High Tech Center Training Unit
Advisory Committee Meeting Minutes

Friday, April 30, 1999



Carolyn Fiori, Carol Toppel, Laurie Vasquez, Ray Lovell, Frank Post, Karen Andersen, Scott Hamilton, Rod Brawley, Carl Brown


Myra Lerch, Janice Emerzian, Sherry Goldsmith, Skip Berry, Steve Sellitti, Karen Topp Goodwyn

10:00 AM Meeting Opened

Introduce New Members

Carl introduced Scott Hamilton who will be replacing Catherine Campisi from the Chancellor's Office.

Review/Approve Minutes from Previous Meeting

The minutes from the February 5, 1999 meeting were approved with no adjustments made.

Status of HTC Outputs Study

Carl thanked the HTCTU Advisory Committee for their work in shaping the HTC Outputs Study and making it the quality study that it was. The Chancellor's Office has distributed the study to all DSP&S program directors as hard copy. It is also posted on the HTCTU website. The Outputs Study is intended as an informational document—a resource for those who need it. The HTCTU can produce alternative formats of the study upon request.

Chancellor's Office Updates

Distance Education Accessibility Guidelines

A draft of the Distance Education Accessibility Guidelines has been distributed for review to the statewide Academic Senate, the HTCTU Advisory Committee, the DETAC group, and the CEO Council. The feedback from these groups will be gathered and organized and another draft will be generated and released for a much broader dissemination. The Guidelines will probably be completed by early fall.

The Chancellor's Office is currently working on several levels of support for implementing the Distance Education Accessibility Guidelines. One of the proposals is to place a full-time classified staff at every High Tech Center in the state to work with the distance education developers on campus. The person would also be responsible for the installation of assistive technologies in the mainstream labs on campus and for participation on various campus committees. There will almost certainly be flexibility to this proposal, as not every campus will need a full-time person. There also will be an RFA coming out very shortly for one full-time position to provide support directly to the California Virtual University regional centers for work in the area of assistive technology related to distance education. The position will be dedicated to supporting distance education access issues for specialists in the CVU's and associated groups on the community college campuses. The HTCTU intends to apply for the RFA.

Catherine is currently working on a BCP to fund the close captioning of existing video and the upgrading of existing websites among other things. The BCP is at the "concept paper" point and it focuses on responding to some of the OCR issues from a couple of years ago. Much of the BCP deals with distance education and providing Braille printers so that every community college campus has the ability to print Braille. The concept paper will go through several internal processes before it will be ready for the 2001 budget year. Another vision is to set up one or more regional centers around the state to produce high quality, high volume, fast turn-around Braille. The center(s) would employ staff of about six people—a full-time director, a full-time Library of Congress certified braillist, a high-end word processing specialist, a clerical person, a technical support person, and a production person to do the loading, shipping, packaging, etc. Budget for the center would be about $100,000 to start up and $700,000 per year to operate.

Alternate Media

The Alternate Media group was assembled to respond to the OCR survey and the concern for the production of print information in alternate formats. The group has held two meetings, the first of which discussed the issues of classroom-related information for students, including textbooks, handouts, syllabi, assignments, tests, etc. A list of the issues was formed from which the group developed a survey. Laurie completed the first report to OCR, which will be posted on the Chancellor’s Office website.

HTCTU Updates

Xerox Project

The HTCTU has been working on a project with Xerox to do very rapid, fully automated Braille. Carl showed the Advisory Committee 27 pages of print document that had been brailled "hands-free" in 15 minutes. According to Carl, the project has been a success and Xerox has been very interested in the project, particularly from an ADA perspective. Xerox will be doing a case study of the HTCTU that they intend to publish in one of their professional journals. Laurie suggested inviting Xerox to the next CAPED Conference and/or Mega Conference.

Student Surveys

Fifty copies of the student survey were sent to each of the California community colleges. Braille, large print, and etext copies were sent upon request. The HTCTU has had a good return rate for the surveys—about 30 campuses have responded so far. The survey results should give a really good handle on how much computer resource students with disabilities have at home, if they can access the computers they have at home, if those computers at home are connected to the internet, if they're interested in distance education courses and what kinds of courses they're interested in, and what kind of disability they have. By late spring or early summer, Carl should be able to compile the data and generate the reports. The completed report will then be sent to the Chancellor's Office for a first review. The final report will be distributed to HTC Specialists and DSP&S Coordinators and will be posted on the HTCTU website.

Each of the three new HTCTU workshops is off to a good start. The Alternate Media, Captioning Digital Video and Audio, and Evaluating Web Content Accessibility trainings are all well attended.

Review Distance Education Accessibility Guidelines

The HTCTU Advisory Committee reviewed a draft of the Distance Education Accessibility Guidelines, making page by page corrections and recommendations. Suggestions included adding an executive summary at the beginning, placing the Guidelines in the context of the OCR survey, followed by a list of those involved in the process of making the Guidelines, and a table of contents. Other suggestions involved spelling and grammar errors, language simplification and clarification, and overall formatting.

Laurie took responsibility for jotting down the Committee's comments. Her notes will go to the Chancellor's Office to be included in an overall review.

Ultimately, the audience for the Guidelines will be deans of distance education, vice presidents of instruction, and board members at community colleges. The Guidelines are not a technical document, so it is probably not what a faculty member would look at. It is basically a policy/guidelines document intended for administrative types.

As trainings develop and technologies change, over time, the Distance Education Accessibility Guidelines will be added to. The Guidelines are basically a working draft in progress, subject to revisions.

The second draft of the Distance Education Accessibility Guidelines should be ready by the next Advisory Committee meeting.

HTCTU Budget Issues

Due to the combination of the following factors, the HTCTU has incurred a $14,000 deficit in this year's budget:

The HTCTU works on a very narrow budgetary margin. With its increasing role in the community college system, the HTCTU is being asked to do an enormous amount of work with effectively the same operating budget it had 12 years ago. Plus the HTCTU's training staff has been reduced by more than half the original amount.

Carl gave the Advisory Committee a spreadsheet that indicated the projected deficit for the next 5 years. He mentioned that the problem with long-term grants is that they go out on a fixed budget, but the costs to keep them on a campus for an extended period of time go up steadily and are not met by the 2% increases in the grant. Fortunately, the Foothill-De Anza Community College District was willing to forgo the administrative indirect charges on a one-time basis.

What can be done? For Carl, the most obvious choice is to ask the Chancellor's Office for a yearly budget augmentation of $25000. Alternately, the Chancellor's Office can reimburse the HTCTU for the projected yearly overage. Carl also mentioned "less desirable" alternatives, such as the reduction of contract hours for staff, reducing the equipment and supplies budget, and reducing the travel reimbursement for HTCTU trainees.

Carolyn recommended that the Advisory Committee write a letter to the Chancellor's Office, supporting a $25000 yearly augmentation. She will draft the letter and post it on the HTCTU Advisory Committee listserve for feedback. When the letter is complete, it will make the rounds for signatures.

Laurie suggested addressing the HTCTU budgetary issue at the regional coordinators meetings. Karen Andersen will talk with Lynn and see how the regional coordinators want to handle the issue. The Chancellor's Office needs to look at what the options are and come up with a permanent solution for funding long-term grants.

Select Next Meeting Date

The Advisory Committee agrees to hold the next meeting at the HTCTU Conference Room on Friday, September 10, 1999.

2:30 PM Meeting Adjourned