[Athen] Education Dept. Report Calls for Greater Accessibility to Learning Materials for Visually Impaired Students

Laurie Vasquez Vasquez at sbcc.edu
Wed Dec 7 09:19:58 PST 2011

December 6, 2011, 6:24 pm

By Alexandra Rice

A report released Tuesday updates Congress on the state of
accessibility to learning materials for college students with visual
impairments such as blindness, and it recommends ways to improve their
learning conditions.

The Advisory Commission on Accessible Instructional Materials in
Postsecondary Education for Students with Disabilities published the
report following a 14-month study on the issue. The commission found
that although efforts have been made to provide visually impaired
students with adequate digital materials, many students* needs are
still not being met. Oftentimes, the study found, the task of providing
adequate instructional materials for blind students falls on professors,
such as in the case of a blind student in Texas reported in an earlier
Wired Campus post.

In the report the commission offers Congress 18 recommendations for
improving access to materials for students. These recommendations fall
under five categories: legal and policy, market solutions, technology,
capacity building, and demonstration projects. The report calls on
Congress or the administration to:

Review the Copyright Act (section 121, the Chafee Amendment) to
determine whether it should be updated to address the needs of visually
impaired students.
Consider incentives to accelerate innovation by publishers and
producers of accessible course materials, hardware, and software.
Support the development of coordinated search capabilities that let
students make a single online search to easily locate accessible
Sponsor projects and programs to support professional development to
help faculty and staff members select, produce, and deliver accessible
instructional materials.
Appropriate funds to the Department of Education to support projects to
develop instructional materials in science and engineering courses and
laboratory classes.

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