Print

Print


I need to have a computer station that is set up to meet the needs of
hearing or sight impaired students.  Does anyone have suggestions about what
to purchase???  Thanks in advance.


The following is an article from the Chronicle that gets us thinking about
how we can (and must!) better serve students with disabilities .....

Subject: Fw: Colleges Focus on Making Web Sites Work for People With
Disabilities
> >   Friday, January 26, 2001
> >
> >
> >
> >   Colleges Focus on Making Web Sites Work for People With
> >   Disabilities
> >
> >   By ANDREA L. FOSTER
> >
> >
> >
> >   When Margo L. Bailey, an assistant professor of public
> >   administration at American University, posted on the World
> >   Wide Web the syllabus and handouts for her course on personnel
> >   administration, she gained a fan.
> >
> >   Thomas McKeithan II, a blind student in her class, realized
> >   that he wouldn't have to depend on others to read aloud notes
> >   and other written material. Software that recognizes online
> >   text could do the job.
> >
> >   "I just walked up to her and said, 'Did you know I was coming
> >   to the class? You just made my life a hell of a lot easier,'"
> >   says Mr. McKeithan, an undergraduate in his sixth year. Ms.
> >   Bailey was nonplused. "I told her, 'You just don't understand.
> >   I don't have to carry around a lot of paper. I can read this
> >   on my own.'"
> >
> >   For disabled college students, professors' increased use of
> >   the Web for instruction can create obstacles rather than clear
> >   them away. Many disabled students find that new technology
> >   cuts them off from the learning process.
> >
> >   To prevent that, colleges are -- among other things --
> >   designing Web sites and buying computer workstations that meet
> >   the needs of disabled students.
> >
> >   Fueling the activity is the government's enforcement of the
> >   Americans With Disabilities Act at California community
> >   colleges following complaints by students there. In addition,
> >   a new rule requires federal agencies and state institutions to
> >   make their Web sites accessible to disabled people.
> >
> >   In January 1998, the U.S. Department of Education's Office for
> >   Civil Rights cited the A.D.A. in ordering California's
> >   community colleges to take specific steps to make print and
> >   electronic information available to visually impaired
> >   students.
> >
> >   Meanwhile, the new federal regulation clarifies Section 508 of
> >   the Rehabilitation Act of 1973. State-controlled colleges must
> >   make their Web sites accessible, and make sure that when they
> >   purchase new computer hardware and software, the machines and
> >   programs can be adapted for use by disabled people.
> >
> >   Although the rule was written primarily to aid federal
> >   employees and those who use federal Web sites, state
> >   institutions, too, are required to comply with Section 508,
> >   because all states receive money under the Assistive
> >   Technology Act. "Section 508 is the A.D.A. of cyberspace,"
> >   says Cynthia Waddell, an expert on disability law and
> >   information technology.
> >
> >   Many state universities are only now beginning to learn that
> >   the new rule will apply to them. And while private
> >   institutions are not covered, advocates for the disabled say
> >   the rule is likely to spur the creation of products to promote
> >   Web use by disabled people, and that those products will also
> >   benefit students at private colleges.
> >
> >   The regulation is scheduled to go into effect June 21. But the
> >   new Bush administration says published regulations that have
> >   not yet taken effect will have their enforcement date delayed
> >   for 60 days, while they are reviewed.
> >
> >   None of the college administrators interviewed for this
> >   article oppose the regulation. But that doesn't mean it's
> >   pain-free.
> >
> >   "I don't think there's anybody that would take a public
> >   posture that this is not an appropriate next step," says
> >   Sheldon E. Steinbach, vice president of the American Council
> >   on Education. "But at the same time, one should acknowledge
> >   that this is another additional cost that ultimately has to be
> >   paid in some manner, which usually means an increase in
> >   tuition and fees."
> >
> >   Disabled students say the regulation is necessary. Lured by
> >   Web-design products, professors often create colorful,
> >   stylish, and audible Internet sites for their classes. But
> >   students with limited vision struggle to comprehend electronic
> >   pictures and graphs, audio material is meaningless to the
> >   deaf, and those with impaired mobility can struggle just to
> >   send an e-mail message.
> >
> >   Among other things, the rule clarification means that
> >   state-university Web pages must provide text alternatives to
> >   images and make color-coded information available without
> >   color.
> >
> >   Video and multimedia productions understood through visual
> >   data must be made audible as well.
> >
> >   Colleges have much work to do. Last year, Axel Schmetzke, an
> >   assistant professor of library services on the University of
> >   Wisconsin's Stevens Point campus, surveyed the home pages of
> >   24 colleges, along with a connecting link from each page. He
> >   chose the 24 colleges because they are known for having
> >   first-rate library schools. But he found that, on average,
> >   only half of the pages were accessible to people with
> >   disabilities.
