What Is A Print Disability?

Accessible Educational Materials logoA print disability is NOT an new disability classification, but refers to the functional ability of a student with a disability such as blindness, low vision, learning disabilities or physical disabilities to make use of printed content.

print disability is easiest to understand when considering how the student interacts with printed materials. A student with a print disability is one who is unable to gain information from printed materials at an anticipated level for their grade, and needs alternative access or an accessible format (i.e., Braille, Large Print, Audio, Digital text) to gain information from and use those materials. Print disabilities commonly affect students with blindness, visual impairments, learning disabilities or other physical conditions that make it difficult to hold or manipulate educational materials.

The Maine AEM Community of Practice has suggests the following functional definition:

A condition related to blindness, visual impairment, specific learning disability or other physical condition in which the student needs an alternative or specialized format (i.e., Braille, Large Print, Audio, Digital text) in order to access and gain information from conventional printed materials.

Who determines if a student has a Print Disability?

For Maine students eligible for Special Education services under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), the IEP Team is responsible for determining a student’s educational supports and services including whether the student has a print disability and qualifies to receive services. The determination is based upon the individual student’s instructional needs and functional abilities. Under the Maine State Regulation: Chapter 101/MUSER the determination of print disability is documented in the student’s Individual Education Program (IEP) along with a statement about “what type of accessible instructional materials (AIM)” the student requires and where in the IEP this is addressed.

In addition to AEM, the IEP Team is responsible for determining if a student needs Assistive Technology (AT) devices and services. Since most AEM requires the use of AT, it is important both are identified at the same time.

For Maine students receiving accommodations under a Section 504 Plan, the school’s 504 compliance officer assumes responsibility for determining the type of specialized formats required and how those materials will be acquired and by whom.

rev: 09/03/2020