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Accessible Educational Materials (AEM), are materials that are designed or converted in a way that makes them usable across the widest range of students regardless of format (print, digital, graphical, audio, video). AEM refers to print educational materials that have been transformed into the specialized formats of...
Braille is a tactile system of reading and writing made up of raised dot patterns for letters, numbers, and punctuation marks. This format is used almost exclusively by people with visual impairments. Braille may be either embossed (a permanent printed document) or refreshable (electronically generated and accessed via a braille display device).
Large print is generally defined as print that is larger than the print sizes commonly used by the general population (8 to 12 points in size). Some use a guideline for defining large print as 18 point or larger. A document rendered in large print format usually has more white space and may or may not look like the original document but contains the same information. Large print may be printed on pages that are the same size as a standard textbook page or on pages of a larger size.
Audio formats present content as speech to which a student listens. Audio formats include recorded human voice and synthesized electronic speech.
Digital text is an electronic format that can be delivered via a computer or another device. Digital text can be easily transformed in many different ways depending upon student needs and the technology being used to display the content. To accommodate the needs and preferences of a user, various features can be manipulated such as size, fonts, colors, contrast, highlighting, and text-to-speech. The digital text format may contain both audio and visual output depending upon the way the content is developed and the technology that is being used.
Students who need AEM include those with a “Print Disability.” Print Disability is defined within U.S. Copyright Law under the provisions of the 1931 Act to Provide Books to the Adult Blind as Amended. Under this Act, individuals with a print disability are those who have been certified by a competent authority to be unable to read or use standard print materials because of:
The Chafee Amendment allows reproduction and distribution of educational materials in specialized formats such as braille, large print, audio, and digital exclusively for use by individuals with print disability.
Students who are deaf or hard of hearing may benefit from AEM. Learn more in the following articles:
Students who do not meet the definition of Print Disability may still need AEM. For these students, it is necessary to request accessible materials from the publisher, or explore alternative sources such as commercial vendors, open educational resources (OER) or teacher created materials (Do it Yourself or DIY). Whenever possible, schools should purchase materials which are accessible. Learn more about Universal Design for Learning and the Purchase Accessible Learning Materials (PALM) Initiative at:
Does the student need accessible educational materials (AEM) and or to have materials read aloud? Following are resources to assist in decision making.
A Functional Vision Assessment (FVA) assists educators in determining, among other things, what adaptations, modifications, and technology or other supports a student with visual impairment will need to participate in school. Find out more at http://www.afb.org/info/education/assessments/functional-vision-assessment-fva/235
A Learning Media Assessment (LMA) should be conducted following a FVA to help determine the best instructional medium/media for a given student, such as braille, print, auditory, tactile or some combination. The LMA considers a student's learning style, or the way in which he or she uses vision, touch, hearing, and other senses, either singularly or in combination, to gain access to information. Find out more at http://www.pathstoliteracy.org/learning-media-assessment
The Oklahoma School for the Blind Outreach Department can provide assistance and/or referrals for conducting FVA/LMA.
The Oklahoma School for the Blind is a Division of the Oklahoma Department of Rehabilitation Services.
The AEM Navigator is a process facilitator that guides the work of a collaborative team as they work through the AEM-related needs of individual students. The AEM Navigator provides a summary of your student’s needs and steps for implementation.
The AIM Explorer is a downloadable simulation tool for trying various accessibility features of AEM such as enlarging text, changing colors, or adding synthesized speech. The AIM Explorer provide a summary of the user’s chosen settings.
Protocols for Accommodations in Reading (PAR)
The Protocols for Accommodations in Reading (PAR) helps determine whether a student comprehends best with silent reading or by having materials read aloud. If read-aloud is needed, the PAR helps determine whether a human reader or synthetic speech is best. Schools may purchase the online interactive version of the PAR from Don Johnston, inc. or download the print version free.
Acquiring Specialized Formats and Related Assistive Technology (AT)
Oklahoma schools may acquire AEM for students from a variety of sources. Assistive Technology (AT) is sometimes needed to read specialized formats, or to make standard print more accessible when the optimal format is unavailable. Below are sources for acquiring specialized formats, AT devices, and additional resources.
|Formats of AEM||Image||Sources||Assistive Technology (AT)
AT is sometimes needed to read specialized formats or to make standard print more accessible when the specialized format is unavailable. Possible AT Options are listed below.
Liberty Braille provides textbooks and other curricular materials braille and large print, as well as select AT for reading specialized formats through a contract with the Oklahoma State Department of Education. http://libertybraille.com/
The Louis Database is a resource for locating specialized formats from various sources:
(recorded human voice or synthetic speech)
Learning Ally has some titles which feature recorded human voice plus text, and some titles with text plus synthesized voice.
Bookshare provides textbooks and other reading materials in digital format to individuals with print disability through a contract with the United States Department of Education Office of Special Education Programs.
