New and Updated AEM resources from NC-AEM

National Center on Accessible Educational Materials logoThe following new and revised publications are now available on-line from the National Center on Accessible Educational Materials:

Procuring Accessible Digital Materials

Accessibility of digital materials and technologies for all learners, including students with disabilities, has captured the attention of stakeholders on both sides of the education marketplace – from consumers to developers. To help all stakeholders take advantage of this moment, a new AEM Center publication on the procurement of accessible digital materials explains what accessibility means, why it’s important, who requires it, and how educational agencies can meet their responsibilities.

Use this link to view/download, “Procuring Accessible Digital Materials and Technologies for Teaching and Learning: The What, Why, Who, and How”

Accessible Educational Materials and Technologies in the IEP

Originally published in 2015, this 2018 update of Accessible Educational Materials and Technologies in the IEP discusses a number of locations in the IEP where it might be appropriate to refer to a student’s use of AEM. Did you know there’s no specific requirement in IDEA regarding where to include AEM in developing the IEP? This article provides guidance for states, districts, and IEP teams. Two of the authors presented a webinar on AEM in the IEP in early May.

Use this link to view/download, “Accessible Educational Materials and Technologies in the IEP”

NC-AEM offering accessibility training to k-12 educators

Making Everyday Curriculum Materials Accessible for All Learners

National Center on Accessible Educational Materials logoThe National AEM Center invites new K-12 educators to participate in a free professional development opportunity to improve the accessibility of the materials students use for learning. Many students with disabilities experience barriers to using curriculum materials due to physical, sensory, or learning disabilities. The outcome of the offered professional development is that you will improve students’ access to the same curriculum materials as their classmates. 

For this learning opportunity, educators in their first, second, or third year of teaching are being targeted, however, all interested participants are welcome. Small groups from the same school or district are encouraged.

Open Registration is 5/8/18 – 2/5/19: Participant need only register once during the open registration period and are welcome to do so at any time.

Topics

Five topics have been selected for online modules related to providing accessible classroom materials. The five topics are directly relevant to the curricular materials you use with students on a daily basis:

One topic will be introduced every seven weeks, with varied options for independent practice between them. Participants will select activities according to the time and effort you choose to commit; based on your choices, the time commitment will range from approximately one to three hours per seven-week topic. AEM Center staff will hold virtual office hours to support practice between topics, and participants will have the option to learn from one another over social media. 

Please use this link for more information and register for this free training…

AEM for school-based therapists webinar archived

Lincoln School, PortlandFor your viewing pleasure, we have posted the archive recording of the May 16, 2018 webinar with Kathy Adams and Shannon McFarland entitled, Accessible Educational Materials (AEM) for School Based Therapists. This webinar informs therapists who work in schools about the steps for implementing AEM for their students who need them. Sections of the Maine IEP form that pertain to Assistive Technology (AT) and AEM were discussed.

All of the referenced websites, resources and handouts are also available

Please use this link to visit and view the archived version of Accessible Educational Materials (AEM) for School Based Therapists.

New Website Accessibility Technical Assistance Initiative from US-DOE

Website - construction sceneMAY 17, 2018

WASHINGTON — The U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights (OCR) today announced it is launching a new technical assistance initiative to assist schools, districts, state education agencies, libraries, colleges and universities in making their websites and online programs accessible to individuals with disabilities.

Through webinars, OCR will provide information technology professionals with vital information on website accessibility, including tips for making their online programs accessible. The initiative announced today, on Global Accessibility Awareness Day, builds on OCR’s history of providing technical assistance on this issue to hundreds of stakeholders.

“As more educational opportunities are delivered online, we need to ensure those programs, services and activities are accessible to everyone,” said U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos, “OCR’s technical assistance will help us continue to forge important partnerships with schools for the benefit of students and parents with disabilities.”

OCR will offer the first three webinars on the following dates:

Webinar I: May 29, 2018, at 1:00 p.m. EDT
Webinar II: June 5, 2018, at 1:00 p.m. EDT
Webinar III: June 12, 2018, at 1:00 p.m. EDT

If you are interested in participating in any of these webinars, please send your request to OCRWebAccessTA@ed.gov; include your name, preferred webinar and contact information. You are encouraged to invite your vendors to attend these webinars.

Information regarding the scheduling and registration for additional webinars is available on the Department’s website…


Photo credit: Image licensed through Creative Commons by medithIT

US DOE Looking for Stories

StudentsRepublished from ACTEM’s newsletter Connected Educator

by Jennifer Orr, NBCT, 3rd grade teacher

Jennifer approached ACTEM in the hopes that they might be able to recommend a few great examples of work happening in schools or districts that might fit into one of the topics listed below.

I am working with the Office of Educational Technology (OET) at the U.S. Department of Education to research and write a collection of stories for the OET Story Tool as part of a new pilot project and I was hoping ACTEM
readers might be able to help us!

The OET has a Story Tool that collects and shares short narratives that describe exemplary educational technology policies and practices in schools across the country. See some example stories on the US-DOE website…

Specifically, we are looking for stories on certain topics including:

  • Technology use w/early learners
  • Accessibility and universal design for learning
  • Active use of technology (e.g. AR/VR, games, coding, media production, etc.)
  • STEM/STEAM

Each story will identify a challenge faced by a school, district, or state as well as how the institution leveraged technology to address the challenge. In highlighting these stories, we hope to provide actionable examples that other schools, districts, or states might learn from and replicate.

