process

    Goals

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

    Agency Objective: Students attending TSBVI during the regular school year will annually demonstrate success in their education programs.

    IR Goal #1: The School will facilitate the use of technology to maximize independence and productivity of all students who are blind, have a visual impairment, or who are deaf/blind, including those with additional disabilities.

    IR Objective #1: Students will have current instructional technology available to them with the capabilities appropriate to their special needs.

    IR Strategy #1: Upgrade current instructional technology systems to replace outdated systems according to assessed upgrade needs.

    Action Item 1: Assess viability of current technologies

    Action Item 2: Review current equipment to assess functionality

    Action Item 3: Target equipment to be replaced

    Action Item 4: Prepare funding proposal

    Action Item 5: Procure and install replacement equipment

    Timeline: Funding Year (FY) 97-98

    IR Strategy #2: Expand distribution of computing resources through the implementation of a school-wide local area network.

    Action Item 1: Assess logical expansions of the network to buildings without access

    Action Item 2: Instruct staff in new technology systems

    Timeline: FY 97-99

    Evaluation Strategies for Objective: By 1999, the School will meet the technology equipment targets for students adopted in the Long-Range Plan for Technology, 1996-2010 of a student-to-workstation ratio of 3:1. By 1999, 90 percent of classrooms will have a minimum of one computer workstation linked to a school-wide local area network.

    Objective #2: Students will use technology commensurate with their abilities to enhance personal productivity

    Strategy 1: Integrate technology applications into the five curricular strands

    Timeline: FY 98-2000

    Strategy 2: Implement instruction for students designed to promote the following uses of technology:

  • Students will use the Internet to access electronic text of educational materials and news of current events that are not available in Braille or large print for learners who are blind and visually impaired
  • Students will participate in activities on the Internet that encourage communication and interaction with a variety of individuals of varying interests
  • Students develop reading, writing, and listening skills through computer access to support individual acquisition of literacy
  • Students will expand their awareness of the ways in which personal online services, such as banking, shopping, bill paying, special interest sites, etc., can improve their quality of life as consumers and members of society
  • Students will increase their likelihood of finding employment by learning to use the tools that are evident in the workplace
  • Action Item 1: Develop and implement curriculae in the areas of keyboarding, word processing, access hardware and software, personal tools

    Action Item 2: Develop and implement a technology assessment for students' needs for and use of adaptive/assistive technology tools

    Action Item 3: Explore the feasibility of using computer-assisted instruction in the curricular areas.

    Timeline: FY 98-2000

    Evaluation Strategies for Objective: By 2000, the School's written curriculum will contain elements in the areas of computer skills, applications, and access hardware and software. By 1999. 100 percent of enrolled students will be assessed to determine students' needs for and use of adaptive/assistive technology devices.

    Objective #3: Train all instructional staff in the use of technology for teaching

    Strategy 1: All instructional staff will acquire a working knowledge of screen reading programs in a Windows environment, screen enlarger software, Braille translation software, electronic Braille input devices, word processing software, an Internet browser, email.

    Action Item 1: Develop and implement a plan to train all instructional staff to integrate technology use into teaching of content areas

    Action Item 2: Develop training modules and implementation checklist for each assistive add-on software, augmentative, and adaptive device used by students in learning

    Action Item 3: Determine training groups based on existing knowledge and skills

    Action Item 4: Determine a training schedule and number of training hours during scheduled work hours and training time after work hours for which participants receive extra-duty pay

    Action Item 5: Develop and implement a system for follow-up training on an individual basis by peer mentors

    Timeline: FY 98-2000

    Strategy 2: Training groups will learn to identify and use appropriate assistive/adaptive technology tools to increase individual student learning by enabling full access to the curriculum.

    Action Item 1: Identify activities in content areas appropriate for use of different add-on assistive software and adaptive/augmentative devices

    Action Item 2: Assess students' needs to match technology to instruction

    Action Item 3: Use Internet resources

    Action Item 4: Develop and implement use of checklist as evidence of classroom use of technology and portfolios as evidence of student progress

    Timeline: FY 98-2000

    Strategy 3: Provide opportunities for Technology Specialists to receive ongoing training in emerging technologies and new applications of existing technology for blind, visually impaired, and deafblind students.

    Action Item 1: Seek external funding sources to support out-of-state training

    Action Item 2: Develop and implement a Trainer-of-Trainer model

    Timeline: FY 97-2000

    Evaluation Strategies for Objective: By 2000, a written plan will be implemented describing ongoing professional development activities to train and maintain the skills of all instructional staff in the use of technology for teaching. By 2000, 90 percent of instructional staff will have received training and demonstrated proficiency in the use of technology on a skills checklist or other written assessment instrument.

    Objective #4: The curriculum will be revised to reflect integration of technology to implement learning activities in the content areas

    Strategy 1: Revise Basic Skills, Functional Academics, Academic, and Early Concepts

    Timeline: FY 98-2000

    Strategy 2: Develop Applied Academics to reflect technology integration

    Timeline: FY 98-2000

    Evaluation Strategies for Objective: By 2000, the scope and sequence of the School's curriculum will contain learning activities integrating technology into learning.

    Objective 5: Students will learn to use appropriate technology in order to acquire the knowledge and skills specified in their Individual Education Plan (IEP).

    Strategy 1: Teachers will integrate technology use into content areas to enhance student learning

    Action Item 1: Teachers will design instructional units to incorporate individual technology uses by students.

    Action Item 2: Student use of technology will be considered in the development of each student's IEP.

    Timeline: FY 98-2000

    Strategy 2: Teachers and students will have access to appropriate technology

    Action Item 1: Develop and implement minimum hardware and software configurations across curricular areas and school-wide locations.

    Action Item 2: Upgrade current equipment and purchase new equipment to ensure the capability to run assistive add-on applications

    Action Item 3: Expand access to technology across instructional, vocational, and residential programs

    Action Item 4: Create a software review committee

    Action Item 5: Expand contacts with vendors for opportunities for beta testing new technologies, evaluating accessibility, previewing new products, and disseminating product information

    Timeline FY 98-2000

    Evaluation Strategies for Objective: By 1999, 100 percent of students' IEPs will contain goals, objectives, or modifications integrating the use of technology, when technology assessments indicate such a need.

