Accessible Educational Materials

Below are 5 documents from the National Technical Center for Accessible Educational Materials. As schools make plans to purchase digital textbooks, reading materials, eLearning delivery systems, software, hardware, and more, it is very IMPORTANT to keep in mind that this is the time to create demand for accessible educational materials.

  1. PALM Memo: As classrooms start to incorporate more digital technology, it becomes increasingly important 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. We are launching the PALM Initiative (Purchase Accessible Learning Materials) to ensure this change happens as soon as possible.

  1. Why Buy Accessible: Far too frequently those who are charged with purchasing instructional materials and content delivery systems for schools mistakenly assume that a digital purchase is an accessible purchase. The question arises, does “digital” equal “accessible for all students?”

  1. What are Accessible Learning Materials: Accessible learning materials are educational materials that are fully usable by all students. To ensure this is possible, both the content and the technology used to deliver and interact with the content need to be accessible, so both must be considered. For example, both an e-book (content) and an e-book reader (delivery system) need to be accessible. The same applies to e-learning systems. A computer used to access the information and the content within an e-learning system needs to be accessible. If only one component is accessible, then the materials will not be accessible to all learners.

  1. Guidance for Purchasers: In purchasing learning materials, there are many factors that must be considered. One of the most important points, but sometimes under-considered, is accessibility. Generally, materials are considered accessible if all students, despite knowledge, skills, and abilities, are able to use them successfully. Of course, determining if materials will be effective for all students quickly becomes complicated.

  2. E-Books for Education? Not so Fast...: While we agree the potential is great, many e-book-related products currently available in the market are not usable by whole segments of the population. Individuals with certain disabilities often cannot use hardware-based and software-based e-book readers.Much of the coverage of e-book products in recent months especially Kindle Fire and products based on Apple’s new iBook platform—has focused on the potential of these products to revolutionize educational publishing.

AIM Resources for Families

The National Center on Accessible Instructional Materials and PACER Center have published a technical guide for families and advocates explaining accessible instructional materials and how they may benefit students with disabilities. This guide is available to download at no cost, and print copies are also available.

Article: Department of Education Issues Guidance on Rights of Students With Disabilities When Educational Institutions Use Technology

The ICAM (Indiana Center for Accessible Materials) has created a tutorial that will acquaint families with the decision making process of the Case Conference Committee, the value of parental input, and how the ICAM resources can help families in and out of school. It provides links to important websites for families.

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