URGENT: Help Ensure Accessibility for Deaf and Hard of Hearing Students

Help Ensure Accessibility for Deaf and Hard of Hearing Students

Dear Friends and Colleagues:

Texas taxpayers spend a great deal of money on instructional materials for the classroom, much of which is available in a digital format – audio, games, demonstrations, and videos. 

Many of these materials are NOT accessible to deaf and hard of hearing children, teachers, and parents. 

Please take a moment to read the information below and consider submitting public comments on the Texas Administrative Code, Chapter 66. State Adoption and Distribution of Instructional Materials Subchapter DD, which tells publishers and others what is required for Texas instructional materials to be considered accessible. 

If you go to http://www.tea.state.tx.us/index4.aspx?id=2296 you can see the entire document of proposed revisions to the current rules. Please submit your comments on the proposed changes in an email to: [email protected]

The last day to submit comments is March 3, 2014. Feel free to share this information with others who might be interested.

* Children, parents, and teachers who are blind or visually impaired have long been provided, free of charge, with Texas classroom instructional materials in braille and large-print. These are provided at the same time that other instructional materials are adopted.

* However, currently, a large percentage of Texas classroom instructional materials are not accessible to deaf and hard of hearing students, teachers, and parents. Consequently, students do not have the same opportunities as their hearing or blind peers to use accessible instructional materials to maximize their reading and cognitive skills.

* Research shows when print is supplemented with captions, pictures, and/or sign language, deaf and hard of hearing students are more likely to develop into better readers. See National Center on Accessible Instructional Materials (http://aim.cast.org/learn/disabilityspecific/sensory_deaf_hh/brief%23.UwJjL0JdX3U).

* Right now, publishers are not required to make Texas classroom instructional materials accessible for deaf and hard of hearing students.

* Adding accessibility (through captions and/or sign language translations) after the fact is both labor-intensive and costly for individual schools to perform. It would be much more effective if these measures were built into products before publication.

* It is also difficult for schools to obtain the necessary electronic files and legal permissions from publishers to add captions/sign language translations.

* Captioned materials support not only deaf and hard of hearing students, but ALL students including those learning English as a second language.

* Captions are better than transcripts. In transcripts, the text often doesn’t match with what is shown on screen and large chunks of information are more difficult to comprehend. Transcripts don’t give information on sounds, music, and emotions, leaving a lot for the reader to figure out. And, since they are separate from all the interesting dynamic visuals, transcripts are usually not very motivating to students. 

Please make Texas classroom instructional materials more equitable by requiring publishers to guarantee that all learners, blind or sighted, deaf or hearing, are given instructional materials in accessible formats.

Download ATTACHMENT II Text of Proposed Revisions to 19 TAC Chapter 66.
State Adoption and Distribution of Instructional Materials (DOCX format)

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