Accessible Textbooks in the K–12 Classroom

(2010 Revision)

An Educator’s Guide to the Acquisition of Alternate Format Core Learning Materials for
Pre-K–12 Students with Print Disabilities

Prepared by Skip Stahl, with support from Chuck Hitchcock, Valerie Hendricks, Mindy Johnson, Susan Christensen, and Mary Ann Siller
Version 2.0, updated July, 2010

This document is also available in Opens new windowWord and Opens new windowPDF formats.

Table of Contents

  1. Overview
  2. Reaching Every Student
  3. Texts That Teach—A Promise for the Future
  4. Solutions for the Classroom
  5. Systems of Support
  6. Additional Resources
  7. Embedded Hyperlinks

I. Overview

This Guide, originally published in 2006, is designed to provide educators—administrators, teachers, and paraprofessionals—with effective strategies for acquiring and using accessible, alternate format versions of print instructional materials in the classroom. Beginning with three brief scenarios in the Reaching Every Student Section below, we describe typical challenges encountered by “print-disabled” students at the elementary, middle, and high school levels. The Guide explores solutions for obtaining alternate format materials in four categories: Braille, audio, e-text, and large print. As a result of the emergence of digital versions of textbooks and related materials, a vibrant commercial market for e-books and e-book players, and a growing array of open source instructional materials, the options for students who struggle to extract meaning from print has both simultaneously expanded and become more challenging.

Instructional materials need not to be simply accessible to all students, they need to be appropriate for increasing their academic achievement as well. Examples of materials that are both designed to be accessible and to include embedded supports for learning are reviewed in the Texts That Teach—Emerging Potential Section of the Guide.  We are more firmly committed to the belief that these types of products will be essential for students with disabilities and preferable for a wide range of other students: English Language Learners, reluctant readers, and students who simply prefer flexible, media-rich, and interactive formats. This Guide is designed to support the acquisition of accessible instructional materials (AIM) both for students with print disabilities who qualify for NIMAS-derived materials and those who don’t. States and local school districts are obligated by IDEA 2004 to ensure that the needs of both groups are met.

The Solutions for the Classroom Section of the Guide provides an updated overview of existing resources for acquiring AIM: Braille, audio, e-text, and large print—how to locate them, and where to turn for help. This section also explores emerging resources available during the 2010–2011 school year as a result of market shifts and increased awareness.

The fifth section of the Guide, Systems of Support, explores ways in which federal mandates and market exigencies are expected to expand the creation and distribution of Pre-K–12 instructional materials, and how state and local education agencies (SEAs and LEAs) can establish the coordination necessary to take full advantage of these requirements and opportunities.

The Systems of Support Section of the Guide also provides additional background information on the legal framework supporting and promoting the provision of accessible instructional materials. It reviews the impact of civil rights legislation (the Rehabilitation Act of 1974, the Americans with Disabilities Act), federal education law (No Child Left Behind and IDEA 2004), and copyright law (specifically Title 17, Section 121; the Chafee Amendment), and their relationship to the categorical designation of students unable to access print materials. Awareness of these obligations and constraints provide an important framework for understanding how alternate format materials may be, or, in some cases, must be, provided to print-disabled students.

Finally, the Resources Section of this Guide is designed to provide educators with additional information about locating and acquiring core curriculum materials in AIM formats.

Please keep in mind that solutions offered in this Guide are based on an awareness of both available and emerging technologies, and these are subject to rapid change. It is our hope that this Guide will be as up-to-date and accurate as it can be in order to prove useful to the educational community.

II. Reaching Every Student

Third Grade

Box of crayons iconJosie Baskin’s class of 27 third graders has 6 students with Individualized Education Programs (IEPs), 1 with a Section 504 plan, and 8 English Language Learners. In her eight years teaching at the inner city Montrecht School, Josie has watched the school progress from a borderline chaotic to a structured and responsive environment. The school’s recent performance report indicated that its students were making adequate yearly progress, despite the fact that the majority of Montrecht’s 370 students came from families at or near the poverty level. Josie was particularly pleased with the school’s fourth grade Reading and Math scores, since the steady achievement of Montrecht’s fourth grade students reinforced her emphasis on firming up their basic skill development.

Josie is concerned that this year’s class might present more of a challenge. One of her IEP students is blind, and Josie’s class has a full-time paraprofessional, and regular consultation from a teacher of the visually impaired, who supports the student in learning Braille. Her 5 remaining students with IEPs have all been identified as having either Attention Deficit (ADD) or as having learning disabilities, or both; while her student with a Section 504 plan has mild Cerebral Palsy that affects his upper extremities, making it difficult for him to write manually, or to hold a book or even a sheet of paper.

Even though Josie is creative and uses a variety of media and resources for instruction, and her students have access to 5 Internet-equipped classroom computers, the core element of her reading instruction is a textbook and associated workbook, and this year’s Math curriculum is predominantly textbook-based as well. She feels that her resources in Science and Social Studies are more flexible and varied, but she is still concerned that her print materials will be a barrier for nearly 25% of her class.

How can Josie acquire Braille materials for her blind student and other appropriate accessible versions of core curriculum materials for her students eligible for special education or Section 504 supports?

Sixth Grade

Cup of pencils iconThe 18 to 23 students in each of Frances Lincoln’s four English Language Arts classes are grouped according to achievement. Even though the tracking system used by her school is not as rigid as it once was, it does classify students based on the pace of their acquisition of new skills, which, in turn, correlates with their achievement levels. The nearly 600 students at Jeffords Middle School come from a mix of lower-middle income families.The majority of students’ parents have been or are employed in the auto parts production factories that surround the town where Jeffords is located. While a number of Frances’ students express a strong interest in attending college in the future, she knows that the majority of her students will enter either the military or the workforce after high school graduation.

This is the second year that Jeffords Middle School has made the district-wide list of “under-performing” schools. The academic achievement of a large number of students has been shown to decline from fourth to eighth to tenth grade, and the school’s district has instituted summer tutorials for ninth and tenth grade students to help them pass the tenth-grade exit exam and receive diplomas.

The school’s district has also standardized its Social Studies curriculum and has mandated project-based coordination with Jeffords’ English Department from sixth through tenth grade—with an associated increase in the amount of reading and writing that the students will be required to do. Frances knows from experience that the students in her advanced class will do fine, while the students in the lower three classes will struggle; and that a number of students will fall farther behind. In addition, nearly one-third of the students in each of her three lower classes struggle with reading—most due to learning disabilities, but some due to vision or hearing difficulties. Frances is worried that the new plan to combine English Language Arts understanding and expression with Social Studies content will place a high premium on her students’ ability to us their curriculum materials efficiently and accurately.

