Selecting Accessible Formats for PreK–12 Learners
Selecting appropriate accessible formats for learners who need them is a team decision-making process. Examples of decision-making teams include IEP teams, 504 plan teams, and teams related to a school’s multi-tier system of supports (MTSS). Parents and caregivers are key team members and the learner is an active participant.
Selecting accessible formats is the second step of a decision-making process.
Use these checkpoints as a guide.
- The team considers the full learning context.
The team considers multiple factors to understand the full context of how, where, and for what varied purposes the learner uses instructional materials, including:
- The learner’s skills, needs, and preferences
- The environments in which the student will be learning
- The tasks for which accessible formats will be needed
- See our FAQ for considering the full learning context.
- The learner trials a range of formats.
Information collected from the first step in the process will inform the nature of the accessible format(s) that the learner needs. Under the guidance of a special education or AT professional, the learner tries a variety of options. Examples include:
- Tactile formats, such as braille (hard copy and digital) and raised images
- Large print formats, which are hard copy materials with large text size
- Audio formats, such as human-narrated audio recordings
- Accessible digital formats such as
- Accessible EPUB documents
- Accessible web-based (HTML5) documents
- Accessible Word documents
- PDF/Universal Accessibility (UA)
- Accessible documents with MathML
- See our FAQ for having learners trial a range of formats.
- Select the format or combination of formats the learner needs.
The team considers information collected from the first and second steps. The outcome of this process may result in the need for more than one format. The following questions can guide the consideration process:
- What formats and specific features are most useful to the learner?
- Does the usefulness of certain features vary by subject matter?
- How might different learning environments impact the usefulness of certain formats?
- The outcome of this process may result in the need for more than one format.
- See our FAQ for selecting the format or combination of formats the learner needs.
- List the text-based instructional materials used across the curriculum.
The team gathers information about the text-based instructional materials that the learner needs for access to all subjects across the curriculum. This includes print materials and digital materials with text and images. In addition to the current curriculum, the team collects information about known materials that the student will need in the next six months.
- Match formats to materials.
For each text-based instructional material needed by the learner, the team selects the appropriate format.
With the appropriate format(s) selected, the team acquires the materials from available sources. See Acquiring Accessible Formats.