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

    Objective 1: Document and make accessible to persons with visual impairments all agency data systems.

    Strategy: Utilize electronic publishing software to provide an accessible, centralized repository of agency information.

    Action Item 1: Continue to expand the TSBVI web site

    Action Item 2: Explore and develop guidelines and implementation strategies for establishment of intranet

    Action Item 3: Train information providers in system update methods

    Timeline: FY 98-2000

    Evaluation Strategies for Objective: Through years 1998-2000, the number of individuals accessing the School's Web site will increase by 20 percent annually. A monthly written report will document the usage.

    Strategy Implement Library and Circulation System

    Action Item : Review current system requirements

    Action Item : Purchase Commercial Software

    Action Item : Implement system

    Timeline: FY 2002

    Evaluation Strategies for Objective: Through years 2002, Updating and cataloging of Library resources to determine functional specifications for the new system. New system will be cross platform and accessible via the World Wide Web.

    Objective 2: Coordinate administrative technology applications and information exchange with external agencies including, but not limited to: Local Education Agencies, Commission for the Blind, Texas Education Agency, State Agencies, the University of Texas, and other organizations or individuals serving visually impaired individuals.

    Strategy 1: Continue to support and integrate the Uniform Statewide Accounting System, Uniform Statewide Payroll System, and State Property Accounting

    Action Item 1: Investigate internal modifications to increase reporting reliability

    Action Item 2: Improve analysis reporting from USAS, SPA, USPS extraction data

    Timeline: FY 99-2001

    Strategy 3: Asses risk and impact of year 2000 issues to agency information systems

    Action Item 1: Identify year 2000 issues and impact factors

    Action Item 2: Review application software and existing hardware

    Action Item : Modify Student Trust Fund system to correct failure points

    Action Item : Modify Warehouse Inventory System to remove failure points

    Action Item 3: Take preventative steps to minimize agency risks

    Timeline: FY 97-99

    Strategy 4: Investigate and implement new accounting system.

    Action Item 1: Define system requirements/enhancements

    Action Item 2: Research options

    Action Item 3: Select and implement system

    Timeline: FY 2000

    Strategy 5: Investigate and implement new Student Database System

    Action Item 2: Identify additional reports, query, and data analysis requirements

    Action Item 3: Incorporate new requirements such as PIEMS data reporting and interchange

    Action Item ?: Identify Student data correlates with TEA staff for PIEMS.

    Action Item ?: Review Fiscal data correlates with TEA staff for PIEMS

    Action Item 1: Establish comprehensive system design and specification requirements

    Action Item ?: Research availability of commercial software solutions and purchase and implement or employ contract programming services to develop software with project management provided by agency technical staff.

    Timeline: FY 2001

    Strategy 6: Exploit Web-based technologies

    Action Item 1: Review existing applications, VI Registration, Technology Loan, APH Materials/Management for potential deployment of Web-based query

    Action Item 2: Establish system design and implementation timelines

    Action Item 3: Deploy Intranet to coordinate agency resource development and distribution

    Timeline: FY 99-2001

    Strategy 8: Migration of system from VAX to Windows NT

    Action Item 1: As staff become more competent with new desktop mail and Microsoft Office, phase out their use of VAX-based All-In-1

    Action Item 3: Identify and define new requirements for VAX application software such as Weekends Home, Student Course Information system, Warehouse Inventory, Student Trust Fund, Outreach contact database.

    Action Item 2: Establish timeline and schedule the rewrite or purchase of commercial software to replace VAX-based software functions.

    Action Item 3: Migrate existing print server functions from the VAX to Windows NT

    Timeline: Ongoing through 2003

    Strategy ?: Provide opportunities for administrative staff to develop new computer skills to increase staff productivity.

    Action Item 1: Provide Windows 95/98 training.

    Action Item 2: Create and distribute user training materials on Microsoft Office oriented to needs of TSBVI staff

    Action Item 3: Provide training for staff updating of web-based resource information

    Timeline: FY 99-2003

    Strategy 4: Review disaster recovery planning

    Action Item 1: Review procedures and contingency planning and assess relevancy

    Action Item 2: Identify new areas of risk exposure.

    Action Item 3: Identify new resources/methods to assist in disaster recovery interchange

    Timeline: FY 1999

    Evaluation Strategies for Objective: (Strategies 1-8 are completed) By 1999, the School's Technology Services Department will have a written disaster recovery plan.

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

    Information Resources Goal: The School will provide adaptive technology training and support to local school districts, Regional Education Service Centers, educators, students, and families to maximize the use and effectiveness of technology for students who are blind, have a visual impairment, are deafblind, including those with additional disabilities.

    Objective 1: Provide adaptive technology equipment, software, training, and technical support to students attending their local schools

    Strategy 1: Maintain, expand, and upgrade the Technology Loan Program

    Action Item 1: Determine funding system to provide maintenance, upgrade, and expansion

    Action Item 2: Establish a system to replace and upgrade equipment and software

    Action Item 3: Maintain and refine the Program catalog as a source of information

    Action Item 4: Consider incentives for families to become knowledgeable about their child's technology use

    Timeline: FY 97-98

    Strategy 2: Develop and provide training and assistance in adaptive technology on a statewide basis to families, professionals, and paraprofessionals

    Action Item 1: Assist Regional Education Service Center personnel, local school district personnel, and agency personnel who serve blind, deafblind, and visually impaired students with the design and implementation of appropriate technology

    Action Item 2: Provide local, onsite technical assistance and assessment of student technology needs to direct service providers

    Action Item 3: Assist families of blind, deafblind, and visually impaired students with technology issues related to their child

    Time line: FY 97-98

    Evaluation Strategies for Objective: Annually, 90 percent of students and LEAs participating in the
    Technology Loan Program will indicate their satisfaction with this service as measured on a survey
    instrument. Ninety percent of a sample of parents and professionals surveyed will rate as satisfactory or above the training and assistance received in adaptive technology.

