High Tech Center Training Unit
Advisory Committee Meeting Minutes
Friday, September 25, 1998

Present

Myra Lerch, Carolyn Fiori, Carol Toppel, Laurie Vasquez, Tina Andersen-Wahlberg (for Ray Lovell), Sherry Goldsmith, Susan Tillman, Frank Post, Carl Brown, Rod Brawley, Karen Topp Gooddwyn

Absent

Janice Emerzian, Ray Lovell, Sherrean Carr, Catherine Campisi, Steve Sellitti

Others

Rose Asera

10:00 AM Meeting Opened

Introduce new ex-officio members

Carl introduced two new ex-officio members to the Advisory Committee: Rod Brawley is Manager at the Clearinghouse for Media and Specialized Technology for the California Department of Education, and Karen Topp Goodwyn is a CATS Council Member for the Department of Rehabilitation. Carl will look for a new representative from region 2 to replace Darren Luvaas who is now at Stanford.

Review/approve minutes from pervious meeting

The minutes from the April 17, 1998 meeting were approved with one adjustment made.

Finalize survey content

The first part of the survey was designed to give a grounding from which to build a student outcomes study. The purpose was to come up with some fairly consistent levels of service provision, keeping in mind that any serious quantitative outcomes has to measure all of the programs that contribute to the success of students with disabilities together. This is why the survey is designed with broad questions in mind. To pick something measurable like student grades, transcripts, and transfer rate, would yield incomplete information.

The Advisory Committee reviewed the responses received from the three campuses used for the HTC student outcomes study, field test version 1.0. Some changes were made to the survey due to some clarified comments and suggestions received from those campuses that participated in the study. Advisory members reviewed the next draft, version 1.1, making the following comments/suggestions:

A draft of the cover letter to be included in the final survey was given to the Advisory Committee for review. Carol suggested rewording the opening of the letter for a more "friendly" approach. The next step is to rework the letter, then send out the survey. Rose will email Carl with the changes to survey 1.1. The letter/survey will be sent out before the CAPED conference in October.

The final survey will be disseminated to 27 colleges, chosen by geography and campus size (information was obtained from the Chancellor's Office). The sample should give a good representation of close to a third of all of the community colleges. The decision for doing a stratified sample is due to the capacity of the HTCTU to deal with the enormous quantities of data. To survey all of the community colleges, get the follow-up results, and enter and analyze the data would be an overwhelming task. The colleges will be given three weeks to complete the survey. The goal is to have all of the data and follow-up completed before the middle of November.

Student Survey

The student sample selected to complete the survey will depend on the same factors as the other survey—campus size and location. The student survey will also be field tested. Students will receive a cover letter with their questionnaire also. The student survey will probably be ready by mid January and go out in February. If all goes as planned, a summary should be ready by March.

Some comments/suggestions for the student survey are as follows:

Students who need help with the survey should preferably get it from someone outside the HTC and DSP&S in general. Carolyn suggested separating the survey into two parts so students may get help (from HTC/DSP&S staff) on the questions that don't pertain to the HTC. If needed, Carl can give the colleges a version in etext.

Rose will be at the next Advisory Meeting.

HTCTU Operating Issues

Budget

Over the summer, the HTCTU paid $6000 for interpreter services for a HTC Specialist who is deaf to attend two 3-day trainings. That's 1/5 of the travel and reimbursement budget for the whole year. Should the Chancellor's Office cover these costs or should the college that sends the person cover the costs or at least share the costs with the HTCTU or Chancellor's Office? What's reasonable? Some suggestions were using rapid text, sharing the costs with the college's DSP&S program, or using ADA funds. Carl would like a strong recommendation from the Advisory Committee that the HTCTU budget be augmented by the Chancellor's Office to cover these costs or that the Chancellor's Office make a decision about how the HTCTU should deal with these unanticipated expenses without compromising the accommodation of trainees with disabilities.

Carl is particularly interested in an augmentation due to the increase in responsibilities that came with the new RFA, including training and support for libraries, open media labs, learning centers, and mainstream labs. Additionally, the HTCTU will be working with colleges who will be making their distance education courses accessible. There is a high degree of likelihood that the HTCTU will become involved with the California Virtual University (CVU) training centers in providing training in the creation of accessible web sites and closed-captioning of digital video. Carl is giving serious consideration in doing this on a fee for service basis.

Regional Visits

To reduce the time and money spent travelling around the state for each regional meeting; Carl proposed meeting with the regions as a group, four times a year in Sacramento. Some Advisory members were concerned because the group meetings consist of only one representative per region instead of the individuals that represent all of the colleges in that region. As an alternative, Laurie suggested that Carl get a preliminary agenda before the scheduled meeting to determine if his presence is needed or whether the information can be disseminated in some other way.

