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U.S. Senate bill introduced on state authorization repeal

In a previous post, I noted the introduction of a bill in the U.S. House of Representatives to repeal recently implemented U.S. Department of Education (ED) regulations establishing a federal definition of the credit hour and extending state authorization requirements for federal financial aid programs to directly cover online learning programs. At the time, action on the legislation by the U.S. Senate was unclear, but a companion bill—S. 1297—has now been introduced in the Senate which essentially mirrors the original House legislation, H.R. 2117.

Helpful Analysis of State Authorization Issue

The Chronicle of Higher Education published a thoughtful article on the state authorization issue just before the 4th of July weekend; in case you missed it, the article is available at http://chronicle.com/article/As-Costs-of-New-Rule-Are-Felt/128124/. However, I think the comments on the article and related community discussion posted by Michael Goldstein of the law firm Dow Lohnes (scroll down to the comments section at the end of the article and look for "dowlohnes") are in some ways more helpful than the article itself--and not just because he also used a metaphor on speeding to make his point (see mine here).

A Response to "State Authorization Will Not Cause the Sky to Fall"

A guest post yesterday to the New America Foundation's Higher Ed Watch blog took non-profit colleges and universities severely to task for opposing the U.S. Department of Education's (ED's) new state authorization regulations, which took effect today with the understanding that active enforcement would be stayed pending good-faith efforts at compliance over the next three years. The following is my response, which I believe fairly describes how ED and those supporting the new regulations can be right on the narrow point, but terribly wrong from an overall policy standpoint:

At the State Authorization "Deadline": What Should Institutions Do?

In a post yesterday, I noted that progress has been made on federal legislation to repeal regulations set to take effect this Friday on state authorization requirements for online/distance learning programs, but if and when Congress might pass such legislation is far from certain. Given that, the July 1st deadline for the regulations to take effect, along with a slew of other “program integrity” regulations related to federal financial aid programs, still holds.

As July 1 Approaches, House Bill to Block State Authorization, Credit Hour Definition Passes Committee

With the July 1 deadline for U.S. Department of Education (ED) implementation of new Higher Education Act Title IV (student financial assistance) regulations on program integrity looming, the American Council on Education reports that a bill to rescind new rules on a federal definition of the credit hour and state authorization of online/distance learning courses and programs has passed the U.S. House Education and the Workforce Committee. As ACE notes, the timeline for action on the bill by the full House is not yet known, and the prospects for action by the U.S. Senate on this or similar legislation are unclear at this time.

Federal Agency Accessibility Information and Resources

Last week, the federal government's Interagency Committee on Disability Research (www.icdr.us) held the ICDR Assistive Technology/Technology Forum. The meeting provided an opportunity for representatives of various federal agencies to share information and compare practices on ensuring accessibility in their workplaces for employees with disabilities. Chief among the participating organizations was the U.S. Department of Defense Computer/Electronic Accommodations Program (http://cap.mil). While the program originated in the DOD, it has had the congressionally-mandated role of providing support for other federal agencies since 2000. CAP provides "assistive technology and accommodations to ensure people with disabilities and wounded service members have equal access to the information environment and opportunities in the Department of Defense and throughout the federal government."

Tags from the EDUCAUSE Library

Reinventing Higher Education: The Editors Speak

At a forum held this morning in Washington, DC, by the marketing and communications firm Lipman Hearne, the three editors of the recently released book Reinventing Higher Education: The Promise of Innovation discussed key findings from the essays it contains.

Cal State Report on Google Apps Accessibility Posted

The California State University Accessible Technology Initiative (ATI) has posted a report on the accessibility of Google Apps. The report stems from a collaborative effort by volunteers from seven Cal State institutions and one University of California campus to assess the degree to which persons with disabilities can or cannot use Google Apps on roughly equal footing as those without such disabilities.

In addition to identifying various problems with Google Apps' accessibility, the report discusses possible options for working around those issues to provide effectively comparable services to persons with disabilities. You can view the report at:

http://ati.calstate.edu/mod/book/view.php?id=280&chapterid=18

June 24 Open Teleconf. - Federal Accessible Instructional Materials Commission

The U.S. Department of Education's (ED's) Advisory Commission on Accessible Instructional Materials in Postsecondary Education for Students with Disabilities (i.e., the AIM Commission) is having an open teleconference on June 24 from 1:00 - 5:00 p.m., Eastern Daylight Time. According to the commission's workplan, which I discussed in a previous post highlighting the group and its charge, the first draft of the commission's recommendations to Congress on how to improve the accessibility of instructional materials in higher education should be ready prior to this meeting, and thus be a significant topic of conversation during it.

For information about participating in the teleconference, please see: