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FAQ: Need for Accessible Formats

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What already-existing data and information can be used to decide among the three options?

Some of the specific types of information that can be used to help teams make a decision about the need for accessible formats include but are not limited to

  • Sensory abilities
  • Physical abilities
  • Cognitive abilities
  • Reading level, including formal and informal reading diagnostic information
  • Indications in an Individualized Education Program (IEP) or 504 Plan
  • Academic achievement scores and grades
  • Curriculum-based assessments
  • Statewide and districtwide assessment participation and proficiency

What methods can be used to gather additional information?

Some of the methods used to gather additional information include

  • Trials with materials in specialized formats
  • Formal measures conducted by a psychologist, a reading specialist, an audiologist, a vision teacher, a physical therapist, an occupational therapist, etc.
  • Learning media assessments conducted by vision specialists

Could a learner without an identified disability benefit from using an accessible format?

Yes. Many learners without disabilities may prefer and could benefit from multiple formats of materials; however, the provision of accessible formats for those learners is not required by law.

What information or data would indicate that a learner can read and access information from the same text-based instructional materials in the same format used across the curriculum by all learners?

If a learner is making adequate progress and spending a reasonable amount of time on tasks that require obtaining information from text-based instructional materials, then the team (PreK-12) or disability services provider (postsecondary) can determine that there is no need for accessible formats. Data and information can be collected through

  • Informal observations by teachers and parents
  • Interviews with students, parents, and teachers
  • Classroom-based assessments
  • Curriculum-based assessments
  • Academic progress
  • Statewide and districtwide assessment results

What are some questions a team (PreK-12) or disability services provider (postsecondary) may explore to determine if a learner may not be able to make effective use of text-based instructional materials?

There are many reasons why a student may have difficulty using text-based instructional materials, whether print or digital. Examples of questions a team might explore include

  • Can the learner see the material well enough to read the information?
  • Can the learner physically manipulate the material without undue effort?
  • Does the learner have the necessary physical stamina (e.g., sitting upright, alertness) to read for extended periods of time?
  • Can the learner decode letters and words at or near grade level?
  • Can the student read with fluency at or near grade level?

Is there a general indicator that a learner could use or learn to use an accessible format effectively?

A primary indicator would be that the learner understands the content of the instructional materials when the information is presented in another format. For example, when printed material is read aloud to the learner, the learner understands the content and can use the information.

What if the team (PreK-12) or disability services provider (postsecondary) knows that the learner already uses one or more accessible formats?

If accessible formats are currently being used by the learner, the team or disability services provider can indicate that the learner needs one or more accessible formats and can justify the decision by noting a continuing need for the accessible formats currently provided. The learner’s use of the formats should be monitored over time to consider whether currently used formats are sufficient or if additional or different formats are needed.

What is the difference between an accessible format and a modified or alternative material?

An accessible format includes exactly the same content as the original material. The accessible format does not change the content, only the way in which the content is presented to the learner. The accessible format neither adds nor changes any information. An alternative material may address the same goals, but the content of the material is modified or changed in some way (usually made less complex) so that it can be understood by the learner.

What are some indications that a learner may require modified content or an alternative material?

If content typically presented to a learner has to be changed or modified for this learner to understand the information, it is possible that the learner would not be able to make use of the material in an accessible format.

What sources of information can a team (PreK-12) or disability services provider (postsecondary) use to determine that a learner is currently unable to master the same content as provided in the general curriculum?

Sources of information or data may include

  • Trials with materials in accessible formats using the same content and trials using alternative or modified materials
  • Reading diagnostic information
  • Informal observations by teachers and parents
  • Indications in an individualized education program (IEP) or 504 plan
  • Formal measures conducted by a psychologist, psychological associate, or educational diagnostician
  • Determination by the IEP team that the learner requires alternative statewide or districtwide assessments
  • Determination by the IEP team that the learner requires an alternative educational curriculum
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