Accessible Instructional Materials/Accessible Educational Materials
Framework (What’s Required):
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 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.
Senior Manager for Occupational Therapy, Physical Therapy, and Assistive Technology Services
Instructional/Educational materials are expected to be made available to students in accessible formats within a reasonable timeline. Most materials are expected to be created in an accessible format thereby requiring no delay in providing accessible format for the students who require an accessible format.
Methods (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 need of the learner and/or type of material:
For students not identified as a student with a disability under the ADA, 504 or the IDEA, schools can provide print/text-based materials whether paper based, digital document (ie. Microsoft Word document or Adobe pdf document, etc.), or web-based material using the Kurzweil 3000® software.
For students with a disability identified under the ADA, 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): The Houston ISD requires that all print/text based instructional/educational materials purchased as of the 2014-2015 school year be made available in digital formats and meet the Houston ISD accessibility standards.
All students may have print/text-based materials provided in a digital or audio format by using the Kurzweil 3000® software.
We recommend students qualifying as a student with a disability under 504 or the IDEA, who also meet the eligibility requirements as a student with a print disability, are added to the district level Bookshare® and/or Learning Ally® accounts. Schools may identify one teacher or administrator to be a sponsor for the school in these accounts. School sponsors are added to this account after completing the sponsor training provided by the Office of Special Education Services. Contact the Senior Manager for OT, PT, and AT services for training dates/times.
Students with visual impairments are provided assistive technology devices providing them access to instructional/educational materials specifically identified to meet their individual learning needs through the recommendations 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):
The Houston ISD requires all video/audio based instructional/educational materials purchased as of the 2014-2105 school year be made available with closed captioning. Teachers accessing video/audio materials through the Internet are encouraged to select materials with closed captioning.
Students with auditory impairments are supported with accommodations and/or assistive technology devices providing them 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. These access needs are documented in the student’s individualized educational program (IEP). Digital (computer, web-based):
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 access to instructional/educational materials. These supports are specifically identified to meet their 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 supports 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.