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Critical Components for the Quality Indicators in K-12


The Critical Components for the Quality Indicators for the Provision of Accessible Educational Materials and Accessible Technologies for K-12 Education, Version 3 (October 2020) include actionable language specific to a K-12 audience. For more information on how to use the quality indicators and critical components and how they were developed, see the Preface to the Quality Indicators.

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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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Accessible Technology

Technology that can be used by people with a wide range of abilities and disabilities. Incorporates the principles of universal design.

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Critical Components for a Coordinated System

Quality Indicator 1: A Coordinated System

Statement: The state has a coordinated system for the provision of high-quality accessible materials and technologies, and school districts use this system for the benefit of all students who need them. 

Intent: Access for students with disabilities is built into the design of high-quality curriculum and assessments, including those that use print material, digital material, and technology. A coordinated system for the provision of such accessible materials and technologies is created and sustained by a state level cross-sector leadership team in collaboration with districts and families. 

To effectively address Quality Indicator 1, the following components should be present: 

1.1. Strategic collaborations for creating and sustaining a coordinated system for providing accessible materials and technologies 

1.2. A means for ensuring that digital materials and technologies purchased or created for use by all students are accessible

1.3. A means for ensuring that accessible formats of print and text-based materials are provided for students who need them, with appropriate copyright protection 

  • Some students with disabilities have difficulty using print and text-based materials because these formats present physical, sensory, or perceptual barriers for them. Under criteria set by the National Library Service (NLS), eligible students can receive accessible formats of materials under copyright (e.g., braille, large print, digital text, or audio formats of a storybook). Additionally, the IDEA created the NIMAC, which facilitates acquisition of accessible formats for eligible students who also receive special education services. This combination of copyright and special education law results in sources of accessible materials based on eligibility:  
    • Accessible formats sourced from files obtained through the NIMAC for students who meet the NLS definition of eligible person and are also served under IDEA  
    • Accessible formats acquired from restricted libraries such as Bookshare, American Printing House (APH), and Learning Ally for students who meet the eligibility requirements of the specific library  
    • Accessible formats acquired from the publisher/manufacturer for an individual student who meets the NLS definition of eligible person  
    • Accessible formats purchased from the publisher/manufacturer for any student  
    • Accessible formats curated from copyright-free sources, such as open libraries on the internet, for any student

Critical Components for Provision in a Timely Manner


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

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Digital Text

Published material retrieved and read via a computer.

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Digital form or representation of a sound which may be used for non-visual access to text and images.

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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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National Instructional Materials Access Center (NIMAC)

Central national repository established at American Printing House for the Blind to store, validate, maintain and disseminate NIMAS filesets.

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Quality Indicator 2: Provision in a Timely Manner 

Statement: High-quality accessible materials and technologies needed for the full participation of students with disabilities are provided in a timely manner. 

Intent: In general, “timely manner” means students who require accessible materials and technologies receive them at the same time that materials and technologies are distributed to all students. Attention is given to identify and address factors that could delay timely delivery. 

To effectively address Quality Indicator 2, the following components should be present: 

2.1. A state definition of timely manner

2.2. Strategic collaborations for timely delivery of accessible materials and technologies

  • The cross-sector leadership team described in Critical Component 1.1 is designed to facilitate strategic collaborations for ensuring timely manner. Examples include: 
    • State special education leadership personnel communicate the state’s definition of timely manner to local districts. 
    • Procurement personnel at the state and local level prioritize the purchase of digital materials and technologies that are accessible, and communicate with vendors to ensure understanding of accessibility requirements in the bidding process, contracts, and purchase orders 
    • State education personnel collaborate with the Assistive Technology (AT) Program or other service to coordinate resources for training teachers on best practices for creating accessible digital materials used by all students.  
    • Local districts coordinate with accessible media producers (AMPs), including Bookshare and the State Instructional Materials Center (IMC), to ensure timely delivery of accessible formats for students who need them. 

