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Critical Components of Quality Indicators for the Provision of Accessible Educational Materials and Accessible Technologies in Workforce Development

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The Critical Components of Quality Indicators for the Provision of Accessible Educational Materials and Accessible Technologies in Workforce Development (WFD) include actionable language specific to a workforce development audience. For more information on how to use the quality indicators and critical components and how they were developed, see the Preface to the Quality Indicators.

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Accessible Educational Materials (AEM)

Print- and technology-based educational materials designed to be usable across the widest range of individual variability.

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Accessible Technology

Technology that can be used by people with a wide range of abilities and disabilities. Incorporates the principles of universal design.

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WFD Quality Indicator 1

The agency has a coordinated system for the provision of appropriate1, high-quality accessible materials and technologies for all learners with disabilities who require them.

Intent

A coordinated system means that the agency has a method for ensuring that learners who need them receive specialized formats of print materials and accessible digital materials and accessible technologies.  

Critical Components

To effectively address this quality indicator, the following components should be present across a coordinated system for the provisions of accessible materials and technologies.

1.1. A means for ensuring the provision of print materials (e.g., printed textbooks, manuals, handouts) in high quality accessible formats, as well as the accessible technology (e.g., electronic braille reader, text to speech program, audio player) needed to deliver them

1.2. A means for ensuring the provision of accessible digital materials

  • All digital materials procured from free (e.g., Open Educational Resources) and commercial sources comply with Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act and the most current applicable version of the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) at level AA.
  • All digital materials selected and acquired for communication, training, and other purposes are accessible (e.g., web pages, video, ebooks)
  • All digital materials created by instructors, trainers, and others are accessible (e.g., web pages, video, documents, electronic worksheets)

1.3. A means for ensuring the provision of accessible technologies that are either directly usable without assistive technology or usable with assistive technology (e.g., learning management systems and technologies that deliver content, learning activities, and assessments)

  • All technologies procured from free and commercial sources comply with Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act and the most current applicable version of the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) at level AA.
  • All technologies selected and acquired by instructors, trainers, and others for management and delivery of curriculum are accessible.

1.4. A means for ensuring the provision of accessible materials and technologies to learners who need them with appropriate copyright protection

  • For middle and high school learners:
    • who are served under IDEA (special education programs) and meet copyright criteria (requirements for using files sourced through the NIMAC)
    • who are served under IDEA but do not meet copyright criteria
    • who are not served under IDEA but meet copyright criteria
    • who are not served under IDEA and do not meet copyright criteria
  • For high school graduates who qualify under any or all of the following:
    • the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)
    • Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act
    • Section 188 of the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA)

1.5. Collaborations, internal and external, that are important to developing and sustaining a coordinated system of sources for accessible materials and technologies

Print Instructional Materials

Printed materials written and published for use in elementary and secondary school instruction, required by a SEA or LEA for use by students in classroom.

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Technology

Equipment or system where principal function is creation, conversion, duplication, control, display, interchange, transmission, reception, or broadcast of data.

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Text-to-Speech (TTS)

Artificial production of human speech, using special software and/or hardware.

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Audio

Digital form or representation of a sound which may be used for non-visual access to text and images.

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Accessibility

Access for all people, including people with disabilities, to web environments.

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e-book

Electronic version of a book.

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LMS (Learning Management System)

Software application or system that provides educational programs and their components.

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Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA)

Federal law governing rights of children with disabilities to receive free and appropriate public education in least restrictive environment.

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National Instructional Materials Access Center (NIMAC)

Central national repository established at American Printing House for the Blind to store, validate, maintain and disseminate NIMAS filesets.

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Section 504

Prohibits discrimination against qualified individuals with disabilities. Written 504 plan used to guide provision of instructional services.

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Section 188 of WIOA

Prohibits discrimination against people who apply, participate, work, or come into contract with programs and activities of the workforce development system.