What alternate format materials are available to help Frances’ special education students gain access to the combined English Language Arts and Social Studies curriculum? How does she go about acquiring these materials?

Tenth Grade

Book and compass iconRob Mackie coordinates the Special Education Resource Support Center at Dover Memorial High School (DMHS) in a large metropolitan area. The Center supports nearly 180 students with learning challenges ranging from sensory and physical disabilities to learning disabilities and AD to students with short-term medical needs requiring instructional accommodations. When the Center was first established in the early 1980’s it functioned as a “resource room” where many students with special needs received the majority of their instruction. In the period of the mid-1990’s the Center transitioned into an academic support hub as inclusion took hold, and added assistive technology (AT) support as such hardware and software became more prevalent.

Since 2002, the Center has been increasingly called upon to provide or acquire alternate format versions of core print textbooks. Center staff, who once tutored students, proctored exams, or trained other instructional staff on supported reading software are now occupied with digitizing textbooks and related instructional materials. The Center routinely retro-fits print materials into e-text, audio, and large print, and facilitates the acquisition of Braille files. As word of the Center’s capabilities and its willingness to create alternate format versions spread, more DMHS faculty encouraged students who struggled with print to take advantage of the service.

While Rob readily acknowledges the need for accessible, alternate format materials for students with disabilities, he is frustrated by the growing shift in the Center’s work. He is concerned that if other solutions don’t arise to fill the gap, the Center will ultimately be transformed into a materials production facility, and that the remediation, organization, and scheduling support and co-teaching that he and his staff are trained for will significantly diminish. 

What resources exist to help the Special Education Resource Support Center at Dover Memorial High School return to its instructional focus while simultaneous-ly assuring that students who need accessible, alternate format materials receive them in a timely manner?

III. Texts That Teach—A Promise for the Future

Remediation and Accommodation

During the past decade, the focus of Special Education has expanded to include both remediation and accomodation: the provision of alternate strategies, approaches, materials, and settings that help facilitate and sustain the academic achievement of students with learning needs, especially those with disabilities. Beginning  in the 1970’s, Special Education predominantly concentrated on diagnosis and remediation—identify the problem and correct it—but a number of practitioners and researchers expressed concern that some circumstances (blindness, for example) were not “correctable,” regardless of how much remediation was available. That concern evolved into what was initially a subtle shift in Special Education—that the curriculum itself—its goals, standards, materials, and assessments—was too inflexible to meet the needs of diverse learners. With respect to instructional materials specifically, this modification in emphasis has resulted in a seismic shift in awareness. Beginning with a modest investment in 2000, the United States Department of Education now supports a multi-million dollar national initiative designed to ensure that high-quality AIM are provided to students with print disabilities in a timely manner. Current active endeavors include the National Center on AIM,HL1 the NIMAS Center,HL2 the Opens new windowNIMAC,HL3 Opens new windowRecording for the Blind & DyslexicHL4 (RFB&D), and Opens new windowBookshare.org.HL5

Universal Design

The significant increase in the Department of Education’s investment in creating a national solution for the provision of AIM is an extension of the Universal Design movement. The NIMAS initiative is based on the concept that support for students who cannot see; easily read, hold, or otherwise effectively use textbooks should be built in to these products from the beginning. Even though NIMAS source files represent an alternative to print versions, they are created by content developers as a part of an overall product, and they represent a more efficient and accurate approach than having to retro-fit a print work at the classroom or school level. The push for content developers to create NIMAS filesets for all of their core, textbook-related K–12 curriculum materials has also prompted some publishers to create commercial products as an extension of their NIMAS file creation workflow, and these products are far more “universally designed” than their print counterparts (see Opens new windowPearson’s HTMLBooks,HL6 for example). Finally, the language of IDEA 2004 allows state and local education agencies to meet their accessible instructional materials requirements by purchasing them directly from publishers—an option that should provide further incentive for the development of these products.
 
The emphasis of this system to “design in” accommodations for students who struggle with or cannot access print represents a significant step forward from a reliance on school personnel to retro-fit publisher products in order to make them usable. It also creates a framework for an entirely new generation of instructional materials—digital versions that are not only accessible to the broadest possible range of students but that also include embedded supports for learning. Ultimately, this “market model” solution is optimal since it makes accessible instructional materials available to all students: those who require them and those who prefer them.

Universal Design for Learning

Universal Design for Learning seeks to maintain high achievement expectations in all aspects of the traditional curriculum—goals, methods, materials, and assessment—through the application of multiple representations of information, multiple means of expression, and multiple means of engagement. While accessibility is an essential prerequisite of UDL-oriented curriculum materials, it is important to distinguish between access to information and access to learning. Accessible materials facilitate access to information, and UDL facilitates access to learning. 

The three principles of UDL provide the foundational framework for the detail-orientedOpens new window UDL Guidelines,HL7 available from the Opens new windowNational Center on Universal Design for Learning,HL8 The Guidelines address the importance of accessible learning materials as an essential component of UDL. CAST has created two freely-available online products as examples of AIM with embedded supports for learning. UDL Editions (Opens new windowhttp://udleditions.cast.org) presents a collection of seven public domain texts supported by a text-to-speech toolbar and Google-enabled web resources, while Book Builder (Opens new windowhttp://bookbuilder.cast.org) is an authoring tool for creating accessible e-books with animated “agents” to help support a reader’s understanding, a multimedia glossary, and other resources for creating, sharing, and publishing multimedia “books.”

This Guide emphasizes how to identify, locate, and acquire accessible instructional materials for classroom use. It is an update of a document created in 2006 and references resources, projects, products, and policies that were either unavailable or not fully in place when the original document was created. It is not meant to be exhaustive, since the world of curriculum products, assistive technologies, and digital media is rapidly changing. It is meant to be comprehensive, however, and to accurately reflect services and supports available at the time of its writing.

The Importance of Digital Materials

Increasingly, the potential for assuring student access to flexible, portable, and appropriate learning materials resides in the capabilities of digital media. Its inherent pliability and the ease with which digital content (text, audio, video, images, tactile rendering, etc.) can be transformed from one media type to another makes it the preferred foundational format. While not all student-ready versions of print instructional materials referenced in this Guide are themselves digital, they are all created from a digital source. This is important to understand while reviewing solutions offered in the following sections.

