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Welcome to the ATHEN E-Journal Issue #1

Issue #1 - E-Text and Alt Media Production

I would like to personally welcome you to the first edition of the ATHEN (Access Technologists Higher Education Network) E-Journal, which I know will be followed by many more. This inaugural edition has been almost three years in the making, but we will not get into that, as it has something to do with asking people to give of their sweat and blood out of a sense of commitment to our emerging profession. I would like to thank each of the contributors and our guest editor Teresa Haven for their work in providing you with what I think you will find to be a very worthwhile resource. You will find the content educational and informative. This issue is focused on E-text and the production and management of alternative format production programs, an area that is fast becoming one of the most critical areas impacting services for people with disabilities in adult education, as well as all aspects of life. Each subsequent issue of the E-Journal will focus on a critical area of our work as Access Technologists in higher education, and will contain informative and enlightening articles from leading practioners in the field of Access Technology. The next edition will be guest edited by Cyndi Rowland, the WebAIM project director at Utah State University. It is our intent that ATHEN and its related resources will become your first destination when you have a question about Technology Access, and that you will consider becoming a participating member of ATHEN if you are not already.

Who am I?

I'm Ron Stewart, the founding president of ATHEN, and at my day job, the Director of the Technology Access Program and the Northwest Center for Technology Access at Oregon State University. I have been involved in educational technology in one form or another for most of my career, and nine years ago was reintroduced to the field of what has now come to be called Access Technology. My reintroduction was the result of agreeing to help OSU develop a plan and program to provide access to its technological systems for persons with disabilities. Little did I know that that decision would take my career and my life’s work down a wonderful and challenging path. Our experiences at OSU have served to inform the field in a positive way, and have been replicated in a variety of forms on other campuses. In my work over these years, and through dialog with my peers, a commonness of drive, identity and purpose have surfaced. We all seem to have a similar story, and all are highly dedicated to their work and the people they work with. Our paths into AT are as varied as we are, but a shared vision is developing. ATHEN is a logical outgrowth of this shared consciousness and the unmet need for validation of the professional contribution we each make to our various campuses and service organizations.

Why ATHEN?

ATHEN was formed to meet a critical need for a professional identity and build a collective understanding of what it means to work in the field of Access Technology in Higher Education. While other organizations exist that work on parallel tracks in disability services, the founding membership felt that a targeted organization was needed to fulfill the collective needs of the membership. A secondary driving force is the creation of professional development activities for Access Technologists that mirror similar career tracks in other areas of IT management and service delivery. ATHEN was formed in the spring of 2002 at the CSUN conference in Los Angeles, in a collective meeting of 50 of the leaders in the rapidly growing field serving the technology access needs of individuals with disabilities in a variety of adult educational venues. This meeting was the result of several years of discussion of the need for a professional organization, and a couple of gentle pushes from my collegues to quit talking about it and do it! The primary goals of ATHEN are:

  • Development, acquisition and dissemination of best practices in Access Technologies (AT), AT Training Materials, and Core Curriculum;
  • Promotion of the establishment of Degree Programs relating to AT;
  • Establishment of a professional identity for those who practice AT in Higher Education;
  • Development of Professional Standards of Practice for AT in Higher Education;
  • Presentation of a collective voice for the professional practice of AT service delivery;
  • Development of a credentialing process AT Professionals in Higher Education

If you are working in the area of Access Technology, or in any other related area of service delivery to adults with disabilities, it is my sincere hope that you will consider becoming an active member of ATHEN. For more information about the organization please visit our website at: www.athenpro.org, or feel free to contact me directly.

From our Guest Editor

Teresa Wells Haven, Assistant Director Center for Students with Disabilities University of Arkansas Welcome to the first edition of the ATHEN e-Journal. Our topic this quarter is Electronic Text, and we have several timely issues on the table for discussion. We will take a few moments to consider how our past impacts our present and future, review a case study in new production methodology, and learn from the legal challenges faced by some of our colleagues. We will participate in a lesson in the production of technical content, and hear about new technologies and standards that will affect our future.

I hope that everyone will gain some insight or new understanding of Electronic Text as a result of reading this issue, and that we can continue to push forward the boundaries of alternate text production in the future. For those who are attending the CSUN Technology and Persons with Disabilities Conference, please share your new discoveries with those unable to attend, and brainstorm new solutions with your colleagues who are attending with you. We will all look forward to reading your thoughts in future issues of the e-Journal.