Carl mentioned doing a picture-tel approach to the meetings, but the meetings are usually held in rooms that don't have the technology. Rod suggested borrowing a room from a facility that is equipped with the technology, such as the California School for the Deaf in Riverside or the Diagnostic Center in Los Angeles.

For the time being, Carl (or one of the HTCTU staff) will continue to attend the regional meetings while exploring digital alternatives.

New HTCTU Trainings/Resources

Trainings

Four new trainings have been established and are available this quarter:

  1. ACT Overview—Intended for mainstream administrators and faculty who have never been exposed to assistive computer technology. It will give a broad overview of ACT and disability issues in general, including ADA and college responsibilities.
  2. Advanced JAWS for Word and Advanced JAWS for Excel—These are advanced trainings intended for those who are already familiar with JAWS for Windows 95.
  3. ACT Installation, Configuration, and Troubleshooting—Designed to train campus technicians in installing and maintaining assistive technology.

BookExchange

The HTCTU has established, in combination with the Texas Text Exchange, a web-based database that allows colleges to share materials in alternative formats, such as Braille, etext, and audio tape. The Texas Text Exchange has about 1000 books in alternative formats. BookExchange can be found on the HTCTU web site or via this link: http://www.bookex.htctu.fhda.edu. Myra suggested the BookExchange idea would be a good model for a central exchange that shares what software is accessible and effective.

Chancellor's Office Activities

Distance Education Access Guidelines

Laurie and Carl gave a report from the committee they're involved with, discussing distance education and access. Last Monday, the first task force convened, identifying the delivery methods of distance education and discussing what the access aspects are going to be. What is going to come out of the work of this committee is probably a modification to the Title 5 requirements and a comprehensive set of recommendations and guidelines, specifically regarding accessibility issues and distance learning. What the committee talked about was not just web accessibility, but what it means to make other things accessible such as teleconferences, telecourses, video tape, CD-ROM, DVD, audio tape, etc. The next meeting will incorporate the DETC Committee.

Regardless of all the policies and guidelines, a process of education, training, and support is needed for the faculty who are left to take on the task. After determining what the accessibility guidelines and requirements are, the next step in the process is going to be to look through the inventory of existing training resources that the Chancellor's Office has and determine the cost of putting into place any other resource that is needed. The best we can do at this point is to inform distance learning instructors to what their legal responsibilities are, what the current access technologies are, and to be flexible in their design. A good resource for web service standards can be found at http://www.w3c.org.

Alternative Text

As on offshoot of the OCR review, the Chancellor's Office is looking into ways of producing text in alternative formats. There are a number of Braille production houses around the country that will produce high quality, Library of Congress certified Braille at a dollar a page—in about a week. The battle is speed vs. accuracy. If you want it fast, there's not going to be much in the way of formatting. How quickly should people who are blind be able to get materials in Braille? This is one of the issues the Chancellor's Office is looking into.

Xerox Corporation is going to give the HTCTU the technology to use its copier as a scanner. This will allow us to scan book pages, convert them automatically into MS Word, and send them to a print server that's spooled to a Braille printer. We should have this technology in place within the next two months.

The Advisory Committee reviewed an excerpt of the education code from the state of Texas. They have a policy in place for K-12 requiring that any books be made available in electronic format. The state of Arizona has a similar policy, but theirs is specific to higher education.

There are three new start-up companies in Silicon Valley that are creating handheld devices for reading and storing books. These digital books are empty vessels where texts can be downloaded from an online bookstore and offloaded to a "bookshelf" when you're finished with them. Carl mentioned the possibility of downloading these texts to other kinds of environments that will allow you to read or Braille them.

Statewide Equipment Purchase

The Chancellor's Office is still very interested in the idea, either through the Community College Foundation or some other mechanism, of setting up a process through which either there would be group buys of assistive technology or statewide site licensing. With either method, the community colleges would save money while maintaining the industry standard level of access technology. The Advisory Committee reviewed a draft of the HTCTU's take on the "core" access technologies. The Chancellor's Office wants to share the list with the regional coordinators, and then give it to Larry Toy to see what can happen about putting the items on a state purchasing list.

Ongoing/New Business

Carol reminded everyone to attend the CAPED conference in October.

The Advisory Committee agrees to hold the next meeting at the HTCTU conference room on January 29, 1999.

2:30 PM Meeting Adjourned