Posted by in Institute For Public Critical Research on November 23, 2013
As soon as practicable in the witness preparation stage, a witness should become familiar with the issue of the hearing and the subject matter of the testimony. This is a critical step in preparing to be an effective witness. Usually the witness is a principal or officer in the organization being asked to testify, so it is natural for that individual to be somewhat or very familiar with the hearing topic already. However, even in the best of circumstances in which the witness is the head of, or a top official for, an organization, he or she should be deliberative and diligent in preparing for a hearing.
To ensure adequate preparation as a knowledgeable or expert witness before a committee, a witness should spend time reading and reviewing pertinent organizational and outside information about the issues to be covered in the hearing. The witness should understand the committee and legislative process, and the type, purpose, and goal of the hearing. The witness should also have a firm grasp of the nature and context of the testimony he or she will present to the committee.
It is often a valuable exercise for a witness to conduct targeted reviews of materials and information from a variety of sources from both inside and outside the organization, including:
Posted by in Institute For Public Critical Research on November 21, 2013
Shut your eyes. Imagine that you can never open them again. What kind of sign would direct you through a complex space like a hospital, office building or park? Could a sign be designed for people who can’t see, even direct you at all? It’s that kind of thinking unfortunately rare-that designers need to use when creating signage for the disabled. The 1990 Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) mandates that certain signs be designed for the visually impaired (a group that includes people with many different visual problems as well as the blind) and for people who use wheelchairs. The guidelines are simple and easy to apply. But much more can be done to help the disabled through graphics and signage. Imagining yourself in their place and researching their needs is the key. Close your eyes and put on a pair of gloves. Now you have an idea of what people blinded by diabetes feel: They lose much of their sense of touch as well as their sight. Now what kind of sign will help you? Look through a sheet of yellow acetate, and you’ll discover what colors are lost as the eye’s lens yellows with age. Look at a page of text in Cyrillic and you’ll get a sense of what writing looks like to those who have lost the ability to read because of brain injuries. Look at an indecipherable icon and imagine that, because of brain damage or Alzheimer’s disease, even the simplest symbols are incomprehensible. Now what kind of sign would help? Many designers don’t consider disabled sign users until they work on a project, like a nursing home or a hospital that requires them to. But as the ADA’s framers hoped designers would discover, making a sign more accessible to disabled users helps make it more useful to everyone. When the ADA went into effect, almost no research had been done to determine how disabled people use signs. While a few high-profile studies have followed, the truth is that we know very little about how even able people use signs. Most designers rely on their gut feelings, informal research and brief mentions of signage in a few books on accessible design. These aren’t the best working conditions, but they’re better than they were three years ago. What follows is a brief introduction to the issues of graphic design for the disabled. Some are fairly well known, and some are only beginning to be discussed. Most overlap-elderly people, young people with visual impairments and mentally impaired people can all benefit, for example, from short messages.
