disabilities with access to curricular content that is comparable in quality, accessibility,
and timeliness to that afforded students without disabilities.
However, meeting these performance criteria in the emerging age of information is
becoming increasingly more difficult as a result of several factors. First, the rapidity with
which knowledge is generated is promoting the use of “just in time” course text
identification practices, and it serves to appreciably shorten the longevity of course
In terms of the former, the late identification of course reading materials frequently does
not allow sufficient time for the conversion of the content to accessible formats prior to
the beginning of class. As a result, students with disabilities must accept content
incrementally according to its order in course syllabi rather than having immediate access
to all content as is the case for students who do not have disabilities that impede the use
of print. In terms of the diminishing “shelf life” of textbooks, in years past textbooks that
were converted to accessible formats may have been used for several years; however,
present-day course text materials that are converted to accessible formats are rarely used
for more than a year or two, thus exacerbating the volume of materials needing to be
converted. Indeed, the combination of “just in time” text identification and the
diminishing longevity of course textbooks is contributing to a rising use of unique class-specific
“course packs” comprised of a compilation of print-based materials from a
multitude of sources. Obviously, these unique compilations exacerbate the frequency
with which course materials must be transcribed to an accessible format.
To improve the timeliness with which students with disabilities receive course materials
in alternative accessible formats, the Division implemented a two-pronged strategy.
First, a web-based text conversion management tool was created to enhance the
efficiency with which personnel responsible for text conversion services could identify
materials to be converted and execute the conversion process. The web-based text
conversion management tool was designed so that it could be accessed from any
computer connected to the Internet. It automatically reads class and/or section
information from campus websites and it tracks assignments with regard to their due
dates, for whom assignments are due, and in what formats they are to be converted. The
tool also tracks text conversion output by student, class, book or assignment.
Second, text conversion services personnel were reorganized such that a single, full-time
permanent employee was assigned responsibility for performing all electronic document
scanning, thereby relegating student hourly personnel to the less technical assignment of
document editing. In measuring the impact of these actions, in 2003-2004, the text
conversion office produced 125,158 pages of converted text in 2,251 hours. In contrast,
in 2002-03, the office produced 78,810 pages in 2,413 hours. As a result, the text
conversion office required 7% fewer hours to produce nearly 59% more alternative
format document output last year.
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