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The DIAGRAM Center’s Content Working Group has developed a free online resource for creating accessible versions of digital images such as maps, bar charts, diagrams, mathematical expressions, photographs, and more. The “Accessible Image Sample Book” (AISB) shows how to produce materials that enable all students to access and make progress within the general curriculum. Each of the seven chapters in the book shows a different complex image in context of the book it came from, along with helpful tips and the code used to provide the accessible image in a digital book. See (and hear!) the different ways that an image can be made accessible, including: short and long descriptions, tactile graphics, MathML, sonification, audio description, and 3D printing. Registration is now open for a free DIAGRAM webinar: https://cc.readytalk.com/r/x35j0nb91h3t&eom
Join presenters Joy Zabala, Diana Carl, and Chuck Hitchcock for an engaging conversation about the purposes and benefits of purchasing digital learning materials that are designed with robust accessibility features. Examples of accessibility features in both content and delivery systems will be discussed and shared. Participants will also learn about the tools and supports available through the AIM Center's PALM (Purchase Accessible Learning Materials) Initiative. Register for the February 13th webinar!
Are you involved with teacher training or are you a family service provider? If so, join Joy Zabala and Diana Carl for an introduction and an overview of AIM Center materials and tools that are especially useful to those providing learning opportunities to administrators, teachers, and families. Selected products will be demonstrated and discussed along with possible capacity-building strategies for their use in a variety of settings across a range of participants. Register for the February 20th webinar!
Students with physical limitations can use Apple devices more easily thanks to recent operating system updates.
Because switch access is a standard accessibility feature of iOS 7, students can now use a switch that is connected via Bluetooth to navigate device controls and in many cases, work within apps. To find out more about using iPads with switches, check out this resource from AbleNet.
What about students on 504 plans? And what does copyright law have to do with AIM? Answers to these questions and more can be found at the new Federal Policy page of the National AIM Center website.
As youngsters around the world are carefully crafting letters to Santa Claus this holiday season, braille reading kids will be opening letters from the jolly fellow. Volunteer elves with The National Federation of the Blind (NFB) Jernigan Institute will be producing the braille letters. If you know of a blind child under age 10 who would appreciate a braille letter from the North Pole, you can fill out a Santa Braille Letter request form online at https://nfb.org/santa-letters. The deadline is December 19 ito ensure the braille return letter is received by Christmas.
ABLE Tech provides accessible instructional materials services and loans assistive technology including iPads, book readers and refreshable braille displays. For more information, call ABLE Tech at 800.257.1705 or 405.744.9748.
In your quest for the perfect app or software, don’t overlook built-in features that can help students who have disabilities. Synthesized speech, dictation, and adjustable fonts are just a few of the functions that come standard with most operating systems for PCs, laptops, tablet computers, and smart phones. These features may not work within all software or apps, but they are a good place to start. eSchool News had a great article on the iPad and accessibility.
Thanks to recent software updates, you can now load Bookshare accessible digital books into the iPad Read2Go app through Safari*. Simply open Safari, go to www.bookshare.org, and log in to select the book as you would on a PC or Mac. Once the book is downloaded, you can open it with Read2Go.
This can be a time-saver if you have only a few books to load. For multiple books, you will want to download the books on a PC, Mac or laptop and add them to Read2Go by syncing the iPad. For books without images, you can continue loading directly through Read2Go.
*Bookshare membership is required and is available to individuals with print disability such as visual impairment, learning disability, or physical impairment which impedes access to text in standard printed materials.
Readers with print disabilities have used audio books for a long time. First introduced on cassette tapes for leisure reading, audio books have also been used for educational purposes. With the adoption of the DAISY Standard, digital talking books have become the de facto standard and content production on CDs has been gradually replacing the cassette tape medium. DAISY books may contain audio and/or text, as well as images.
One main problem of conventional audio books and paper braille books affecting educational content is that mathematics and other formulae were treated as either text or images. Hence, there wasn’t enough structure information to enable accessible technology to present the formulae appropriately via audio or braille. Since the formal approval of the MathML-in-DAISY Specification in February 2007 as the first extension to the DAISY Standard, it is now possible to produce and use books that present mathematical content in a synchronized and structured and therefore accessible way.
