Sources of AEM
After establishing that a student needs AEM and selecting the formats needed for the educational materials, the decision-making team must determine how and where to acquire the materials. LEAs can obtain AEM from AMPs, publishers, or other sources and may also locally create them. 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 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. For additional information about including AEM and AT in the IEP, see AT-TA Document, Part B, page 18.
Accessible Media Producers (AMPs)
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. (Note: 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 the LEA assess the child’s need for a specialized format and consider 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 Bookshare account to provide students access to assigned textbooks. (Note: The Office of Special Education Programs (OSEP) provides Bookshare as a free service for students to access AEM.)
Oklahoma AEM Service Providers
The following entities are AUs of the NIMAC and/or AMPs and provide AEM and AT 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://www.library.state.ok.us/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 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.
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 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
Although specialized formats are increasingly available through AMPs and commercial sources, many educators create their own accessible materials, or scan printed text and convert it into digital text using optical character recognition (OCR) software for adaptation. If an educator wishes to alter published materials, copyright law must be respected. (Note: See AEM and the Law for information about copyright law.) When in doubt, the safest approach is to ask permission from the publisher. An important point to note is that while technology to provide accessibility features is readily available, it remains the LEA's responsibility to ensure that an individual student is able to use and comprehend those materials using such technology.
Additional Considerations for Acquiring AEM
AEM can be acquired from a variety of sources; however, not everyone is 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 students with a visual impairment who are on an IEP. Nevertheless, if an IEP team has determined that a student needs AEM to receive FAPE, the school must provide specialized formats. If a school is unable to obtain accessible materials for a student who needs AEM, the following options should be considered:
- Contact the publisher to request accessible materials.
- Use Open Educational Resources (OER).
- Use copyright-free (public domain) materials.
- Use 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 Kimberly.Berry@okstate.edu