IV. Solutions for the Classroom

The solutions presented in this section of the Guide comprise the essence of the Guide itself: an exploration of existing and emerging best practices designed to increase the availability of accessible, alternate-format instructional materials in the classroom. Sub-parts of this section are categorized according to file format: Braille, audio, e-text, and large print. The purpose of this categorization is to facilitate the location of specific solutions based on immediate need, and these needs are often dictated by the necessity of seeking materials for one or more students with specific and challenging print disabilities.

Braille

The timely location and acquisition of Braille versions of print instructional materials continues to be one of the more significant challenges in addressing the needs of students with visual impairments who are Braille readers. Despite the existence of a network of local, regional, and national transcription organizations and repositories, locating high-quality Braille files and providing them to students at the same time that print versions of the same material are made available is still unpredictable and continues to be time-consuming and costly.

Existing Solutions
National Library Service (Opens new windowwww.loc.gov/nls)

In the 1930's, the Opens new windowPratt/Smoot Act1 directed the Library of Congress to work with regional and local libraries to catalog, maintain, and facilitate the distribution of books for the blind; this charge resulted in the National Library Service for the Blind and Physically Handicapped (NLS).2 The inauguration of this service created the framework of a nationally-coordinated solution for the provision of alternate-format materials.

NLS functions as a clearinghouse for the subsidized distribution of Braille, recorded books and magazines, and playback equipment to 57 regional and 86 sub-regional libraries. The Opens new windowNational Library Service Reference DirectoriesHL9 web page provides an extensive array of Braille-related resources.

Membership certificate icon Membership
The National Library Service provides Braille and audio versions of print works to visually impaired and physically disabled patrons who meet Opens new windoweligibility requirements.HL10
American Printing House for the Blind (Opens new windowwww.aph.org)

Since the late 1800's, the American Printing House for the Blind, or APH, has received funding from the federal government to provide Braille versions of print materials. In particular, APH is responsible for providing specialized materials free-of-charge to eligible students in educational settings with annual support from the Opens new windowFederal Quota Program.HL11 The federal quota program divides an annual appropriation from Congress by the number of qualified Blind/Low Vision students in educational settings and apportions those funds for the purchase of specialized-format materials. Although the mechanism by which each state provides accessible, alternate-format materials (including Braille) varies and is dependent upon a number of factors,3 the national network of Opens new windowInstructional Resource Centers for the Blind and Visually ImpairedHL12 provides a crucial arrangement of state, regional, and local expertise.

In addition to providing oversight of the Federal Quota Program, APH also manages the Opens new windowLOUIS database,HL13 an online catalog of approximately 170,000 titles available in Braille, large print, e-text, and audio from nearly 200 contributing agencies. The purpose of LOUIS is to minimize duplication of effort and to facilitate the acquisition of specialized-format materials. One aspect of the LOUIS database to keep in mind is that many of the listings are for specialized-format materials produced by sources other than APH, and, as a consequence, these resources may not be eligible for purchase using federal quota funds.

For an annotated bibliography of research on the educational impact of contracted versus uncontracted Braille on student literacy, see the APH Annotated Research page at Opens new windowhttp://www.aph.org/edresearch/Braillebib.html.

Up-to-date information about Braille and other resources provide by the American Printing House for the Blind is available from the National Center on Accessible Instructional Materials as a result of its topical survey of the three national accessible media producers (AMPs). Information specific to APH is available at http://aim.cast.org/learn/practice/acquisitiondistribution/aph_faq, and a comparison table detailing its products & services is available at http://aim.cast.org/learn/practice/acquisitiondistribution/aim_amp_guide.

Membership certificate icon Membership
Access to materials in Braille (and other formats) produced by the American Printing House for the Blind is limited to Opens new windowregistered users.HL14 Contact the Opens new windowAccessible Textbooks department (ATIC)HL15 of APH for specific information on obtaining textbooks in Braille and other formats.
Other Braille Resources

In addition to the services and materials available through APH and instructional resource centers, numerous not-for-profit organizations (Opens new windowNational Braille Press,HL16 Opens new windowBraille Institute of North AmericaHL17) and for-profit organizations (Opens new windowgh,HL18 Opens new windowTechAdaptHL19) provide transcription (Braille creation) services. For an extensive list of transcription agencies, see the Opens new windowBraille Transcription Resource ListHL20 published by the National Federation for the Blind (NFB). For an extensive list of agencies and organizations providing or producing Braille, see the Opens new windowSources of Braille Children’s Books and MagazinesHL21 resource developed by the American Foundation for the Blind (AFB). APH also provides a searchable database of Opens new windowAlternative Media ProducersHL22 as a resource for locating producers of specialized-format materials.

How effective are these solutions? In 2000 and again in 2004 the American Foundation for the Blind completed a survey of states’ use of both Braille and Large Print. The 2004 survey, Opens new windowTrends in Braille and Large-Print Production in the United States: 2000–2004HL23 detailed progress—an increase in the use of electronic files for Braille, for example—but also continuing frustrations. From 2000 to 2004, requests for Braille increased by 26% and information from states indicated that approximately 20% of Braille versions of textbooks could be expected to arrive well after the start of school. Respondents expressed the same desire in 2004 as they had in 2000 for a more efficient and responsive system—including requests for a consistent file format, increased accuracy of source files, and centralized distribution.

In 2008, the DAISY Consortium completed a survey, Opens new windowBraille in DAISY: A Survey of the State of the Art.HL24 The focus of this effort was to ascertain the perceived effectiveness of generating Braille from DAISY-compliant source files created in XML (eXstensible Mark-up Language). While the scope of the survey was international (and therefore not specific to NIMAS or to the provision of K–12 textbooks in the United States), since NIMAS is a sub-set of the DAISY specification, it does provide relevant information. Survey results indicated that Braille production continued to rely on localized scanning efforts, that the use of XML source files was still limited but valued when available, that there was still a limited range of XML editing software available to Braille transcribers, and that Braille conversion software was only beginning to be able to process DAISY/NIMAS XML files. Clearly continued work needs to be done.

