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Wyoming AEM Clearinghouse/Wyoming Institute for Disabilities

Dept 4298, 1000 E University Avenue

Laramie, WY 82071

Phone: (307) 766-5770

Toll Free: 1-888-989-9463

Fax: (307) 766-276

Email: aem@uwyo.edu

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Frequently Asked Questions

Accessible Educational Materials (AEM) are print- and technology-based educational materials, including printed and electronic textbooks and related core materials that are designed or enhanced in a way that makes them usable across the widest range of learner variability, regardless of format (e.g. print, digital, graphic, audio, video). Learn More
Assistive technology (AT) is any item, piece of equipment, software program, or product system that is used to increase, maintain, or improve the functional capabilities of persons with disabilities. Learn more.

AT is a broad category that encompasses any item that helps a person with a disability accomplish a task. This includes mobility equipment, communication devices, hearing devices, vision equipment, etc. AEM is a subcategory of AT. AEM is used in the educational setting to help students with print disabilities read or otherwise access print materials. Often, AEM and AT are used together.

AEM is designed specifically for K-12 students with print disabilities. A print disability can be a visual impairment or blindness, a learning difficulty, or a physical impairment that limits a student’s use of standard printed materials.

Specialized formats include:

  • Large print: Typically 18-point font or larger

    Braille: System of raised dots used to represent letters

    Audio: Talking books or materials, typically with a human reader

    Digital: Materials presented on a screen, may or may not be paired audio component with synthetic voice

  • The student dislikes reading

  • The student has below average reading level, shows difficulty with reading aloud, fluency, comprehension

  • The student requires extra time to read or complete assignments

  • The student cannot hold a book or turn pages independently

  • The student has poor posture due to difficulty accessing standard print

  • Information from a comprehensive evaluation indicating materials in a specialized format are needed

There are many ways accessible materials can be obtained. Specialized format materials, like textbooks, can be created by Accessible Media Producers (AMPs). Platforms such as Learning Ally or Bookshare offer textbooks, novels, periodicals, magazines, etc. in audio and digital formats. Raw files from publishers can be sent to the NIMAC for conversion into a specialized format later. In many cases, using built-in accessibility features on the student’s device can make content on the screen accessible with no additional alterations.

AEM levels the playing field for students with print disabilities who otherwise are unable to keep up in class. No content is changed when specialized formats (large print, braille, audio, digital) materials are provided.

Universal Design for Learning (UDL) is a framework to improve and optimize teaching and learning for all people based on scientific insights into how humans learn. There are three main principles of UDL: multiple means of engagement, multiple means of representation, and multiple means of action and expression. These principles work together to provide students with a diverse way to interact with the material and show what they know. Given a variety of ways to learn, each student is more likely to have material presented in a way that is meaningful to them. Learn more about UDL.

Both the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 require educators to provide AEM. IDEA requires that Assistive Technology, and by extension, AEM, be considered in every student’s IEP meeting. Section 504 mandates that students who need appropriate accommodations to participate in class are entitled to such.

Legal requirement to provide accessible materials falls on state and local education agencies, not publishers. Since IDEA cannot place requirements on publishers, educators must drive the demand for educational materials to be produced in accessible formats. When purchasing textbooks, state and local education agencies should request that the publisher sends the electronic files of any purchased instructional materials to either the National Instructional Materials Access Center (NIMAC) or to any accessible media producer (AMP) by including an accessibility statement in your contract.

  • The National Instructional Materials Accessibility Standard is a technical standard used by publishers to produce source files that can later be converted into a specialized format

  • The National Instructional Materials Access Center is a repository of raw files sent by the publisher. These raw files can be converted to any specialized format as needed.

The Chafee Amendment (17 U.S.C. 121) provides that “ it is not an infringement of copyright for an authorized entity to reproduce or to distribute in the United States copies or phonorecords of a previously published literary work or of a previously published musical work that has been fixed in the form of text or notation if such copies or phonorecords are reproduced or distributed in accessible formats exclusively for use by eligible persons.”

According to the Chafee Amendment (17 U.S.C. 121), an “eligible person” is someone who “is blind,” “has a visual impairment or perceptual or reading disability that cannot be improved to give visual function substantially equivalent to that of a person who has no such impairment or disability and so is unable to read printed works to substantially the same degree as a person without an impairment or disability,” or “is otherwise unable, through physical disability, to hold or manipulate a book or to focus or move the eyes to the extent that would be normally acceptable for reading.”

The Wyoming AEM Clearinghouse offers information and assistance through phone calls, emails, video conference, or in person visits. We can help with technical assistance related to AEM software or programs. The Wyoming AEM Clearinghouse maintains a library of assistive technology devices that may be useful to students with print disabilities, and these devices are available for students, families, and educators to borrow and try out. We can also provide demonstrations and trainings on these devices. Please see our website for a complete description of all our activities.

The Wyoming AEM Clearinghouse is a resource for Wyoming educators. We can help locate specialized format materials. In addition, the Wyoming AEM Clearinghouse has limited capacity to produce specialized format materials, but in some cases may be able to do so. Please contact us for more information if this is a need.
For more information on AEM, please see the National Center on Accessible Educational Materials website.
Contact Us

Wyoming AEM Clearinghouse/Wyoming Institute for Disabilities

Dept 4298, 1000 E University Avenue

Laramie, WY 82071

Phone: (307) 766-5770

Toll Free: 1-888-989-9463

Fax: (307) 766-276

Email: aem@uwyo.edu

AEM Logo

1000 E. University Ave. Laramie, WY 82071
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