New CSUF Braille Transcription Center Promotes Access to Postsecondary Instructional Materials for the California State University System
Chalfen, Daniel Hilton, Senge, Jeffrey C., Dote-Kwan, Jamie, Information Technology and Disabilities
College students with print impairments face a double challenge in pursuing a quality education. First, they must obtain instructional text materials in alternative formats, ranging from large print and audio tape to Braille and electronic text. This in itself can be no small hurdle. But, satisfying this personal, and legal requirement, is of little use if students do not receive the alternative format materials at the same time as their non-disabled peers. Thus, timeliness is the second, and frequently overlooked, challenge of providing equal access to academic information.
A new project based at California State University, Fullerton, attempts to address both of these access challenges. The CSUF Braille Transcription Center (BTC) has recently been established with a $350,000 three-year grant from the U.S. Department of Education for a "Model Demonstration Project to Improve the Delivery and Outcomes of Postsecondary Education for Individuals with Disabilities (CFDA 84.078C)." Co-directed by Dr. Jamie Dote-Kwan, California State University, Los Angeles, and Jeffrey C. Senge, CSUF, the BTC presents a multi-campus model of service delivery that will be eagerly followed by all those who are responsible for and concerned with providing equal access to information in postsecondary education.
The CSUF Braille Transcription Center Project
by Jeffrey C. Senge, M.S., Information and Computer Access Program (ICAP) Coordinator, Office of Disabled Student Services, California State University, Fullerton
Jamie Dote-Kwan, Ph.D., Associate Professor, Division of Special Education, California State University, Los Angeles.
The purpose of this project is to create a center for the production of instructional materials in Braille. The Braille Transcription Center (BTC) will allow the California State University (CSU) system to provide blind students access to instructional materials in Braille at the same time as print reading students. A recent study of 18 of the 20 CSU campuses indicated that many campuses may not be providing a sufficient level of Braille accessibility for their Braille reading students (Senge & Dote-Kwan, 1995). Currently, instructional materials including course syllabus, class handouts, and examinations are not distributed in Braille at the same time these materials are distributed in print. While it is difficult to measure the precise effect such delays in access to instructional materials may have on a student's opportunity to achieve, this practice undoubtedly reduces program accessibility to one degree or another.
The basic design of the BTC project is as follows: Students, faculty, or staff located on a participating CSU campus will send the instructional materials they desire transcribed into Braille to the BTC. The information may be sent by conventional mail, over-night courier, fax, or electronically over the Internet. …