Home > UDL and Accessibility > AIMing for Accessible Curriculum: Notes from the June 8th webinar

AIMing for Accessible Curriculum: Notes from the June 8th webinar

June 9th, 2011
Student wearing headphones


This webinar offered an introduction to Accessible Instructional Materials (AIM), a complex but necessary component of any curriculum. It is the first in a series of Maine AIM webinars that will continue in the fall. The objectives were that participants will understand the:

  • Barriers presented by standard print materials to some students
  • Definition of AIM
  • Relevant legislation
  • Steps to successful AIM implementation
  • Sources for more information

For the sake of simplicity, the focus of this first webinar was the common inaccessibility of standard print materials to some students. It’s important to recognize, however, that materials in electronic format can also present barriers (e.g., PDFs, podcasts, video, web sites, even word processed documents). Steps to making such media accessible for all learners will be the topic of future webinars in this series.

At the beginning of the webinar, we brainstormed and discussed the abilities needed to learn from standard print materials (this same conversation applies to electronic media). We then transitioned into the reality of copyright restrictions that interfere with our ability to convert many standard print books to other formats, such as digital text or audio. So we delved into the history of copyright exemption to come to the current-day Chafee Amendment, which is the foundation of the right to convert copyrighted material to specialized formats for students with print disabilities, such as specific learning disabilities, blindness or low vision, or physical disabilities. That’s AIM: “Specialized formats of curricular content that can be used by and with learners who are unable to read or use standard print materials.” Specialized formats are defined as:

  • Braille
  • Audio
  • Large print
  • Digital text

AIM is a legal mandate. A provision of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Improvement Act (IDEA 2004), it requires schools to provide textbooks and related print materials in specialized formats to students with print disabilities — in a timely manner. In Maine, “timely manner” is defined as “at the same time as their peers.”

This is an ambitious and complex mandate. During the webinar, we outlined four suggested steps for meeting it:

  1. Identify a student’s need for AIM by determining if a print disability exists
  2. Select the appropriate specialized format or combination of formats
  3. Acquire curricular materials in the appropriate formats
  4. Support the student, parents, and teachers in the use of the materials through assistive technology (AT)

We had just enough time to introduce the purpose of each step and the associated resources to get started. In the Fall of 2011, we’ll delve into each step more deeply. Members of Maine’s AIM Community of Practice will be your guides. Here is a schedule of the first several webinars, which will be on Wednesdays at 3:15 PM.

  • September 28: Identification of a Student’s Need for AIM
  • October 5: Selection of Appropriate AIM Formats for Students with Print Disabilities
  • October 12: Bookshare for Maine Schools
  • October 19: Maine State Library Service Talking Books Program
  • October 26: Acquiring Braille and Large Print Books through Catholic Charities Maine

We welcome hearing from you as we plan this series, which will be posted at both Maine AIM and at Maine 121.

In the meantime, here are some resources:

Your go-to resource on the Web: Maine AIM

Free simulations and tools from the National Center on AIM:

A framework for school teams: SETT

Sources for information on acquiring AIM:

Learn about AT products for student use of AIM:

Finally, here are your contacts for AIM technical assistance in Maine:

View the archived recording of this webinar.

  1. Janet Johnson
    July 20th, 2011 at 17:31 | #1

    Hello Cynthia,

    I am working in a graduate course and preparing a paper and WIKI posting on Universal Design for Learning and found your site as a great source to cite an application where the design is working to teach to a diverse group of learners. I wanted to use the Artwork by Andrew Greenstone to post to the Wiki and was wondering if that would be acceptable if I credit Andrew for the artwork and reference your web site? Thank you for your time and consideration. Wonderful example technology and the UDL framework to reach diverse learners.

    • Cynthia Curry
      July 22nd, 2011 at 08:14 | #2

      Hi Janet,
      Thanks for your comments. I’m glad that the information about AIM is helpful and useful to you. Please don’t hesitate to contact me in the future.

      The best way to pursue Andrew’s image is through his mother, Barbara. Her email is bgreenstone@mlti.org. I’m sure he’ll be flattered :)


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