Identifying Students with Print Disabilities

Accessible Educational Materials logoA student with a print disability is one who is unable to gain information from standard print materials and needs an alternative or specialized format. Print disabilities are related to blindness and low vision; physical disabilities; or learning disabilities. Read more about print disabilities.

In Maine public schools, the process of identifying a student with a print disability, and therefore the need for Assistive Technology (AT) and Accessible Educational Materials (AEM), is a collaborative process of a school-based team, such as the:

  • Individual Education Program (IEP) Team
  • Section 504 team
  • Student Assistance or Support Team (SAT or SST)
  • Response to Intervention (RTI) team
  • Pre-referral team

Within any of these team structures, a student’s needs are determined, and recommendations for accommodations, modifications, or interventions are made. One consideration for students who have difficulty with accessing and learning from standard print materials is the potential existence of a print disability.

Evaluations and AEM

As required by the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), student evaluations should cover all areas of a suspected disability, use a variety of assessment tools and strategies, and obtain information to assist in developing the content of the IEP. When a print disability is suspected, the evaluation data should assist the IEP Team in answering the following questions:

  • Is printed text a barrier for the student?
  • Does the student need AEM?
  • Does the student need AT to access specialized formats (braille, audio, digital and/or large print)?

The IEP Team also needs to consider the following:

  • Does the student need instruction in braille or use of braille in relation to AEM?
  • Does the student need AEM to perceive and interact with written or aurally presented information?
  • Does the student need AT to perceive and interact with specialized formats of printed materials (e.g., digital braille, audio, digital text)?



rev: 09/03/2020