    Objective 2: Families, professionals, and paraprofessionals will have access to resources related to technology

    Strategy: The School will use technology as a method to fulfill its mandate to serve as a statewide resource to families, professionals, and paraprofessionals

    Action Item 1: Design a database to identify market trends in requests for and provision of outreach services

    Action Item 2: Maintain and expand an electronic repository that is equally accessible by blind and sighted individuals

    Action Item 3: Provide online classes and instructional materials through the School's Web site, the Internet, video conferencing, and other distance learning strategies

    Timeline: FY 98-2000

    Evaluation Strategies for Objective: Document 100 percent completion of Action Items by 2000

    Objective 3: School instructional staff, field-based educators, those participating in preservice certification programs, and families will gain knowledge and skills in the area of technology use for learners who are blind, visually impaired, deafblind, and including those with additional disabilities.

    Strategy 1: Create and use an onsite training/distance learning facility to provide a model location for the delivery of accessible content via distance education technologies

    Action Item 1: Upgrade/improve existing infrastructure to accommodate new technology

    Action Item 2: Integrate new technology with existing technology to ensure interoperability with ESCONETT and the Internet

    Timeline: FY 98-2002

    Strategy 2: School staff will use the training/distance learning facility to deliver and receive distance learning content.

    Action Item 1: Establish an advisory group to plan and design distance learning content

    Action Item 2: Train distance education users/presenters to use equipment

    Action Item 3: Train content developers in distance education instructional design

    Action Item 4: Train content developers to use content development tools to ensure accessible content

    Action Item 5: Develop and maintain a distance education component for the School's existing Web site

    Timeline: FY 98-2002

    Strategy 3: Design and implement educator development using distance learning for field-based staff and families through the Regional Education Service Centers and local school districts to meet expectations for technology proficiencies.

    Action Item 1: Provide training statewide to teachers of students who are blind, visually impaired, or deafblind on technology assessments

    Action Item 2: Conduct interactive technology assessments

    Action Item 3: Provide training to field-based educators and families on current assistive technology software and devices for students with disabilities

    Action Item 4: Provide incentives for families to become knowledgeable about their child's use of technology to learn

    Timeline: FY 98-2002

    Strategy 4: Provide disability-specific training toward certification in Visual Impairment using distance education in collaboration with Texas Tech University, Stephen F. Austin University, and the Texas Education Agency.

    Action Item 1: Design and implement distance learning methodologies to support those involved in pre-service certification programs to learn about new technologies and using technologies effectively

    Action Item 2: Deliver interactive courses via distance education from the School's distance learning facility

    Timeline: FY 98-2002

    Evaluation Strategies for Objective: Document 100 percent completion of Action Items by 2002

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

    Information Resources Goal: TSBVI will increase purchases of product and service offerings from historically underutilized businesses

    Objective: Increase volume of competitive purchases from historically underutilized businesses

    Strategy: Review and consider product and service offerings from historically underutilized businesses whenever possible.

    Action Item: Review purchasing catalogs and materials from historically underutilized businesses before making purchases

    Timeline: FY 97

    Evaluation Strategies for Objective: The School will meet the targets suggested by the Legislature for meeting this goal.

    Information Resources Environment

    Organization and Personnel

    Technology Services Staff

    Director of Technology Services

    Designated as Information Resources Manager for TSBVI.

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

    Application Development Programmer

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

    System Support Specialist III

    Development of user documentation. Application systems support.. Initial user point of contact for training and technical support in the use of office automation and application systems...Performs special projects to research policy or implementation issues.

    Hardware Technician

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

    Computer Technician (half-time)

    Performs maintenance, hardware setup, and hardware troubleshooting on PC-based and specialized adaptive equipment. Documentation of technical interfaces and operational procedures. Performs software trouble-shooting and problem resolution. Performs evaluation of new adaptive equipment and development of documentation. Operational support of the Technology Loan program. Upgrade and support of Windows 95 operating system, operational support of local area networks.

    Administrative Technician (half-time)

    Operational management of Technology Services procurement tracking, inventory, equipment repair, and employee time reporting. Assists in the maintenance of centralized PBX circuit assignments, call-accounting, and Audix Voice mail settings. Maintains various departmental databases for central support activities.

    Instructional Technical Staff

    Statewide Technical Support Specialist

  • Design, implement, and maintain WWW site
  • Provide telephone support for state personnel who work with visually impaired students
  • Provide technical support to Outreach Program for distance education initiatives
  • Coordinate with other state agencies to ensure accessibility of web-based information
  • Provide national and international technical presence at assistive and other technology conferences
  • Document technical and evaluative information pertaining to assistive technology
  • Assist in teacher training during Technology institutes at TSBVI
  • Maintain vigilance concerning accessibility of state adopted instructional materials, textbooks, etc.
  • Provides expert-level advice, consultation, and information in various support and presentational roles
  • Educational Technology Coordinators

  • Divide responsibilities among the 5 curricular areas
  • Divide service delivery between direct instruction and consultation manage computer labs and
  • Staff development
  • Development of training and instructional materials
  • Software/hardware testing, acquisition, and allocation
  • Providing outreach services
  • Technology assessment of students
  • Curriculum development
  • Maintain current inventory of equipment for which each is responsible
  • Development of multimedia training systems
  • Outreach Technology Teacher

  • Statewide staff development
  • Student assessment
  • Student training
  • Consultation
  • Staff development (TSBVI)
  • Curriculum development
  • Development of instructional materials for staff development
  • Software/hardware evaluation
  • Development of multimedia training systems
  • Classroom Teacher

  • Facilitate completion of student IEP
  • Coordinate with ITFs to infuse technology into IEP goals and objectives
  • Utilize technology for administrative tasks and transition services
  • Coordinate training and support of instructional staff
  • Instructional Technician

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

    Implementation of the Strategic Plan

    The administration of the School’s strategic plan for technology is deliberately decentralized to support the School’s wide-ranging purposes and mission. There is school-wide participation in the planning process. Technology Services staff work in collaboration with instructional and support staff to support the hardware and software systems. The two instructional and residential programs are directed by two school principals. Teachers and support staff’ in these two programs utilize technology to perform student assessment, develop curriculum, acquire or adapt specialized hardware and software, and to provide technology instruction to students and to other staff.