Design for the Visually impaired
Graphic design for people who can’t see is a paradox but the ADA forced sign designers and manufacturers to address this audience when it went into effect in 1992. Although ADA regulations cover only a few signs in a system-those identifying permanent spaces like stairways or room numbers-anyone trying for a unified system has to think of every sign in a building. Braille messages alone don’t solve the problem because most visually impaired people can’t read them. Only a fraction of the visually impaired is blind, and few of them have been blind since childhood. People with some vision don’t have to read Braille, and people blinded late in life often can’t or won’t learn. For this reason, the ADA mandates tactile (raised) letters and certain sizes, type styles, colors, lighting and mounting positions for all signs it covers. Tactile letters are hot topic among designers because little research has been done to determine what kind of lettering is most readable by both touch and sight. Roger Whitehouse of New York City-based Whitehouse & Co. has developed his own set of letters. Many other designers depart from the ADA’s specified all- caps format, citing studies showing that upper- and lowercase type is far more readable by people with any degree of sight. A further problem posed by tactile letters is that they take a long time to read, unlike Braille. Messages and words must be short or readers will lose their place and their patience. And to read tactile messages. people must be able to reach and comfortably stand next to the sign without being in the way of traffic, swinging doors and other obstacles. For those who can see, but not well, contrast and glare are critical issues. Colors with different hues but similar values may be distinguishable to those with normal sight. but will seem to run together to the visually impaired. Likewise, glare from improper lighting or a glossy sign finish can obscure a message with a great color scheme and large lettering. Other issues remain. Designers are struggling to design maps for the blind, with some success. In his notable sign system for the Lighthouse (an education center for the visually impaired) in New York City, White- house designed one of the first sets of icons for the blind. Others will surely follow. Finally, and perhaps most vexing of all is the question of how visually impaired users find signs in the first place. The ADA mandates mounting position and height under the assumption that people with visual impairments will learn to expect signs at particular places, which may well be true. But new products are demonstrating that other solutions may work better. The best-known such product is the Raynes Rail, developed by Coco Raynes Assoc. in Boston. The Raynes Rail-a handrail that combines Braille messages with audio messages, bypassing tactile letters and flat graphics won the 1994 Industrial Design Excellence Award. Other products that depart from the ADA’s guidelines but meet its spirit are sure to come.
Posted by in Institute For Public Critical Research on November 20, 2013
We now live in an almost fully computerized world where almost all information is stored and transferred as digital files. The private and public sectors have realized that physical security is not sufficient when it comes to protecting digital data files. Moving these data files from one location to another requires the use of networks which must be completely secured so as to avoid unauthorized access. Network security solutions have therefore become an integral part of business and government operations.
Private and public institutions such as government agencies, banks, colleges, and research centers are examples of organisations that have lots of high value data which should be protected using the very best network security solutions. The security systems required by these organisations should alert administrators and security personnel immediately a breach or other unauthorized action occurs. Failure to have adequately secure data can have serious consequences for these organisations.
An important aspect of network security solutions is network monitoring. This is the process of constantly examining the various components of a network with an aim of ensuring that they are working at optimum capacity and without interference from internal actions which are unauthorized or accidental. Network monitoring ensures that the system admins are aware of any issues that may arise as soon as they occur and as such, remedial action can quickly be taken to return things to normal operations. The issues looked at when monitoring a network include component failures such as server crashes, equipment failures, broken connections and other similar issues.
Posted by in Institute For Public Critical Research on November 19, 2013
Attorneys, paralegals and compliance officers with a strong corporate focus that are providing services mostly to for-profit clients often find that state nonprofit compliance requirements can be challenging and confusing. In addition to dealing with annual state nonprofit corporate compliance, there is a second component to state nonprofit compliance – the annual charitable solicitation registration. While some of the jargon and form names associated with these two types of compliance are similar and both can take place at the office of the Secretary of State, it’s important not to confuse the two to ensure nonprofits meet all of their state compliance obligations.
Charitable Solicitation Requirements and Exemptions Vary Widely
The District of Columbia and 39 states currently require some form of charitable registration prior to solicitation of charitable donations by most nonprofit organizations. In addition to one time or annual registration, most of these states require filings in the form of an annual report, renewal, update or some form of compliance filing to remain in good standing with the state charity bureau, usually a division of the Secretary of State or Office of the Attorney General. However, in some of these states, nonprofits are exempt from registration based on the type of charitable activity (e.g. religious organizations, hospitals, educational institutions and small nonprofits), but the requirements for exemption vary widely and, in some cases, require an application.
Ironically, some states exempt certain nonprofit organizations from the registration requirement, but then mandate the filing of an exemption application to do so, often requiring an annual filing to maintain the exemption. Furthermore, there are unusual exceptions, such as in Missouri where 501(c)(3) nonprofit organizations are not required to register and in Louisiana, where only charitable organizations that use a professional solicitor are required to register annually.