If you have a story to tell, please contact Jennifer Orr directly at: jenorr@gmail.com. Each collection will include ten stories, so it isn’t guaranteed that every story will be highlighted in this round.

Grand plan for new e-publishing tool

From E-Access Bulletin…

“Born accessible” e-books is the grand plan for new e-publishing tool – A free tool to test e-book content for accessibility errors has been launched.

electronic books on various devicesThe ‘Ace’ tool has been developed by the DAISY Consortium, a global organisation working to improve and promote accessible publishing and reading. The aim is to improve e-book usability for a wider audience and eliminate the barriers to reading e-books encountered by people with disabilities.

Ace works by assessing content published in the widely used EPUB format. Automated checks are performed and accessibility issues are flagged-up in a report generated by the tool.

The hope is that the tool will assist the publishing industry and authors in creating e-books that conform to the EPUB Accessibility specification. Speaking to e-Access Bulletin, DAISY Consortium’s Chief Operating Officer Avneesh Singh said: “We expect the publishing industry to use Ace widely, integrate it in their production workflows and improve accessibility of all their publications over time, leading to ‘born accessible’ publications.”

However, Ace’s developers are keen to stress the tool’s limitations as well as its benefits. They point out that Ace performs only automated checks and does not provide a complete picture of all possible accessibility violations, and should therefore be used alongside other forms of testing and evaluation.

Read the entire article on  E-Access Bulletin…

Subscription to e-Access Bulletin is completely free. You will be sent a monthly, text-only email newsletter on the latest developments in digital accessibility and assistive technology. To subscribe please click through to their sign-up page at lists.headstar.com .

 

Accessible PDF Webinar available in archive

icons of commonly used softwareOn February 14th we recorded Making PDFs into Accessible Educational Materials,  a 60-minute webinar with John Brandt and Hillary Goldthwait-Fowles, Ph.D., ATP

In this session, we discussed the importance of making all education materials accessible, how to ensure your PDF files “make the grade,” and various tools and techniques that can be used to help fix and rescue some documents.

View the webinar – “Making PDF’s into Accessible Educational Materials…

 

New Family Guide on AT and AEM Published

Students using Assistive TechnologyThe Maine CITE Coordinating Center is excited to announce the release of the revised parent resource entitled, “Guide for Maine Families on Assistive Technology (AT) and Accessible Educational Materials (AEM).”

The revised Guide is for Maine families of children who have disabilities ages 3 to 21 years who are eligible for services and/or programs under the federal Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). This guide will assist families to get necessary assistive technology (AT) devices and services and accessible educational materials (AEM) for their children.

Here is the link to a MS-Word document version for you to download and print.

Feel free to share the link with others and to download and print out copies of the Guide if you need “hard copy.” The digital document is fully accessible.

If you find information that is no longer accurate, please contact the Maine CITE Coordinating Center – we welcome your input.

New Choice in Braille Transcription Software

This new product was recently announced by American Printing House for the Blind…

Person reading BrailleBrailleBlaster™ is a braille transcription program developed by the American Printing House for the Blind to help transcribers provide blind students with braille textbooks on the first day of class.

BrailleBlaster takes advantage of the rich markup contained in NIMAS (National Instructional Materials Accessibility Standard) files to automate basic formatting and gives you tools to make advanced tasks quicker and easier. Designed primarily for editing textbooks that meet the specifications published by the Braille Authority of North America, the purpose of BrailleBlaster is to help braille producers ensure that every student has their hard-copy braille textbooks on the first day of class.

BrailleBlaster relies on Liblouis, a well-known open-source braille translator, for translating text and mathematics to braille.

Features include:

  • Translate braille accurately in UEB or EBAE
  • Format braille
  • Automate line numbered poetry and prose
  • Split books into volumes
  • Add transcriber notes
  • Describe images
  • Automate braille table of contents, glossaries, preliminary pages and special symbols pages
  • Automate a variety of table styles
  • Translate and edit single line math

The development of BrailleBlaster and modifications to Liblouis are part of the REAL Plan (Resources with Enhanced Accessibility for Learning). The REAL Plan is an ongoing initiative of the American Printing House for the Blind to improve the conversion and delivery of braille and other accessible formats to students who are blind.

Learn more about Braille Blaster…

AIM to AEM

The Maine Accessible Instructional Materials (AIM) Program is now the Maine Accessible Educational Materials (AEM) Program.

Accessible Educational Materials logoAlthough the Program’s mission is essentially the same, we have broadened our work to include a wider view. In the initial stages of the program, we focused on AIM, specifically the “specialized formats (Braille, large print, digital audio and electronic text)” identified in the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA04). Over the years, the Program has expanded to provide training and technical assistance on materials and communications used in schools including accessible digital documents and web sites. We have also expanded to provide assistance to colleges and universities and those offering services to people with disabilities in the workplace.

In summer of 2017, the Maine Department of Education revised section 3D (Considerations – Including Special Factors) of the official Individualized Education Program (IEP) form replacing AIM with AEM. While not changing IEP Teams’ obligations to consider Assistive Technology and AEM when developing the IEP, the terminology on the form is now consistent with this broadened view.

As we move forward, the Maine AEM Program will continue to provide training and technical assistance on issues related to the selection, acquisition and use of specialized formatted educational materials.