> >
> >   The new rule also applies to purchases of computers, printers,
> >   fax machines, and video and multimedia equipment. Such
> >   equipment must meet certain height and reach requirements,
> >   either by being adjustable or through installation. Software
> >   to interpret images and hyperlinks on a Web page must be made
> >   available to visually impaired students.
> >
> >   The regulation will have the biggest impact on distance
> >   education, according to a lawyer with experience in
> >   disabilities issues. "Some faculty, to keep students
> >   interested, use Internet technology and Web-design techniques
> >   that may not easily translate to an accessible medium for
> >   disabled persons," says Thornton Wilson, an assistant attorney
> >   general in Washington State, who gives legal advice to the
> >   University of Washington.
> >
> >   "Streaming audio is of no use to the deaf. Or an e-mail chat
> >   room that allows many students to discuss a topic
> >   simultaneously can be difficult for a blind person to follow,
> >   even with screen-reading software. Faculty will need to
> >   reconsider how they use the Internet in their courses," he
> >   says.
> >
> >   Norman Coombs, director of an organization called Equal Access
> >   to Software Information, or EASI, predicts that the new rule
> >   will make adaptive technology more widely available to all
> >   colleges, at competitive prices. The Rochester, N.Y.-based
> >   group, affiliated with the American Association for Higher
> >   Education, advises schools and colleges on making computer
> >   technology more accessible.
> >
> >   "A lot of software and hardware producers have treated the
> >   disability market as too small to put much effort into," he
> >   says. "But the government market is a big one, and vendors and
> >   producers will now pay attention to the market as they never
> >   did before."
> >
> >   SSB Technologies, a software company in San Francisco,
> >   released two software products in May that are designed to
> >   make Web sites more accessible. InSight scans the sites and
> >   flags areas that could cause problems for disabled users,
> >   while InFocus fixes the flagged areas, says the company's
> >   president, Marco Sorani. California's community colleges are
> >   using the products, he adds.
> >
> >   Some institutions use software called Bobby, which functions
> >   like a spelling checker, to diagnose accessibility problems.
> >   The program was created by the Center for Applied Special
> >   Technology, a non-profit group, based in Peabody, Mass.
> >
> >   Even before the clarification of Section 508 was proposed,
> >   both public and private universities had been showing greater
> >   interest in making technology more available to disabled
> >   users. The Department of Education's use of the A.D.A. to
> >   force California community colleges to respond to student
> >   grievances has not been lost on other colleges. Disabled
> >   students are becoming increasingly assertive, colleges are
> >   fearful of disability-related litigation, and the percentage
> >   of college students who are disabled is growing.
> >
> >   According to a survey by the American Council on Education,
> >   the proportion of freshmen reporting disabilities increased
> >   from about 3 percent in 1978 to 9 percent in 1998. (The
> >   disability most commonly cited in 1998 was learning
> >   disability.)
> >
> >   In September, the presidents of 25 research universities said
> >   in a letter to President Clinton that they are committed to
> >   making information and communications technologies accessible
> >   to people with disabilities. Also last year, Connecticut's
> >   information-technology office announced a policy requiring
> >   state agencies, including colleges, to make Web pages
> >   accessible to the disabled.
> >
> >   Now college officials are asking Mr. Coombs, of EASI, about
> >   making campus technology available to the disabled.
> >   Participation in the group's online workshops has been brisk,
> >   he says, and conference sessions on the needs of disabled
> >   students are attracting larger audiences.
> >
> >   How much it will cost universities to meet the new
> >   requirements is anybody's guess. The Department of Education
> >   has not provided an estimate. California's community colleges
> >   are receiving $11-million from the state to put the federal
> >   requirements into effect.
> >
> >   But the real stumbling block to making adaptive technology
> >   more widely available is not cost, say advocates for the
> >   disabled. It is a university's attitude and organization.
> >
> >   On some campuses, Mr. Coombs says, departments get mired in
> >   squabbles over which of them will pick up the tab. If top
> >   administrators are committed to the needs of disabled
> >   students, he observes, the cost can be spread out across
> >   several departments or the whole university budget.
> >
> >   Some advocates say having a collegewide policy on adaptive
> >   technology is the key. Because of a lack of coordination among
> >   campus Web designers, though, it is common to see only a
> >   smattering of accessible Web sites within a university, says
> >   Jane Jarrow, president of Disability Access Information and
> >   Support, a consulting company in Columbus, Ohio, that focuses
> >   on accessibility issues.
> >
> >   California decided to hire a person on each of its 108
> >   community-college campuses to respond to the recommendations
> >   of the Department of Education. The civil-rights office had
> >   noted, among other things, that many of the colleges did not
> >   have effective procedures for providing students with
> >   documents in Braille or large print.
