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AEMing for Access

The webinar series AEMing for Access, focuses on accessibility, accessible educational materials, accessible and assistive technologies

Intro to AEMing for Access Webinar Series

Kelli Suding, TA Specialist at CAST is kicking off the series with a quick overview of this new event and to develop a shared understanding for access for every learner.

3 Key Takeaways

  • Families play an important role in ensuring their child with a disability has access to the educational materials they need to learn and succeed.
  • The IDEA requires that students with disabilities who need AEM receive them in a timely manner.
  • A typical barrier for some students with disabilities is actually the educational materials used for learning, like textbooks, handouts, and websites.

Family Guide

Families play such an important role in helping ensure their child with a disability has the best learning experience possible and receives the educational materials they need to learn and succeed. That's why we created A Family's Guide to Accessible Educational Materials, a new resource that helps you understand and advocate for your child's educational needs. In this guide, you will find information on what accessible educational materials are, how they can benefit your child, and how to request them from your child's school. You will also get some handy templates that you can use to communicate with teachers and other professionals about your child's learning preferences and challenges.

3 Key Takeaways

  • Families play an important role in ensuring their child with a disability has access to the educational materials they need to learn and succeed.
  • The IDEA requires that students with disabilities who need AEM receive them in a timely manner. 
  • A typical barrier for some students with disabilities is actually the educational materials used for learning, like textbooks, handouts, and websites.

NETP Overview

The U.S. Depart of Ed released the 2024 National Educational Technology Plan (NETP): A Call to Action for Closing the Digital Access, Design and Use Divides. The Plan articulates a vision of equity, active use, and collaborative leadership to make everywhere, all-the-time learning possible. While acknowledging the continuing need to provide greater equity of access to technology itself, the plan goes further to call upon all involved in American education to ensure equity of access to transformational learning experiences enabled by technology. The presentation slides are available. 

3 Key Takeaways:

  • The learning environment and space must be accessible to all learners.
  • Maximize each digital tool used within the learning environment/ space to its fullest potential to benefit all learners.
  • Ensure that all edtech tools, materials and/or adoption of curricula are accessible. ​

Online Learning Series

The National Center on Accessible Educational Materials (AEM) at CAST Online Learning Series on Accessible Materials & Technologies mission is to empower educators in understanding and implementing accessible materials and technologies. Whether you are a beginner eager to start or a seasoned learner aiming to deepen your knowledge, we are excited to be a part of your AEM learning journey.

We highly encourage state agencies, districts, teacher education programs, universities, workforce agencies, and other entities to consider adopting the Canvas: Online Learning Series on Accessible Materials and Technologies course for training on best practices for providing accessible materials and technologies for all learners who need them.

3 Key Takeaways:

  • Accessibility is everyone’s responsibility.
  • The online learning series on AEM and technologies are pre-approved for Continuing Accessibility Education Credit (CAEC) for the IAAP Certified Professional in Accessibility Core Competencies (CPACC) credential. 
  • Users may import the learning series into their own Canvas LMS.

Vetting Accessibility on Assessments

In this AEMing For Access session, we will explore how to vet  a variety of assessments against the POUR principles: perceivable, operable, understandable, robust. POUR lays the foundation for the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) and, when used, can support all students, especially students using assistive technology.

3 Key Takeaways:

  • Understand the purpose of the assessment and how the results will be used.
  • When vetting assessments for accessibility ask for a demo with assistive technology or ask for access to practice questions and test the accessibility.
  • Keep in mind 3 main questions: can students enter into the content, respond to the content, and is the content itself unbiased?

CITES: AT Myths/Facts Graphics

The Myths/Facts graphics from CAST's Center on Inclusive Technology & Education Systems (CITES) highlight the content from the Assistive Technology (AT) Guidance released in January 2024 and are intended to provide administrators, educators, and families tools to help avoid misconceptions regarding AT, and provide examples of the use of AT devices and services for children with disabilities.

3 Key Takeaways:

  • Understand where to find the AT Myths and Facts cards and policy resources on the CITES website.
  • Understand that the AT Myths and Facts cards are free for anyone to use and share on social media and websites.
  • Know that CITES has a Community of Practice that anyone can join for free to support their AT and Edtech practices.

Empowering Students with Corgi ​​

Join us to learn how Corgi, digital graphic organizer, transforms traditional graphic organizers into flexible, accessible digital tools for learning and can build higher-order thinking skills. The presentation slides are available.

3 Key Takeaways:

  • Corgi is a suite of free digital graphic organizers (guides) that are flexible, accessible, and support students to develop content-specific practices and habits of mind. 
  • Corgi guides offer students the opportunity to explore complex topics using a format that supports critical, higher-order thinking. Students can use Corgi to make meaning of  a given concept through a series of steps, supported by targeted guidance  provided by teachers. 
  • Corgi leverages the three core UDL principles to support student learning. Teachers and students can customize the display, use multiple means to document their learning, and utilize supports including a dictionary, translation, text-to-speech, sample guides, and multimedia features.

Accessibility as the Beating Heart of UDL

Accessibility is a foundational component of Universal Design for Learning (UDL), the instructional design framework pioneered at CAST that seeks to remove barriers and optimize teaching and learning so that it works for everyone. Starting with a shared definition of what is meant by “accessible,” participants will explore examples of the four principles that make up the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG), with the goal of creating educational materials that work for everyone from the start, by design.

4 Key Takeaways:

  • The Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG), currently at version 2.2, are an international accessibility standard that is referenced in many national accessibility laws such as Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 in the U.S.

  • The four pillars of WCAG make up an easy-to-remember acronym of POUR: Perceivable, Operable, Understandable and Robust, four qualities of an accessible experience for everyone, including people with disabilities. 

  • Learn more about techniques for implementing POUR by visiting Designing for Accessibility on the AEM Center website.

  • The No Mouse Challenge ( is a quick test of keyboard accessibility that is often the first step in manual testing, which along with automated testing with tools such as WAVE and assistive technology testing with a screen reader make up a comprehensive testing protocol for accessibility.

Breaking Down ADA Title II Updates and Requirements

In April 2024, the United States Department of Justice issued a final rule requiring state and local governmental entities — including early childhood, elementary, secondary, and postsecondary institutions — to ensure web or mobile app-based digital learning resources are appropriate for and usable by students with disabilities. Join CAST’s AEM Center to break down the updates and requirements and what that means for schools.

4 Key Takeaways:

  • Don’t wait to start ensuring your website and documents are accessible and following the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.1 AA.
  • Take into consideration your current contracts with vendors and new contracts to ensure accessibility is part of your procurement process. 
  • Know your baseline, what is already accessible, what is not accessible this will help you prioritize where to start.
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