Selection/Acquisition of AEM and AT

Accessible Educational Materials logoThe decision about how to select and acquire Accessible Educational Materials (AEM) and Assistive Technology (AT) depends on the age of the individual in need. Please use the links below for detailed information:

  • School-aged – Children 5 to 21 enrolled in Kindergarten through high school
  • Post-secondary – Students in college or graduate school

School-Aged Students – Selection of AEM

Once the local school-based team has identified a student has having a print disability, the next question is deciding what kind, or kinds of Accessible Educational Materials (AEM) and related assistive technology (AT) the student will need and how to acquire those materials.

The selection of specialized format(s) must be carefully matched to the needs and preferences of the student. In addition to the expertise of the school-based team, specialists and service providers can support the decision through consultations and assessments of the student’s needs.

The SETT framework (Student  – Environment – Tasks – Tools) developed by Joy Zabala, is available to provide an organizational structure, and to guide teams through the decision-making process of selecting the appropriate specialized format(s) for a student. The SETT framework was developed and typically used for considering a student’s need for Assistive Technology (AT), but it can be adapted for the purpose of AIM.

Individualized Education Program (IEP), Assistive Technology (AT) and Accessible Educational Materials (AEM)

During the IEP Team process, members must discuss and document the specific requirements including:

  • Evaluation Results
  • Present Levels of Performance
  • Special Factors (Special Education & Related Services, Supplementary Aids & Services, Program Modifications, and Supports)
  • Annual Goals
  • Postsecondary Goals and Transition Services

The Maine Department of Education – Office of Special Services – provides an official IEP Form to be used by schools here in Maine. There are three sections that cover issues related to AEM and AT. Please also see the Chapter 101: Maine Unified Special Education Regulation Birth to Age Twenty (MUSER) for complete details of the regulations

The “prompts” to the IEP Team include:

D. If the child is blind or visually impaired, does the child require instruction in Braille and the use of Braille? (MUSER IX.3.C.(2)(c))


E. Does the child have a print disability that requires accessible educational materials (AEM) to access the curriculum? (MUSER IX.3.C.(2)(c))


i. If yes, what type of accessible instructional materials (AIM) does the student require? If yes, where is this addressed in the IEP?

G. Does the child need assistive technology devices and services? (MUSER IX.3.C.(2)(e)) 

School-Aged Students – Acquisition of AEM

High quality AEM can be acquired in a number of ways, including direct purchase from publishers or accessible media producers, from special repositories of instructional materials (e.g., Maine’s Instructional Materials Center, Bookshare, Learning Ally), through downloads of open source and copyright-free materials from the Internet, and through manual conversion of instructional materials by instructional staff. How the accessible format of a material is acquired depends on factors related to the student and the source of the material.

An important step in any school’s protocol is collaboration with classroom teachers to ensure that books and instructional materials are acquired or converted in a timely manner. The earlier schools select the books and instructional materials needed, the more likely that student with a print disability will receive them in a timely manner.

Use these links below for more information about the acquisition of specific accessible formats

Post Secondary

In post-secondary education settings, Accessible Educational Materials – AEM is traditionally referred to as “materials in alternative format,” which are the same specialized formats of print-based texts: digital text, audio, large print, and braille. Disability support personnel (DSP) in higher education institutions are responsible for providing materials in alternative format for qualifying students with print disabilities, including blindness and low vision; physical disabilities; and learning disabilities in the area of reading.

rev: 09/04/2020