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Quality Indicators with Critical Components for the Provision of Accessible Educational Materials and Technologies

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Ensuring accessibility of materials and technologies for learners with disabilities starts with a high-quality procurement system. The AEM Center’s Quality Indicators describe the essential elements of such a system, including compliance, guidelines, professional development, data procedures, and resources. The indicators can be used by decision makers in K-12, higher education and workforce development agencies to develop new procurement systems or to self-evaluate an existing system that may be absent best practices for accessibility.

For example, at a state university system level, decision makers may use the Quality Indicators to update and improve policies for procuring accessible materials and technologies for system-wide use. At smaller scales, K-12 school administrators may focus on specific areas to develop guidance for teachers selecting and creating accessible materials for classroom use. States are encouraged to use the Quality Indicators in conjunction with SETDA resources, such as Navigating the Digital Shift II, State K12 Procurement Case Studies, and Digital Instructional Materials Acquisition Policies for States (DMAPS). All three publications highlight accessibility as essential to learning in the digital age.

Critical Components reduce each Quality Indicator into definitive parts for reaching its conditions. Currently available for K-12 and higher education, Critical Components are under development for workforce development.

A preface offers additional information, including the background, development, use, and principles behind the Quality Indicators.

Accessibility

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

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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 Educational Materials (AEM)

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

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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

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.

Intent

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.

Intent

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.

Intent

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.

Intent

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.

Intent

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.

Intent

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.  

Intent

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).

Local Education Agency (LEA)

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

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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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Section 504

Prohibits discrimination against qualified individuals with disabilities. Written 504 plan used to guide provision of instructional services.

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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.

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