A related call for continued action exists in the 2009 report from the National Federation for the Blind (Word format): Opens new windowThe Braille Literacy Crisis in America: Facing the Truth, Reversing the Trend, Empowering the Blind.HL25 This report details the drop in Braille literacy & Braille instruction across all individuals who are blind and the associated decline in certified teachers of the visually impaired, noting that, for students, Braille offers the only effective means of written communication available to them.

Emerging Solutions

During the past ten years, the movement to harness the flexible power of digital technology to support the rapid, accurate, and efficient creation of Braille has resulted in the inclusion of alternate format mandates for State Education Agencies (SEAs) and Local Education Agencies (LEAs) in the Individuals with Disabilities Education Improvement Act of 2004. The National Instructional Materials Accessibility Standard (NIMAS)HL26 and the associated Opens new windowNational Instructional Materials Access Center (NIMAC)HL27 identify the structure and content of digital source files designed to facilitate the creation of accessible, student-ready versions (Braille, audio, e-text; large print) of instructional materials and establishes a national repository for the storage, cataloging, and distribution of those files. This initiative towards standardization and centralized distribution will significantly accelerate the creation and delivery of high-quality Braille materials to students and to schools.

There are two software developers who produce Braille translation software (for converting e-text into Braille code). Opens new windowDuxbury Systems, IncHL28 (producers of the Duxbury Braille Translator and MegaDots), offers a product called Opens new windowNimProHL29 which is a pre-processor for NIMAS-compliant XML files. Once processed through NimPro, the resulting files can be imported into the Duxbury Braille Translator (vers. 10.7)  and/or Megadots (vers. 2.4).

Opens new windowComputer Applications Specialties CompanyHL30 offers Opens new windowBraile2000HL31 (v2) which can import NIMAS-conformant source files directly. Braille2000 v2 also can take advantage of structured mark-up contained in NIMAS XML files to offer transcribers the ability to use “summarization, navigation, and control” capabilities (Stepp, 2010) in order to speed up the efficiency and accuracy of the Braille transcription process (Stepp, R., Braille2000 Essentials: Introducing New Tool, CTEBVI 51st Annual Conference, Losa Angeles, CA, April, 2010).

For an overview of the Braille textbook creation process, visit the Opens new windowProduction of Braille TextbooksHL32 page created by the America Foundation for the Blind (AFB). This resource provides a clear and well-paced sequence of actions in the Braille textbook production process.

In addition, conversion agencies and companies that create Braille-format materials are also moving rapidly to incorporate compliance with the NIMAS. A list of these companies is available at the AIM web site’s Conversion ServicesHL33 page.

All 50 states have indicated their intention to coordinate with the NIMAC repository by 1) requiring curriculum publishers to submit NIMAS filesets to the NIMAC as part of their textbook procurement contract and 2) use these NIMAS filesets as the basis for the creation of student-ready versions of accessible materials. States have appointed one or more “authorized users” (AUs) to download NIMAS files from the NIMAC repository and have identified one or more “accessible media producers” (AMPs) to create and deliver student-ready versions (including Braille). Three national organizations that produce specialized-format versions from NIMAS source files are the Opens new windowAmerican Printing House for the Blind (APH),HL34 Opens new windowBookshare.orgHL35 and Recording for the Blind & Dyslexic (RFD&D).

Both APH and Bookshare  produce Braille. The Braille produced by Bookshare is readily available as a digital .brf (Braille-Ready Format) file and embossed copies may be ordered through Bookshare that are produced on demand by TechAdapt. See Opens new windowhttp://www.bookshare.org/_/help/faq/general for more detail. In particular, APH has an Opens new windowAccessible Textbooks Department (ATIC)HL36 which offers both large print and high-quality Braille textbooks.

In order to address the continuing need for qualified Braille transcribers, the National Federation for the Blind (NFB) offers a Opens new windowBraille Certification Training ProgramHL37 with transcribing and proofreading strands in literary, music, and math Braille; the American Foundation for the Blind (AFB) offers a free online course Opens new windowUsing Source FilesHL38 and a Opens new windowBraille Textbook Transcriber Curriculum.HL39 Additional transcriber courses are available through the Opens new windowNational Braille AssociationHL40 and the Opens new windowReference DirectoryHL41 at the National Library Service (NLS). Like every other aspect of the AIM initiative and the work with NIMAS XML files in particular, the transcriber community is transitioning from its prior approaches to Braille creation to using the more highly-structured source files now available to them. This involves learning new tools, approaches, and procedures in order to maximize and embrace the efficiencies inherent in this change.

How to Locate: Braille
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IEP team members, classroom teachers, and others who need to acquire Braille versions of print instructional materials should be aware of the following requirements and resources:

NOTE: IDEA '97 makes Braille the expected medium of instruction for blind students.

  • Work with a Teacher of the Visually Impaired (TVI) or a representative from your state or regional Opens new windowInstructional Resource CenterHL42 to locate Braille versions of instructional materials.
  • Contact your state’s NIMAS/NIMAC CoordinatorHL43 for guidance related to local or regional resources and procedures.
  • Consult the Opens new windowLOUIS databaseHL44 to determine if a Braille version of the materials you need in an alternate format already exists.
  • Consult the NIMAC database (Opens new windowhttp://www.nimac.us/). Opened in December, 2006, the NIMAC (National Instructional Materials Access Center) provides public information about the availability of NIMAS filesets for a specific publication or series, and information about accessible, alternate-format, student-ready versions that may be available; where they are located, and how to obtain them.

Audio

Audio versions of print materials continue to evolve as digital  audio recording and playback technology improves. The benefits of capturing and playing back the expressive qualities of the human voice, particularly for individuals with visual impairments, are immediately obvious. In the past ten years, analog audio recording (records, cassette tapes, etc.)—which are recorded as one extended file—have been supplanted by digital audio formats. Digital audio is a way to recreate analog sound waves in discreet, individual sound samples: the more samples that make up the digital rendition of the sound, the more accurate the recording. In addition, since the digital file is in effect made up of hundreds of little digital samples, the computer can use these divisions to support accurate navigation (“Go to page 153”), bookmarking, and other navigation features that are difficult if not impossible to achieve with analog files.

Digital audio files with embedded navigation supports are known as Digital Talking Books (DTBs) or DAISYHL45 books. The NIMAS is a sub-set of the DAISY Standard and support for both has been adopted by nearly all producers of specialized audio recordings for individuals with print disabilities, including the National Library Service, Recording for the Blind & Dyslexic, American Foundation for the Blind, National Federation for the Blind, Bookshare.org, and many other not-for-profit and for-profit producers.

