How are decisions about AEM and AT made?

groups of students and teacher in classroom viewing digital contentConsideration of the need for Assistive Technology (AT) or Accessible Educational Materials (AEM) is required for all students with disabilities, regardless of the nature of the disability. Determining whether a student needs AT or AEM requires a team decision-making process.

Decisions about AEM

The key consideration for AEM is the student’s functional ability to use and learn from the standard print materials used across the curriculum. For example, the team should discuss the extent to which a student can:

  • see/perceive text on a page.
  • hold and turn the pages of a book or other collection of papers.
  • sit upright and stay alert for sufficient periods of time.
  • read for required lengths of time without tiring.
  • decode letters and words.
  • read with fluency.

If the student has a disability that interferes with using or learning from curriculum materials, AEM may be needed. Resources to support the team in the AEM decision-making process include the AEM Navigator and the AIM Explorer from the National Center on Accessible Educational Materials External link.

Decisions about AT

Considering the need for AT requires the team to discuss the student’s educational goals and whether the student can complete required learning tasks and other activities using standard classroom tools or if AT is required. The team may be aware of technology solutions for consideration, or a referral for an AT consultation may be appropriate. The SETT Framework is available to teams as a guide to the AT consideration processes.

AEM and AT in the IEP

For students eligible for Special Education services, the Individualized Education Program (IEP) team is responsible for determining a student’s educational supports and services, including whether the student needs AEM or AT. Both are included as considerations in Section 3 of Maine’s IEP Form. See Maine Department of Education IEP Form and AEM.

AEM and AT in Section 504 Plans

A student with a disability may not qualify for Special Education services but still need AT to fully participate in educational programs. Under Section 504, the provision of an AT device and related services may be part of an accommodation plan to assist a student with disability in accessing the general education curriculum.

More Resources

The QIAT Leadership Team. (2012). Quality Indicators for Assistive Technology: QI 1, 2, and 3.


Photo credit: Image licensed through Creative Commons by the US Department of Education.
rev: 8/31/2020