    The Technology Services department also supports the outreach program of the School, a separate administrative division sometimes assisted by staff from either the Technology Services Department or from the instructional– residential programs. The Technology Services Department provides technical assistance to educators in local school districts, especially in the areas of infrastructure and special adaptations of electronic technology for blind and visually impaired students. It is also important to note that the Department administers a Technology Loan Program whereby specialized electronic devices, including laptop computers with speech synthesizers; Braille input and output devices; and other such devices, peripherals, or software are loaned to school districts for use by students.

    IR Policies and Practices Table

    Category Provide Brief Summary/Overview
    IR Priorities Priorities for administrative systems are determined at the administrative management level with planning and coordination through the Technology Services Department. Responsibility for the integration and coordination of information resources is at the department level. The Technology Services Department is responsible for enterprise-wide technical design, integration, and coordination.
    IR Planning Methodology Planning priorities are identified by the relevant department or task force and the input is provided to the Technology Services department for incorporation into technology plans
    Operating Systems Historically, administrative systems have been implemented within the VAX/VMS environment. The School Web server is implemented on an Alpha Server with Windows NT. Desktop configurations are based on Windows95 Network transport to Windows-based personal computers is with TCP/IP and NetBEUI protocols. Macintosh computers communicate with Encapsulated Appletalk on Ethernet or Ethertalk. Terminals communicate with the VAX through the Local Area Transport (LAT) protocols with printers connected as serial or Appletalk devices. With the addition of a web server running Windows NT, the support NT is a primary interest and focus for new development.
    Software Development With the advent of client-server architecture, new applications have been written and supported in Foxpro v2.6 over the past several years. Applications on VAX/VMS that are currently written in the COBOL language with conventional indexed sequential and/or relational database (Rdb) file structures, RALLY, and Datatrieve software will be re-written. In order to create systems that are based on open standards and accessible to individuals who are disabled, use of the Java language is under investigation for enterprise development
    Office Automation Over FY98, we have standardized on Microsoft Office suite for PC and Mac. Use of WordPerfect has been phased out with the advent of this standard. Use of this product-set enable sharing of files between the PC and Macintosh systems with run-time platform conversion. Several departmental systems are based on Filemaker Pro for its ease of use and simple forms based development modality with relational database file structures.
    Software licenses Centralized license compliance is the responsibility of the Information Resources Manager. Department license compliance is the managed within the individual departments.
    Instructional Technology Performance and operational standards for the instructional technology program are developed from collaborations of individuals assembled for the particular task or instructional objective.
    Development Methodology Over the past 2 years, the School has undergone structural changes in the management and planning of activities with the introduction of Total Quality Management ideals. Increased emphasis is placed on departmental decision-making for budget and planning. As a result, administrative planning is performed within a Task Force (or multi-disciplinary) context. The planning model for instructional technology is through a committee that consists of instructional technology teaching staff. For school-wide planning within the management team; technology policy, application development implementation, and budget planning, the agency Information Resource Manager is represented by the Director of Business, Technology, and Operation. The Director of Technology Services and members of his staff make recommendations to the management team on school-wide technology issues but do not actively participate in the decision-making process.
    Quality Assurance Practices The School's internal auditor generally reviews most software systems. Most new systems are designed and developed within a multi-disciplinary design team and this approach examines risk as part of the process. Generally, the System Life Cycle methodology is followed for the development of new software. Development of secure student administration systems within adequate protection of sensitive or confidential data is required. TSBVI intends to serve as an example of accessibility information access of the School’s administrative and instructional systems.
    Change Control This is part of the development process. Typically, due to the specialized nature of application at TSBVI, minor system modifications and enhancements are made after the software system has been used for several months. Self promotion of software is enable through journalized audit accounts for technical staff.
    Security TSBVI complies with state and professional standards to secure information from unlawful access. Access to confidential student records is limited to those individuals who have been authorized by school administrators. VAX system security is monitored by various software tools and structures. Though several break-ins have been attempted, to our knowledge, none have been successful. Security considerations and guidelines are reviewed with new computer users in conjunction with system training.
    Geographic Information Systems NA
    Disaster Recovery/ Business Continuity Planning In the event of a catastrophic disaster, it is anticipated that a VAX computer could be leased and installed within an acceptable time period. Archived backup data could restore the system to normal operation. A complete backup of all VAX data are made each evening and stored in a off-site location. A redundant backup the TSBVI web site is maintained at all times. Backup of desktop data is a departmental responsibility.
    Resource Use Currently, no voice or video computer applications are in use at TSBVI, though voice synthesis is commonplace and speech recognition is being explored to assist students with impaired dexterity and video computer applications will be implemented in FY99 with grant funding.
    Contract/Consultant Hardware contracts are maintained on VAX components that are too heavy to easily transport to local repair depots. Other school components are self-maintained. Professional consultants are used for specific purposes within the context of assisting in-house Technical staff to develop client-server applications.
    Information Sharing This is primarily limited to E-mail and transport of data files to/from USAS and USPS data systems. A school official authorizes public release of TSBVI data to maintain confidentiality. Electronic data is shared for special purposes such criminal history checks. Sharing school student data with TEA for the PEIMs system is under consideration.
    Training and Continuing Education Technical staff receive training by attending various seminars and conferences. Due to the specialized nature of adaptive technology application at TSBVI, training often entails out-of-state travel to obtain information. Instructional technology staff are responsible for training other TSBVI and statewide ISD staff in these specialized areas. Technology Services staff also receive training in conferences and seminar but less-so since there are more local training opportunities available. Often, Technology Services staff train from manuals since travel funds are limited. The Systems Support Specialist provides training to staff in TSBVI proprietary software, All-In-1 software, and the network environment. Training in the Microsoft Office suite is often obtained outside the agency with support provided by the Systems Support Specialist