Existing Solutions
National Library Service (Opens new windowwww.loc.gov/nls)

The history of “talking books” mirrors closely the evolution of Braille. Recorded audio books became technologically and legally feasible in the early 1930’s, and most agencies and organizations involved in the creation of printed Braille materials for the blind simultaneously began work on audio formats. During the past few years, the National Library Service has transitioned their audio formats from analog to digital, using a proprietary version of DAISY 2—delivering the latter on CD-ROM and other fixed media. In 2009, NLS began offering its Opens new windowBraille and Audio Reading DownloadHL46 or BARD service to all qualified members. The BARD service provides a direct download of both Braille and audio versions of books, periodicals, and magazines.

Membership certificate icon Membership
The National Library Service provides audio versions of print works to visually impaired and physically disabled patrons who meet Opens new windoweligibility requirements.HL47
Recording for the Blind and Dyslexic (Opens new windowwww.rfbd.org)

Recording for the Blind incorporated in 1951 to record textbooks for the blind and visually-impaired, and in 1995 added “and Dyslexic” to their name in acknowledgement of a broader awareness of “print disability.” Today, RFB&D serves over 257,000 members, nearly 70% of whom have reading disabilities. RFB&D distributes DAISY Digital Talking Books (AudioPlus) on CD-ROM and Opens new windowvia direct downloadHL48 AudioPlus books are audio-only human voice recordings that conform to DAISY navigation requirements. These products require specialized PC hardware—desktop or portable “players”—or AudioPlus-compatible computer software for playback. RFB&D operates on both a fee-based institutional subscription basis and an individual membership basis and sells playback hardware and software as commercial products. For an extensive comparative overview of RFB&D, see Recording for the Blind & Dyslexic Frequently Asked QuestionsHL49 at the National Center on AIM web site.

RFB&D creates high-quality recorded human audio versions of print instructional materials. The very nature of the recording process itself is time-consuming, however, and RFB&D’s group of 5,400 volunteer readers work from a number of digital recording studios around the country to fulfill subscriber requests. The earlier these readers have access to a print work, the more rapidly AudioPlus versions can be created. In 2008 RFB&D expanded its audio book offerings to include three formats: WMA Downloadable (AudioAccessSM), DAISY CDs (AudioPlus®) or NIMAS files. AudioPlus® are DAISY-formatted, while AudioAccessSM are WMA files designed to be used with Microsoft Windows Media Player or a Windows-compatible portable media player.

RFB&D now also sponsors a feature-rich web site for K–12 educators. Opens new windowLearning through ListeningHL50 combines lesson plans, research, and the power of audio with Universal Design for Learning (UDL) in a topical and engaging format designed to support the use of rich audio resources in the classroom.

Membership certificate icon Membership
Recording for the Blind and Dyslexic offers both institutional and individual memberships. Opens new windowEligibilityHL51 is based on documentation of a disability which makes the use of standard print materials difficult or impossible.
American Foundation for the Blind, Talking Book Productions (Opens new windowwww.talkingbookproductions.com)

This division of AFB produces audio books for the National Library Service and in partnership with commercial publishers. AFB uses its expertise in Digital Talking Book development primarily for production purposes. For more information, see Opens new windowhttp://www.afb.org/Section.asp?SectionID=37.

Membership certificate icon Membership
AFB's Opens new windowTalking Book Production ServicesHL52 are designed for authors, publishers, and producers of audio books.
Other Sources of Audio Books

In addition to the organizations listed above, the Blind Reader's Page contains an extensive resource list of Opens new windowAudio Books and MagazinesHL53 sources. One interesting general purpose audio book site is LibriVox (Opens new windowwww.librivox.org), a collection of audio files and podcasts of public domain books. For books out of copyright (95+ years), this is a nice resource for audio versions of classic literature and primary source materials. Finally, the world of commercial audio books has expanded exponentially with the growth of the Internet and digital downloading. Audible (Opens new windowwww.audible.com), Audio Editions (Opens new windowwww.audioeditions.com), and Books on Tape (Opens new windowwww.booksontape.com)—which, contrary to what its name implies, also has audio books on CD and for download—are representative commercial companies offering audio books. Similarly, an increasing number of audio book titles are available from Opens new windowAmazon.HL54

Hot Tip icon Hot Tip When searching for audio versions of trade books (novels, non-fiction, etc.), search the commercial sites referenced above first. Since these books are not specifically designed for use in the classroom but for the general public (as opposed to textbooks), commercially-produced audio versions are generally available for sale.

Emerging Solutions

The growing prevalence of web-based MP3 audio available via either streaming (real-time feed) or direct download (podcasts, audio files, etc.) continues to increase. Audio book players are now available for most of these portable devices. Products like Opens new windowAmbling BookPlayerHL55 (and its associated Opens new windowAmbling BooksHL56 Library) for Android-based mobile devices and Opens new windowAudiobook PlayerHL57 and Opens new windowBookmarkHL58 for iPod Touch, iPhone, and iPad offer efficient navigation, bookmarking, and other support features to enhance the reading experience on these devices. Opens new windowiBookHL59 for the iPad offers customizable synthetic speech support and will play recorded audio books with human narration. While MP3 continues to be the format of choice for audio books, DAISY players are also emerging for mobile devices. VOD is a DAISY 2 player for the iPod Touch and iPhone, while Opens new windowDaisy ReaderHL60 is an open source DAISY book reader for Android.

The combination of Internet access, inexpensive and efficient digital audio recording and playback has resulted in a significant increase in the number of audio books available online. Opens new windowLearn Out LoudHL61 is an education-oriented site that aggregates content from a variety of web sources and offers both audio and video content, much of it free of charge.

Finally, a number of supported reading softwareHL62 products, both commercial and freeware, offer the capability of saving etext as an MP3 synthetic speech file. This means that any etext can be automatically transformed into a synthetic speech audio book with pre-selected voice and reading rate. Freeware products like Opens new windowBalabolkaHL63 and Opens new windowDSpeechHL64 offer the capacity to segment and store large text files as MP3 audio. The resulting audio files can be used on either a Mac or PC, or any portable media player that  supports the MP3 format. Similarly, online text to synthetic speech conversion services like Opens new windowRead the WordsHL65 and Opens new windowSpoken TextHL66 perform the same function.