The AIM Center at the Oklahoma Library for the Blind and Physically Handicapped provides select educational materials, teaching aids, and assistive technology
|Victor Reader Stream
Book Port DT
Book Port Plus
|Digital Text (* see software below)
(DAISY Format, Braille Ready Format, MP3, and more)
|* Software for reading digital text and/or audio||SOLO 6
Read:OutLoud Bookshare Edition
Victor Reader Bookshare Edition
Voice Dream Reader
Learning Ally Audio
|Magnifiers - Optical and electronic; handheld, desktop
Scan & Read systems
|Standard digital text||
Kindle Text-to-Speech Feature
(Built-in accessibility and Standalone software)
Ensuring Availability of Accessible Educational Materials (AEM)
Universal Design for Learning (UDL) is a set of principles for development of educational materials that give all individuals equal opportunities to learn. UDL provides a blueprint for creating instructional goals, methods, materials, and assessments that work for everyone--not a single, one-size-fits-all solution but rather flexible approaches that can be customized and adjusted for individual needs. Find UDL guidelines and resources at National Center on Universal Design for Learning
The PALM Initiative (Purchase Accessible Learning Materials) was launched to ensure that materials used in the classroom are designed to be useable by all students from the start. This requires adjustments in the way materials are purchased, and that, in turn, will drive the availability of more flexible and accessible learning materials in the marketplace. Read more at: http://aim.cast.org/learn/practice/palm#.VVzzXVIx6y5
NiMAC and NIMAS
The National Instructional Materials Accessibility Standard (NIMAS) is a standard file format established by the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) when it was reauthorized in 2004. NIMAS was created to make it easier for students with disabilities to access learning materials in the formats they need as quickly as possible. Electronic files of books created using the NIMAS are designed to be easily converted into specialized formats including braille, large print, audio, and digital text.
IDEA also mandated the establishment of the National Instructional Materials Access Center (NIMAC), http://nimac.us/, a national repository for publisher source files of textbooks and related core printed materials that are created according to the NIMAS technical specification. Oklahoma coordinates with the NIMAC as a means to provide specialized formats to qualifying students in a timely manner.
Who is Qualified to Receive NIMAS Textbooks?
Access to materials created from NIMAS files is limited to individuals who are 1) certified as having a print disability and 2) on an Individualized Education Program (IEP), meaning the student has undergone an evaluation and is, or will be, receiving special education services under IDEA.
How do you get NIMAS files?
The files that publishers submit to the NIMAC are not ready for student use, but must be converted to student ready formats by Accessible Media Producers (AMPs). AMPs are authorized to convert instructional materials into specialized formats of braille, large print, audio and digital. In addition to NIMAS source files, AMPs may produce materials submitted by a variety of other sources, such as individuals, schools, and publishers.
Local Educational Agencies (LEAs) are responsible for obtaining textbooks and other educational materials from AMPs. Bookshare, Learning Ally, and Liberty Braille are examples of AMPs that regularly convert NIMAS files into accessible formats for use by Oklahoma public school students who have print disability. Additional entities designated by the state of Oklahoma as Authorized Users of the NIMAC include ABLE Tech okabletech.okstate.edu, the AIM Center at the Oklahoma Library for the Blind and Physically Handicapped http://www.library.state.ok.us/aim/, and the Oklahoma School for the Blind http://osb.k12.ok.us/.
How can we ensure that Print Instructional Materials are available through the NIMAC?
By agreeing to deliver the materials marked with "NIMAS" on this contract or purchase order, the publisher agrees to prepare and submit, on or before ___/___/_____ a NIMAS fileset to the NIMAC that complies with the terms and procedures set forth by the NIMAC. The publisher also agrees to mark up materials eligible for NIMAS submission that contain mathematical and scientific instructional content by using the MathML3 (refer to latest applicable version) module of the DAISY/NIMAS Structure Guidelines as posted and maintained at the DAISY Consortium web site (http://www.daisy.org/z3986/structure/SG-DAISY3/index.html).
Should the vendor be a distributor of the materials and not the publisher, the distributor agrees to immediately notify the publisher of its obligation to submit NIMAS filesets of the purchased materials to the NIMAC. The files will be used for the production of specialized formats as permitted under the law for students with print disabilities.
Vendor represents that the digital instructional materials delivered under this contract or purchase order conform to, at a minimum, the standards for accessibility as set forth in—
Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, as amended (29 U.S.C. § 794d), and its implementing regulations (36 C.F.R. § 1194), or Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.0 (minimum of Level AA conformance).
Should any portion of the materials not conform to the aforementioned standards of accessibility, vendor agrees to provide a written explanation of the reason for non-conformance. Submission of a complete Voluntary Product Accessibility Template (VPAT) will satisfy the requirement to provide a written explanation. Vendor further agrees to provide alternative means for access to the instructional materials during the period of non-conformance to students who may qualify in accordance with the Act entitled "An Act to provide books for the adult blind" approved March 3, 1931 (2 U.S.C. 135a).
Assistive Technology for Visual Impairments or Blindness (YouTube link)