Access for All
("Access for All" was the working title of FCIT's Technology Fee project proposal. In the following proposal we noted that the name "Access for All" was descriptive for our proposal purposes, but could be changed to something more distinctive before it was published online so that it would not be confused with other groups using the same name. After considering several names, we settled on "Tech-Ease 4All." This webpage uses both names, as it is both a public record of the original grant proposal language and a means of reporting status updates on project deliverables. The "Tech-Ease 4All" website is now publicly available at http://etc.usf.edu/techease/4all/.)
Name: Roy Winkelman
e-Mail Address: firstname.lastname@example.org
Department: Florida Center for Instructional Technology
Telephone Number: 813-974-1640
Increasing numbers of students with disabilities are pursuing postsecondary degrees, including students with learning disabilities, ADHD, physical disabilities and other health impairments, and students with sensory impairments such as deafness and blindness. Beyond providing mandated accommodations, we believe that USF can help students with disabilities thrive by educating faculty and students about the very best options available for effective classroom instruction. Technology, and in some cases very simple technology, has the potential to level the playing field and create dramatically different outcomes for students with disabilities—but only if it is used effectively. Ineffective or uninformed uses of classroom technology can actually make our classrooms less accessible to students with disabilities. Technology becomes a barrier to access for these students.
We therefore propose Access for All, a just-in-time training site that students and faculty can access and quickly find specific techniques that will help students with special needs or disabilities more fully participate in the technology resources of the University.
The completed Access for All web site will consist of at least 400 assets designed to enhance technology access for students with disabilities or special needs. Each asset will consist of one tip, technique, modification, or accommodation to overcome a barrier to technology access. The presentation will be concise, making it easier to locate exactly what is needed. An asset will consist of a single web page, a screencast, a PDF, an animation, or short video. Everything about the Access for All website will be designed to allow for a quick and easy selection.
The content of Access for All will be created by Luis Perez. Luis is a doctoral student in the Department of Special Education at the University of South Florida. His research interests include teacher preparation in the use of technology, assistive technology and transition services for students with disabilities. Luis is also a graduate assistant with the Florida Center for Instructional Technology. He maintains Tech-Ease, an FCIT website where teachers can find answers to their most common classroom technology questions, and he has contributed more than 100 screencasts (video tutorials) to the USF site on iTunes U. Luis is also an Apple Distinguished Educator and has presented at national and international conferences on the use of iPods in special education, iTunes U, and geographic information systems (GIS)
STATUS: The Tech-Ease 4All site was launched in January 2010 as proposed. The site content is currently arranged into six categories: Getting Started, Hearing, Input Devices, Learning, Vision, and Web Accessibility. The content within each category is arranged around typical user questions as in this example from the Input Devices section:
Each topic includes a webpage of directions, an embedded video, a large format video, and a large-print, tagged PDF to accommodate a range of user needs. The following example displays these four variations for the topic "How do I change the cursor options in Windows 7?"
Return on Investment
Access for All will be a very cost-effective method of significantly increasing access to technology for students with special needs or disabilities. It is surprising that a free resource such as this one does not already exist. There are many web resources dealing with specific accessibility issues, such as designing a lab or library commons. There are multiple sites that explain an instructor's responsibilities to students with disabilities. There are endless lists of specialized assistive devices. But there is currently no free, robust collection of techniques for adapting the programs and technologies commonly used in university coursework for students with special needs. (A paid service is available, but the cost of a four-year subscription for just 100 students would be greater than the total cost of the Access for All project.)FCIT's Ability to Implement
Since 1982, FCIT's mission has been the appropriate integration of technology into K-20 education. To that end, FCIT provides professional development and instructional technology content to Florida's teachers and students. In 2008 alone, FCIT's websites recorded over 400,000,000 hits. Previous FCIT projects that closely relate to this proposal include Tech-Ease: Just-in-time Classroom Help for the K-12 Teacher, No Strings Attached: Wireless Laptops in Education, and the Technology Integration Matrix. Visit FCIT at http://fcit.usf.edu.
How is this project aligned with the USF Strategic Plan? Please site specific goals and strategies.
Access for All clearly promotes the USF values of "facilitating the optimal development of personal and professional potential of students, faculty, and staff" as well as utilizing "proven and emerging technologies to enhance instruction."
More specifically, this project supports Strategic Goal II, "student success through a diverse, fully-engaged, learner-centered campus environment." By providing targeted technology access help to students with disabilities and special needs, the project will improve the year-to-year retention and time-to-graduation of students.
Access for All also supports Strategic Goal IV by improving service quality for students and expanding the professional development opportunities for faculty. Further, this resource would be unique among the support resources offered by other universities around the nation. We would expect that the Disability Service Offices of other universities would link to the USF Access for All resource. This recognition of a USF-branded resource would serve to expand USF's national identity as a leader in the utilization of technology to enhance learning for all students.
