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.

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 a specialized format (i.e., Braille, Large Print, Audio, Digital text) to access that information. Print disabilities commonly affect students with blindness, visual impairments, learning disabilities or physical conditions that make it difficult to hold a book or turn a page.

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 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 – PDF - requires plugin 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.

For 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.