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Administrative Panel: Understanding the Law & Building Accessible Institutional Infrastructures – Webinar Transcript

HOST: Hello, everyone, and thanks for joining us today for the Sloan-C Institute 2013 Accessibility Webinar Series, Student and Faculty Success in Online Education. We will have one webinar every month, January through April, 2013. And for our first meeting today, we have our administrative panel, with the Understanding the Law and Building Accessible Infrastructure topic.

Our panelists today are Mark Riccobono, Bill Welsh, Gaeir Dietrich, and Norman Coombs. Gaeir hasn’t shown up yet, so we are hoping to get her in shortly. And our moderators will also introduce them a little bit more in detail, in a moment.

I would also like to take this opportunity to thank our sponsors, 3Play Media and Perkins eLearning, for their support for this webinar series. And although we had planned to have two moderators today, unfortunately our Chief Knowledge Officer, Janet Moore, is unable to join us due to some technology-related problems. So our wonderful organizer, Dr. Kristen Betts, will do the heavy lifting today and moderate the discussions.

Dr. Betts is the Director of Online and Blended Learning at Armstrong Atlantic State University. In this position, Dr. Betts is leading innovative initiatives with academic affairs, information technology services, and university system of Georgia to develop new online and blended programs, including certificates and graduate and undergraduate degrees. Dr. Betts also served as a Senior Director for eLearning at Drexel University, and she has over 15 years of experience as an administrator, program director, associate clinical professor, and adjunct instructor with private and public institutions. She publishes and presents nationally and internationally on various aspects of online education. And without further ado, I’ll hand the microphone over to Kristen so she can start the discussions today. All yours, Kristen.

KRISTEN BETTS: Thank you so much, Zarin, and I especially want to thank our panelists for being with us today. Each has a wonderful expertise and years of experience within the area of accessibility. We have our four panelists that you have briefly introduced. We’re going to hear from Mark Riccobono, who’s with the National Federation of the Blind, Bill Welsh, with Pennsylvania State University, Gaeir Dietrich, with the California Community College High Tech Center Training Unit, and Norman Coombs, who’s done just phenomenal work in equal access to software and information. And he’s going to talk about, really, longevity within this area, because he’s been involved in research and many, many projects.

In terms of the agenda, we’re going to focus on two primary issues. We’ll first have the panelists provide a brief introduction about themselves so you can learn a little more about each of these individuals. We’ll then focus most of our time on critical issues for all higher education institutions and look at effective practices and available resources for creating accessible institutional infrastructures that support students and faculty success in online education.

We’ve also ensured that we have 20 minutes for questions and answers. If you have any questions, you can go to the Sloan’s common resource link. I’ll ask Zarin if she can cut and paste it and put it in the chat room area. And what we’ll do is we will go from there.

Disability Statistics

I’d like to start off with just a little data, in terms of just a global and national context. There’s a wonderful report that came out in 2011. It was a world report on disability, and it was jointly produced by the World Health Organization and the World Bank Group. And they state that more than one billion people in the world today have a disability, and in the years ahead, disability will be an even greater concern because its prevalence is on the rise.

And as we look at that nationally, what we find in a report that came out in 2012, citing data from 2010, essentially, 56.7 million report some type of disability in the United States. And this was a pretty significant increase from 2005. When you look at the Department of Labor, you’ll notice when we look at unemployment rates that you’re going to have a higher unemployment rate with individuals with disabilities. And there’s some wonderful–

–education particularly in post-secondary education. Individuals with disabilities are more likely to be employed and reach their professional goals.

So as we go on, the last thing to share with you– Sloan-C recently came out with the publication, “Changing Course– 10 Years of Tracking Online Education in the United States.” And it has looked at what has transpired over the last decade. I encourage you to look at this report, and you’ll see that your chief academic leaders are all looking at online education as something critical to long-term strategy.

We have an increasing number of students enrolled in at least one online course. We’re still seeing online growth increasing each year. And basically, a third of all students are taking at least one online course.

So without any further ado, there are two primary things, in terms of student and faculty success. First, we have access and we have support. There’s also a very important part of this as well, and that’s each of you. All of us have an extensive community in which we work, and I encourage you to share this information and really take on a leadership role within accessibility.

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