The National Instructional Materials Accessibility Standard (NIMAS) details the minimum standard that State educational agencies (SEAs) and local educational agencies (LEAs) must meet in order to comply with the requirements under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) to provide instructional materials to blind persons or other persons with print disabilities. Specifically, as a standard for digital source files that can be used to accurately and reliably produce instructional materials in a variety of alternate formats using the same source file, the NIMAS helps to increase the availability and timely delivery of print instructional materials in accessible formats to blind or other persons with print disabilities in elementary and secondary schools.
Mathematical Markup Language (MathML) is a structured guideline that reflect the most effective method of providing accessible print instructional materials involving mathematical and scientific content to students who are blind or who have print disabilities.
The National Instructional Materials Accessibility Standard Center (Center), funded by the U.S. Department of Education (Department), recommends that the most recent version of MathML be used to improve the accessibility of mathematical and scientific content in core instructional materials. The use of MathML will improve the format and presentation of mathematical and scientific content and assist SEAs and LEAs in providing accessible core instructional materials.
We encourage SEAs and LEAs to ask publishers to use the MathML Structure Guidelines recommended by the National Instructional Materials Accessibility Standard Center when requesting NIMAS files. For more information, visit the National AIM Center MathML in NIMAS.
Bookshare has added two new features to help you encourage your students to read more. With the new Bookshelf, teachers can select books for single or multiple students to download at their own convenience. The new Bookshare Web Reader allows students to read their books online in a browser without downloading specialized software. Students can use the Google Chrome toolbar to enlarge fonts, add highlighting and read with a synthesized voice.
These new features can save time and encourage literacy; however they can help your students only if they have an individual membership under your school’s organizational account, and if the students have internet access. Obtaining Bookshare membership and accessing books is easy, but if you need help, ABLE Tech can provide technical assistance and training.
To find out more about Bookshare’s new tools, visit www.bookshare.org or call ABLE Tech at 800.257.1705 or 405.744.9748.
Audio books can be used as the primary format for students with a print disability or to supplement standard print, large print, digital format or braille. Students using audio books may spend less time struggling to read and comprehend written words. When used in conjunction with text, listening to audio books can increase word recognition, build vocabulary, and improve understanding.
ABLE Tech can help schools obtain textbooks and other reading materials needed for school in audio format from Learning Ally. With more than 75,000 audio textbooks and literature titles, Learning Ally has what your students need to learn plus the books that make great leisure reading too. The Learning Ally library includes textbooks from top U.S. publishers as well as Language Arts classics, popular fiction, test prep, personal growth and more. The speech is recorded with natural human voices, providing the advantage of natural pronunciation and pacing. Audio books can be read on PCs and tablet computers such as iPads, and on DAISY players such as the Book Port Plus and the Classmate Reader.
Students whose print disability is due to low vision or blindness may qualify for a school-term loan of assistive technology to access audio and or/digital text. Liberty Braille loans iPads, and the AIM Center at the Oklahoma Library for the Blind loans DAISY players and refreshable braille devices in addition to many other devices and learning aids. In some cases, a trial loan through ABLE Tech may be required before equipment is issued for a school term loan.
It is time to begin trial loans for students with visual impairment wishing to borrow an iPad from Liberty Braille for the next school year. To qualify, the student must first complete an iPad trial loan from ABLE Tech to determine the suitability of the iPad and the Read2Go app as an assistive technology solution for the particular student. There is just enough time to do the trial loan before the end of this school year and request an iPad from liberty braille in order to have the iPad ready and loaded with books when school begins in the fall. Learn more about the program at. Download the application for a short-term device loan from ABLE Tech.
Braille readers can use iPads to access digital text by listening to the synthesized voice or by using a refreshable braille display. The Refreshabraille 18 is now available for short-term loan from ABLE Tech. If you determine through a trial loan that the Refreshabraille 18 is right for your student, you can request to borrow one for the entire school year from the AIM Center at the Oklahoma Library for the Blind and Physically Handicapped. Together, a Refreshabraille 18 and an iPad can provide a portable and compact accessible reading solution.
Now is also the time for teachers of students with print disabilities to submit orders for large print and braille textbooks from Liberty Braille. For students who will be using digital text, you should now begin searching the repositories at www.bookshare.org and www.nimac.us to make sure the books your students need will be available for download. ABLE Tech can help you with setting up Bookshare accounts and obtaining accessible instructional materials (AIM) for your students. For more information, visit our AIM section or call ABLE Tech at 800.257.1705 or 405.744.9748.
