Frequently Asked Questions (AIM)
There was a question about NIMAS on the IEP and now it says AIM. What is the difference?
A few years ago, the question was changed to better reflect our current understanding of Accessible Instructional Materials need, acquisition and use. NIMAS is one path to acquire AIM for certain students. The language in IDEA 2004 identifies as NIMAS those files that can be made into specialized formats (i.e., Braille, Large Print, audio, or digital) that curriculum publishers place in a national repository specifically for use by K–12 students with IEPs who have print disabilities described in the Chafee Amendment to the U.S. Copyright law. The print disability may be the result of vision or physical impairment or a reading disability of sufficient severity that it prohibits access to the general education curriculum.
The current item on the IEP, “Does this student require Accessible Instructional Materials?”, prompts IEP teams to thoughtfully consider whether the student is able to read traditional grade level print or technology-based learning materials, at a sufficient rate and with adequate comprehension to complete academic tasks with success, relative to same-age peers, or cannot do this independently, or cannot do this across environments and tasks. If the answer to any of the elements of that consideration is “No,” then the student may need accessible materials and technologies.
What are specialized formats for print materials?
Braille, Large Print, Audio, and Digital Text.
What does creating an accessible format mean?
Creating an accessible format of printed materials means just changing the FORMAT of the printed materials, not the CONTENT. Specialized formats allow the student to access the same printed materials as their non-disabled peers. These formats do not modify the content.
Why are specialized formats needed?
Specialized formats enable students with print disabilities to gain the information they need to complete tasks, master IEP goals, and make progress in the general education curriculum. Specialized formats are also needed to provide students who are unable to obtain information through the use of traditional print materials with accessible materials appropriate to their individual needs, including access to general education curriculum at the grade level to which the student is assigned.
What is included in “general education curriculum” for students with print disabilities?
The general education curriculum in today’s classroom may include a traditional print textbook, but more often than not, digital material related to the print textbook is purchased by the school district. Beyond this, technology-based curriculum purchased by a district or designed by the school’s educational staff and uploaded to a learning management system is an essential part of “general education curriculum.” Every element of learning material provided to a student without a print disability is included in the general education curriculum for a student who has a print disability.
How quickly can I get books from Bookshare?
Bookshare files are available on the technology that delivers the books almost immediately upon request. For example, once a book is identified for a student, the student can access it right away on Bookshare Web Reader; a book can download in minutes to most text readers (link to doc that lists text readers that bring in Bookshare files directly) or to an app (link to doc with list of apps that bring in Bookshare files). Bookshare also provides files in BRF which is a Braille ready format so individuals using assistive technology for Braille access to the computer can access the Bookshare file directly.
Can a student use more than one alternate format for AIM?
Yes. For example, a student with a visual impairment who uses Braille to access expository text but uses audio for narrative text to gain the nuance that is conveyed in that medium; a student who uses digital text in the classroom may use an audio file to read a Science chapter as he rides the bus to a sporting event.
Can IEP Teams determine if a student requires accessible instructional materials?
Yes. The IEP Team determines the instructional program, supports, modifications, and accommodations needed for students with disabilities, including the need for accessible instructional materials. Outside entities such as a medical doctor or medical specialist may provide data that supports the IEP team’s decision-making.
Are the accessible learning materials just text or are graphics, charts and math part of AIM?
Most AIM delivery technology includes the graphics, images and charts that are embedded in the Learning Materials. MathML was made part of the accessibility standard so math language should be accessible as well.
How old does a student have to be to get AIM?
Following IDEA 2004 language, the student would need to use K–12 general education curriculum and have a print disability because of vision or physical disability. Iowa Code broadens that to all students who have a print disability. There are some rules of common sense that should come into play. For example, if a first grade student is struggling to learn to read, could a building team say, using convergent data, that the student has a reading disability of sufficient severity to prevent access to grade-level text? Insufficient reading instruction has occurred at the K–1 level to say that there is a significant discrepancy from peers, so the answer would likely be “no.” Another example, however, might focus on a first grader who has a significant motor impairment that prevents access to traditional reading instructional materials. Could a school team consider AIM for this child? The answer could be “yes.”
May a file in an accessible format acquired for a student with a print disability also be used for other students who may benefit from its use?
No. If a file is downloaded from Bookshare or acquired through the Iowa Department for the Blind, the file is fingerprinted with the student’s name for whom the file is intended. This protects publishers’ interests and provides accurate usage information for the Office of Special Education Programs and state partners.
Yes. If learning material is on accessible technology and available to all students, then for example if a student has a preference to listen to text even though he does not have a print disability, he may access the learning material in audio format. If learning materials are purchased commercially, e.g. audiobooks from a vendor such as Amazon or Audible, then any student who wants to use those materials may do so.
Does AIM include materials designed and used through online Learning Management Systems?
Yes. Any general education curriculum, whether print-based or technology-based is included in AIM.
Does the school have to get AIM from Bookshare or IDB?
The school may use textbooks, digital curriculum from publishers, commercially purchased materials, or open educational resources as they choose. All learning materials must be accessible in the specialized format needed by the student with a print disability, either through accessible technologies or assistive technology that makes the materials accessible.
If a school contracts with a Community College for advanced placement classes, is the LEA or community college responsible for acquiring Accessible Educational Materials?
The LEA is responsible for acquiring AIM for all courses offered in elementary school or for secondary school credit, even if they are provided by another entity through contract or arrangement with the LEA.
Are foreign language Learning Materials available in accessible formats?
Yes. This applies both to textbooks for foreign language classes and textbooks translated into a foreign language for use by students with limited English proficiency.