The emergence of the Opens new windowePUB formatHL67 as the defacto standard for commercial e-books holds promise since this XML specification incorporates the DAISY Standard. The challenge is that major publishers utilizing ePUB are Opens new windownot incorporating all of the DAISY elementsHL68 necessary to insure accessibility. The ePUB specification is currently under revision to address the growing need for an approach that includes rich media (layered images, audio, video) and increasing the practice of making all ePUB content, including text, accessible is high on the agenda.  At the present time the support for audio exists within the ePUB specification, but goes widely unused. It is anticipated that the Opens new windowePUB revisionHL69 will make the inclusion of audio in ePUB-formatted books more prevalent.

How to Locate: Audio
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Educators, instructional specialists, and others who need digital audio (recorded human voice) editions of print instructional materials should be aware of the following references and resources:

NOTE: Audio versions of print instructional materials are considered "specialized formats" under section 121(d)(3) of title 17, United States Code (the "Chafee" exemption to copyright).

  • For trade books, topical or recent, search commercial e-book web sites such as Audible.com, AudioEditions.com, or Amazon.com.
  • For books that may be in the public domain, search one of the many online sites. See Opens new windowFree Audio BooksHL70 for an up-to-date listing.
  • Search RFB&D's Opens new windowcatalogHL71 to determine if an AudioPlus® or AudioAccessSM version of a book already exists.
  • Consult the NIMAC database (Opens new windowhttp://www.nimac.us/) for public information about the availability of NIMAS filesets for a specific publication or series, and information about accessible, alternate-format, student-ready versions that may be available; where they are located, and how to obtain them.
  • Producers of digital audio resources for students with print disabilities (NLS, RFB&D, Talking Tapes, etc.) offer both institutional and individual memberships for obtaining their products.
  • In order to obtain resources from these organizations, a student must be "qualified" (see The Chafee Amendment below) by a competent authority as unable to read print as the result of a physically-based disability.
  • Contact your state's NIMAS/NIMAC CoordinatorHL72 for guidance related to local or regional resources and procedures.

e-text

Electronic text or e-text has become a preferred format for many students and an essential format for most students with print disabilities. Initially, the key characteristic of e-text that made its use so compelling was its transformability: e-text could be re-sized; highlighted; displayed in a variety of fonts, colors, and styles; easily rendered from one language to another; transformed into synthetic speech or attached as an equivalent to other digital media types (e-text descriptions of images, for example). The malleability of e-text was quickly recognized and exploited by early developers of assistive technologies, who saw the potential of this format to expand information access opportunities to a wide range of individuals for whom print was a barrier.

Increasingly, the development of e-text separates content from the way that content is presented. By “marking up” or “tagging” e-text—in a manner similar to the way an article of clothing is tagged for price, material of construction, size, cleaning instructions, etc.—tags can be applied to e-text source files and these tags greatly enhance that content’s subsequent presentation and use. Text can be tagged for structure: for example, headings, body text, call-out boxes, page numbers, etc. can be identified, and these elements can then be accessed by software or hardware-based e-text “readers” to provide accurate and instantaneous navigation through the content. e-text can also be tagged for meaning: for example, key questions, glossary terms, summary information, etc. can be distinguished, and this level of tagging provides information about elements of content, helping to eliminate ambiguity and to increase understanding. In addition, e-text can be tagged for learning.

Based on the principles of Universal Design for Learning,HL73 CAST and other organizations are exploring how the applications of tags specifically designed to increase representation, expression, and engagement can be embedded into e-text content. Using these learning tags, subsequent presentation of curricular resources can be customized to meet the needs of struggling students. For an example of this type of content, please view the UDL Editions,HL74 a series of seven examples of fiction, non-fiction, poetry, and biographical texts. UDL Editions were constructed by adding additional elements to a NIMAS source file.

Existing Solutions

At the present time, e-text versions of print instructional materials may be obtained from four primary sources: publishers, organizations producing e-text for print-disabled students, the Internet, or from a printed work via scanning.

Publisher & Commercial Sources

The number of curriculum publishers offering accessible e-text versions of their print materials continues to be limited. Products like Opens new windowHTMLBooksHL75 from Pearson Education and Opens new windowThinking ReaderHL76 from Scholastic are now in the marketplace, and other examples are expected to follow. All stakeholders, publishers, disability advocates, the United States Department of Education, assistive technology vendors, and educators interested in the AIM initiative agree that the current situation, much of it predicated on determining to what extent a student does, or does not, qualify under existing copyright exemption, is untenable and inequitable. Alternatively, a ‘market model’ for accessible instructional materials would relieve those discrepancies. A future is envisioned where alternate-format curriculum materials are offered for sale alongside their print counterparts, and, in the majority of envisioned scenarios, these versions are e-text-based.

To respond to higher education inquiries, the Association of American Publishers and partners has created Opens new windowAccessText,HL77 a one-stop web resource for locating etext versions of print textbooks or commercial products that may be accessible. While specifically targeted to the higher education community, this partnership of major curriculum publishers and college-level disability offices may offer a model for a similar solution for K–12 materials. The National Center on AIMHL78 web site also offers a listing of mainstream sources of digital e-text.HL79

Open Source Materials

The past five years has seen a significant increase in the availability of “open source”—copyright free—instructional materials available for K–12 instruction. Resources such as Opens new windowCK–12 Flexbooks,HL80 Opens new windowCurriki,HL81 Opens new windowAgile Mind,HL82 Opens new windowWikibooks,HL83 Opens new windowFree ReadingHL84 have emerged in response to the call by some states (notably California and Texas) for free, open source submissions to their respective state adoptions. Driven by financial rather than pedagogical exigencies, the products that have emerged from the open source sphere reflect the same short-sighted design that plagues many of their commercial counterparts. In order to preserve the look and feel of the printed page or harness the efficiencies of an automated product, nearly all of the open source materials are either patently inaccessible to students with print disabilities or not configured to work with existing assistive technologies. Where a major challenge with commercial products is encryption, the challenge with open source products is the lack of an accessible, interoperable file format that would let schools and students use the suite of tools available to them.

With respect to the California Free Digital Textbooks Initiative, The United States Department of Education has provide supplemental funding to Bookshare.org to create accessible DAISY versions of of these materials. The purpose of this funding is to support the Bookshare.org effort to establish a procedure for assessing and transforming open content materials into accessible format(s) to the benefit of all students, but especially those with print disabilities. For more information on this subject, see the Bookshare pres release at Opens new windowhttp://www.bookshare.org/_/aboutUs/2009/11/openContentTextbooks.

