2000 Conference Proceedings

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An EASI Day for Adaptive Tech and Information Access Service Providers

Norman Coombs
EASI Chair
Email: nrcgsh@rit.edu

Carmela Cunningham
UCLA Disabilities and Computing Program Coordinator
EASI Project Coordinator

Dick Banks
EASI Electronic Resources Manager
Email: rbanks@discover-net.net

It’s eight years after the Americans with Disabilities Act was signed into law and about ten years after the first adaptive technology programs were put into place on college and university campuses.  In the early days, service providers had several battles to fight.  They had to convince administrators that adaptive technology services were needed on their campuses.  This usually included making a series of arguments.  The first argument was that it was a correct and necessary service for a college or university to provide for its disabled student population.  The second argument usually stated that in the long run providing adaptive technology saved both the school money and society money.  And finally, service providers argued that there were legal mandates for providing such services.  In the first couple years, the legal argument rested on Sections 504 and 508 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973.  Later, the argument focused on the Americans with Disabilities Act.

The good news is that most college and university campuses now have some kind of adaptive technology and information access services available for disabled students, faculty and staff.



Now, however, there’s a whole list of other challenges and issues that face service providers on college and university campuses, such as:  How do we keep the funding that was initially put into place?  How do we continue to convince administrators that such services are necessary and are worth a portion of a tight budget?  How do we serve students who aren’t prepared to use adaptive technology?  How do we help students understand what services are available to them and how they can use those services?  What does the Americans with Disabilities Act mean for Web accessibility?  What issues arrive when the Internet is used to deliver course material?  How can we convince college departments to make their Web pages accessible?

And those are just to name a few.  This year, EASI is presenting a day-long slate of presentations that focus on how to effectively and efficiently provide adaptive technology and information access support and services to individuals with disabilities.

EASI is uniquely positioned to explore such important issues.  In existence for almost 12 years, the history of the organization runs parallel to the history of adaptive technology and information access.

EASI began as a group that specifically gathered information about adaptive technology and disseminated that information to colleges and universities.  Through the past ten years, that role has expanded to include providing information to K-12 schools and to businesses.

At the same time the EASI audience expanded, the group also began branching out to other fields.  In particular, EASI started looking at issues related to library access, science, engineering and math accommodations, science and math access for K-12 students, and most recently, the group has been working on Web accessibility and universal design issues.

EASI's mission is to serve as a resource to the education community by providing information and guidance in the area of access-to-information technologies by individuals with disabilities. We stay informed about developments and advancements within the adaptive computer technology field and spread that information to colleges, universities, K-12 schools, libraries and into the workplace.

Our supporters and friends comprise people from colleges, universities, businesses and other institutions. They include computing staff, disabled student services staff, faculty, administrators, vendors, representatives of professional associations, private consultants, heads of both non-profit and for-profit organizations, faculty and staff from K-12 schools, and students.



National Science Foundation Projects

EASI is preparing to enter into its third grant project with the National Science Foundation.  The first project, which began in 1996 focused on making science, engineering and math accessible to individuals with disabilities.  The second project, which began in 1998 was tasked with making science and math materials accessible to K-12 students with disabilities.  A large part of that project focused on building appropriate foundations in K-12 and creating materials to help ensure that K-12 students are appropriately prepared for college work.  EASI’s new project, which will begin in 2000, will focus on synthesizing the work of those two projects and building on that foundation.  The project will compile material that will make science, engineering, math and technology accessible to K-16 students.  We’ll also look at building appropriate foundations and what strategies and tools are available to help prepare individuals for technical careers.

In order to support its mission of compiling and disseminating information about adaptive computing technology and information access, EASI prepares information in a variety of formats and forums. 

SEMINARS AND ONLINE WORKSHOPS

EASI has made presentations to more than 2,500 people who provide computer and information access to people with disabilities. Topics include: The Americans with Disabilities Act, computer access strategies, lab environments, Web accessibility, science, engineering and math access, and support services.

In conjunction with the Rochester Institute of Technology, EASI delivers three online workshops via the Internet.
Adapt-it focuses on adaptive computing technology and support services. EASI-SEM specializes in access to science, engineering and math. EASI-WEB demonstrates how to develop web pages that are accessible to everyone. The workshops can be previewed on the web at www.rit.edu/~easi/workshops.html.

EASI on the World Wide Web

EASI has established a homepage on the WWW. You can find all EASI materials using URL: http://www.rit.edu. EASI's Web site specializes in information technology's impact on science, math and libraries.

ELECTRONIC JOURNAL

EASI publishes a quarterly electronic journal, "Information Technology and Disabilities, " which focuses on technology issues that relate to people with disabilities. The journal is available in two ways. First, it is on EASI's web at http://www.rit.edu/~easi/itd.html Second it is available through a listserv list, itd-jnl. To subscribe send e-mail with this one line:
sub itd-jnl followed by your "first name last name"
to: listserv@maelstrom.stjohns.edu

ELECTRONIC DISCUSSION LISTS

EASI supports three major public discussion lists: EASI, AXSLIB-L and EASI-SEM. These include more than 2,000 people from more than 40 countries. The EASI List focuses on general discussion about adaptive equipment, access issues and other disability and computer topics. The second list is the library access list, called AXSLIB-L. The third list, EASI-SEM specializes in materials to advance access to science, engineering and math for students and professionals in those areas. To join these lists, EASI or AXSLIB-L, send a subscribe command to: listserv@maelstrom.stjohns.edu. To join EASI-SEM send a subscribe command to listserv@listserver.isc.rit.edu.

PUBLICATIONS AND VIDEOS

EASI has supported the book, "Information Access and Adaptive Technology," published by Oryx Press and written by Carmela Cunningham and Norman Coombs. EASI has also created and distributed more than 20,000 copies of its pamphlets on adaptive computing technology to date. Publications are available on the Web. Print copies are also available. For ordering information send e-mail to: easi@tltgroup.org.

EASI-Videos: EASI, with the support of the Rochester Institute of Technology, has created a series of three videotapes. They cover (1) general adaptive computer technology, (2) access to math and tactile graphics and (3) laboratory access and faculty attitudes. These videos can be seen on EASI's web site from the webcast link: http://www.rit.edu

EASI is producing a slate of papers that will help service providers more effectively meet the challenge of providing services in the year 2000.  Those papers are:  EASI Day for Service Providers; Collaboration for Accessibility:  Practical Experience in Creating Accessible Web Sites at UCLA; Distance Learning and Students With Disabilities:  EASI Tips For Teachers; Providing Services For Post-secondary Students:  Service Issues; Providing Services For Post-secondary Students:  Funding Issues; and Providing Services For Post-secondary Students:  Legal Issues.

As EASI enters into its 13th year, the organization remains committed to the philosophy on which it was founded.  Individuals with disabilities have the same right to access to information and resources as everyone else.

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