Accessible Educational Materials, or AEM, are materials that are designed or converted in a way that makes them usable across the widest range of student variability regardless of format (print, digital, graphical, audio, video). IDEA (Individuals with Disabilities Education Act) specifically focuses on accessible formats of print instructional materials. In relation to IDEA, the term AEM refers to print instructional materials that have been transformed into the specialized formats. These specialized formats include braille, large print, audio and digital text, but do not include altering of the content.
Specialized formats are increasingly becoming available through accessible media producers, including free and commercial sources. However, the “do-it-yourself” method of teacher-produced materials, often created by scanning the material or by creating it on a computer as digital text, remains a conventional way to meet the needs of students.
1. Braille is a tactile system of reading and writing made up of raised dot patterns for letters, numbers and punctuation marks. Almost exclusively people with visual impairments or blindness use this format.
2. Large print is generally defined as 18 point or larger font size. Large print may be printed on pages that are the same size as a standard textbook page or on pages of larger size.
3. Audio formats present content as sound with no visual component. Audio formats include recorded human voice or synthesized electronic speech.
4. Digital text provides electronic content that is delivered on a computer or another device. Electronic content may be changed in many ways (e.g., size, contrast, read aloud) to accommodate the needs and preferences of the student.