[Athen] [ATHEN] FW: [bksvol-discuss] Great news about Bookshare.org

Robert Martinengo accessible.text at gmail.com
Thu Oct 4 06:45:50 PDT 2007

Hey Ron - great post. I don't think folks were really jumping to
conclusions as much as getting a little carried away by the promise of
all that cash. I tried to inject a little sobriety in to the mix, and
you have definitely added to that.

The only thing I can add to your excellent summation is that we are
under no obligation to give Bookshare, or any other organization, a
'fair chance'. Our job should be to keep the pressure on them from the
start, until they deliver on their promises. The students deserve no
less. I think Jim Fruchterman waived any 'honeymoon' period when he
accepted $32 x-large from Uncle Sam...

On 10/3/07, Ron Stewart <ron.stewart at dolphinusa.com> wrote:

> Greetings,


> Can I ask a favor, and that is folks quite jumping to conclusions that are

> based on minimal information and a lot of conjecture. I would just like to

> present some food for thought.


> You need to remember that there were two DOE RFP's on this topic. One for

> content providers and the other to consortias to basically move the NIMAS

> implementation process forward. Here are the RFP numbers, 84.327k for the

> one Bookshare landed and 84.327s for the implementation grants. Do a search

> on the DOE website and give them a good reading. Both of the RFP's

> specifically mentioned postsecondary ed, but there is absolutely no

> involvement of postsecondary ed in the awards that have been made public so

> far.


> In the "s" grant the major award is coordinated by CAST and included 15

> state k-12 systems. Here is the abstract from the CAST website:

> nimas.cast.org/about/resources/aim_consortium_abstract.html

> If you are in one of those states participating the first question I would

> ask your state level folks is how are they going to deal with students

> outside of the IDEA spectrum as they are required to do my law and also as a

> condition of this funding.


> At this point none of us know what Bookshare proposed in its RFP to the

> grant offering. Bookshare in its current form has its legitimate issues,

> but then so do all of the existing Authorized Entities. I have serious

> reservations about their current operational models since they do not appear

> to be scalable to the volume of materials that are required in the

> educational space. Bookshare may have the technical expertise to design and

> effective system, but do they have the staff with the requisite knowledge to

> pull this off? I do not feel that expanding their current system will work,

> they will need to create a new system to meet the requirements of the RFP.

> It is one thing to have a group of volunteers scan and proof straight text

> based books, but textbooks require a much higher level of skill and in many

> instances a volunteer workforce may not be a suitable solution.


> Knowing Jim Fructerman and having had several discussion with him about what

> is possible given enough money I think that we need to at least give their

> plan a fair chance. The publicity says 32 million, but in reality the only

> thing they have for sure is the first years funding anything beyond that is

> speculative because that is the nature of soft money funding from the feds.

> In fact based on the recent history of federal soft money anything after

> three years is pretty speculative. To meet their lofty goal of 100,000

> titles they will have to have a high level of buy in from the publishers,

> and does that currently exist? Even if they are successful this is still

> less than half of the titles currently available in the postsecondary space,

> not to mention the 10's of thousands in use in k-12.


> It has always been my position that any effective model is going to take

> collaboration between multiple systems to even being to make a dent in the

> current need. Secondly we need to remember that these proposals are based

> on the LNS model for free matter for the blind and print disabled. This

> model leaves out what may be the majority of the student with print

> disabilites in postsecondary ed. The NIMAS model also only looks at

> students who are qualified as print disabled under IDEA, and in fact a large

> number of students with print disabilites in the k-12 space are not

> considered IDEA qualified but are on 504 plans.


> What this money does do is put more fire under the kettle of full curricular

> access for our community members with print related disabilites. There is

> still a lot of work to be done, and in this case the test of success will be

> who can the grant recipients bring together in an effort to form a

> collaborative and progressive solution to the issues at stake.


> Ron Stewart

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