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Google Response on NFB Google Apps Concerns

Earlier in the week, I posted a review of the most recent concerns about the accessibility of Google Apps for Education expressed by the National Federation of the Blind (NFB). In that piece, I noted the NFB view that "there is no indication yet that Google intends to address accessibility problems that arise from users accessing Google Apps via other market-standard browsers (e.g., Internet Explorer, Firefox) and assistive applications (e.g., the JAWS screen reader, the Dragon NaturallySpeaking speech recognition application)." Google has since provided the following clarification of its plans for Google Apps accessibility in non-Google browsers and assistive applications, which I quote in its entirety:

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NFB Google Apps Concerns Continue

Via email, Dan Goldstein, outside counsel for the National Federation of the Blind (NFB), was asked to address NFB’s current views on the accessibility of Google Apps for Education. (Thanks go to Terry Thompson, accessibility technology specialist at the University of Washington and immediate-past leader of the EDUCAUSE IT Accessibility Constituent Group, for initiating the dialogue.) In his response, Dan noted that the concerns NFB raised at the start of 2012 about Google’s approach to addressing Google Apps’ accessibility problems have only grown over the course of the year.

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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 ( 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:

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:

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.