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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:

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:

States Provide More Information on Authorization Processes

WCET posted a new entry yesterday to its blog on state authorization requirements for online/distance learning providers. The blog post reviews the latest efforts of a large number of states to clarify their authorization requirements for postsecondary education providers. You can access it at:

Accessibility: The NFB, Google, Microsoft, and You

The National Federation of the Blind (NFB) and the U.S. Department of Education (ED) have expressed concern about campus use of technologies that are inaccessible to people with disabilities. Over the past several weeks, EDUCAUSE has been facilitating discussions between campuses and two of the key technology vendors (Google and Microsoft) as well as with the NFB. If you have questions about your own plans for accessible technology, please contact EDUCAUSE at We can put you in touch with the right people to answer them.

And you can learn more about the NFB and ED’s accessibility concerns from recent EDUCAUSE Policy Analysis and Advocacy blog posts:

Legislation to Repeal State Authorization Requirements

Last Friday, U.S. Rep. Virginia Foxx, Chair of the U.S. House Subcommittee on Higher Education and Workforce Training, introduced a bill, H.R. 2117, that would repeal the U.S. Department of Education's (ED's) regulations establishing a federal definition of the credit hour and imposing state authorization requirements that would significantly impact online distance learning. Both provisions are currently set to take effect on July 1. (See previous posts on the state authorization issue and WCET's state authorization blog for more background on the topic.)

New U.S. Dept. of Ed. Guidance on Accessibility and Emerging Technologies

The U.S. Department of Education (ED) released today a new Dear Colleague Letter (DCL) expanding on its June 2010 joint DCL with the U.S. Department of Justice regarding the use of e-readers that were not fully accessible to those with disabilities, specifically the blind or those having low vision. In last June’s letter, ED and Justice highlighted the fact that institutional uses of emerging technologies, including in e-reader pilot programs of the type against which complaints were brought, must comply with federal accessibility requirements:

WCET Blog on State Authorization

In the time-honored tradition of blogging about a blog, I wanted to extend a thread distributed by my EDUCAUSE colleague, Steve Worona, via email and listserv. In his message, Steve highlighted a new blog post from WCET on continuing developments with the U.S. Department of Education (ED) state authorization regulations related to student financial aid programs. (For more background on this issue, please see my May 18 blog post.)

Developments to Watch: Federal Accessible Instructional Materials (AIM) Commission

The 2008 reauthorization of the Higher Education Act established an Advisory Commission on Accessible Instructional Materials in Postsecondary Education for Students with Disabilities under the auspices of the U.S. Department of Education (ED). Known as the AIM Commission, the group was chartered to “study the current state of accessible materials for students with disabilities in postsecondary education and make recommendations to the U.S. Congress for improving access to and the distribution of instructional materials in accessible formats.”

Report on Privacy and Security of State Longitudinal Data Systems (SLDSs)

As EDUCAUSE reported in April, the U.S. Department of Education (ED) posted a notice of proposed rule-making (NPRM) that would revise regulations under the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA). The proposed changes would increase the capacity for the sharing of student data records under FERPA in relation to statewide longitudinal data systems (SLDSs). This proposed expansion of permissible data sharing, which includes an expansion of both the purposes for which sharing may be allowed as well as the "authorized representatives" with whom individual student records might be shared, is intended to enhance the usefulness of SLDSs for the purposes of analyzing the effectiveness of educational programs based on student outcomes such as college readiness and employment.