Accessible Instructional Materials in Postsecondary School

Last week, LightHouse volunteer and visually imapired movie buff, Brian Mccallen, wrote a guest blog post  new FCC regulations for the quality and avialbility of audio descriptiosn for films and TV.

This week, I found out about the launch of the official web site for the Advisory Commission on Accessible Instructional Materials in Postsecondary Education for Students with Disabilities.  The Commission consists of government leaders, representatives from the publishing industry, individuals with print disabilities, representatives from two- and four-year institutions of higher education and leaders in accessible technology. The Commission will study the current state of accessible materials for students with disabilities in postsecondary education and make recommendations to the U.S. Congress for improving access to and the distribution of instructional materials in accessible formats.

This is promising news for blind and visually imapired students. Certified teachersthe for the viusally imapired work with elementary and high school educaotrs to adapt curriculum. In college, there are many ways to get text books in accessible formats (such as Bookshare, Recoridngs for the Blind and Visually Impaired, the National Library Service for the Blind and Print Disabled). However, there are still many gaps when it comes to accessible instruction when it cmes to psotsecondary school.

For insatnce, in the Resoruce Center at the LightHouse, I get calls from blind, economics majors who run into roadblocks with their course work when it comes time to take statistics classes. Nemeth (math Braille) is an option for rendering visual math texts, but it is not easy to obtain and some info gets lost in the translation.  And recently, I spoke with an ESL teahcer at a college in Honolulu. Her new student is from Tibet and her dream is to get a social work degree and return to her coutnry to set up programs for other blind Tiebtans. The teacher is used to using vision-centric texts—such as word maps and puzzles—to help her students aquire key concepts in the English langauge. She is working through the college’s disabled students office to find texts in Braile and electornic form for her Tibetan student. But she wanted to call the Resoruce Center to do some brianstorming over th phone as to how she could effectively include her student in class exercises.

I look forward to hearing more about the recommendation and resources for teachers and students that will coem from the Advisory Commission on Accessible Instructional Materials. This is the first commission in history charged with examining accessible instructional materials for postsecondary students with disabilities. The Commission welcomes any questions or public commentary and can be contacted at

–Amber DiPietra, LightHouse for Blind Resource Center