Acquisition of Accessible Instructional Materials (AIM)
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Iowa Department for the Blind (IDB)
The Instructional Materials Center (IMC) is the library unit at the IDB which assists students and others with their textbook, research, and career needs. The IMC is committed to providing quality materials in alternate formats for students who are blind, visually impaired, physically disabled, or have a reading disability. The IMC works in partnership with the Department of Education, Teachers of the Visually Impaired, classroom teachers, and families to supply accessible instructional materials in a timely manner.
In an ideal world, students with print disabilities would receive all of their instructional materials on the first day of school in the format of their choice. In reality, the vastly increasing volume and complexity of requests, the diminishing number of production resources, and late reception of requests make it difficult to have all materials completed by the beginning of the school year. Here are some suggestions that will help improve timely delivery of your student's accessible instructional materials:
- Make decisions early about the student's curriculum needs for the following school year, so orders can be placed by February, if possible.
- When requesting books to offer as leisure reading choices, consider choosing from our catalog of titles that are already available. Items that don't have to be produced from scratch can be delivered more quickly.
- If only part of a book is needed and is going to be used by a student, please indicate the needed pages. Our library can send the part of the book in alternative media that will meet the student's needs.
- Please send complete and accurate information about requested materials. Include title, author, publisher, copyright, ISBN, edition, and media needed for each book or material requested. Also, indicate where you would like us to ship the materials and when the materials are needed. You can request materials using our online IMC textbook order form, located at the following URL: http://www.idbonline.org/form/imc.
- When print copies of books and other materials are requested by the IMC, please send the print copies ASAP. The print copies are needed prior to starting the transcription and/or recording process. Delays in receiving print materials will result in delays in production of these materials.
- If you are asked to send print copies for production purposes, please provide a syllabus or guideline as to when units or chapters of each book might be studied. With multiple books or worksheets in a given subject, provide a priority list or the order in which items will be used.
- In the case of teacher-created materials, if you have them available in electronic format, please send them to us by e-mail or on a disk or flash drive. It is quicker and easier to convert to an alternate format, if the item is already available electronically.
Bookshare is an online library of digital books for people with print disabilities. It operates under an exception to U.S. copyright law (Chafee Amendment) which allows copyrighted books to be made available to people with qualifying disabilities in alternative formats. As of January 2010 Bookshare provides access to over 65,000 digital books, including hundreds of K-12 textbooks, to over 75,000 qualified members worldwide. This library features textbooks for the K-12 and university communities, teacher recommended reading, children's books, best sellers, trade books, and local and national newspapers.
Bookshare is free for qualified U.S. schools and students through a $32 million award from the U.S. Department of Education, Office of Special Education Programs (OSEP), so this program will not incur any additional costs for your district. Bookshare will serve students with print disabilities, such as blindness, low vision, a physical disability or reading disability that makes it difficult or impossible to read standard print. Qualified students will have access to tens of thousands of books including textbooks from the NIMAC, educational reading, reference materials, fiction, and newspapers and magazines. In addition, Bookshare offers free software applications that read digital books.
Some publishers of instructional materials are now making their materials available in digital format. Unfortunately there is no central clearinghouse listing who these publishers are. Schools are encouraged to ask sales staff from these companies for lists of AIM that they can purchase.
If a publisher has a specialized format of a copyrighted material, such as a textbook or contemporary novel, available for sale, it can be purchased and used by any student. That is, it doesn't have to be reserved for the sole use of a student with a print disability. To date, publishers have been slow to market copyrighted works in specialized formats, so it's important to ask. Repeated requests send a message to publishers that there is a demand for AIM, thus pushing the "market model" that will ultimately result in multiple formats of a material being offered alongside its standard print version. So, ask the publisher - and keep asking!
Public Domain Materials
A work in the public domain is not protected by copyright and is freely usable by everyone - not just students with disabilities.
Public domain works may be freely copied, used, and redistributed. As a result, the World Wide Web has become a voluminous host to public domain works, particularly classics of literature. Students can access this content on the Web in multiple ways, such as customizing the appearance (font, size, contrast) or having the text read aloud via speech synthesis.