Accessible Digital Textbook Files and Materials for Texas Public Schools
July 23, 2010
COMMITTEE ON SCHOOL FINANCE/PERMANENT SCHOOL FUND: ACTION
STATE BOARD OF EDUCATION: ACTION
SUMMARY: This item proposes acceptance of proposals for production of an array of accessible digital textbook files and instructional materials including digital braille files for use with portable braille-reading devices, other accessible student-ready digital files, tactile graphics, and embossed braille textbook copies from the textbooks scheduled to be adopted by the board in November 2010. At the November 2010 meeting, the board is scheduled to award production contracts based on the recommendations of a review panel of experts on accessible instructional materials.
STATUTORY AUTHORITY: Texas Education Code (TEC), §31.028.
PREVIOUS BOARD ACTION: In July of each year in which instructional materials are adopted, the board considers procedures for obtaining bids for the production of digital braille textbook master files, tactile graphics, and braille textbook copies.
BACKGROUND INFORMATION AND SIGNIFICANT ISSUES: TEC, §31.028(a), authorizes the board to purchase special textbooks for the education of public school students with visual impairments and teacher edition textbooks for teachers with visual impairments. The teacher editions must be available at the same time the student edition textbooks become available. The textbooks shall be acquired in accordance with TEC, Chapter 31, Subchapter B, State Funding, Adoption, and Purchase, and any applicable rule adopted by the board.
TEC, §31.028(b), requires the publisher of an adopted textbook to provide the agency with computerized textbook files for the production of braille textbooks or other versions of textbooks to be used by students with disabilities, on request of the State Board of Education. A publisher shall arrange computerized textbook files in one of several optional formats specified by the State Board of Education (SBOE).
Agency textbook proclamations require publishers to provide the agency with textbook files in the National Instructional Materials Accessibility Standard (NIMAS) format. Sections 612(a)(23)(A) and 674(e)(4) of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, amended by the Individuals with Disabilities Education Improvement Act of 2004, established the NIMAS. The purpose of the NIMAS is to help increase the availability and timely delivery of print instructional materials in accessible formats to blind or other persons with print disabilities in elementary and secondary schools.
For several years, the Instructional Materials and Educational Technology (IMET) Division has provided Texas school districts with digital braille files for students using portable or desktop braille-reading devices whenever these files have been requested. More recently, school districts have requested accessible student-ready textbook files in other formats. Thus far, the majority of these requests have been for Digital Accessible Information System (DAISY) files for students with various disabilities. The DAISY format is recognized by the National Information Standards Organization (NISO) and digital textbook files in this format are increasingly being used in special technological devices by people with disabilities nationwide.
Two requests for proposals (RFPs) have been prepared to ensure that Texas students receive quality accessible student-ready digital textbook files and materials. One RFP is for production of products: digital braille textbook files for use with portable braille-reading devices, other accessible student-ready digital files, and tactile graphics. The second RFP is for production of braille textbook copies.
Notices of the RFPs will be posted on the Electronic State Business Daily website and notification of the release of the RFPs will be provided to major accessible textbook producers nationwide. The textbooks to be produced as accessible digital files and tactile graphics will be arranged into several packages of various sizes.
To review proposals and make recommendations to the agency, the services of an independent panel of Texas teachers of the visually impaired and recognized accessible instructional materials experts will be enlisted, and they will recommend selection of proposers based on several major factors. These factors include price, evaluation of the producers' detailed proposals, and evaluation of samples.
The contracts will allow for penalties to be imposed for untimely delivery of accessible instructional materials or delivery of materials that do not meet the specifications. If no proposer submits a proposal for one or more of the packages, then the agency will look for and select a producer that best meets the state's need and will negotiate the best possible production contract. Contracts shall correspond to those awarded to publishers upon adoption. Such contracts shall be subject to readoptions required by the SBOE.
FISCAL IMPACT: For school year 2011-2012, the cost of acquiring braille textbook digital files for use with portable braille-reading devices, other accessible student-ready digital files, tactile graphics, and embossed braille textbook copies for public school students and teachers who are visually impaired is estimated not to exceed $3,700,000. This amount includes the cost of purchasing accessible versions of previously and newly adopted textbooks.
PUBLIC AND STUDENT BENEFIT: Approval of RFPs at this time will allow sufficient time for submission of proposals and accessible instructional materials samples.
PROCEDURAL AND REPORTING IMPLICATIONS: None.
PUBLIC COMMENTS: None.
ALTERNATIVES: No alternatives are proposed.
OTHER COMMENTS AND RELATED ISSUES: None.
COMMISSIONER'S RECOMMENDATION: I recommend that the State Board of Education:
Approve release of RFPs for production of digital braille textbook files, other accessible student-ready files, tactile graphics, and braille copies of textbooks that are scheduled to be adopted by the board in November 2010.
Commissioner of Education
Staff Members Responsible:
Anita Givens, Associate Commissioner
Standards and Programs
Norma Torres-Martinez, Deputy Associate Commissioner
Standards and Alignment
John Lopez, Managing Director
Instructional Materials and Educational Technology
Charles Mayo, Manager, Distribution and Accessibility
Instructional Materials and Educational Technology
I. Request for Proposal: Production of Accessible Digital Textbook Files and Materials for Texas Public Schools
II. Request for Proposal: Production of Braille Textbook Copies for Texas Public Schools