For an overview of the emerging world of open source materials, see Opens new windowThe Future of Digital TextbooksHL85 (PowerPoint format). For a student perspective on the benefits and limitations of digital materials, see Opens new windowSpeak Up 2009 National Findings: Creating our Future: Students Speak Up about their Vision for 21st Century LearningHL86 (PDF format), the results of a 2009 survey by Project Tomorrow.

Specialized Sources of e-text for Print-Disabled Students

Organizations that operate within the constraints of the Chafee copyright exemption offer alternate-format e-text versions of instructional materials for qualifying students. Opens new windowBookshare.org,HL87 the Opens new windowAccessible Book Collection,HL88, and, more recently, the Opens new windowInternet Archive’s Open LibraryHL89 initiative offer e-text files. Bookshare.org has a much more extensive inventory (including textbooks) and makes student-ready versions available in DAISY DTB format. Bookshare.org receives support from the United States Department of Education and offers AIM to both K–12 and post-secondary students at no charge. For a more complete overview of Bookshare’s services, see Bookshare Frequently Asked Questions.HL90

The Internet Archive’s Open Library initiative, begun in 2010, acquires its materials from a variety of sources, with a majority via scanned text. According to their web site, the Open Library offers both “open” (anyone can access) DAISY versions and “protected” DAISY versions (access limited to users qualified under the Section 121 copyright exemption and registered with the Library of Congress:

…two types of DAISYs on Open Library: open and protected. Open DAISYs can be read by anyone in the world on many different devices. Protected DAISYs can only be opened using a key issued by the Opens new windowLibrary of Congress NLS program.HL91

At the time of this writing, the Open Library creates DAISY3 versions of print content automatically from scanned text with no content-level quality assurance. Materials accessed from this source are therefore likely to contain some errors and should be used accordingly.

The Accessible Book Collection is also a private, not-for-profit initiative with an emphasis on providing accessible content of particular interest to school-aged readers. Digital text versions of print materials are provided in an HTML format and their use is also limited to those qualified under Section 121 copyright exemption. Whenever feasible, ABC lists both the grade level and the Flesch-Kincaid reading difficulty score of its materials as an aid in selection.

Membership certificate icon Membership
e-text (DAISY books) are provided by Bookshare.org to Opens new windoweligible students with print disabilities.HL92 Both institutional and individual memberships are available.

Hot Tip icon Hot Tip The National Center on AIM maintains a resource page, Acquisition and Distribution,HL93 that lists an array of AIM sources. Opens new windowThe National Center for Supported E-TextHL94 maintains a public page of e-text-related resourcesHL95, and WestEd’s Opens new windowUsing Technology to Support Diverse LearnersHL96 web site has a Opens new windowcomprehensive hand-out on sources of e-textHL97 (PDF format).

The University of Texas at Austin maintains an extensive listing of Internet e-text sites, Opens new windowElectronic BooksHL98 that is kept up-to-date and comprehensive. In general, most print publications emerge from copyright constraints after 95 years, and, as these books enter the public domain they are often digitized and posted online for download. While these are not likely sources for obtaining textbooks, they are appropriate for locating primary source materials.

E-Text Readers & Mobile Devices

Amazon’s launch of the Opens new windowKindleHL99 in early 2008 proved to be the accelerant that the nascent e-text market was waiting for. The combination of a sleek, lightweight mobile e-reader connected to the world’s largest online bookstore proved to be too tempting for avid readers to ignore. The Kindle not only sparked an upsurge in interest in digital text, it spawned nearly immediate competition (Opens new windowNook,HL100 Opens new windowAluratek Libre E-Book Reader Pro,HL101 Opens new windowKobo ReaderHL102). It also created a rollercoaster ride of applause and condemnation from the print-disabled community. First Amazon announced that the Kindle would read all installed books aloud with its onboard text-to-speech capability; then it amended “all” to mean “only those publishers/authors who give permission for the activation of that function.”  Once the majority of trade book publishers withheld read-aloud permission, the print-disabled community complained loudly and, as it turns out, effectively. Establishing a national presence as the Opens new windowReading Rights Coalition,HL103 this group first engaged in boycotts and then in litigation—supported by the National Federation of the Blind—forcing colleges that had adopted the Kindle as an instructional materials platform to re-think that selection.

On June 29, 2010, the Office of Civil Rights, United States Department of Education, sent a Opens new windowjoint letter to all United States college and university presidents.HL104 In this letter, OCR attorneys affirmed that:

Requiring use of an emerging technology in a classroom environment when the technology is inaccessible to an entire population of individuals with disabilities—individuals with visual disabilities—is discrimination prohibited by the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA) and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 (Section 504) unless those individuals are provided accommodations or modifications that permit them to receive all the educational benefits provided by the technology in an equally effective and equally integrated manner (Office of Civil Rights, US Department of Education,(2010) Joint Letter, Washington, DC).

This letter formally publicized the agreement reached between OCR, national organizations for the blind, and a small group of universities that had initiated the use of an inaccessible reading device (Opens new windowKindle DXHL105) for classroom instruction. The letter was intended to raise national awareness regarding the importance of  read-aloud functions of e-book reading devices and the challenges associated with print access, and reinforced the requirement to include alternate media representations of print in reading devices where 1) it was relatively easy to implement and 2) these devices might well find their way into instructional settings. In an interview with LRP Publications the chief attorney for the Office of Civil Rights noted that these requirements pertain to K–12 settings also:

"The principles are indeed the same," she said. "This Dear Colleague letter grew out of settlement negotiations, and [the allegations] in the complaints that they settled pertain to higher ed." Thus, the letter "reflects the four corners of those settlements, but the principles apply to K through 12."

It is not unrealistic to assume that the mandate to provide equitable access to digital learning materials and activities, even though focused on mobile eboook reading devices in this instance, also extends to courseware, learning management systems, instructional software programs—in short, any and all digital curriculum resources required for use in publicly-funded educational institutions.

