Notes from Session 3 of the Technology Strand at the National Summit on Distance Education and Disability
May 12, 2004
- Session 3 focused on identifying solutions to the main issues/themes recognized during sessions 1 and 2. Facilitation for the work of this strand was not intended to be consensus building.
- Comments for action are not presented in a direct 1-to-1 correspondence with identified issues/themes from sessions 1 and 2 as many ideas for action pertained to several issues or aspects of issues. Moreover, the comments are not presented in any hierarchical order.
- These notes are not inclusive of all remarks made by participants.
Action from the Technology Strand will consist of creating several Web working groups of interested parties to work on the following:
- Create language that could be inserted into the Higher Education Act reauthorization and determine a process for influence and action.
- Collect an inventory of all the relevant standards that apply to technology-mediated education (e.g., Web and other technologies). Where none exist or there are gaps, identify these (e.g., gap analysis). Where there are conflicts, identify these. All of this information could then be used for (1) awareness efforts, and (2) development efforts, to extend accessibility aspects within standards.
- Determine a process and action to influence accrediting bodies to ask about accessibility across technology-mediated education (e.g., Web, other distance education systems).
- Create parameters for a recommended "disability impact statement" and determine the best points of influence (e.g., OMB) for this as a required aspect of all federal funding (to include federal grantees).
- Create parameters for a standardized process so that consumer complaints can be made (e.g., Web, other technology-mediated education). This might be specific to Section 508 or for broader accessibility standards. It would include direct reporting to appropriate entities and requirements for a response. Consider points of influence for the accessibility inquiry (e.g., Higher Education Act, Accreditation). One possible sequence:
- Define the standard or set of guidelines to which you will adhere.
- State how complaints will be made and response requirements.
- Determine the process for translating the guidelines to non-technical audiences.
- State the mechanism for implementation.
- A Curriculum should be designed for universities to implement into computer science programs and other academic areas on accessible technology-mediated education.
- Discuss how certification could help these varied problems. There is the product side and the personnel side. Would an outside, reliable, and valid certification help procurement and employment that would aid in accessibility?
- We need to find a way to share the promising practices that are happening all across the country and get this information to those who need it. This includes to and from those who are educational providers, those that develop new tools and products, and those in industry. Consider the impact of purchasing "Google" links under the topic "Distance Education" and filling it with accessibility information from all of us.
- There is a need to create linkages between the little guys (e.g., most in education), and the big guys (e.g., Macromedia, IBM, Microsoft). There are important ideas that are not getting to the mainstream markets.
- We need to explore the concept of incentives for businesses to create accessible products (e.g. educational materials), rather than require that they provide accessible versions at no cost, because these no cost versions are not high quality.
- We need to better train all the educational providers. Here are some options:
- Train all faculty so they can't say they don’t know
- Influence the technology creators that provide tools for educators (e.g., MS Word, PowerPoint)
- Train and equip technical support teams who will do the work.
- Create an automatic filter that bounces content back to the creators (e.g., "you need accessibility help, seek a professional").
- We need to understand how we can best work with national professional organizations (e.g., national directors of procurement, NECC, NASBE, national assessment organizations). They would assist important state level implementation efforts. Possibly include the idea of awards or recognition.
- Discuss how the ADA offices can encourage some activism. We need to have students with disabilities take distance education and technology-mediated education courses. Right now there is a chicken-egg dilemma, as students are not taking too many of these courses because of access issues and faculty/institutions are not making changes because there are no students with disabilities involved in the classes.