Print Disabilities 101: Q & A

We’ve had several questions recently concerning print disabilities and how to identify students who may have them so that we can appropriately intervene. Keep those coming. Repetition can be quite clarifying, particularly when the language is so tangled and acronym-laden. 

Can a student qualify for specialized formats through the ICAM if they are a “struggling reader?”

We would like to say yes, but it’s not so simple.

The ICAM was created to assist Indiana public schools in meeting the NIMAS regulations. To qualify for ICAM services, 2 items are required, with embedded functions.
  1. The student must have a current IEP.
  2. The Case Conference must indicate in the IEP the presence of a print disability, which must be confirmed by a certified competent authority. In addition, the IEP must indicate that the student has at least 1 of the 13 disabilities recognized by the IDEA that impedes his or her learning. This will be the disability for which the student is receiving special education services.
Can a student receive special education services with a documented print disability?

Print Disability is not one of the 13 Disability Categories under IDEA. The term “print disability” refers to the functional ability of a student who qualifies for special education services due to 1.) low vision/blindness, 2.) physical disability or 3.) specific learning disability and for whom print is a barrier to learning. 

The print disabilities are:

a) low vision/blindness, b) physical disability, and c) reading disability resulting from organic dysfunction. 

Word for word, a and b are in the IDEA list. “Reading disability” is alluded to in the list, as 
Specific Learning Disability, and is indicated in the IEP with a qualifier: "Specific Learning Disability in the area of reading".


What is meant by “organic dysfunction”?

The print disability that seems to cause the most confusion is c) reading disability resulting from organic dysfunction. Organic dysfunction refers to structural differences that lie in the neural pathways of the brain. 

Why is a doctor’s signature required for this print disability and not the others?

The IDEA established that doctors are the ones who can best determine the presence of organic dysfunction. We do not necessarily agree with this; it seems those who witness the student in a reading situation, such as an educator, would be the better authority here. Our hope is that this part of the law will be amended. 

Dyslexia is the most frequently identified reading disability resulting from organic dysfunction.

What is NIMAS and what does it have to do with print disabilities?

The IDEA 2004 added provisions for students with print disabilities; these are the NIMAS Regulations. The National Instructional Material Accessibility Standard is a file standard that is used to create braille, large print, audio and digital formats, the specialized formats for students with print disabilities.

If the student has a print disability, an IEP that documents this, and confirmation by the competent authority, then we say they are Chafee qualified to use previously published work without seeking copyright protection. The Chafee Law has its roots in the National Library Service for the Blind and Print Disabled Library of Congress.

May my student with other types of disabilities receive AEM through the ICAM?

Students with any of the disabilities on the IDEA list may qualify for AEM through the ICAM. First on the list is Autism. A student with Autism is not automatically Chafee qualified or disqualified. However, if the Case Conference Committee (CCC) determines that print is a barrier to their learning with their peers, then they may be Chafee qualified. This goes for the other disabilities in the list as well. 

So, a student is qualified for special education services by a disability recognized by the IDEA. Then, the CCC determines that print is a barrier to learning for the student and that by using the appropriate specialized format, the student can learn from the general curriculum.

Once a student has been identified with a print disability, then on the IEP, how should I answer the question, “Does this student require AEM?”

The answer to this question will always be “Yes.” A print disability and AEM will always work together. The CCC has tools to help determine which AEM may best benefit a student. To learn more about these tools, contact a PATINS Specialist

The IEP says that my student has a print disability and will benefit from audiobooks. Isn't this giving them an unfair advantage over the other students?

The answer to this question will always be "No." Print is a barrier to their learning, hence the term “print disability.” Audiobooks remove the barrier and bring their reading up to grade level and beyond. Then, they can truly benefit from their education. This is called “Ear Reading.” You would no more take this away from a student than you would their prescription eyeglasses.

While reading this you may have formulated more questions, so just ask! We love to help teachers unravel issues that help students.

Thanks so much!
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Comments 1

Guest - Glenda Thompson on Tuesday, 11 February 2020 12:44

So many valuable resources you have provided us readers all in one post for quick reference.
TYMM (Thank you Miss Martha)


So many valuable resources you have provided us readers all in one post for quick reference. TYMM (Thank you Miss Martha):D
Guest
Wednesday, 19 February 2020

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