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Introductions of an EOWG Newbie

From: McSorley, Jan <jan.mcsorley@pearson.com>
Date: Wed, 16 Oct 2013 16:27:16 -0500
Message-ID: <CAFuJ5sMZgzDZGaP03+jP1LOeTOKScd-MPL-+F++r6MMFzncOnQ@mail.gmail.com>
To: w3c-wai-eo@w3.org
Greetings EOWG Members,

My name is Jan McSorley and I have very recently joined the EOWG as a
Pearson representative.  Pearson is a new member of the W3C and is the only
publishing company in membership.  I was THRILLED when Pearson joined the
W3C and I am grateful to Madi Solomon and Suzanne Taylor and any one else
at Pearson who had the vision to make this happen.

I started working with Pearson on June 24, 2013 as an Accessibility
Specialist.  I am not yet worthy of that title, nor am I worthy to walk
among such experts as yourself, but I am very passionate about
accessibility and excited to learn from all of you and contribute to the
work of the EOWG.

Prior to starting with Pearson, I worked as an Assistive Technology
Specialist for the Austin Independent School District in Austin ISD.
 Austin ISD has approximately 120 school campuses, about 83,000 students,
and between 10,000 and 11,000 students with disabilities.  During my 12
years there, we had four Assistive Technology Specialists for the entire
district.  We were busy.  We provided direct support to students, parents
and teachers and it was through this work that I became aware of the
importance of accessible instructional materials.

I met Sharron Rush in 2000 through a collaborative, grant-funded project
and spent the next 12+ years stalking her and learning about accessibility.
 In my position in Austin ISD, I was able to see the effects of
inaccessible content on the learning outcomes of students with
disabilities.  I saw that we could use assistive technologies to help
students alleviate the effects of their disabilities, only to be confronted
with man-made barriers to access. It was frustrating for me to watch this
day in and day out, but even more frustrating for the students who had to
live through it.  Unfortunately, my position in Austin ISD did not allow
for very much time to focus on the technical details of accessibility, but
I did my best to understand it at a policy level.  I made a concerted
effort to inform decision makers about the importance of equally effective
access for students with disabilities and our legal and moral obligations
to address it, beginning with procurement.  I was not as effective in that
effort as I would have liked, but awareness was at least raised and that is
the beginning of change.

My current position in Pearson is focused specifically on assessment.  For
the past four months, I have been reading about an IMS Global standard
called APIP <http://www.imsglobal.org/apip/>.  IMS is all about
interoperability standards and APIP stands for Accessible Portable Item
Protocol.  APIP is supposed to serve two purposes:

   1. Provide an interoperable system for porting test items across
   APIP-compliant item banks so that test developers can share test items
   between different systems.
   2. Provide a schema for delivering information and resources that are
   necessary to make tests and test items accessible to students with a
   variety of special needs.

The challenge in assessment is balancing equally effective access for
students with disabilities with construct validity and test security.
 "Construct validity" is a fancy way of saying that you are testing what
you mean to test and students don't have an "unfair advantage" when
responding to a test item.  Test security is all about making sure that
students cannot copy and paste content and share it outside of the test
environment and/or access the Internet during the test to get supports they
shouldn't have.  I am a firm believer that equal access, construct
validity, and test security can live in harmony with each other and I
believe that WCAG, ATAG, and UAAG are foundational to accomplishing this.
 I also believe that the challenges to reaching this harmony are rooted
more in policy than in technical limitations.

In my personal life, I am a wife and a mother of three children - one that
has graduated from college, one in high school and one in elementary
school.  As you can see, effective family planning is not my strength.  I
also have one amazing normal dog and one amazing emotionally disturbed dog.
 I juggle the responsibilities of taking care of all the aforementioned,
while working and volunteering in my community.  If I am ever on a call
with you and you hear a crashing noise in the background, it is likely a
spinning plate that I have lost control of, but I usually just sweep up the
mess and keep going. I am sure all of you can relate!

I am very much looking forward to working with you on the EOWG.  Thanks for
the opportunity to be a part of this great group!

Best to you,
-- 
*Jan McSorley*
Accessibility Specialist

Digital Content Development
Assessment & Instruction
Pearson

D: (512) 989-5427
E: jan.mcsorley@pearson.com <philip.moody@pearson.com>

Pearson

Always Learning
Learn more at www.pearsonk12.com
Received on Friday, 18 October 2013 09:53:16 UTC

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