Quality Indicators for the Provision of AEM
In 2008, leaders in the 15 AIM Consortium states worked with CAST to describe seven major elements of effective systems for timely provision of print-based materials. In 2012, critical components of each quality indicator were added to enhance the utility of the quality indicators. At that time, the quality indicators and critical components were designed to assist states and districts with the implementation of IDEA requirements regarding the timely provision of printed textbooks and related printed materials in specialized formats (braille, large print, audio and digital text).
In 2014, when the National Center on Accessible Educational Materials for Learning (AEM Center) was awarded to CAST, the work expanded to include not only accessible specialized formats of printed materials but also accessible digital materials and accessible technologies. In addition, the work was expanded beyond elementary and secondary education to include postsecondary education and workforce development. To address this significant expansion, the Critical Components of Quality Indicators for the Provision of AIM are being updated to assist state and local education agencies, institutions of higher education and workforce development agencies with planning, implementing, and evaluating dynamic, coordinated systems for the timely provision and use of accessible educational materials and technologies.
The updated quality indicators, approved by the Office of Special Education Programs (OSEP), are provided below. Critical components have been drafted and are undergoing review by the AEM Center’s Quality Panel of representatives from K-12, higher education, and workforce development agencies. The critical components will be added to this page following review and approval by OSEP.
Accessible Instructional Materials (AIM)
Print-based educational materials converted into specialized formats, related to the requirements of the IDEA statute.View in glossary
CAST (Center for Applied Special Technology)
Non-profit organization that works to expand learning opportunities for all individuals through research and development.View in glossary
Any identifiable object within a document.View in glossary
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.View in glossary
Digital form or representation of a sound which may be used for non-visual access to text and images.View in glossary
Published material retrieved and read via a computer.View in glossary
Accessible Educational Materials (AEM)
Print- and technology-based educational materials designed to be usable across the widest range of individual variability.View in glossary
Technology that can be used by people with a wide range of abilities and disabilities. Incorporates the principles of universal design.View in glossary
Local Education Agency (LEA)
Agency legally authorized to provide administrative control or direction of publically funded schools.View in glossary
Office of Special Education Programs (OSEP)
Provides leadership and financial support to assist states and local districts in improving results for children and youth with disabilities.View in glossary
Purpose and Use
The Quality Indicators are designed to assist with the implementation of statutory requirements that apply to state and local education agencies, institutions of higher education and workforce preparation agencies. Relevant federal laws and regulations mandate that these entities provide children, youth and adults with disabilities equitable access to all learning materials, including printed materials, digital materials, and technologies. Although several statutes apply to state and local education agencies, this requirement is most prominently included in the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), which requires that all students with disabilities who need accessible educational materials and technologies must be provided with them in a timely manner. Postsecondary institutions have similar mandates in the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act (Section 504). In addition, agencies in workforce development systems must attend to the mandates in Section 188 of the Workforce Investment Act/Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIA/WIOA). For details on how these laws apply to the provision of accessible educational materials and technologies, see the other pages within the Policies & Systems section of this website.
- Quality Indicator 1: A coordinated system for provision of accessible materials and technologies
- Quality Indicator 2: Acquisition and provision in a timely manner
- Quality Indicator 3: Written guidelines
- Quality Indicator 4: Comprehensive learning opportunities and technical assistance
- Quality Indicator 5: A systematic data collection process
- Quality Indicator 6: Use of data to guide changes
- Quality Indicator 7: Allocation of resources
Quality Indicator 1
The agency has a coordinated system for the provision of appropriate, high-quality accessible materials and technologies for all learners with disabilities who require them.
If a learner with disabilities needs accessible materials and technologies, an agency cannot deny provision for any reason (e.g., type of disability, copyright eligibility, type of format needed, administrative concerns, fiscal concerns).
Quality Indicator 2
The agency supports the acquisition and provision of appropriate accessible materials and technologies in a timely manner.
In general, “timely manner” means that learners who require accessible materials and technologies receive them at the same time that non-disabled peers receive materials and technologies. Appropriate consideration is given to factors that could delay timely delivery. Agencies have clearly defined policies and procedures to identify and address sources of delay.
Quality Indicator 3
The agency develops and implements written guidelines related to effective and efficient acquisition, provision, and use of accessible materials and technologies.
Written guidelines include the roles, knowledge, skills, actions, alignment, and coordination required for delivery of accessible materials and technologies in a timely manner. Guidelines are communicated in multiple ways (e.g., webinars, infographics, websites) and broadly disseminated to ensure that all responsible parties can understand and apply them.
Quality Indicator 4
The agency provides or arranges for comprehensive learning opportunities and technical assistance that address all aspects of the need, selection, acquisition and use of accessible materials and technologies.
Ongoing learning opportunities and technical assistance draw from multiple sources, are offered in different forms (e.g., in person, briefs, webinars, book studies) and range from introductory to advanced to reach all stakeholders.
Quality Indicator 5
The agency develops and implements a systematic data collection process to monitor and evaluate the equitable, timely provision of appropriate, high-quality accessible materials and technologies.
Data are collected that measure the degree to which accessible materials and technologies provide all learners with disabilities the opportunity to acquire the same information, engage in the same interactions and benefit from the same services as learners without disabilities with substantially equivalent ease of use (Office of Civil Rights Compliance Review No. 11-11-6002).
Quality Indicator 6
The agency uses the data collected to guide changes that support continuous improvement in all aspects of the systemic provision and use of accessible materials and technologies.
Data are systematically analyzed to gauge effectiveness of all aspects of the current system and are used to inform actions needed to improve future practice, program planning and resource allocation.
Quality Indicator 7
The agency allocates resources sufficient to ensure the delivery and sustainability of quality services to learners with disabilities who need accessible materials and technologies.
Sufficient fiscal, human, and infrastructure resources are committed to ensure that learners’ needs are appropriately addressed (e.g., determination of need, provision of appropriate accessible materials and technologies, delivery of services, learning opportunities).
Equipment or system where principal function is creation, conversion, duplication, control, display, interchange, transmission, reception, or broadcast of data.View in glossary
Content, activity, or technology that is usable by everyone with equivalent ease of use.View in glossary
Prohibits discrimination against qualified individuals with disabilities. Written 504 plan used to guide provision of instructional services.View in glossary
Section 188 of WIOA
Prohibits discrimination against people who apply, participate, work, or come into contract with programs and activities of the workforce development system.View in glossary