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Learners who are deaf-blind need consistent and ongoing access to accessible instructional materials (AIM).  To ensure accessibility, it is necessary to consider each child individually, aligning their needs with available strategies.

The National Center on Accessible Instructional Materials is a valuable resource for information on support access at the individual student, school, district, and state levels.   It is important to be aware of the legal support for accessible materials that is part of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, the Americans with Disabilities Act, and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act.  A helpful document for both families and educators, AIM Basics for Families, is an excellent resource for teams to review before developing an IEP/IFSP for a student who is deaf-blind.

Accessible vs Alternative Materials

Terminology can become confusing when a team is talking about student supports in the area of literacy.  Information in the highlighted box below is reproduced from the AIM website.  Understanding the distinction between accessible and alternative materials helps a team to clearly identify a student’s needs, and document them on the IEP/IFSP.

What is the difference between accessible instructional materials and alternative materials?

As used here, accessible instructional materials present exactly the same content as a printed textbook or other type of instructional material. For example, if a student used an audio format of a book, the text read aloud would be the same as the text printed in the book. The only difference is the way the information is presented.

As used here, alternative materials contain content that addresses the same topic but is modified in some manner so that it can be understood by the student. For example, a student with an intellectual disability may need the content of a textbook modified so that the information is presented in a simpler way than the standard version.

Specialized Formats

If a student is in need of accessible instructional materials, the first issue is to determine the format in which materials are needed.  Within the world of accessible materials, four formats are available.  They are:

Other formats that may be appropriate for a learner who is deaf-blind are described in the Alternative Materials section of the website.  

AIM Navigator

The AIM Navigator is a tool that was developed to guide teams through the accessible instructional material decision-making process.   If you are uncertain about what format(s) might be most beneficial for a student, this online tool will be an excellent resource.
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