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WFD Quality Indicator 2

The agency supports the acquisition and provision of appropriate1 accessible materials and technologies in a timely manner.

Intent

In general, “timely manner” means that learners who require accessible materials and technologies receive them at the same time that non-disabled peers receive materials and technologies. Appropriate consideration is given to factors that could delay timely delivery. Agencies have clearly defined policies and procedures to identify and address sources of delay.

Critical Components

To effectively address this quality indicator, the following components should be present when addressing timely manner.

2.1. An agency definition of timely manner as stipulated by the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act, or Section 188 of the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA)

2.2. A means for ensuring timely delivery

  • Tracking timely delivery (e.g., maintenance of records of delivery of accessible materials to learners who need them)
  • Requiring a widely communicated process for requesting, identifying and providing accommodations for learners who need them
  • Including timelines for delivery of accessible materials and technologies in purchasing agreements and contracts with publishers and vendors
  • Procuring accessible materials and technologies that are available from publishers and vendors
  • Requiring that instructors, trainers, and others select, acquire, and use accessible materials and technologies
  • Requiring that staff use accessibility best practices when creating materials (e.g., documents, presentations, and spreadsheets)
  • Identifying and correcting delays to timely manner

2.3. Collaborations, internal and external, that are important to the timely delivery of accessible materials and technologies

WFD Quality Indicator 3

The agency develops and implements written guidelines related to effective and efficient acquisition, provision, and use of accessible materials and technologies.

Intent

Written guidelines include the roles, knowledge, skills, actions, alignment, and coordination required for delivery of accessible materials and technologies in a timely manner. Guidelines are communicated in multiple ways (e.g., webinars, infographics, websites) and broadly disseminated to ensure that all responsible parties can understand and apply them.

Critical Components

To effectively address this quality indicator, the following components should be included in the development and dissemination of written guidelines.

3.1. Guidance that specifies federal, state, and local policies (e.g., statutory and regulatory requirements including but not limited to timely provision; technology accessibility standards; provision of accommodations or modifications in the IEP (middle and high school students); provision of reasonable accommodations (high school graduates); copyright protection and management of print and digital materials; definitions)

3.2. Procedural guidelines for the decision-making processes for providing accessible materials and technologies for all learners with disabilities who need them, whether through the IEP process (middle and high schoolers) or processes used in postsecondary settings (i.e., disability services, student support, human resources, or other)

3.3. Procedural guidelines for overall procurement processes for providing accessible materials and technologies for all learners with disabilities who need them

  • Priority selection of accessible materials and technologies in procurement procedures, including accessibility language in policies, RFPs, and purchasing contracts
  • Procedures for selecting and creating accessible digital materials (e.g., accessible documents, closed captioning, audio description services)

3.4. Identification of an accessibility team with the responsibility of

  • Overseeing the development, dissemination, and implementation of guidelines
  • Serving as a point of contact for internal (e.g., instructors, trainers, learners) and external (e.g., vendors, prospective learners) inquiries

3.5. Guidelines for delineating duties and responsibilities at all levels of the agency

  • Front line and supervisory staff
  • Case managers, job trainers, counselors, and other staff
  • WIOA-required and other workforce partner front line and supervisory staff at the American Job Center (AJC)
  • Equal Opportunity (EO) Officer
  • Human Resources and legal team
  • Disability Resource Coordinator
  • Section 504 Coordinator
  • Information and Communication Technology (ICT)
  • Purchasing/procurement staff
  • Learners

3.6. Guidelines represented in multiple formats (e.g., print, digital, audio, electronic or embossed braille) and widely disseminated through multiple means (e.g., website, policy manuals, handouts)

3.7. Collaborations, internal and external, that are important to the development and dissemination of guidelines

Accessibility Standards

Current or revised electronic and information technology accessibility standards developed under Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act.

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Individual Education Program (IEP)

Written plan individually developed for students identified as having a disability under IDEA.

