Accessible Instructional Materials
Section 504 of The Rehabilitation Act (1973), the Americans with Disabilities Act ([ADA]1990), and the 2004 reauthorization of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) all require schools to provide all students with disabilities with equitable access to all instructional materials required in the K‐12 classroom. These include materials that may be required by the state (e.g. textbooks), district (e.g. additional required readings), or classroom teacher (e.g. syllabus). Understanding this requirement and how to provide these materials in specialized formats (Braille, large print, or digital) in a timely manner is the responsibility of all classroom teachers.
What We Do
Instructional/educational materials typically are provided for students in one of five formats: physical objects (manipulatives), print/text based (text books), audio (video, audio books), digitized (software or web-based content). The method of providing AIM/AEM will vary depending on the individual need of the learner to access the material and the type of material.
Methods of providing AIM/AEM based on the individual needs of the learner and/or type of material:
- For students not identified as a student with a disability under the ADA, Section 504 or the IDEA, schools can provide print/text based materials, whether paper based, digital documents (ie. Microsoft Word document or Adobe pdf document, etc.).
- For students with a disability identified under the ADA, Section 504 or the IDEA, schools provide AIM/AEM following one or more of the following processes depending on the type of material:
- Physical objects (manipulatives): To identify strategies for providing students with disabilities AIM/AEM involving physical objects, schools submit a request for Occupational Therapy (OT) screening.
- Print/text based (textbooks)
- Students with visual impairments are provided with assistive technology devices providing them with access to instructional/educational materials specifically identified to meet their individual learning needs through the recommendation of a certified teacher for students with visual impairment. These access needs are documented in the student's individualized educational program (IEP).
- Audio (video, audio books):
- Students with auditory impairments are supported with accommodation and/or assistive technology devices providing them accommodation with access to instructional/educational materials specifically identified to meet their individual learning needs through the recommendations of a certified teacher for students with auditory impairment and/or an audiologist. These access needs are documented in the student's individualized educational program (IEP) or 504 plan.
- Students with physical disabilities limiting their ability to independently access school computers and web-based content are supported with accommodations and/or assistive technology devices providing them accommodation to instructional/educational materials. These supports are specifically identified to meet the individual learning needs of the student through the ARD/IEP process.
AIM/AEM Decision Making Tools
The National Center for Accessible Educational Materials provides two resources to support school teams in making AIM/AEM decisions aligned to individual student strengths and needs.
The AEM Navigator facilitates a decision making team (ARD/IEP team or 504 committee) to identify the instructional materials the student may have difficulty accessing and the support to consider for the student.
The AEM Explorer is a simulation tool allowing individuals to experience the support provided by various computer-based tools and determine which tools may be beneficial for the student.
AEM Explorer - http://aem.cast.org/navigating/aim-explorer.html
AEM Navigator - http://aem.cast.org/navigating/aem-navigator.html
Learning Ally - https://www.learningally.org/