After establishing that a student needs accessible educational materials (AEM) and selecting which formats are needed for which materials, the decision-making team must determine how and where to acquire the materials. Local Education Agencies (LEAs) can obtain AEM from Accessible media producers (AMPs), publishers, locally created, or other sources. The sections below describe what types of materials can be obtained from the various sources. As soon as the LEA selects the source for acquiring specialized format(s) for a student, that information should be added to the student's IEP. This will ensure that the AEM will be provided should there be a change in the student's situation, such as when the child advances a grade or moves to a new school.
Accessible Media Producers (AMPs) create specialized formats of instructional materials from NIMAS files, as well as from materials submitted by publishers or education agencies. (Read more about NIMAS in the NIMAS and NIMAC section of this document.) Copyright-free materials may be accessed or reproduced without regard to disability status. The legality of an AMP to convert copyright-protected materials for individuals with print disability is based on the Chaffee Amendment. (See more on Chafee Amendment in the Accessible Materials and the Law section of this document.)
Bookshare and Liberty Braille are AMPs which provide accessible materials to Oklahoma Public Schools free of charge for use by students who have print disability. Educators may acquire specialized formats of educational materials on behalf of their students by contacting AMPs directly. For specific eligibility criteria and to find out who may serve as "competent authority" to certify a student's print disability, contact the AMP directly. (For AMP contact information, see Oklahoma AEM Service Providers below.)
Families of students with print disabilities are able to obtain specialized formats of fiction and non-fiction books, magazines, and newspapers through individual memberships with Bookshare; however, students do not have access to textbooks through this type of membership. Parents who believe their child needs AEM should request that their local education agency (LEA) assess the child’s need for a specialized format and consider assistive technology (AT) and other supports required. If the student is determined to need accessible digital text, the LEA will obtain textbooks and other curricular materials through an organizational account in Bookshare. Educators are then able to link to the student's individual account to provide students access to assigned textbooks novels.
Oklahoma AEM Service Providers
The following entities are Authorized Users (AUs) of the NIMAC and/or Accessible Media Producers (AMPs) and provide AEM and Assistive Technology services to Oklahoma public school students:
- Oklahoma ABLE Tech, 800.257.1705, https://www.okabletech.org/
- The AIM Center at the Oklahoma Library for the Blind and Physically Handicapped, 800-523-0288, http://olbph.org/dir/AIM
- Bookshare, 650-352-0198, www.bookshare.org
- Learning Ally, 800-221-4792, http://learningally.org/
- Liberty Braille, 800-920-3369, www.libertybraille.com
- Oklahoma School for the Blind, 877-229-7136, www.osb.k12.ok.us
Upon request by a state or local education agency (LEA), a publisher may be willing to provide a digital file or grant permission to copy and scan materials for use by a particular student. Some publishers offer digital versions of instructional materials that can be purchased along with, or instead of, printed books. This can be very useful if the digital version contains the same information as the printed book rather than supplementary material.
Some publishers have said that few educational agencies are asking for accessible materials for purchase, but that may be because people do not know that such materials exist. To increase the availability of AEM for purchase, school staff, and parents are encouraged to contact publishers to ask for accessible versions of textbooks that can be purchased.
Although specialized formats are increasingly available through AMPs and commercial sources, the “do-it-yourself” method of creating digital text on a computer, or scanning printed text and converting it into digital text using optical character recognition (OCR) software, remains a way to meet the needs of some students for certain materials. For example, teacher-made materials will almost always need to be created in this manner. When an accessible version of a published, copyright-protected material is created in this way, copyright law must still be respected. The safest approach is to ask permission from the publisher.
Local Education Agencies (LEAs) may acquire materials from a variety of other sources. The American Printing House (APH) maintains a database to assist in locating accessible formats of books. The Louis Database contains information on hundreds of thousands of titles available in specialized formats including audio, braille, digital text, and large print.
Below are several commonly used sources of books in various formats. Files from these sources may not be accessible to all users. Some include features such as recorded human voices, synthesized speech, and navigation. The local education agency (LEA) is responsible for verifying accessibility of materials provided to students.
- Amazon Kindle (e-books for purchase),
- Audible, audiobooks for purchase),
- National Library Service for the Blind and Physically Handicapped, (Braille and Audio Reading Download), www.loc.gov/nls
- Open eBooks, (free e-books), www.openebooks.net
- OverDrive, (e-books and audiobooks through public libraries), www.overdrive.com
- Project Gutenberg, (free public domain e-books), www.gutenberg.org
Additional Considerations for acquiring AEM
AEM can be acquired from a variety of sources; however, not all students are eligible to receive materials from each of those sources. For example, materials from Bookshare are only available to individuals certified as having a print disability; materials from Liberty Braille are only available to individuals in the visual impairment category of print disability. Nevertheless, if an IEP team has determined that a student needs accessible educational materials in order to receive a free appropriate public education (FAPE), the school must provide specialized formats. For instance, a student with a diagnosis of autism spectrum disorder or one who is an English language learner may have been determined to need text read aloud, therefore the school must provide AEM.
In such cases, the LEA could:
- Contact the publisher to request accessible materials.
- Use Open Educational Resources (OER).
- Use copyright-free (public domain) materials.
- Use assistive technology (AT) to render the materials accessible, e.g. scan the materials and provide synthesized speech.
For assistance in locating AEM resources or selecting AT, contact ABLE Tech at 800.257.1705 or firstname.lastname@example.org.