The first step in the process is making sure the publisher submits the textbook files to the National Instructional Materials Access Center (NIMAC). If your school chooses from the state approved textbook list, the State Department of Education will have already done this step. If you are ordering off-list, it is the school’s responsibility to include in the purchase contract the requirement that the publisher submit NIMAS file sets to the NIMAC. Click here for suggested contract language.
Once textbook files are in the NIMAC, schools can download the books from Bookshare or contact ABLE Tech to assist with providing accessible textbooks for the student. Oklahoma schools can obtain accessible books for students through the following service providers
ABLE Tech can assist you with accessible instructional materials. For more information, visit our AIM section or call ABLE Tech at 800.257.1705 or 405.744.9748.
Read & Write Gold (RWG) is an educational tool available at no cost to OSU students, faculty, and staff. TTS is software that provides speech or audio output of any text on the computer. Individuals can hear a textbook read aloud, a website, or a research article with RWG. Studies indicate that pairing audio as the text is highlighted increases comprehension and retention of information. RWG is a floating toolbar that reads aloud text as it highlights. Color, font, and voice options are changeable. The RWG tool bar is like a Swiss army knife – it has many easy to use “tools” that can help you read, organize your thoughts, research more effectively, write papers, and create study guides. RWG provides support for English Language Learners and translates into a variety of languages. Text can be saved into an mp3 and downloaded on a mobile device. Students can highlight important points in multiple research papers and collect all into one document with a click. OSU offers RWG as a free support to all students, faculty, and staff.
ABLE Tech staff are available to provide training sessions for anyone on campus. Call us at 405.744.9748 or 800.257.1705 to schedule an appointment. We are flexible in location and duration. You can also access RWG in the OSU computer labs. RWG is available on each of the lab computers ready to use. In addition, the OSU IT Software distribution site provides a ready download for use off campus on your personal computer. View the RWG flyer
It’s something most of us do every day. We read for pleasure, to get information, to do our assignments, and we read at work to do our jobs. Text is all around us, and we use it every day to navigate around the world. But when a disability makes it difficult to access text, we may need a little help. Fortunately, help is available. To succeed in school, many students need materials in a format that works for them. Accessible Instructional Materials or AIM provide text formats for students with print disabilities such as dyslexia, low vision, blindness, or a physical disability where holding or accessing a hard print book is difficult.
How do you know which students need AIM? And, where do you go from there? For more information, visit our AIM section or call ABLE Tech at 800.257.1705 or 405.744.9748. Another great resource is the National AIM Center and the “AIM Navigator” which guides schools, IEP teams, and families at www.aim.cast.org.
Have you heard that Braille is changing? The Braille Authority of North America (BANA) recently adopted Unified English Braille (UEB). English Braille American Edition is to be phased out, but the U.S. will continue to use the Nemeth Code for Mathematics, Music Braille Code and the IPA Braille Code for phonetics.
UEB is based on the current literary braille code but is flexible and is designed for more accuracy in back translation.According to BANA, letters and numbers will stay the same, but there will be some changes to punctuation and contractions.You can learn more about the changes at http://www.brailleauthority.org/.
For Students with Print Disabilities: Spring is almost here which is the time of the year you are thinking ahead to next year's curriculum materials and ordering new textbooks. Spring is also the time to plan for specialized formats for students with print disabilities. Students who cannot read or process printed materials due to visual impairments such as low vision or blindness, a physical disability that impedes the use of traditional print curriculum, or a specific learning disability such dyslexia, need specialized curriculum formats at the same time their peers receive all textbooks and workbooks, as required under IDEA 2004. These specialized formats are called AIM or Accessible Instructional Materials.
Depending on the format needed and whether the publisher has provided a source file, obtaining accessible instructional materials can be time consuming. Digital text is typically free, but there may be a cost involved with Braille, large print and audio formats. As an Authorized User of the National Instructional Materials Access Center (NIMAC) and an Accessible Media Producer, ABLE Tech can download the specialized textbook formats and help schools understand how to navigate the AIM process. ABLE Tech provides assistance in identifying assistive technology (AT) that is needed to read AIM. Through our short-term loan program, students can access their textbooks using AT and determine what works best for their needs. For more information, visit our AIM section or call ABLE Tech at 800.257.1705 or 405.744.9748.