Medical Doctor Certification No Longer Required for Reading Disabilities

From the National Center on Accessible Educational Materials (NC-AEM)

NLS Publishes New Regulations: Medical Doctor Certification No Longer Required for Reading Disabilities

student with stack of booksWe’re pleased to inform you of important regulatory changes that should ease access to accessible formats of materials for students with reading disabilities, including dyslexia.

Background

In March of 2020, we sent a notification about changes to U.S. copyright law that have an impact on students served under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) and may also qualify to receive accessible formats of materials derived from the National Instructional Materials Accessibility Standard (NIMAS). At that time, the Library of Congress Technical Corrections Act of 2019 had amended terminology for persons eligible to receive accessible materials consistent with the Marrakesh Treaty Implementation Act (MTIA).

Please see the following section of our website for details about that March 2020 notification: NIMAS Terms Clarified Post Marrakesh. You may also recall that in January of 2020 the U.S. Department of Education included information and language about the impact of changes made by the MTIA within procedures for receiving a FFY 2020 Part B grant award. 

Update

On February 12, 2021, the National Library Service (NLS) published the regulations that go along with the Library of Congress Technical Corrections Act of 2019. In addition to expanding the list of persons who may certify a student’s eligibility for accessible formats, the Library of Congress removed the requirement for certification by a medical doctor for those with reading disabilities. Educators, school psychologists, and certified reading specialists are now among the professionals authorized to certify students with reading disabilities.

Read the Library of Congress’s final rule: Loans of Library Materials for Blind and Other Print-Disabled Persons: A Rule by the Library of Congress on 02/12/2021.

The National AEM Center will be providing technical assistance to states and districts to support the implementation of these changes. Our team welcomes any immediate questions or concerns. Please contact us at aem@cast.org.

In these otherwise challenging times, we’re relieved to celebrate this advancement in access with you, your students, and their families.

Sincerely,

Cynthia Curry
Director of Technical Assistance, CAST
Director of the National AEM Center

 

National Library Service for the Blind and Print Disabled (NLS) issues new guidelines

NIMAC logoNational Library Service for the Blind and Print Disabled (NLS) has issued new eligibility guidelines for their services. The guidelines have been revised to align them with changes to copyright made by the Marrakesh Treaty Implementation Act (MTIA).

While the new guidelines are important for NSL users, they also have an impact on National Instructional Materials Access Standard – NIMAS eligibility criteria. The revised Individuals with Disabilities Education Act of 2004 – IDEA 2004 requires that students have an IEP and a qualifying disability in order to be eligible for materials produced from NIMAS. For the qualifying disability criterion, the legislation points to the NLS guidelines. For this reason, it is recommended that all National Instructional Materials Access Center – NIMAC users review the new guidelines.

A significant and positive change for NIMAS noted is that the pool of professionals that qualify to certify eligibility has been expanded to read:

(2) Eligibility must be certified by one of the following: doctor of medicine, doctor of osteopathy, ophthalmologist, optometrist, psychologist, registered nurse, therapist, and professional staff of hospitals, institutions, and public or welfare agencies (such as an educator, a social worker, case worker, counselor, rehabilitation teacher, certified reading specialist, school psychologist, superintendent, or librarian).

The NIMAC will soon be updating its Limitation of Use Agreements and Coordination Agreements to incorporate the updated language, and providing additional guidance related to the change.

 

Providing Related Services to Enhance the Continuity of Learning

OSEP Webinar: Highlighting Strategies and Practices in Providing Related Services to Enhance the Continuity of Learning During COVID-19

June 29, 2020
2:00 – 3:00 PM EDT

Ideas that Work - Office of Special Education Programs - U.S. Department of Education

The Office of Special Education Programs (OSEP) is hosting the second in a series of webinars focused on ready-to-use resources, tools, and practices from OSEP partners to support the educational, developmental, behavioral, and social/emotional needs of infants, toddlers, children, and youth with disabilities through remote and distance learning.

This second webinar will focus on the provision of related services. In addition to highlighting OSEP resources, we will be joined by representatives from several of our related service national organizations. Additional information will be posted on OSEP’s COVID-19 Resource Page. 

Use this link to register for this OSEP webinar…

If you have any questions about the OSEP webinar, please contact the Webinar Series planning team at osep-meeting@air.org.

2020 Guide for Maine Families on AT and AEM Published

EducationThe Maine CITE Assistive Technology Program is pleased to release the revised Guide for Maine Families on Assistive Technology and Accessible Educational Materials. The 2020 Guide provides Maine families who have children with disabilities an easy to use resource describing how to get the assistive technology (AT) devices and services they need. Information about accessible education materials (AEM) and families’ important role in the planning process are also provided.