2.3. Multiple means for timely delivery

  • Examples of actions that can be taken at the state and local level to optimize timely delivery: 
    • Procuring the most accessible and high-quality digital materials and technologies that are available for purchase 
    • Including timelines for providing accessible formats of core curriculum materials when entering into purchasing agreements with publishers 
    • Creating organizational accounts with AMPs, such as Bookshare and Learning Ally 
    • Identifying and correcting delays in timely manner when they happen 

Critical Components for Written Guidelines

Quality Indicator 3: Written Guidelines 

Statement: The state develops and implements written guidelines on the provision and use of high-quality accessible materials and technologies and disseminates these guidelines to all stakeholders. School districts ensure the guidelines are implemented locally.

Intent: Guidelines, informed by federal, state, and local policy, document the roles and responsibilities for timely provision and use of high-quality accessible materials and technologies. Guidelines are communicated in multiple formats and broadly disseminated to ensure that all responsible parties can understand and apply them. 

To effectively address Quality Indicator 3, the following components should be present: 

3.1. Guidelines that specify laws, policies, and plans relevant to the provision and use of accessible materials and technologies, including assessment

3.2. Guidelines for procuring accessible digital materials and technologies for all students

3.3. Guidelines for decision-making processes for providing accessible formats of print and text-based materials for students who need them 

3.4. Guidelines that delineate roles and responsibilities at all levels

  • Roles and responsibilities should be identified for all areas related to the timely provision of accessible materials and technologies. Examples include: 
    • In the decision making process of a student’s need for accessible materials and technologies, the responsibilities of each team member, including parents and caregivers and outside service providers. 
    • In the acquisition of accessible formats for students who need them, responsibilities of the personnel who will coordinate with accessible media producers such as the state IMC, Bookshare, APH, and Learning Ally
    • In the training of personnel, families, and students on the use of accessible materials and technologies, the responsibilities of qualified training providers. Guidelines for determining appropriate settings for trainings should also be provided. 
    • In procurement of accessible materials and technologies at the state and local levels, responsibilities of the personnel assigned to evaluate materials and technologies for accessibility, communicate with publishers and vendors, and ensure that required accessibility language is included in purchase agreements. 
  • In addition to providing guidelines, an agency may consider including responsibilities related to the timely provision of accessible materials and technologies within job descriptions. 

3.5. Guidelines that are made available in multiple formats and widely disseminated through varied means to reach all stakeholders 

  • Examples of formats for conveying guidelines: 
    • Print 
    • Large print 
    • Accessible digital text
    • Closed-captioned and audio described video
    • Audio with transcript
    • Braille 
  • Examples of varied means for disseminating guidelines to personnel, families, and the community: 
    • State and district websites 
    • State and district education technology plans 
    • Reference cards 
    • Infographics 
    • Pamphlets 
    • E-mail

Critical Components for Learning Opportunities & Technical Assistance

Universal Design for Learning (UDL)

Framework of learning and teaching, resisting one-size-fits-all approach. Encourages offering multiple means of representation, expression, and engagement.

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Accessibility Standards

Current or revised electronic and information technology accessibility standards developed under Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act.

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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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LRE (Least Restrictive Environment)

To the maximum extent possible, each identified child with special needs, shall be educated with children who are not disabled.

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Accessible Media Producers (AMPs)

Produced specialized formats of instructional materials for use by blind or other persons with print disabilities.

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American Printing House for the Blind (APH)

Largest non-profit organization creating products and services for people who are visually impaired.

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Quality Indicator 4: Learning Opportunities & Technical Assistance  

Statement: The state and school districts provide or arrange for comprehensive learning opportunities and technical assistance (TA) that address all areas of the provision and use of high-quality accessible materials and technologies. 

Intent: Comprehensive learning opportunities and TA are ongoing, draw from multiple sources, and are offered in different forms that benefit students and their families, personnel, and the community.   

