Advances in technology are allowing greater access to features which improve readability of text such as text-to-speech, highlighting, and adjustable fonts. However, this does not negate the school’s responsibility for providing textbooks, assigned novels, and other curricular materials in accessible formats. Educators must take care to ensure that the burden of making materials accessible (i.e. scanning materials to be read with an app or extension) is not placed on the student. AEM has the potential to greatly impact the educational progress and outcomes for students with print disabilities. Access to specialized formats is improving, thanks to increased awareness of the need and intensified focus by education agencies on requiring publishers to submit NIMAS files to the NIMAC.
Steps to Promote AEM
Teachers, school officials, parents, and advocates can help facilitate the use of specialized formats by:
- Consistently using a decision-making process during the development of IEPs to determine if students need AEM
- Learning about the process for obtaining materials from the NIMAC, accessible media producers (AMPs) and other sources
- Communicating with IEP teams and school administrators about accessible materials and available supports that are often available to eligible students free of charge
- Collaborating with local and state education agencies to urge publishers to offer accessible versions of textbooks for purchase
- Utilizing the principals of Universal Design for Learning (UDL) for curriculum development that give all individuals equal opportunities to learn with flexible approaches that can be customized and adjusted for individual needs
- Ensuring resources are allocated to provide AEM to students per the law to support students receiving FAPE
Additional AEM Resources
This Technical Assistance Document has provided many resources that LEAs and other organizations can utilize to develop or improve their system for provision of AEM. Links to a few especially helpful resources are included below as a convenience for educators wishing to learn more about AEM and related topics.
- National Instructional Materials Access Center: http://www.nimac.us
- Purchase Accessible Learning Materials Initiative: http://aem.cast.org/navigating/palm.html#.Vzy8lFcaJkh
- U.S. Department of Education, IDEA Part B: http://idea.ed.gov/explore/home
- Universal Design for Learning (UDL) resources: http://www.udlcenter.org/