Description of benefits provided as applicable
How will student/faculty access be enhanced?
The Access for All website will assist USF students in overcoming barriers to the access of technology resources. By providing just-in-time assistance for a wide range of exceptionalities, many students will find a greater access to using technology resources.
How will the student/faculty experience be enhanced?
Faculty experience will be enhanced because they will have at their disposal a ready supply of techniques appropriate for a broad range of students with special needs. The student experience will be enhanced as faculty use an ever-widening range of technology integration strategies and incorporate principles of universal design in their teaching.
Which and how many students/faculty will be impacted?
The immediate impact will be for students with special needs and their instructors. Eventually many other students will be impacted as faculty become more adept at individualizing instruction via technology enhancements.
How students/faculty with special needs or disabilities would be helped?
The majority of students with special needs or disabilities will be able to find helpful resources on Access for All to facilitate their use of technology as a part of their educational program. We can't claim that we will have specific resources for absolutely every special need, but the site will have abundant resources for many categories of special needs students.
How training of students and faculty in the use of technology would be enhanced?
Students with special needs will be able to find effective tips, techniques, and resources to enhance their use of technology on campus.
College of Education students who are seeking teaching certification will be able to enhance their own repertoire of technology-enhanced best practices in preparation for their internships and eventual employment.
University faculty, although experts in their respective fields, often have less knowledge about technology integration techniques and meeting the needs of their students with disabilities. Access for All will fill this gap quickly and effectively without requiring faculty to spend large amounts of time on professional development activities. The site will also be of great benefit to graduate teaching assistants and adjunct faculty who may be teaching at the university level for the first time. Access for All will provide the just-in-time training that faculty and other instructors need.
Moreover, programs at the university that provide direct academic support to students (e.g., USF Athletics, Student Learning Services/University Learning Center, Students with Disabilities Services) will benefit from the resources on the Access for All site.
(If there are not system-wide benefits, then provide justification for funding of individual projects.)
How will success be measured? Provide metrics.
We can fairly assume that students and faculty will return to the Access for All website repeatedly only if they find suggested interventions that do, in fact, succeed. Therefore, an increasing use of the website would be a strong indicator of the success of the project. FCIT routinely tracks the usage of each of their websites and produces monthly traffic reports. The log analysis software can readily separate USF visitors from non-USF visitors. An increasing number of USF visitors would indicate the value of the resource for USF students and faculty. An increasing number of non-USF visitors would indicate that we are also reaching the strategic goal of expanding USF's national identity.
STATUS: The following chart displays the "hits" to the Tech-Ease website since the Tech-Ease 4All section was launched in January 2010. Please note that a "hit" is a request for a single file from the server. It is not the total number of visitors. The typical visitor will request a number of files during a single visit.
Tech-Ease Website Hits
Month 2010 2011 January 91,258 February 176,596 March 158,537 April 130,938 May 147,688 June 123,110 July August September October November December Totals 828,127
A second indicator of success is the number of incoming links to a website. As of July 2, 2010, Google Webmaster Tools reports a total of 1,106 incoming links to the Tech-Ease website.
A third success indicator is a low "bounce rate" for the site. The bounce rate is the percentage of visitors who land on a site page and bounce off to some other website after viewing only one page. While there is no standard for what is a good bounce rate, many webmasters consider 50% to be a typical bounce rate, which is another way of saying that only about half of the visitors stay on the site. The bounce rate for Tech-Ease is 30.51% as of July 2, 2010. This means well over 2/3 of the visitors arriving from search engines or other links are favorably impressed with the first page they encounter and click internal links to explore the Tech-Ease site further.
We also will provide a link on the Access for All website to capture comments, suggestions, and other feedback from users of the site. Submitted comments will be provided in project progress reports to the University and will be used as formative assessment data for refining the site.
STATUS: A mailto link has been established on the Credits page of the website. All comments received in the first six months (January-June 2010) since Tech-Ease 4All went live have been requests for very specific types of technical assistance. There have been no emails regarding general site comments or suggestions.
In addition, we have continued to solicit feedback from USF students. Their suggestions as to new topics have been particularly helpful in creating content that meets specific needs of USF students with disabilities. We have also made some site design modifications based on feedback from USF students. For example, we removed the "tag cloud" that was a part of the original design because that took a long time for a screen reader to read, but provided little meaningful content to the user with a visual impairment.
In the process of researching best practices for universal design, we have also be able to provide useful feedback to the University regarding the USF website. For example, the text link on the USF website used to be at the bottom of the page where it would be difficult to access with a screen reader. After a discussion between project staff and the USF webmaster, the USF site was revised to move the text link to the top of the page, making it much more usable for students and others employing a screen reader.