To effectively address Quality Indicator 4, the following components should be present: 

4.1. Content that is targeted at the differentiated roles and responsibilities of all stakeholders  

  • In identifying content, the needs of all stakeholders are systematically addressed, including but not limited to:  
    • Students with disabilities and their families who need to know the process for receiving accessible materials and how to use them with related assistive technology (AT) at school, home, and in the community
    • Curriculum coordinators who need to know how accessibility relates to the selection of high quality curriculum, instruction, and assessment
    • General and special education teachers who need to collaborate on supporting students with disabilities in using accessible materials and technologies for full participation, independence, and progress in general education
    • Paraprofessionals who need to know how to provide direct support to students who use accessible materials with related AT
    • Related services personnel (e.g., OTs, PTs, SLPs) who need to know how to evaluate and monitor the use of accessible materials and AT by students who need them
    • Transition coordinators who need to ensure that students who use accessible materials and technologies experience continuity of services as they transition to new settings
    • Educational technology/digital learning and AT personnel who need to collaborate on ensuring a robust technology infrastructure that supports interoperability with AT
    • Procurement/purchasing decision makers who need to know how to communicate accessibility requirements to vendors, both orally and in written contracts and purchase agreements

4.2. Learning opportunities and TA that are designed and delivered using evidence-based practices

  • Examples of evidence-based practices include those that  
    • Are job-embedded for personnel. 
    • Are learning-, home-, and community-embedded for students and their families. 
    • Address learner variability, including the accessibility of the training  and TA materials (e.g., using the Universal Design for Learning framework). 
    • Build upon state and local initiatives for improving teaching and learning with technology in multiple settings (e.g., in-person, hybrid, or remote). 
    • Engage families as essential partners, including ways that individualize supports for families of students who need accessible materials and technologies. 
    • Are informed by data collection and use (see Quality Indicators 5 & 6). 

4.3. Use of federally-, state-, and locally-funded sources of high-quality content, training, and TA

Critical Components for Data Collection


Access for all people, including people with disabilities, to web environments.

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Quality Indicator 5: Data Collection 

Statement: The state and school districts use a secure, systematic data collection process to monitor and evaluate the equitable, timely provision and use of high-quality accessible materials and technologies. 

Intent: While protecting student privacy, data collection processes target all areas of the provision and use of accessible materials and technologies, including the risk of disproportionality in the disabilities and demographics of students being served. Any state quality assurance process that addresses the provision of services and supports for students with disabilities includes data collection activities related to the provision and use of accessible materials and technologies. 

To effectively address Quality Indicator 5, the following components should be present: 

5.1. Methods for collecting data on the procurement of accessible digital materials and learning technologies for use by all students 

  • Ongoing inventory of digital materials and learning technologies that comply with Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act and the applicable version of the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) at level AA 
  • Ongoing inventory of digital materials and learning technologies that do not comply with Section 508 and the applicable version of the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) at level AA 
  • Ongoing record of communications with vendors regarding product accessibility 

5.2. Methods for securely collecting data on the extent to which students who need them receive high-quality accessible formats of materials, including assessments, in a timely manner

  • Tracking and recording the timely delivery of accessible materials for students with disabilities who need them
  • Inspecting and recording the quality of accessible materials received by those students

5.3. Methods for securely collecting data on the extent to which students who need them effectively use accessible formats of materials

  • Observing and recording the use of accessible formats of materials in all settings where they are needed (e.g., classroom, recreation, home, and community)
  • Surveying families of students with disabilities who use accessible materials about the quality of their children’s experience

5.4 Methods for securely collecting data on the proportion of students across disability and demographic categories that are receiving accessible formats of materials, and that an appropriate range of formats are being provided to those students

Critical Components for Data Use

Section 504

Prohibits discrimination against qualified individuals with disabilities. Written 504 plan used to guide provision of instructional services.

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Quality Indicator 6: Data Use 

Statement: The state and school districts have a plan for the secure use of data to guide changes for continuous improvement in all areas of the systemic provision and use of high-quality accessible materials and technologies.   

Intent: While protecting student privacy, data are systematically analyzed to measure the effectiveness of all areas of the system and are used to inform actions needed to improve practice, program planning, and resource allocation.  

To effectively address Quality Indicator 6, the following components should be present: 

6.1. Analysis of procurement data (Critical Component 5.1) to monitor practices for ensuring digital material and technology accessibility in contracts, purchase agreements, and in communications with vendors

  • Data are used to increase the proportion and range of market-available accessible digital materials and technologies procured by the state and school districts.