> >
> >   "There is some cost associated with modification of software,"
> >   says Ralph Black, general counsel to the chancellor's office
> >   of the community-college system. "But most of this is simply
> >   design work -- having a person who knows how to deal with
> >   modifying a Web site, is able to follow guidelines developed
> >   by other entities, and can go through and label text with
> >   images."
> >
> >   Ms. Jarrow tells colleges to design Web sites that are
> >   accessible from the start. Since one university can have
> >   hundreds of thousands of Web pages, making changes after the
> >   fact can be inordinately time-consuming -- as many colleges
> >   are now discovering, she says.
> >
> >   "It's going to be nearly impossible to retrofit Web sites of
> >   that size to make sure they're accessible. What colleges ought
> >   to be doing is making some hard decisions and saying, 'Nothing
> >   will get posted unless these rules are followed.' Instead of
> >   clearing up, the problem is getting worse, because more stuff
> >   is getting posted."
> >
> >   Kirk Snedeker, the Web manager at Southern Connecticut State
> >   University, concluded that it would be easier to construct an
> >   alternative site for disabled users than to revamp the
> >   university's current site, which comprises 1,000 pages. He
> >   hopes to have the alternative site up and running in June.
> >
> >   Visitors would reach it by following a link on the home page.
> >   A decision on revising other university-affiliated Web sites,
> >   like those operated by the student center and the health
> >   center, has yet to be reached, he says.
> >
> >   Jan Hecht, coordinator of adaptive-technology services at
> >   Southern Connecticut, is spreading the word to faculty members
> >   about making their Web sites accessible. The university relies
> >   on Web-design software from WebCT, which doesn't prompt users
> >   to attach textual descriptions to graphics, she says, so she
> >   reminds professors to do it by hand.
> >
> >   WebCT plans to release software that contains such prompts in
> >   December, says Glen Low, director of educational technology
> >   and development.
> >
> >   College-affiliated research-and-training centers are working
> >   to help other colleges develop procedures for making their
> >   sites accessible. The World Wide Web Consortium's Web
> >   Accessibility Initiative, at the Massachusetts Institute of
> >   Technology, has established standards for Web developers that
> >   many colleges have adopted.
> >
> >   The federal government used the standards last year as a model
> >   for the new regulation (http://www.w3.org/WAI). Universities
> >   can also get help from the Center for Rehabilitation
> >   Technology at the Georgia Institute of Technology.
> >
> >   In addition, the WGBH National Center for Accessible Media is
> >   collaborating with M.I.T.'s Center for Advanced Educational
> >   Services to make an interactive, online physics course
> >   available to students with visual and hearing impairments. The
> >   project is based on a popular introductory-physics course
> >   taught at M.I.T. by Walter Lewin.
> >
> >   But before colleges seek out technical support, they might
> >   want to listen to the disabled students themselves. At
> >   American University, Mr. McKeithan recalls a meeting with
> >   administrators a little over a year ago at which adaptive
> >   technology was discussed.
> >
> >   "I said, 'Look, every student pays the requisite cost to come
> >   to this institution. It's an unacceptable practice that we
> >   don't have this or we don't have that to get the job done.
> >   Don't come to me saying we don't have the money to make it
> >   accessible. Your priorities are in the wrong place.'"
> >
> >   On the other hand, Shelley Reeves, director of
> >   disability-support services at American, says she has
> >   "received nothing but support from the university."
> >
> >   "We're constantly evaluating where we need to go and how we
> >   need to get there."
> >
> >   During the 2000 fiscal year, American University spent $21,918
> >   on adaptive-technology equipment, including $1,050 for
> >   Braille-translation software; $3,825 for a Braille printer
> >   with speech capability; $1,515 for screen magnifiers; and
> >   $3,000 for four height-adjustable workstations.
> >
> >   Mr. McKeithan says officials have, in fact, generally been
> >   responsive to demands to make technology more accessible to
> >   disabled students. Nonetheless, he insists that the university
> >   -- like others -- can do more.
> >
> >
> > _________________________________________________________________
> >
> > Chronicle subscribers can read this article on the Web at this address:
> > http://chronicle.com/free/2001/01/2001012601t.htm
> >
> > If you would like to have complete access to The Chronicle's Web
> > site, a special subscription offer can be found at:
> >
> >    http://chronicle.com/4free
> >
> > Use the code D00CM when ordering.
> >
> > _________________________________________________________________
> >
> > You may visit The Chronicle as follows:
> >
> >    * via the World-Wide Web, at http://chronicle.com
> >    * via telnet at chronicle.com
> >
> > _________________________________________________________________
> > Copyright 2001 by The Chronicle of Higher Education
> >
>