Resources and TCO
Description of resources for the project and projected ongoing resource needs (total cost of ownership for the life of the project) including:
Any hardware requirements (which should comply with standards established by the UTSB):
No hardware funding request is made. The Florida Center for Instructional Technology will provide the production workstations, video recording equipment, and the server on which the website will be hosted.
Any software requirements (which should comply with standards established by the UTSB):
No software funding request is made. The Florida Center for Instructional Technology will provide all production and exemplar software.
Any personnel costs—OPS and other time-limited appointments:
Because FCIT is providing the infrastructure for this project, the only cost of the project will be for personnel.
- FCIT Director, Roy Winkelman: 5% FTE as principal investigator and project manager throughout the two-year project period.
- Graduate Assistant, Luis Perez: 50% FTE to create all of the content for the Access for All web resource.
- FCIT Assistant Director, James Welsh: 5% FTE to provide subject matter expertise in technology integration. He will be meeting with Luis for two hours per week to develop storyboards for new content.
- Graphic Artist/Web Designer, James Seaman: 10% FTE to provide web design and graphics art support for the individual instructional technology assets.
- Outside Reviewer: A $1000 stipend for a respected outside expert in assistive/adaptive technology to review the project after completion of the first year. Any suggestions for improvement will be incorporated into the work of year two.
- FCIT Business Manager, Christopher Bolgiano: 1% FTE to provide administrative services such as payroll throughout the two-year project period. FCIT is a grant-funded center. USF Sponsored Research requires that that we spread administrative costs over all of our projects, even if the amount is very small.
No other expenses are requested.
Provide the proposed timeline for the project with major milestones and project end dates:
- Focus groups of faculty and special needs students to identify specific needs and any barriers to implementation
STATUS: Focus groups of faculty and special needs students were conducted by Luis Perez
- Develop look and feel of the website
STATUS: Look and feel of site developed. FCIT also has a parallel project named "Tech-Ease" for the Florida Department of Education to provide technical assistance to teachers and students. We decided to design a new interface that would bring together Access for All and Tech-Ease because their respective content is complementary. As was noted in the Access for All proposal, the name "Access for All" was simply a working title for the proposal, but that we would seek a more distinctive name before the initial launch of the site. We decided on the name "Tech-Ease for All" as more distinctive than the name "Access for All," which is used by many websites and organizations.
- First set of 100 assets developed
STATUS: The first 100 assets were included with the initial January 2010 launch of the website at http://etc.usf.edu/techease/4all/. Each topic is available as three separate assets: an HTML page, a video, and a large-print formatted PDF.
- Second set of 100 assets developed
STATUS: An additional 100 assets have been developed and posted on the site.
June 30, 2010
- Access for All website launched with a minimum of 200 assets.
STATUS: The site was launched in January. As of June 30, 2010, the site containes 234 assets.
- Outside review of project
- Third set of 100 assets developed
- Fourth set of 100 assets developed
End of Project Period, June 30, 1011
- Robust website with a minimum of 400 assets supporting technology access for students who are disabled or have special needs
What is the plan for sustainability of the project beyond the initial project period (if applicable):
The Florida Center for Instructional Technology (now in its 27th year at USF) will continue to host and maintain the completed Access for All website on their servers as it does for many other grant projects that it has participated in over the years. The Center may also, at its discretion, seek additional funding to expand this resource if there is a perceived need.
Provide any resource matching which might be provided by organizations with appropriate commitment authority documentation:
As noted above, the Florida Center for Instructional Technology is providing hardware and software resources for this project.
Indicate which organization will implement the project (to help determine any additional costs and resource restraints:
The Florida Center for Instructional Technology will implement the project.
NOTE: The phrase "Access for All" is one that is used by a myriad of organizations and programs across the country. It makes a good working title for this proposal because it clearly communicates the intent of the project. FCIT reserves the right to change the name of the published resource if a more distinctive name is suggested before the initial launch of the site.
STATUS: After reviewing several options, we decided to merge our existing "Tech-Ease" website with the "Access for All" project. We retained the name "Tech-Ease" because it is much more distinctive than "Access for All," which is used by many groups. The content of this project forms the "4All" section of "Tech-Ease." The URL is: http://etc.usf.edu/techease/4all/.
The public is encouraged to comment upon this project. E-mail comments to the FCIT Director. Please do not edit the subject of the email—this will ensure that your communication is not blocked by spam filters. Comments received will be shared with appropriate members of the development team and may be published. Under Florida law, e-mail addresses are public records. If you do not want your e-mail address released in response to a public-records request, do not send electronic mail to this entity. Instead, contact the project development team in writing at: Tech-Ease 4All, FCIT, 4202 E Fowler Ave EDU147, Tampa, FL 33620.
This page last updated: July 2, 2010.