     

    Agency Platforms, Systems, and Telecommunications
    Agency Platforms and Systems
    Category Type

    Operating

    System

    Database Mgmt. System

    Capacity/

    Size/Count

    Comments/

    Descriptive Information

    Mainframe NA

    NA

    NA

    NA

     
    Minicomputer Digital Equipment Corporation

    VMS 6.1

    Rdb/Oracle

    5 VUPS

    50 concurrent processes

    VAX 4000-200, 160 All-In-1 Office Automation users, average of.
    LAN Servers (Central) Digital Equipment Corporation

    Alpha NT

    Na

    96MB/?? Gig

    Used for Web site
    LAN Servers (Remote) NA

    Na

    Na

    Na

     
    LAN Client/Work-stations (Central) Mac

    Mac OS x

    Filemaker Pro

    1

     
    LAN Client/Work-stations (Central) PC

    Windows95

    Foxpro 2.6

    30, 486/33

    40, 586/100-300Mhz

    5, Pentium II

    Phasing out Pathworks networking on client side
    LAN Client/ Work-stations (Remote) N/A

    N/A

    N/A

    N/A

     
    WAN Servers VAX 4000-200

    VAX/VMS

    Pathworks

    1

     
    Standalone PC Workstations PC

    Windows 95

    Fox Pro

    20

    In residential areas
    Standalone MAC Workstations Mac

    6.1

    Filemaker Pro

    20

    In residential areas. Older processors.
    Telecommunications Information
    Category Type

    Capacity/

    Size/Count

    Comments/

    Descriptive Information

    Hubs DEChub 90/Digital Equipment Corp. 8 10Mbps, each hub is its own bridged segment
    Hub Routers & Switches (Remote) Na

    Na

     
    Remote Bandwidth Analog N/A

    Number

    of Lines

     
    Remote Bandwidth Digital 56K or less N/A

    Number

    of Lines

     
    Remote Bandwidth Digital T1 N/A

    1

    General Serviices Commission Telecommications Division
    Remote Bandwidth ISDN (BRI) N/A

    Number

    of Lines

     
    DTE/End User Equipment Arrangement Workstations, LANs, Mainframe Devices, Other

    N/A

     
    Supported Protocols TCP/IP, Appletalk, NetBEUI, LAT, Telnet, FTP, HTTP, Ethertalk, DECnet, LAT

    N/A

     
    Internet Service Provider NA

    N/A

     
    Shared Network Stephen F. Austin University for Video Network, ESCONETT

    N/A

     

    Telecommunication Infrastructure

    Voice Communications

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

    Data Communications

    Twelve years age, TSBVI implemented an Information Systems Network (ISN) for the primary implementation of data communications. The ISN is currently being phased out as buildings are networked with hub-based fiber optic components. The remaining devices non-networked buildings that are connected to the ISN, will be converted to access the VAX via modem. This equipment is expected to be retired in FY99.

    The standard communication rate is 10MB Ethernet over fiber optic cable. Each fiber optic cable element is terminated with ST connectors that connect to DecHub 90 hub backplanes through a Fiber Optic bridge. This configuration will support terminal server and 10-Base-T repeaters. Twisted pair wiring within the networked building is standardized on Category 5 passive wiring components to each office location meeting the EIA568 standard. A wiring connection for telephones is also included. Currently, eight buildings are networked in this fashion with two more buildings scheduled. Installation is performed in-house. In the Technology Services office area a thin-wire Ethernet circuit provides networked connection for the Printserver 20, X-Window workstations, terminal servers, and a Cisco Router. One TI circuit provides a DECnet and TCP/IP protocols interface with General Services Commission network, connected by Cisco Routers. GSC provides domain name services and routes the TCP/IP and DECnet network traffic from TSBVI to the Internet. This circuit also routes all off-site electronic mail, host telnet connections, and production data traffic to other agencies. All remote printing from the USAS system is accomplished over this link and TSBVI uses the link to upload and download data files to the USAS via FTP.

    TSBVI Technology Infrastructure Diagram - described in text

     

     

    CATEGORIES OF ASSISTIVE TECHNOLOGY

    Assistive Technology for Low Vision and Blind Users

    Function Provided

     

    Screen Reader Software

    Allows users to navigate through windows, menus, and controls while receiving text and limited graphics information through speech output or Braille display.

     

    Braille Display

    Provides line by line Braille display of on-screen text using a series of pins to form Braille symbols that are constantly updated as the user navigates through the interface.

    Text to Speech
    (Screen Reader)

    Translates electronic text into speech via a speech synthesizer.

     

    Screen Magnification

    Provides magnification of a portion or all of a screen, including graphics and windows as well as text. Allows users to track position of the input focus.

    Assistive Technology for Hearing Disabilities

    Function Provided

    Telecommunications Device for the Deaf (TDD)

    Provides a means for users to communicate over telephone lines using text terminals.

    Closed Captioning

    Provides text translation of spoken material on video media. Important computer applications include distance learning, CD-ROM, video teleconferencing, and other forms of interactive video

    ShowSounds

    Proposed standard would provide visual translation of sound information. Nonspeech audio such as system beeps would be presented via screen flashing or similar methods. Video and still images would be described through closed captions or related technologies. This capability would be provided by the system infrastructure.

    Assistive Technology for
    Physical Disabilities

    Function Provided

     

    Alternate Pointing Device

    Gives users with limited or no arm and hand fine motor control the ability to control mouse movements and functions. Examples include foot operated mice, head-mounted pointing devices and eye-tracking systems.

     

    Screen Keyboard

    On-screen keyboard which provides the keys and functions of a physical keyboard. On-screen keyboards are typically used in conjunction with alternate pointing devices.

     

    Predictive Dictionary

    Predictive dictionaries speed typing by predicting words as the user types them, and offering those words in a list for the user to choose.