6.2. Analysis of timely manner and quality data (Critical Component 5.2) to monitor the efficiency with which high-quality accessible formats of materials are provided to students who need them

  • Data are used to identify and correct delays in timely manner and/or technical issues with the quality of accessible formats provided to students. 

6.3. Analysis of student use data (Critical Component 5.3) to monitor the effectiveness with which students who need accessible formats use the materials provided

  • Data are used to identify and correct problems that students may experience when using accessible formats of materials, such as environmental issues or lack of training to use the related assistive technology.  

6.4. Analysis of demographic and disability category data (Critical Component 5.4) to monitor the representation of students receiving accessible formats of materials, and the ranges of those formats

  • Data are used to prevent disproportionality of students identified as needing accessible formats of materials, and to ensure that an appropriate range of types and sources of accessible formats are being acquired.

6.5. A means for school districts to consider a student’s need for accessible materials and technologies when analyzing IDEA Part B data

  • Examples of considerations when analyzing IDEA Part B data include:
    • For data indicating that a student is not making expected progress in subject areas, a team considers whether the formats of curriculum materials or the design of educational technologies used for teaching, learning, and assessment are presenting functional barriers, such as physical, sensory, or perceptual.
    • For data indicating that a student is experiencing suspension, expulsion, or risk of dropping out, a team considers whether functional barriers to materials and technologies are interfering with efforts to promote Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports (PBIS). 

6.6. A systematic approach that supports effective data analysis and use

  • Parts of a systematic approach include:
    • Training for personnel conducting analyses to ensure accuracy and consistency
    • Alignment of analyses with purposes of the quantitative and qualitative data collected
    • Methods that protect the identity of students and their families
    • Timelines for implementation of data driven decisions
    • Identification of targeted audiences with whom aggregated summaries of the data analysis will be shared

6.7. A team consisting of state and local personnel with the combined expertise and authority to synthesize the data, make recommendations, and implement necessary changes

  • Examples of relevant personnel from both state and local agencies include:
    • Administrators who can convene the appropriate personnel and allocate necessary resources
    • General and special education teachers who can interpret the data on behalf of instructional staff
    • Related services personnel who can interpret the data on behalf of therapists
    • Data managers who can address the alignment and integration of the data with other data collected by the state and districts
    • Multicultural/multilingual personnel who can interpret the data from the perspective of the risks of disproportionality
    • Assistive technology (AT) personnel and educational technology/digital learning personnel who can interpret the data from the perspective of the need for a robust infrastructure for accessibility and the goal of an inclusive technology ecosystem

6.8. Dissemination of aggregated summaries of data analysis results to all stakeholders, in user-friendly formats

  • Examples of targeted audiences include:
    • Families, who need to be assured that all measures are being taken for timely delivery of consistently high-quality accessible materials and technologies for their children
    • State Instructional Materials Center (IMC), which can use the data to improve its conversion and delivery services
    • State AT Program, which can use the data to inform its training, technical assistance, and other services for state agencies and local districts
    • All program personnel with roles and responsibilities in the provision and use of accessible materials and technologies, for whom the data will inform continuous improvement in practice

Critical Components for Resource Allocation

Quality Indicator 7: Resource Allocation 

Statement: The state and school districts allocate resources sufficient to ensure the delivery and sustainability of quality services for students who need high-quality accessible materials and technologies, as well as their families. 

Intent: Sufficient fiscal, human, and infrastructure resources are committed to ensure that the needs of students and their families are effectively met.  

To effectively address Quality Indicator 7, the following components should be present: 

7.1. Resources that are provided for human, fiscal, and infrastructure needs

  • Examples include: 
    • Coordinating and braiding of funds as permitted (e.g., IDEA and ESSA funds)
    • Training and technical assistance informed by local district needs (e.g., self-assessments completed by personnel and families)  
    • Supporting an inclusive technology infrastructure at the local level (e.g., the purchase and maintenance of digital materials and technologies that are interoperable with assistive technology) 

7.2. Resources that are used to address the needs of all stakeholders, including all students being served and their families