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AEM Connector for Spring 2018


AEM Center Happenings

POUR for Accessibility

We're excited to announce a new resource in the Creating AEM section of our website, Designing for Accessibility with POUR. Developed for teachers and others who routinely create materials for learners, you'll find explanations and strategies for making visuals, documents, videos, podcasts, websites, and more accessible. POUR is an acronym that stands for the four qualities of an accessible learner experience, as presented by the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG): 

  • Perceivable
  • Operable
  • Understandable
  • Robust

The resource is designed with teachers in mind and is accompanied by an animated video that introduces the concept of POUR. Visit Designing for Accessibility with POURto learn how the next material you create can be accessible for all your learners.

Five Things Educators Can Do to Buy Accessible

Is accessibility a priority of your state or district procurement policy? What are best practices to ensure that digital materials and technologies purchased for curricula can be used for learning by all students? The AEM Center has developed Five Things Educators Can Do to Buy Accessible. From including accessibility in purchasing decisions to consulting with students who use assistive technology, the five actions are interdependent. Available on our website, you can also download it as an accessible digital handout.

A New Site for the UDL Guidelines 

CAST has a new site for our  UDL Guidelines. We've updated the look, but the Guidelines themselves, their descriptions, and the research behind the Checkpoints haven't changed. We're looking forward to constantly improving the site with more resources, updated research, and to continue evolving the UDL Guidelines as a living, breathing tool for implementing the UDL framework. The UDL Guidelines are a tool used in the implementation of Universal Design for Learning, a framework to improve and optimize teaching and learning for all people based on scientific insights into how humans learn. The inclusion of accessible materials and technologies is a central component of a UDL curriculum. 

From Our Partners


SETDA recently announced the launching of the expanded and reorganized website of the Digital Instructional Materials Acquisition Policies for States (DMAPS). DMAPS is an online database providing details regarding each state's policies and practices related to the acquisition of digital instructional materials. AEM State Contacts were instrumental in updating their states' featured content on accessibility requirements. You can use the database to compare your state's accessibility guidance, policies, and processes to those of up to four other states.

Higher Ed News

Accessibility & Universal Design Identified as the #2 Key Issue in Postsecondary Teaching and Learning  

In its 2018 survey, the Educause Learning Initiative (ELI) determined that the #2 key issue in the higher ed community is Accessibility & Universal Design, described as "educating the community in effective practices and course designs that are accessible by everyone." According to the ELI, its annual list of 15 key issues "serve as the framework, or focal points, for our discussions and programming throughout the coming year." Accessibility & Universal Design moved up two places from 2017. Read 2018 Key Issues in Teaching and Learning

For Publishers and Developers

Compliance with Revised Section 508 Standards Now Required

While the final rule was effective in March of 2017, compliance with the Revised Section 508 Standards was required as of January 18, 2018 (published in the Federal Register). To support implementation, the U.S. Federal Government Revised 508 Standards Transition Workgroup and the General Services Administration developed the Revised 508 Standards Roadmap last year. Based on the design of a mature 508 program, the roadmap starts with building awareness and support and concludes with measuring and monitoring progress. In between, you'll find steps related to procuring accessible technology and creating accessible documents.

Guide to Accessibility Jargon & Ace by DAISY

From the DAISY Consortium comes Publishing Accessibility Jargon Deciphered, a list of plain language definitions of key concepts, standards, and organizations. The guide is a helpful accompaniment to Ace by DAISY, a free, open source accessibility checking tool created to assist in the evaluation of conformance to the EPUB Accessibility Specification.

Family Focus

A New Series

As a response to requests from our family stakeholders, we're excited to introduce a new series we're calling "Family Focus" to the AEM Connector. Family members are essential partners in the educational programming process. Parents and guardians have information about a child's abilities, needs, and preferences that other members of a team do not. If you're a family member of a child who may need accessible materials and wondering how to get started, check out our AEM Basics and Quick Start for Parents and Families. The recorded webinar, AEM in the IEP, will help you prepare for an upcoming IEP meeting. Learn more and stay connected through Twitter or Facebook. And reach out to us at

AEM Center Staff Out and About 

TA Tips

Welcome to the Spring 2018 edition of the AEM Connector! As you transition into the final months of the academic year, we're here to assist you with IEP planning, transition supports, accessible document creation, and anything else AEM-related that will contribute to the independence, participation, and progress of your learners. In the meantime, summer will be here before we know it, along with the next edition of the AEM Connector with a fresh new look!

Cynthia Curry 

Co-Director, National Center on Accessible Educational Materials for Learning

Accessible Educational Materials (AEM)

Print- and technology-based educational materials designed to be usable across the widest range of individual variability.

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Access for all people, including people with disabilities, to web environments.

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Equipment or system where principal function is creation, conversion, duplication, control, display, interchange, transmission, reception, or broadcast of data.

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CAST (Center for Applied Special Technology)

Non-profit organization that works to expand learning opportunities for all individuals through research and development.

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Universal Design for Learning (UDL)

Framework of learning and teaching, resisting one-size-fits-all approach. Encourages offering multiple means of representation, expression, and engagement.

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Accessible Technology

Technology that can be used by people with a wide range of abilities and disabilities. Incorporates the principles of universal design.

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DAISY Consortium

Established the International Standard for the production, exchange, and use of Digital Talking Books.

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Individual Education Program (IEP)

Written plan individually developed for students identified as having a disability under IDEA.

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