The 2020 Guide updates general information about AT and AEM. It includes new resources about assistive technology used during “learning at home” activities, as well as AT device demonstration and loan services – AT4Maine.org.

Use this link to download the The 2020 Guide – PDF

Feds provide clarification on definition of print materials

The Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services (OSERS), Department of Education has announced a “Final notice of interpretation” regarding the definition of “print instructional materials’’ in the Individuals with Disability Education Act – IDEA regarding digital instructional materials. In this final interpretation, effective May 26, 2020, OSERS noted the “trend” toward digital materials in classrooms, a far different landscape from 2004 when IDEA was last amended and the National Instructional Materials Access Center (NIMAC) was created. At that time, the vast majority of instructional materials were printed on paper and NIMAC was implemented to allow for the schools to convert printed instructional materials into specialized formats for a student with a print disability in a timely manner.

According to the announcement in the Federal Register Vol. 85, No. 101 of May 26, 2020:

“…the Department interprets the phrase ‘printed textbooks and related printed core  materials’ referred to in the definition of ‘print instructional materials’ in section 674(e)(3)(C) of IDEA (20 U.S.C. 1474(e)(3)(C)) to include digital instructional materials that comply with NIMAS, because that is the primary medium through which many textbooks and core materials are now produced.”

The full announcement in the May 26th Federal Register may be downloaded in PDF on the govinfo.gov website.

Read more about Laws and Policies related to AEM…

US Department of Education updates guidance

The United States Department of Education (USDOE), in response to apparent incorrect assumptions being made across the nation, that providing educational services to student with disabilities via “distance instruction” presents too many barriers. On March 21, 2920 the USDOE published, Supplemental Fact Sheet Addressing the Risk of COVID-19 in Preschool, Elementary and Secondary Schools While Serving Children with Disabilities. 

This guidance states the following:

At the outset, OCR and OSERS must address a serious misunderstanding that has recently circulated within the educational community. As school districts nationwide take necessary steps to protect the health and safety of their students, many are moving to virtual or online education (distance instruction). Some educators, however, have been reluctant to provide any distance instruction because they believe that federal disability law presents insurmountable barriers to remote education. This is simply not true. We remind schools they should not opt to close or decline to provide distance instruction, at the expense of students, to address matters pertaining to services for students with disabilities. Rather, school systems must make local decisions that take into consideration the health, safety, and well-being of all their students and staff.

To be clear: ensuring compliance with the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), † Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act (Section 504), and Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act should not prevent any school from offering educational programs through distance instruction. School districts must provide a free and appropriate public education (FAPE) consistent with the need to protect the health and safety of students with disabilities and those individuals providing education, specialized instruction, and related services to these students. In this unique and ever-changing environment, OCR and OSERS recognize that these exceptional circumstances may affect how all educational and related services and supports are provided, and the Department will offer flexibility where possible. However, school districts must remember that the provision of FAPE may include, as appropriate, special education and related services provided through distance instruction provided virtually, online, or  telephonically.

The Department understands that, during this national emergency, schools may not be able to provide all services in the same manner they are typically provided. While some schools might choose to safely, and in accordance with state law, provide certain IEP services to some students in-person, it may be unfeasible or unsafe for some institutions, during current emergency school closures, to provide hands-on physical therapy, occupational therapy, or tactile sign language educational services. Many disability-related modifications and services may be effectively provided online. These may include, for instance, extensions of time for assignments, videos with accurate captioning or embedded sign language interpreting, accessible reading materials, and many speech or language services through video conferencing.

It is important to emphasize that federal disability law allows for flexibility in determining how to meet the individual needs of students with disabilities. The determination of how FAPE is to be provided may need to be different in this time of unprecedented national emergency. As mentioned above, FAPE may be provided consistent with the need to protect the health and safety of students with disabilities and those individuals providing special education and related
services to students. Where, due to the global pandemic and resulting closures of schools, there has been an inevitable delay in providing services – or even making decisions about how to provide services – IEP teams (as noted in the March 12, 2020 guidance) must make an individualized determination whether and to what extent compensatory services may be needed when schools resume normal operations.

Finally, although federal law requires distance instruction to be accessible to students with disabilities, it does not mandate specific methodologies. Where technology itself imposes a barrier to access or where educational materials simply are not available in an accessible format, educators may still meet their legal obligations by providing children with disabilities equally effective alternate access to the curriculum or services provided to other students. For example, if a teacher who has a blind student in her class is working from home and cannot distribute a document accessible to that student, she can distribute to the rest of the class an inaccessible document and, if appropriate for the student, read the document over the phone to the blind student or provide the blind student with an audio recording of a reading of the document aloud.