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Video Description

Inclusion of verbal or auditory descriptions of on-screen visuals intended to describe important details not contained from main audio output.

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WFD Quality Indicator 4

The agency provides or arranges for comprehensive learning opportunities and technical assistance that address all aspects of the need, selection, acquisition and use of accessible materials and technologies.

Intent

Ongoing learning opportunities and technical assistance draw from multiple sources, are offered in different forms (e.g., orientations, workshops, briefs, webinars, book studies) and range from introductory to advanced to reach all stakeholders.

Critical Components

To effectively address this quality indicator, the following components should be included in learning opportunities and technical assistance.

4.1. Targeted topics that provide all involved individuals with the awareness, knowledge, and skills needed to fulfill their responsibilities (e.g., legal issues, policies and procedures, decision making, copyright and management of accessible materials, structure and utility of formats, technology systems and updates, acquisition sources, implementation practices)

4.2. Intended audiences include any persons or entities with which the agency employs, serves, or otherwise relies on to carry out its job training programs, such as

  • Front line and supervisory staff
  • Disability Resource Coordinator
  • Equal Opportunity (EO) Officer
  • Disability Employment Initiative (DEI) personnel
  • Section 504 Coordinator
  • Information and Communication Technology (ICT)
  • Counselors, job coaches, and related staff
  • Eligible training providers
  • Materials and technology procurement personnel
  • Community or advocacy organizations
  • Outside agencies that provide services and supports
  • Community college liaisons
  • Special education transition specialists
  • Workforce partners
  • Learners and their families
  • State vocational rehabilitation agency counselors
  • Service coordinators and case managers
  • Local disability providers
  • Integrated Resource Teams (IRTs)
  • Contractors and service providers
  • Employers

4.3. Designed in ways that

  • Leverage local, state, and national resources
  • Consider the roles and responsibilities of the intended audience
  • Use multiple means and formats for delivery (e.g., in person workshop, webinar, video, brochure, website, handouts, electronic newsletter)
  • Comply with Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act and the most current applicable version of the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) at level AA (e.g., accessible website and digital materials; closed captioning of video and transcripts of audio; live captioning for webinars; multiple formats of print materials)
  • Acknowledge varied levels of learner and professional readiness (e.g., beginner, intermediate, advanced)
  • Vary in intensity and duration as appropriate to the topic and audience

4.4. Collaborations, internal and external, that are important to capacity building on all aspects of accessible materials and technologies

Employment

Work performed for compensation, at location, and with opportunities for advancement similar to those who are not individuals with disabilities.

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WFD Quality Indicator 5

The agency develops and implements a systematic data collection process to monitor and evaluate the equitable, timely provision of appropriate, high-quality accessible materials and technologies.

Intent

Data are collected that measure the degree to which accessible materials and technologies provide all learners with disabilities with the opportunity to acquire the same information, engage in the same interactions and benefit from the same services as learners without disabilities with substantially equivalent ease of use.

Critical Components

To effectively address this quality indicator, the following components should be present in a systematic process to evaluate all aspects of the system.

5.1. Strategies for collecting data on the extent to which learners effectively receive appropriate, high-quality accessible materials and technologies in a timely manner

  • Number of learners provided accessible materials and technologies, whether through the IEP process (middle and high schoolers) or processes used in postsecondary settings (i.e., disability services, student support, human resources, or other)
  • Disability categories of learners served
  • Demographics of learners served
  • Formats provided
  • Sources of accessible materials and technologies
    • Timely delivery to learners
  • Quality of materials (e.g., accuracy of coding and content, ease of use, documentation of conformance to accessibility standards)
  • Learner feedback (e.g., meetings, interviews, conversations, surveys)
  • Family feedback (for middle and high schoolers)

5.2. Strategies for collecting data on the legal compliance of materials and technologies

  • Compliance with copyright in the management and use of digital materials
  • Compliance of procured digital materials and technologies with Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act and the most current applicable version of the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) at Level AA.

