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Indiana State Story

AEMing for Achievement grant participants present their work at end of year event.

The Promoting Achievement Through Technology and Instruction for All Students (PATINS) Project, established in 1995, leads AEM efforts in Indiana. It is a  statewide technical assistance network that connects Indiana's local education agencies (LEAs) to accessible materials, assistive technology, professional development and technical support through the Indiana Departments of Education and Administration. Since 2006, PATINS has overseen the Indiana Center for Accessible Materials (ICAM). ICAM coordinates with the NIMAC to ensure the timely access to specialized formats of print textbooks and core instructional materials for students with print disabilities.

The AEMing for Achievement Grant

Another core component of PATINS’ AEM work is the AEMing for Achievement Grant. Through this grant, PATINS has worked closely with 8-10 Indiana school districts. These districts are selected after the PATINS staff has met with them for a full-day orientation. Originally, the orientation only focused on AEM but it has since expanded to more broadly incorporate Universal Design for Learning (UDL) as a guiding framework.

PATINS asks AEMing for Achievement districts to do an initial assessment of their current efforts to provide AEM, then to develop an action plan that will lead to improved outcomes. PATINS staff continue to meet with districts weekly over the remaining school year to work on the implementation of that action plan, including a full cohort gathering that takes place online in January and a collaboration day at the end of May when district teams develop their final reports. Participating districts get access to the Don Johnston’s Universal Protocol for Accommodations in Reading (uPAR) and Snap & Read software for all of the district's buildings, along with ongoing professional development on the effective use of these tools to support learning.

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 Educational Materials (AEM)

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

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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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National Instructional Materials Access Center (NIMAC)

Central national repository established at American Printing House for the Blind to store, validate, maintain and disseminate NIMAS filesets.

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Print Disability

Blindness or other disability that prevents the effective use of printed materials.

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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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Student Success Stories

Ben, a second-year senior, is a smart and passionate kid. PATINS staff realized it was really because there were no accessible materials available to him that Ben struggled in school. After PATINS staff provided AEM to Ben along with the tools needed to access the materials, he began to read auditorily on his own. In Spring 2017, Ben attended a training focusing on computers, a topic of interest to him. He is now much more engaged with his education, whereas before the idea of graduation did not have much appeal to him.  

Kelly, a younger student, struggled with reading and this impacted her socially. She was found to perform significantly higher when using auditory reading tools. With the exposure to AEM, she not only made an achievement growth, her reading also improved. Now when the tools are taken away she is actually at a much higher reading level than before.

Learning Opportunities and Technical Assistance

Along with the AEMing for Achievement grant, the PATINS project has an extensive program for providing learning opportunities and technical assistance (Critical Component 4)  on UDL, assistive technology and AEM. In just one year, PATINS did over 700 trainings that reached more than 9,000 participants. It also fulfilled more than 16,000 technical assistance requests while loaning out more than 1,500 items through its loan library.  

The guiding vision for the PATINS Project, according to Director Daniel McNulty, is to develop a structured procurement and provision process under the umbrella of UDL. A key goal related to that vision is to creation of a more comprehensive data collection system that will focus not only on procurement but also on student achievement resulting from the implementation of AEM.  

Recommendations for Other States

Be patient. As Daniel McNulty, Director of the PATINS project stated, "it's important to remember this is a long, deep process that is not gonna to happen overnight." During his time at the helm of the PATINS Project, Director McNulty has seen a shift in thinking across the state, moving from an emphasis on assistive technology to the consideration of accessible materials as well. This shift was easier for staff who were already involved in Braille production, but it has taken some time for other staff to adjust. A comprehensive approach requires not only clear guidance and policies, but a top to bottom focus with action at multiple levels. Support could take the form of face-to-face trainings, one-on-one coaching, in-class training involving teachers and their students and more.  Moving too fast without providing staff with the appropriate levels of support can actually set the program back, according to PATINS Director McNulty.