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Ohio State Story

Technology kits with switches and other assistive devices sent out from OCALI's lending library.

The AT & AEM Center powered by OCALI was established by merging two state funded agencies, one focused exclusively on AEM and housed at the Ohio State School for the Blind and the other focused exclusively on AT, housed at OCALI. The merger provided a foundation for the development of a single service hub to address the accessibility needs of Ohio students and it has allowed the further expansion of AEM services for a broader range of students with print disabilities. The AT & AEM Center staff believe the merger has had a positive impact in opening the door to a broader conversation around AEM and how it can benefit all learners, not just those with disabilities. Ohio’s goal is to have AEM considered at every IEP meeting regardless of the disability of the student, and to eventually expand access to every student in the state who needs AEM. One way the AT and AEM Center staff hope to meet this goal is by focusing on teacher preparation programs where prospective teachers can be made aware early in their careers of eligibility requirements related to AEM, students’ rights, and the process for requesting materials.

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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Accessibility

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

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Print Disability

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

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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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Provision System

The AT & AEM Center has made provision system development an area of focus. It has an online system for making AEM requests, as well as an extensive lending library of materials and devices to support the adoption and use of AEM. A unique feature of this library is the availability of kits that bring together a number of tools and other resources around  specific areas of skill development or need. Kits include both low tech as well as high tech solutions, with a combination of hardware and software/apps. The AT & AEM Center staff are actively working to expand the library to include consumer technologies that have assistive features or uses in order to provide an even broader selection of resources to its clients.

Learning Opportunities and Technical Assistance

The combined center provides comprehensive learning opportunities and technical assistance (Quality Indicator 4) in both online and face-to-face formats. Ohio maintains online technology learning modules focusing on a range of assistive technology topics. Through a Braille Excellence for Teachers and Students (BEST) Grant, it has also been able to provide 20-25 professional development offerings each year that have received consistently high ratings from participants. At the time of writing, the AT and AEM Center was in the process of developing training for its own staff on the design and authoring of accessible documents and presentations. The idea is to develop these resources for internal consumption first, in order to refine them before they are rolled out more widely to the general public.  

Recommendations to Other States

Ohio’s recommendations to other states include:

  • Offer a combination of online and face-to-face trainings that address a range of skills and knowledge levels to reach a broad audience.
  • Work on the marketing of AEM to make its value to learners clear, and use a number of channels to disseminate information to stakeholders, including social media, list servs and newsletters.
  • Embed AEM work into other initiatives and build a team around the combined work that includes a variety of agencies to increase buy in.
  • Consider working with higher education institutions to target new teachers earlier in their careers.
  • Secure adequate staffing to achieve stated goals while also considering ways to be more efficient with available resources.
  • Be patient and understand that there will be incremental change along the way. Create a plan and take small steps toward meeting a larger goal.

Technology

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

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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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