5.3. Strategies for collecting data on learning opportunities and technical assistance provided to internal (e.g., learners, trainers, job coaches, other staff) and external (e.g., community partners, employers) stakeholders

  • Information about the providers (e.g., names, descriptions, contacts)
  • Delivery formats (e.g., coaching, webinar, workshop, institute)
  • Evidence of impact (e.g., proportion of staff selecting and creating accessible digital materials as result of training; frequency of timely delivery as result of coaching; learner satisfaction with accessibility of materials and technologies as result of procedural guidelines)

5.4. A plan for collecting and maintaining data on learner use of accessible materials and technologies

  • Collection methods
    • Selection of a data management system that supports
      • Legal requirements related to learner confidentiality
      • Monitoring of use of accessible materials and technologies by individual learners
      • Cross-referencing data on individual learner use with data on disability categories served
      • Cross-referencing data on individual learner use with data on the agency’s learner population demographics
  • Data collection timelines

5.5. Collaborations, internal and external, that are important to developing and implementing a systematic data collection process

WFD Quality Indicator 6

The agency uses the data collected to guide changes that support continuous improvement in all aspects of the systemic provision and use of accessible materials and technologies.

Intent

Data are systematically analyzed to gauge effectiveness of all aspects of the current system and are used to inform actions needed to improve future practice, program planning and resource allocation.

Critical Components

To effectively address this quality indicator, the following components should be present when analyzing and using data.

6.1. A specific plan for analyzing and using the data, including, but not limited to

  • Purpose for which the data will be used
  • Audiences with whom the data will be shared
  • Strategies for both quantitative and qualitative analysis
  • Strategies that protect individual learner identities
  • Timeline for periodic review of data
  • Timeline for implementation of data driven decisions

6.2. Participation in analysis of data by various stakeholders (e.g., front line and supervisory staff, disability resource coordinator, Integrated Resource Teams (IRTs), data managers, service coordinators and case managers)

6.3. Strategies for cross-referencing data on timely delivery of high quality accessible materials and technologies with data on program completion or job placement

6.4. Strategies for cross-referencing data to determine equity in the provision of accessible materials and technologies

  • Cross-referencing learner use data with data on disability categories served
  • Cross-referencing learner use data with learner population demographic data

6.5. Multiple means for dissemination of results to targeted audiences

6.6. Use of data to improve future practice, program planning and resource allocation

6.7. Collaborations, internal and external, that are important to using data to inform changes in the provision of accessible materials and technologies

WFD Quality Indicator 7

The agency allocates resources sufficient to ensure the delivery and sustainability of quality services to learners with disabilities who need accessible materials and technologies.

Intent

Sufficient fiscal, human, and infrastructure resources are committed to ensure that learners’ needs are appropriately addressed (e.g. determination of need, provision of appropriate accessible materials and technologies, delivery of services, learning opportunities for all stakeholders).

Critical Components

To effectively address this quality indicator, the following components should be included in allocating resources.

7.1. Multiple resource types are provided, including, but not limited to

  • Fiscal (e.g., funds are allocated for equitable provision of accessible materials and technologies to all learners who need them)
  • Human (e.g., dedicated personnel at multiple levels with knowledge to assist with selection, procurement, acquisition, and integration of accessible materials and technologies in all program services)
  • Infrastructure (e.g., coordinated data systems, coordinated provision systems, information and communication technology, assistive technology, training)

7.2. Resources are used to address the needs of all stakeholders, including, but not limited to

  • All learners being served
  • Personnel
  • Service providers
  • Information and Communication Technology (ICT)

7.3. Collaborations, internal and external, that are important to leveraging resources for the benefit of all stakeholders

1For learners with disabilities, “appropriate” is determined by either the learner’s IEP team (middle and high school students) or through an interactive decision-making process between the learner and the agency’s provider of accommodations, such as disability services personnel (high school graduates).