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Florida State Story

Florida has a coordinated system of IDEA discretionary grant  projects to support the availability and use of appropriate, high-quality accessible materials and technologies throughout the state. The NIMAS Florida service is part of the Florida Instructional Materials Center for the Visually Impaired (FIMC-VI) and it serves as a statewide accessible media producer (AMP) for all students who are eligible for NIMAS related services. The NIMAS Florida service also maintains a network of digital rights managers in all school districts to ensure the timely request and provision of instructional materials in specialized formats, including coordination with accessible media producers Bookshare and Learning Ally. The latter is funded as a discretionary grant project through the state‚Äôs Bureau of Exceptional Education and Student Services. While initial efforts in the state focused on NIMAS and the adoption of specialized formats required under the IDEA statute, a long term goal is to expand the understanding of AEM beyond specialized formats through the careful consideration of student need regardless of format.

Technical Assistance and Professional Development    

Technical assistance and professional development (Quality Indicator 3) to accomplish the stated goals are provided through a network of service providers:

On the availability side, the Bureau of Exceptional Education and Student Services and the Bureau of Standards and Instructional Support have developed a Universal Design for Learning Publishers Rubric that districts can use to assess the accessibility and transformability of instructional materials. A version has also been made available to school districts to guide instructional materials acquisition.

Data Collection

With regard to data collection (Quality Indicators 5 and 6),  the FIMC-VI tracks student registrations to identify districts that are statistically under or over identifying students with visual impairments. FIMC-VI then offers technical assistance and/or professional development to the identified districts.  Student registration data is also used to inform the ordering of accessible educational materials in order to improve timely delivery. FIMC-VI also tracks registrations for digital rights managers and offers follow-up to districts that do not submit annual DRM registrations. Finally, it also collects data on vendors that provide materials in a timely manner, and it uses data to improve its in-house production of braille and large print materials.

The ultimate goal for this coordinated system of supports is to build student self-advocacy and self-determination. 

Recommendations to Other States

Continue to network and be open to learning from what others have done in order to develop the most effective policies and procedures. Along with monthly phone calls with other Best Practice cohort states, Florida takes advantage of the Assistive Technology Industry Association (ATIA) conference held in Orlando each year as an opportunity to network and learn from others in the field.

 

 

Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA)

Federal law governing rights of children with disabilities to receive free and appropriate public education in least restrictive environment.

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Technology

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

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Accessible Media Producers (AMPs)

Produced specialized formats of instructional materials for use by blind or other persons with print disabilities.

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National Instructional Materials Accessibility Standard (NIMAS)

A technical standard used to produce XML-based source files for print-based educational materials.

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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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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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Local Education Agency (LEA)

Agency legally authorized to provide administrative control or direction of publically funded schools.

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Accessibility

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

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Digital Rights Management (DRM)

Authorizing technologies implemented by rights holders and publishers to limit the distribution and use of proprietary content.

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Print Instructional Materials

Printed materials written and published for use in elementary and secondary school instruction, required by a SEA or LEA for use by students in classroom.

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Assistive Technology Industry Association (ATIA)

Non-profit membership organization of manufacturers, sellers, and providers of technology-based assistive devices and services.

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