In 1989, the Texas Legislature amended the state's textbook adoption statute to include electronic media. Two years later, the Legislature required publishers of textbooks that were adopted by the State Board of Education to provide not only the books themselves, but also computer files of those books so that these might be used to produce Braille versions of the texts. The Texas Education Code defines "electronic textbooks" as:
computer software, interactive videodisc, magnetic media, CD-ROM, computer courseware, online services, an electronic medium, or other means of conveying information to the student or otherwise contributing to the learning process through electronic means. (Sec. 31.002)
Thus, Texas is one of two states ( California is the other) to have had extensive experience in adapting instructional media for accessibility.
The following pages are excerpted from Chapter VI of the Report on the Computer Network Study Project ( 1999), a lengthy document produced by the Texas Education Agency's (TEA) Division of Textbook Administration. David Sharp, superintendent of the Lufkin Independent School District, chaired the project advisory committee. The full chapter was posted online by the Texas state rehabilitation agency for blind and visually impaired individuals at: http://www.tsbvi.edu/textbooks/tea1999.htm.
This document is revealing in the many features it discusses about electronic media. It then offers advantages of universal design with such media. Finally, it suggests strategies for making these media accessible to and usable by people with different learning styles, preferences, and disabilities. These strategies show how much the TEA has learned in the past decade about making instructional media accessible to people with different needs.