Download and read this entire PDF document: Supplemental Fact Sheet Addressing the Risk of COVID-19 in Preschool, Elementary and Secondary Schools While Serving Children with Disabilities…

Online teaching resources for Maine educators

Providing Equal Access to Distance Curriculum

As schools in Maine close in response to concerns about the spread of COVID-19 and begin to educate their students “from a distance,” we offer some resources to assist in the process.

This resource includes links to articles, videos and services which will assist Maine educators to ensure access to all of their students as they move to teaching online. There are also some references for therapists.

Use this link to go to Resources for Maine Educators Teaching Online

Thanks to our colleagues for sharing their resources. We acknowledge the work of Hillary Goldthwait-Fowles, PhD, ATP of RSU 21, Kennebunk, ME and Mike Marotta, Director, The Richard West Assistive Technology Advocacy Center, NJ, and Luis Perez, Ed.D. from the National Center on Accessible Educational Materials.

Accessible Media and Services for Students

Blind person walking in mall with guide dogThe Described and Captioned Media Program (DCMP) is a leading national source for accessible educational content, providing services for students who are blind, visually impaired, deaf, hard of hearing, or deaf-blind. Families and school personnel with early learners through Grade 12 students can register for free access to over 6,000 Educational Media titles on-demand and on DVD. DCMP’s Learning Center contains a wealth of information related to education, accessibility, deafness, blindness, and other related topics. DCMP provides Media Accessibility Guidelines through our Captioning Key and Description Key, used by media professionals as well as amateurs around the world.

The Described and Captioned Media Program provides premium media designed for students with disabilities and leads as a resource for families and teachers, supported by the federal Department of Education.

A recent additions to their website, Is Your Student Ready for What Comes Next? provides a set of resources to assist students in the Transition process. Some of the resources include:

  • Map It: What Comes Next is a free, online, interactive training designed for transition-aged students who are deaf or hard of hearing.
  • The Getting a Job! online training was developed and designed for students who are deaf or hard of hearing and the professionals who work with them.  Focusing on the transition from school to work, the training offers a series of activities, supporting documents and topical videos designed to help the job seeker prepare for the world of work.  All the videos in the modules are presented in ASL, and are also voiced in English and captioned.

Additional videos and resources include:

  • Real Life 101: College Prep – With college just ahead of them, the hosts visit with some people who help students prepare for this milestone.
  • Real Life 101: Vocational Training – In this video a career planner discusses how to find the right career for the right person.
  • Paying Your Way Through College – This video helps viewers understand four-key financial aid sources: scholarships, grants, work-study, and student loans.
  • Biz Kid$ – Public television’s Emmy Award-winning financial education series of 65 videos for teens and preteens. Each video has a lesson guide, and the Biz Kid$ website has many additional ideas for learning activities.

Most of the resources on the website require a FREE DCMP membership which may be applied for on the site.

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.

 

Revised Transition Guide published

From the U.S. Department of Education…

Seal of the US Dept of EducationThe Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services (OSERS), of the U.S. Department of Education (Department), is pleased to publish, A Transition Guide to Postsecondary Education and Employment for Students and Youth with Disabilities.

OSERS’ mission is to improve early childhood, educational, and employment outcomes and raise expectations for all individuals with disabilities, their families, their communities, and the nation. To assist students and youth with disabilities to achieve their post-school and career goals, Congress enacted two key statutes that address the provision of transition services: the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) and the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 (Rehabilitation Act), as amended by Title IV of the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA). The IDEA is administered by the Office of Special Education Programs (OSEP), and Titles I, III, and VI, section 509, and
chapter 2 of Title VII of the Rehabilitation Act are administered by the Rehabilitation Services Administration (RSA). OSEP and RSA, both components of OSERS, provide oversight and guidance regarding the administration and provision of transition services by State educational agencies (SEAs), local educational agencies (LEAs), and State Vocational Rehabilitation (VR) agencies.

Both the IDEA and the Rehabilitation Act make clear that transition services require a coordinated set of activities for a student with a disability within an outcome-oriented process. This process promotes movement from school to post-school activities, such as postsecondary education, and includes vocational training, and competitive integrated employment. Active student involvement, family engagement, and cooperative implementation of transition activities, as well as coordination and collaboration between the VR agency, the SEA, and the LEAs are essential to the creation of a process that results in no undue delay or disruption in service delivery. The student’s transition from school to postschool activities is a shared responsibility.

OSERS presents this transition guide to advance our efforts in ensuring that all students and youth with disabilities are equipped with the skills and knowledge to be engaged in the 21st Century workforce.

Download/read a copy of A Transition Guide to Postsecondary Education and Employment for Students and Youth with Disabilities from the OSERS’ website – PDF - requires plugin