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ARL Report: A Great Overview of Print Accessibility

Comprehensive overviews of accessibility issues that one can still read relatively quickly don’t often appear. However, the Association of Research Libraries (ARL) has produced just that in its November 2012 report, Report of the ARL Joint Task Force on Services to Patrons with Print Disabilities (http://www.arl.org/accessibility/). The report concisely reviews the legal and regulatory provisions that colleges and universities face in relation to accessibility for persons with disabilities generally. It then discusses how those requirements apply in the context of the digital information resources and services that research libraries provide.

Latest News on State Authorization

Russ Poulin at the WICHE Cooperative for Educational Technologies (WCET) released a blog post this morning with significant updates on the state of play concerning state authorization. Major topics covered include:

Penn State's Progress on its NFB Agreement (EDUCAUSE 2012)

At last year's EDUCAUSE annual conference, EDUCAUSE Policy hosted a panel discussion on technology accessibility for persons with disabilities in higher education. During that session, Dan Goldstein, outside legal counsel for the National Federation of the Blind (NFB), stated that the NFB viewed its then-recent agreement with Penn State to resolve concerns about the inaccessibility of the university's technology environment as a model for all of higher education.

ACE MOOC Effort to Include Possible Credit Recommendation

The American Council on Education (ACE) announced yesterday a broad effort to evaluate the academic potential of massive open online courses (MOOCs) based on its engagement with the MOOC provider, Coursera. Supported by a grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation (BMGF), the project encompasses three core activities:

"1. Creation of a Presidential Innovation Lab that will bring together presidents and chancellors from diverse institutions to engage in conversations about potential new academic and financial models inspired by the disruptive potential of MOOCs that can help address attainment gaps.

2. Evaluation of select Coursera courses for college credit by the ACE College Credit Recommendation Service (ACE CREDIT).

View "IT Accessibility: What Campus Leaders Have to Say"

Just prior to the EDUCAUSE 2012 Annual Conference, I noted that the AccessComputing project at the University of Washington would premier a video at the conference on technology accessibility for persons with disabilities. Produced with support from the National Science Foundation, “IT Accessibility: What Campus Leaders Have to Say” is now available from the AccessComputing site at:

http://www.washington.edu/doit/Video/itaccess.html

AccessComputing has also made the video available via YouTube to facilitate further web distribution; you can watch the video from there or get a link to embed it in your own web page at:

http://youtu.be/tnsB6YCHVXA

IT Accessibility Video to Premier at EDUCAUSE 2012

Terry Thompson, a technology accessibility specialist at the University of Washington and long-time leader of the EDUCAUSE IT Accessibility Constituent Group, has announced that a video on campus leaders' views regarding IT accessibility will premier at the EDUCAUSE 2012 Annual Conference. Terry's post below includes links to additional information on accessibility sessions at EDUCAUSE 2012 and the IT Accessibility Constituent Group in general. I have reformatted his text slightly to make the information easier to identify. 

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EDUCAUSE Joins New E-Learning Alliance

Earlier this year, EDUCAUSE participated in a task force of higher education associations and organizations that have e-learning as a significant part of their strategic agenda. Supported by a grant from the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, the task force explored how current and emerging public policy directions might either support or inhibit the potential of e-learning to help the nation meet its higher education goals. With Wednesday’s release of the task force report, the participating organizations have also announced the formation of a national e-learning alliance to fulfill the first of the task force’s recommendations:

Free Digital Textbooks, More For-Profit Accountability Coming to California

As reported by Inside Higher Ed, new laws enacted in California will have significant impacts on higher education in the state. The Los Angeles Times reports that two companion pieces of legislation—Senate Bills 1052 and 1053—will create the infrastructure to support access to free digital textbooks for the top 50 lower division courses offered by the University of California, the California State University, and California community colleges.

NACUBO Overview of Sequestration Implications

The National Association of College and University Business Officers (NACUBO) has provided a concise overview of the implications for federal student aid and research programs if the pending sequestration (i.e., automatic budget cuts) approved as part of the federal debt ceiling fight goes into effect at the start of 2013 as currently scheduled. Essentially, depending on the type of program, most of what higher education holds dear in the federal budget (except for Pell Grants) will see either a 7.6% or an 8.2% cut (with defense research programs receiving a 9.4% cut).

$500 Million in Higher Ed. Grants Involving OER Announced

Earlier this week, the U.S. Department of Labor announced the college and university winners of its second-round grants under the Trade Adjustment Assistance Community College and Career Training (TAACCCT) program. Totaling $500 million and representing the second installment of a four-year, $2 billion federal investment in postsecondary education designed to help workers transition to new careers, the TAACCCT grants carry a significant open educational resources (OER) requirement: “All educational materials developed through the grants will be available for use by the public and other educational providers through a Creative Commons license.” For more on the program generally, as well as to see the list of first-round projects, visit: http://www.doleta.gov/taaccct/.

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