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Coordinating Early Childhood Systems

Adults and a young child collaborating in an early learning classroom

While early childhood providers and families prioritize activities that optimize interactivity with peers and the natural environment, print and digital materials and technologies are commonly present in early learning settings, including the home and community. If and when they are determined to be appropriate, interactive materials and technologies need to be accessible if children with disabilities are to benefit from inclusive settings. Examples of accessible materials and technologies in early learning settings can include:

  • Tactile books that include a combination of print and braille
  • Video that includes captioning of sounds and audio description of visual elements
  • Mobile apps that are compatible with a child’s assistive technology (AT)

Ensuring that children with disabilities in early childhood programs can participate in all range of activities in early childhood programs is effectively achieved through a coordinated approach requiring collaboration between a number of agencies, federal, state, and local service providers, and families and caregivers.

The Critical Components of the Quality Indicators for the Provision of Accessible Educational Materials & Accessible Technologies for Early Childhood describe how agencies, programs, and services can work together to improve the accessibility of early learning environments for children with disabilities.


Early Childhood Critical Components of the AEM Quality Indicators

In inclusive early childhood programs and settings, social and learning activities are designed for the participation of all children. Objects, tools, and materials that are selected for inclusive activities provide options for engaging through multiple sensory, physical, and perceptual means.

AEM Center at CAST


Early Childhood: Synthesis of Knowledge Development Findings

This synthesis summarizes the knowledge development activities that informed the development of the Critical Components for early childhood, including a literature review, insights gained from a partnership between CAST and the Santa Clara Office of Education, interviews/focus groups with national and state technical assistance providers and a crosswalk between the National AEM Center’s existing Quality Indicators and the Indicators of High-Quality Inclusion (ECTA and NCPMI).

AEM Center at CAST

Relevant Laws and Policies

In addition to guiding early childhood programs toward more inclusive settings for all children, the Quality Indicators address the following laws and policies related to equal access for children with disabilities:

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