     

    Speech Recognition

    Allows the user with limited or no arm and hand fine motor control to input text and/or control the user interface via speech.

     

    Database Name Student Database (SDS)
    Database Description A complex, highly normalized base that contains relations for a variety of student-related data. Extensive linking to other software systems by student SSN and integrated with office automation systems.
    Database System Rdb/Oracle RDO/SQL, COBOL
    Estimated Physical Storage Requirements Eleven Megabytes
    Year 2000 No Year 2000 risks have been identified
    GIS Data Classification NA
    Sharing We are currently coordinating with TEA to investigate upload of this data to the PIEMS database
    Future This system is scheduled to be re-written from VAX/VMS to the PC platform in 2001.

    Category Provide

    Database Name Medical Limitations
    Database Description Stores medical data on students concerning medical limitations, medications, immunizations, and medical history.
    Database System Rdb/Oracle
    Estimated Physical Storage Requirements 1.25 Megabyte
    Year 2000 No Year 2000 risks have been identified
    GIS Data Classification N/A
    Sharing N/A
    Future This system is scheduled to be re-written from VAX/VMS to the PC platform in 2001.

     

    Database Name Maintenance Work Order
    Database Description Tracks work orders to provide status, repair history, and assignment information.
    Database System Rdb/Oracle
    Estimated Physical Storage Requirements Nine Megabytes
    Year 2000 No Year 2000 risks have been identified
    GIS Data Classification N/A
    Sharing N/A
    Future The system will need to be migrated from VAX/VMS before 2003. Investigation/Evaluation of commercial software will be reviewed as an initial planning event.

     

    Database Name Registration/ARD Tracking
    Database Description Contains elements to track flow of paperwork, student requests/requirments for fall and summer registration.
    Database System RMS indexed sequential file
    Estimated Physical Storage Requirements Two megabytes
    Year 2000 No Year 2000 risks have been identified
    GIS Data Classification N/A
    Sharing N/A
    Future This system will be incorporated in the Student Database re-write in 2001.

     

    Database Name Student Course Information System (SAA)
    Database Description Contains entry for all student courses, grades, and scheduling.
    Database System Rdb/Oracle
    Estimated Physical Storage Requirements 5 Megabytes.
    Year 2000 No Year 2000 risks have been identified
    GIS Data Classification N/A
    Sharing N/A
    Future This application will be migrated from VAX/VMS. Review of commercial software will be evaluated prior to in-house development.

     

    Database Name Student Incident Reporting (SIR)
    Database Description Contains information concerning behavior and injuries
    Database System Rdb/Oracle
    Estimated Physical Storage Requirements 1.25 Megabytes.
    Year 2000 No Year 2000 risks have been identified
    GIS Data Classification N/A
    Sharing N/A
    Future This system will be migrated from VAX/VMS as part of the Student database specifications in 2001.

     

    Database Name Warehouse
    Database Description All warehouse receipts and issues.
    Database System RMS ISAM
    Estimated Physical Storage Requirements Eight Megabytes.
    Year 2000 The system has year 2000 failure points and is currently under revision.
    GIS Data Classification N/A
    Sharing N/A
    Future This system will be migrated as part of the Accounting system in the year 2000.

     

    Database Name Student Trust System (STF)
    Database Description All student accounts receipts and expenditures.
    Database System RMS ISAM
    Estimated Physical Storage Requirements Seven Megabytes
    Year 2000 The system has year 2000 failure points and is currently under revision.
    GIS Data Classification N/A
    Sharing N/A
    Future This system will be migrated as part of the Accounting system in the year 2000. The unique nature of this software may require that we write it with in-house staff.

     

    Database Name Accounts Payable/Purchasing (APPS)
    Database Description Requisition and payable information and status. Several files linked by requisition number.
    Database System FoxPro 2.6
    Estimated Physical Storage Requirements Six megabytes.
    Year 2000 No Year 2000 risks have been identified
    GIS Data Classification N/A
    Sharing Expenditures, Encumbrance, and payable transactions from this system are uploaded to the USAS system via FTP transport.
    Future This system may be migrated as part of the Accounting system in the year 2000. An alternative is to develop an interface to the purchased accounting software system.

     

    Database Name Library Management System (LRC)
    Database Description Catalog information for library media and books. Allows forfuture development of circulation system.
    Database System Rdb/Oracle
    Estimated Physical Storage Requirements 13 Megabytes
    Year 2000 No Year 2000 risks have been identified
    GIS Data Classification N/A
    Sharing We have transmitted Mark format files with the State Library and Archives agency
    Future This system was written using the "Marc" format standard for library interchange to aide in the migration to other systems. This migration is scheduled for 2001.

     

    Database Name American Printing House Materials Management System
    Database Description Maintains inventories and order information to support the management of the VH materials from Federal quota funds
    Database System FoxPro 2.6
    Estimated Physical Storage Requirements 8 Megabytes
    Year 2000 No Year 2000 risks have been identified
    GIS Data Classification N/A
    Sharing Data is uploaded to the Texas Education Agency upon request. Order status and availability is planned for Web-content distribution in Fiscal year 2000.
    Future No migration at this time

     

    Database Name VI Registration Database (VI_REG)
    Database Description Contains annual registration of all visually impaired students in Texas
    Database System FoxPro 2.6
    Estimated Physical Storage Requirements 10 Megabytes
    Year 2000 No Year 2000 risks have been identified
    GIS Data Classification N/A
    Sharing Data is uploaded to the Texas Education Agency annually. On-line registration is planned in Fiscal year 2000.
    Future No migration plans at this time. Integration with Web-based systems planned for Fiscal year 2000

     

    Database Name Technology Loan Program
    Database Description Contains all inventory and descriptions for equipment available for loan to students with visual impairments
    Database System FoxPro 2.6
    Estimated Physical Storage Requirements 6 megabytes.
    Year 2000 No Year 2000 risks have been identified
    GIS Data Classification N/A
    Sharing Order status and availability is planned for Web-content distribution in Fiscal year 1999.
    Future No migration plans at this time.

