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Connecting Accessible Educational Materials and Learning


National Center on Accessible Educational Materials (AEM Center)


National Center on Accessible Educational Materials (AEM)


Provisions introduced to the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) in 2004 help to improve the delivery of accessible instructional materials (AIM) to students with print-related disabilities. It is important to recognize, however, that access to content does not, by itself, guarantee a quality learning experience. Paying closer attention to the ways in which students interact with AIM and to insights from the learning sciences can inform efforts to improve the quality of learning experiences for all learners, including students with print-related disabilities. This paper also pertains to the more general accessible educational materials (AEM) which includes print sourced materials, those which are born digital and the technology used to deliver them to the learner.

Five concepts from the learning sciences are highlighted—purpose, demand, control, challenge, and context—that can be leveraged to amplify the impact of AEM to support greater self-directed learning and to improve educational outcomes for all learners.

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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Accessible Instructional Materials (AIM)

Print-based educational materials converted into specialized formats, related to the requirements of the IDEA statute.

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

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Cite As

National Center on Accessible Educational Materials (2015). Connecting accessible educational materials and learning. Wakefield, MA: National Center on Accessible Educational Materials for Learning. Retrieved [insert date] from