BOARDS & COMMISSIONS
Advisory Commission on Accessible Instructional Materials in Postsecondary Education for Students with Disabilities
Commission Overview
Archived Information


Current Section

Overview of the Advisory Commission on Accessible Instructional Materials in Postsecondary Education for Students with Disabilities

download files MS PowerPoint Show (352KB)

David Berthiaume
Executive Director
Advisory Commission on Accessible Instructional Materials in Postsecondary Education for Students with Disabilities

Introduction

  • The Higher Education Opportunity Act (2008) established the Commission.
  • The Commission is charged with studying the current state of accessible materials for students with disabilities in postsecondary education, including barriers and systemic issues that affect delivery of materials, and writing a report that makes recommendations for improving students’ access to and dissemination of such materials.
  • The law states that the Commission has one year to study and prepare a report to the Secretary of Education and Congress. The report shall detail the findings and recommendations of the study.
  • The Chair and the Vice-Chair, working with the Commission, will set the schedule of the Commission, and develop an action plan for completing the study.

Members

Commission membership consists of:

  • 19 members
  • The law designates members come from each entity of these groups:
    • Offices of the U.S. Department of Education—3 total designates
    • Organization Representatives—8 total designates
    • Special Government Employees—8 total designates

Members from the U.S. Department of Education

Members Serving as Organization Representatives:

Members Serving as Special Government Employees

Two members from each of the following categories:

  • Staff from two-year and four-year institutions of higher education with demonstrated experience teaching or supporting students with print disabilities—two designates:
    Gaeir Dietrich and Lizanne DeStefano
  • Producers of accessible materials, publishing software, and supporting technologies in specialized formats—two designates:
    Jim Fruchterman and Tuck Tinsley
  • Individuals with visual impairments, including at least one postsecondary student—two designates:
    George Kerscher and Kurt Herzer
  • Individuals with a learning disability related to reading, including at least one postsecondary student—two designates:
    Linda Tessler and Ashlee Kephart

The Study

The law mandates that the Commission conduct a comprehensive study. The study must:

  • “Assess the barriers and systemic issues that may affect, and technical solutions available that may improve, the timely delivery and quality of accessible instructional materials for postsecondary students with print disabilities, as well as the effective use of such materials by faculty and staff; and…”
  • “Make recommendations related to the development of a comprehensive approach to improve the opportunities for postsecondary students with print disabilities to access instructional materials in specialized formats in a timeframe comparable to the availability of instructional materials for post secondary non-disabled students.”

The Study—Core Issues

  • Identify the barriers and systemic issues that affect timely delivery of instructional materials to postsecondary students with disabilities;
  • Discuss technical solutions that could improve timely delivery of instructional materials to postsecondary students with disabilities;
  • Analyze how to improve use of instructional materials by faculty and staff;

Legislative History on the Study

Conference Report

  • The Commission shall identify and draw upon expertise of national non-profit organizations and other entities with experience in providing accessible materials to students with print disabilities;
  • These organizations must have proven track records in conducting research in this area, especially in the creation of file standards for accessible instructional materials, and for collaborating with publishers and other stakeholders in their efforts.

More Legislative History

House and Senate conferees recommend that Commission consider work of following groups in conducting study:

Based on the information developed in the study, the Commission will develop recommendations in 5 areas:

  1. To inform Federal regulations and legislation
  2. To support the model demonstration programs authorized under section 773 of the Higher Education Opportunity Act (HEOA).
    (The purpose of the model programs is to improve the quality and efficiency of the delivery of instructional materials to postsecondary students with disabilities)
  3. Identify best practices in systems for collecting, maintaining, processing, and disseminating materials in specialized formats to students with print disabilities at costs comparable to instructional materials for postsecondary non-disabled students
  4. To improve the effective use of such materials by faculty and staff, while complying with applicable copyright law; and
  5. To modify the definitions of instructional materials, authorized entities, and eligible students, as such terms are used in applicable federal law, for the purpose of improving services to students with disabilities.

In making the recommendations, the Commission must consider the following considerations:

  1. How students with print disabilities may obtain instructional materials in accessible formats:
    1. within a timeframe comparable to the availability of instructional materials for nondisabled students; and
    2. to the maximum extent practicable, at costs comparable to the costs of such materials for nondisabled students;
  2. The feasibility and technical parameters of establishing standardized electronic file formats, such as the National Instructional Materials Accessibility Standard (NIMAS) as defined in section 674(e)(3) of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), to be provided by publishers of instructional materials to producers of materials in specialized formats, institutions of higher education, and eligible students;
  3. The feasibility of establishing a national clearinghouse, repository, or file-sharing network for electronic files in specialized formats and files used in producing instructional materials in specialized formats, and a list of possible entities qualified to administer such a clearinghouse, repository or network;
  4. The feasibility of establishing market-based solutions involving collaborations among publishers of instructional materials, producers of materials in specialized formats, and institutions of higher education;
  5. Solutions utilizing universal design; and
  6. Solutions for low-incidence, high cost requests for instructional materials in specialized formats.

Summary: the considerations are related to the core issues:

Identify the barriers and systemic issues that affect timely delivery of instructional materials to postsecondary students with disabilities:

  • Cost, including low-incidence, high-cost requests

Discuss technical solutions that could improve timely delivery of instructional materials to postsecondary students with disabilities:

  • NIMAS
  • National clearinghouse
  • Market-based solutions
  • Universal design

Contacts

Dave Berthiaume
Designated Federal Official
202-245-6334
David.Berthiaume@ed.gov

Liz Shook
Program Specialist
202-245-7642
Elizabeth.Shook@ed.gov

Skip Stahl
Project Director, CAST
781-245-2212
sstahl@cast.org



 
Print this page Printable view Bookmark  and Share
Last Modified: 04/10/2013