    Major Applications

    Application Name Financial Administration
    Application Description The Financial Accounting system used by TSBVI is the Uniform State-Wide Accounting System (USAS) supported by the comptroller's office. We are an internal user of this software and the State-Wide Property Accounting system. The Supplies Inventory (Warehouse) used is a proprietary software system written in COBOL. We use the Uniform State-Wide Payroll System and a PC-based Purchasing/Obligation system. Supplementary reporting and fund management software has been written to increase the functionality of accounting reports from the data downloaded from USAS. All proprietary accounting software systems at TSBVI have data extraction features that provide data upload to USAS to avoid duplicate entry.
    Database System VAX Rdb/Oracle
    Development Language COBOL, FMS,
    Year 2000 List the compliance unit(s) associated with this application as tracked in the DIR Year 2000 Tracking System.
    Sharing TSBVI makes annual summary data report to the State Purchasing and General Services Commission of property transactions.
    Future Indicate planned modifications, conversions, or discontinuance of use during this planning period.

     

    Application Name Student Administration
    Application Description The Student Database system contains demographic and enrollment information on students in attendance at the Texas School for the Blind. Phase I of the system has been operational since 1988 and migrated to the in-house VAX in 1991 after a processor upgrade. The data from this system is collected and distributed in a variety of ways to meet the needs of the School.
    Database System VAX Rdb/Oracle
    Development Language COBOL, FMS
    Year 2000 No known year 2000 compliance issues
    Sharing  
    Future This system is scheduled to be migrated from the VAX/VMS environment in 2001. Extensive review of specifications is required to incorporate current needs.

     

    Application Name Office Automation
    Application Description The initial implementation of the school's communication network with 38 users took place May 1987. At that time each user was created an office automation (All-In-1) account on the Department of Information Resources VAXcluster. This linking of the primary administrative functions of the school proved extremely successful and as planned in the 1986 four-year plan, a MicroVAX II was procured in the fall of 1987 and installed. All user accounts were moved in February 1988 and twelve new user accounts were added. The third phase in the fall of 1988 will complete with 26 terminals installed. The system reached capacity at that point with 68 terminals and 76 user accounts. The MicroVAX system was upgraded in 1991 with an in-cabinet upgrade to a VAX 4000-200 processor. Memory was expanded to 32MB and additional terminal servers and a high-capacity laser printer was added. Office automation, and especially electronic mail, has been universally accepted by the agency staff and has proven extremely beneficial as a communications tool, given the school's scope of service coordination and intense individualized approach to education. The Macintosh and MSDOS computers are integrated with the VAX this fiscal year via the Pathworks network.
    Database System VAX RMS
    Development Language All-In-1 Scripting Language
    Year 2000 None
    Sharing N/A
    Future This system is being phased out gradually as staff are migrated to Microsoft Office products on the PC and Mac.

     

    Application Name

    Library Management system

    Application Description This system was developed by the Texas School for the Deaf and given to TSBVI. The system was then converted to conform to 'Marc' format standards and the system is currently being loaded with title information. When this process is complete, a circulation system will be added to the system modules. The system was also redesigned to accommodate the multiple forms in which library matter may exist (Braille, large print, etc.). The system also provides for inventory of materials and media to provide an efficient method for instructional staff and students to access the system via conventional or adapted technology. The system complies with established TEA guidelines for electronic library architecture.
    Database System VAX Rdb/Oracle
    Development Language COBOL, FMS,
    Year 2000 NONE
    Sharing The data has been shared with the Texas Library Cooperative as a Marc file
    Future This system will be migrated from VAX/VMS to the desktop. Commerical software will be used that will need to be accessible by the Web.

     

    Application Name

    Accounts Payable/Purchasing System (APPS)

    Application Description All purchase requisitions are entered and the system provides receiving reports for the warehouse, status tracking of requisitions, and generation of payable transactions for general ledger update. After the requisition is filled, data is exported to the payment modules for voucher printing and generation of encumbrance transactions for general ledger update. This software is written in FoxPro 2.6.
    Database System Foxpro 2.6
    Development Language COBOL, FMS,
    Year 2000 List the compliance unit(s) associated with this application as tracked in the DIR Year 2000 Tracking System.
    Sharing Indicate other organizations with which the agency shares this application. Include how the sharing occurs.
    Future Indicate planned modifications, conversions, or discontinuance of use during this planning period.

     

    Application Name

    APH Materials Management System

    Application Description Manages the ordering, shipping, and receipt of Federal Quota funded equipment from the American Printing House for the Blind.
    Database System VAX RMS
    Development Language All-In-1 Scripting language
    Year 2000 None
    Sharing None
    Future This system will be migrated from the VAX/VMS environment to the desktop platform. It will be included in the Student Database migration scheduled for FY2001.

     

    Application Name

    Student Registration Tracking

    Application Description Tracks registration elements during fall and summer student enrollment. Provides numerous status and management reports. Integrated with word processing system for generation of form letters. Entry performed in Center for School Resources with read-only access to numerous school staff for program planning.
    Database System VAX RMS
    Development Language All-In-1 Scripting language
    Year 2000 None
    Sharing None
    Future This system will be migrated from the VAX/VMS environment to the desktop platform. It will be included in the Student Database migration scheduled for FY2001.

     

    Application Name

    VI Registration System

    Application Description Manages annual registration of all students with visual impairments. Provides numerous status and management reports. Information is received from school districts throughout Texas to indicate enrollment, reading medium, etc..
    Database System Foxpro 2.6
    Development Language Foxpro 2.6
    Year 2000 None
    Sharing Registration data of visually impaired students in Texas is provided by TEA annually to TSBVI on floppy disk.
    Future Investigation of Web-based processing of registration data.

    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.

