Volume X Number 1, August 2004

Featured Articles

Information Technology And Disabilities: 10 Years And Beyond

Editor: Steve Noble
Policy Analyst, Kentucky Assistive Technology Service Network

In the computer age, 10 years is a very long time. As a point of reference, consider that in October of 1994 Tim Berners-Lee created the now famous World Wide Web Consortium (W3C). In looking over a few histories of the Internet, I humorously note that in early 1994 there were only a total of 3,000 web sites around the world. Ten years later, that number now exceeds 50 million. It was also 10 years ago, in January of 1994, that the journal Information Technology and Disabilities was born, thanks to the forward thinking and hard work of Tom McNulty, Norman Coombs, and others of EASI. At that time I was asked to serve as both a Contributing Editor and a member of the Editorial Board. Now with the crossing of our 10-year threshold, Tom McNulty, our able Editor-in-Chief since ITD's first issue, has decided that it is time to take a less active role in the journal. Therefore, beginning with this 2004 issue, I am formally taking over the reins as ITD's new Editor-in-Chief. However, Tom's valuable talents will not be totally absent from the journal, as Tom has agreed to stay on as Senior Editor. This positioning will help retain a sense of continuity to what has been a reliable and worthy enterprise.

Celebrate EASI? That's Easy!

Sheryl Burgstahler, Ph. D.
University of Washington

It was suggested that I, in recognition of Information Technology and Disabilities' tenth anniversary, write an article chronicling the history of its founder, EASI. Perhaps I earned this honor because I've been active in EASI for the longest time, or because at one time I saved the acronym EASI (read on for more on this pivotal moment in EASI's history), or maybe because I have been a cheerleader for EASI since its early beginnings. Actually, it could be because I am a packrat and a very organized one, so I have and can still find old files on just about anything I've been involved in. Norm Coombs, our fearless leader, helped me out on current news. And I got lucky-one of the founders of EASI, Krista Kramer, attended EASI's traditional Mexican buffet at this year's CSUN conference after many years of absence; she gave me some details about EASI's origin. For new members of EASI, I hope you find our roots interesting. For old-timers, I hope this article will stir up some warm memories.

Universally Designed Online Assessment: Implications For The Future

Michael Abell
University of Louisville

Dr. Debra Bauder
University of Louisville

Dr. Thomas Simmons
University of Louisville

The 1997 Amendment to the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA-97) mandated that students with disabilities be afforded increased access to the general education curriculum. As an outgrowth of this, educators, assessment developers, publishers and researchers should begin to expand the research base of classroom assessment to include emerging online assessment tools. The purpose of this article is to shed light and begin to contextualize how next generation assessment tools could function to meet individual student learning and assessment needs. Future online assessment tools have the power to provide immediate individualized feedback for both students and teachers. By offering the assessment process within a universally designed framework, students gain individualized feedback based upon their unique learning styles while teachers gain just-in-time feedback to gauge teaching styles and content acquisition.

Title of article

Kevin Curran
School of Computing and Intelligent Systems
University of Ulster, Magee Campus, Londonderry, UK

Ivan Crawford
School of Computing and Intelligent Systems
University of Ulster, Magee Campus, Londonderry, UK

Lisa O'Hara
School of Computing and Intelligent Systems
University of Ulster, Magee Campus, Londonderry, UK

Speech recognition can enable some people to perform daily living tasks without assistance. For others, such as the growing number of professionals afflicted with repetitive stress syndrome, speech recognition represents a means of getting or keeping employment. Thus, speech recognition as a navigation aid is a key in solving the dilemma of a subset of disabled surfers. This paper reviews the technologies currently available for speech interaction with computers and suggests how the future of web navigation may benefit from these technologies. The paper also discusses the results obtained from evaluation of a prototype disabled website by local health board officials which indicated a positive response to the Voice Navigable website and aided recommendations such as adding a range of vocal speeds, accents and characters.

DAISY For All: Publishers' Collaboration Enabling Print Access

George Kerscher
Senior Officer, Accessible Information Recording For the Blind & Dyslexic (RFB&D)
Secretary General for the DAISY Consortium

Jennifer Sutton
Communications and Web Site Coordinator, DAISY Consortium

Much of the work of creating effective public policy in the technology arena is accomplished with the help of nationally and internationally recognized standards. The Digital Accessible Information SYstem (DAISY) is a standard that is recognized worldwide as an ideal approach to making content accessible to all. Publishers' collaboration is critical so that consumers, including those with print disabilities, can begin to experience the full benefits of the multimedia standard which was created with universal Design in mind. Published content, encoded in semantically rich XML, is the essential ingredient used to transform information into a multimedia product offering multi-sensory access to text, images, and sound. As publishers make the transition to XML-centric publishing processes, we should work together to ensure that access to information is a by-product that will easily and cost effectively be achieved in the new era of publishing.

Dots and Doubts: Technology And Turmoil Continue To Flourish After Braille's First Century and a Half

B.T. Kimbrough
Vice President, Enabling Technologies

DOTSYS, the project that launched the age of computer braille as we know it, began in 1969. In the year that the first men walked on the moon, designing a transportable braille computer program, even giving it away to anyone with the resources to use it, did not seem too large a challenge. DOTSYS was developed initially for mainstreamed blind students in the Atlanta, Georgia, public schools, and eventually became the core of thirty braille production systems in several countries. Under direction of Robert Gildea, the software was put together by MITRE Corporation, a not-for-profit corporation with extensive research experience working for government clients such as the United States Air Force. The Massachusetts Institute of Technology signed on to develop embossing hardware to get the hoped-for braille translations onto paper.

Postsecondary Students With Learning Disabilities: Barriers To Accessing Education-based Information Technology

Lawana Wimberly, M.A.
Nancy Reed, Ph.D.
Mary Morris, Ph.D.
Regents Center for Learning Disorders at Georgia State University
Southeast Disability and Business Technical Assistance Center
Georgia Institute of Technology

Students with learning disabilities are the largest group of students with disabilities on most college campuses, but efforts to develop guidelines and standards regarding the accessibility of education-based information technology have been focused primarily on persons with sensory impairments (Bryant & Seay, 1998). Relatively little research has been done to determine the nature and extent of barriers that students with learning disabilities may face in accessing education-based information technology. Without more detailed information about such barriers, it is difficult to know how to best meet the needs of students with learning disabilities in educational settings, where effective use of information technology is essential. Increasingly, students with learning disabilities are using assistive technology to help them in accessing information technology (Bryant & Bryant, 1999). There may be a variety of reasons, however, that make it difficult for students with learning disabilities to obtain and use assistive technology, and the presence of assistive technology in and of itself does not guarantee that these students will have access to information technology.


Call For Articles

Special Issue of Information Technology and Disabilities

Promising Practices: Accessible Information Technology In Education