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    INTRODUCTION

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    The mission and philosophy of the instructional technology program follows:

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

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

    Technology can facilitate the following:

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

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

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    PLANNING ASSUMPTIONS AND FACTORS

    Underlying Assumptions

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

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

    the cost of technology will continue to decline

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

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

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

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

    Planning Factors

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

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

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

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

    technical staff involvement in administrative planning and policy development

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

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

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    GOALS

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

    [Texas Education Code 11.062]

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

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

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

    Action Item #1 Assess viability of current technologies

    #2 Review current equipment to assess functionality

    #3 Target equipment to be replaced

    #4 Prepare funding proposal

    #5 Procure and install replacement equipment

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Action item#1 explore new methods of technology service delivery

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

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

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

    #5 Establish a software review committee

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

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

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

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

    Action Item #1 continue to expand the TSBVI web site

    #2 explore and develop guidelines for establishment of intranet

    #3 Train information providers in system update methods

    IR Strategy #8 Implement Library and Circulation system.

    Action Item #1 Review design of circulation module

    #2 explore availability of commercial software

    #3 establish task force for software selection

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

    IR Strategy #9 Further refine Student Course Information System

    Action Item #1 Assess current status of system

    #2 Modify Report Card format

    #3 Implement schedules and grades by course

    #4 Train staff

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

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

    Action Item #1 improve Budget management module

    #2 improve analysis reporting from USAS extraction data

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

    Action Item #1 Asses current system and review potential enhancements

    #2 Establish system design and implementation timelines

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

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

    Action Item #1 Identify year 2000 issues and impact factors

    #2 Review application software and existing hardware

    #3 take preventative steps to minimize agency risks

    IR Strategy#13 review disaster recovery planning

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

    #2 identify new areas of risk exposure

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

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

    [Texas Education Code 11.062]

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

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

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

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

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

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

    IR Strategy #15 Develop support tools for Outreach staff.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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    Attachment A Organization and Personnel

    Technical Support Staff

    Director of Technology Services

    Serves as the agency Information Resources Manager.

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

    Application Development Programmer

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

    System Support Specialist I

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

    Hardware Technician

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

    Computer Technician

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

    Instructional Technical Staff

    StateWide Technical Support Specialist

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

    Educational Technology Coordinators

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

    Outreach Technology Teacher

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

    Classroom teacher

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

    Instructional Technician;

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

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    Attachment B Policies and Practices

    Priority Setting and Planning

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

    Staff Training and Continuing Education

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

    Operating System Standards

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

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

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

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

    Interagency Communications

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

    Security

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

    Disaster Recovery

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

    Use of Computing resources

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

    Use of contract Services and Consultants

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

    No consultants are used.

    Use of Computer-Aided Software Engineering

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

    Quality Assurance and Risk Management

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

    User Acceptance

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

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    Attachment C Methodology and Information Resource Planning

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

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    Attachment D Configuration

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

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

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

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

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

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

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    Attachment E Telecommunication Infrastructure

    Voice Communications

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

    Data Communications

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

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

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    Attachment F Interagency Network Participation

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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    Attachment G Databases

    Database Name: Student Database

    File Structure: Rdb

    Access Software: RDO/SQL, COBOL

    Hardware: VAX 4000-200

    Location: Technology Services Department

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

    Database Name: Medical Limitations

    File Structure: Rdb

    Access Software: RDO/SQL, Rally

    Hardware: VAX 4000-200

    Location: Technology Services Department

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

    Database Name: Maintenance Work Order

    File Structure: Rdb

    Access Software: RDO/SQL, Rally

    Hardware: VAX 4000-200

    Location: Technology Services Department

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

    Database Name: Registration Tracking

    File Structure RMS indexed sequential

    Access Software All-In-1

    Hardware VAX 4000-200

    Location Technology Services Department

    Description Contains elements to track flow of paperwork, student

    requests/requirements for fall and summer registration processing.

    Database Name: ARD Tracking

    File Structure RMS indexed sequential

    Access Software All-In-1

    Hardware VAX 4000-200

    Location Technology Services Department

    Description Contains elements to track ARD set-up and coordination

    with other staff and agencies.

    Database Name: Student Course Information

    File Structure Rdb

    Access Software: RDO/SQL, Rally

    Hardware: VAX 4000-200

    Location: Technology Services Department

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

    Database Name: Incident Reporting

    File Structure Rdb

    Access Software Rally

    Hardware VAX 4000-200

    Location Life Skills

    Description Contains information concerning behavior and injuries.

    Database Name: Warehouse

    File Structure RMS ISAM

    Access Software: COBOL, Datatrieve

    Hardware: VAX 4000-200

    Location: Technology Services Department

    Description All warehouse receipts and issues

    Database Name: Student Trust

    File Structure RMS ISAM

    Access Software: COBOL, Datatrieve

    Hardware: VAX 4000-200

    Location: Technology Services Department

    Description All student account receipts and expenditures

    Database Name: Accounts Payable/Purchasing

    File Structure Fox Pro

    Access Software Fox Pro for Dos

    Location Business Office

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

    Database Name: Staff Database

    File Structure Rdb

    Access Software: RDO/SQL, Rally

    Hardware: VAX 4000-200

    Location: Technology Services Department

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

    Database Name: Library System

    File Structure Rdb

    Access Software: RDO/SQL, COBOL

    Hardware: VAX 4000-200

    Location: Learning Resource Center

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

    Database Name: Discipline Log System

    File Structure Rdb

    Access Software: RDO/SQL, Rally

    Hardware: VAX 4000-200

    Location: Secondary Office

    Description Tracking and email notification system for student dicipline information.

    Database Name: Software Archive System

    File Structure Rdb

    Access Software: RDO/SQL, Rally

    Hardware: VAX 4000-200

    Location: Technology Services Department

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

    Database Name: Data Dictionary System

    File Structure Rdb

    Access Software: RDO/SQL, Rally

    Hardware: VAX 4000-200

    Location: Technology Services Department

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

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    Attachment H Major Applications

    Financial Administration

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

    Student Administration

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

    Office Automation

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

    Library Management system

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

    Student Course Information system

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

    Accounts Payable/Purchasing System (APPS)

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

    Student Registration Tracking

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

    Service Request System

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

    Data Dictionary

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

    Technology Loan Catalog

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