Concurrent with the introduction of the Kindle and other dedicated mobile e-book devices, Apple’s iPhone and iPod Touch also included e-book reader applications (Opens new windowStanza,HL106 Opens new windoweReaderHL107) a lead quickly followed by Android-based smartphones (Opens new windowAldiko,HL108 Opens new windowKobo,HL109 Opens new windowFBReaderJ,HL110 and Opens new windowmany othersHL111). Few of the dedicated or app-based readers included text-to-speech functionality (see Opens new windowE-Boook Reader MatrixHL112 or Opens new windowE-Book Reader Comparison ChartHL113 for detail) and even fewer developers are working to address the challenge of print disabilities. Notable exceptions are the Opens new windowMulti-reader projectHL114 for Android, Opens new windowiBooks with Voiceover for iPadHL115 and Opens new windowVbookzHL116 for iPad (see Opens new windowe-book and audio book softwareHL117 for a comprehensive listing of Mac-based products).

A promising project still in development at the time of this writing is the Blio eReader. This collaborative effort by Kurzweil, the National Federation for the Blind, book distributor Baker and Taylor, and publishing software developer Quark promises a free cross-platform (PC, Mac, Android, etc.) e-book reader that will simultaneously preserve the right graphic layout of a print work while offering text-to-speech and other accessibility features. The goal of the Blio partnership is to create a universally-designed reading environment that will provide an equitable reading experience for the print-disabled and the general reading public.

Scanned e-text

Economical, efficient, and accurate desktop computer technology has made scanners and optical character recognition (OCR) software commonplace in many of today’s schools. Special education personnel often choose to retro-fit curriculum materials locally by scanning rather than incur a delay in providing appropriate materials to print-disabled students. While this approach is pragmatic and, in most cases, effective, it also results in extensive duplication of effort.

For those interested in exploring the in’s and out’s of scanning a book, John Adam’s Opens new windowHow to Scan a BookHL118 or Opens new windowBook ScanningHL119 from Wikipedia offer some very helpful insights and guidance. While scanning a book may be the most effective method of immediately providing accessible instructional materials to print-disabled students, this ad hoc approach generally only meets the needs of a single student and requires the allocation of educator time to retro-fitting publisher content.

A Note About E-Text Formats and Accessibility

Bear in mind that simply because a text is available in a digital format does not ensure that it is accessible. A PDF document may indeed be digital but it may also be made up of image files of printed pages, which—for accessibility purposes—is no better than a printed page itself. Adobe has created an Opens new windowextensive online resourceHL120 relating to the creation and use of accessible PDF, but comparatively few PDF creators actually take the time to “tag” their PDF publications to ensure access; even more limit the accessibility of their PDF documents by applying Adobe encryption.

Microsoft Word or RTF (Rich Text Format) documents are often styled with the application of bolded, italicized, or underlined text, but they need to be structured in order to offer a baseline level of navigation support necessary for accessibility purposes. For a step-by-step overview of Opens new windowcreating structured documents in Microsoft WordHL121 and reasons for adding structure, consult Web Accessibility in Mind (Opens new windowWebAIMHL122) at Utah State University.

In general, in order for an e-text page to be read aloud via synthetic speech, text on a page must be selectable (i.e., text can be highlighted, copied, pasted). The majority of supported reading software uses a computer’s copy/paste functionality to “read” text aloud. There are, however, a few notable exceptions to this rule.

For an extensive and up-to-date overview of current e-book formats and their comparative benefits (and limitations), see Opens new windowComparison of E-Book FormatsHL123 at Wikipedia. This analysis is also available as a downloadable PDF at Opens new windowhttp://www.roundsmiller.com/ebook%20reader%20comparison.pdf.

DAISY Books

Previously referenced in the section on audio, DAISY books or Digital Talking Books (DTBs) offer enormous potential for all students with print disabilities. As detailed on the Opens new windowDAISY web siteHL124, DAISY-compliant DTBs are available in three flavors:

  1. Audio with Opens new windowNCX:HL125 DTB with structure. The NCX is the Navigation Control Center, a file containing all points in the book to which the user may navigate. The XML Opens new windowtextual content file,HL126 if present, contains the structure of the book and may contain links to features such as narrated footnotes, etc. Some DTBs of this type may also contain additional textual components, for example, index or glossary, supporting keyword searching.
  2. Audio and full text: DTB with structure and complete text and audio. This form of a DTB is the most complete and provides the richest, multimedia reading experience and the greatest level of access. The XML textual content file contains the structure and the full text of the book. The audio and the text are synchronized.
  3. Text and no audio: DTB without audio. The XML textual content file contains the structure and full text of the book. There are no audio files. This type of DAISY DTB may, for example, be rendered with synthetic speech or with a refreshable Braille display.

At the present time, Recording for the Blind and Dyslexic produces category 1 DTBs, while Bookshare.org creates category 3 DTBs. Other national resources (National Library Service, American Printing House for the Blind, American Foundation for the Blind) have also adopted variations of the DAISY/DTB format.

Hot Tip icon Hot Tip An important factor when considering the acquisition of DTBs is the availability of supported reading software that can read the DTB format. Make certain that the software available to the student supports the DAISY format. For a listing of supported reading software that supports the DAISY format, check the Opens new windowDAISY Consortium’s Tools pageHL127 which lists both hardware and software playback tools.

Both Opens new windowAdobe ReaderHL128 (vers 9.3) and Opens new windowMicrosoft ReaderHL129 (vers. 2.0) can read aloud (and otherwise manipulate) their respective proprietary file formats, yet the actual content itself may be “locked” and users may not be able to copy it. Adobe has also developed Opens new windowAdobe Digital EditionsHL130 (ADE) as dedicated e-book reader software for PCs and mobile devices. Unlike Adobe Reader, ADE has no synthetic speech support, and even though the accessibility options of Adobe Reader have continued to improve, Adobe eliminated support for e-book rendering in Adobe Reader vers. 7. E-books designed for ADE are therefore not an option if accessibility is a consideration. Microsoft has not extended development of Microsoft Reader beyond its 2005 version 2.0. MS Reader does support synthetic speech with synchronized text highlighting with its Opens new windowText-to-Speech PackageHL131 and publishers continue to produce trade books in MS Reader’s .lit format. MS Reader e-books can be created using a Opens new windowplug-in for MS Word 2002,HL132 or by using Opens new windowReaderWorks 2.0HL133 (the Standard Edition is free) from Overdrive.

The key to accessible e-text versions of instructional materials is to obtain the content in the most flexible and accessible format possible. For example, HTML (web pages) can be read aloud by most supported reading software programs and can be displayed on almost any computer screen. Further, if the HTML content conforms to the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines or Section 508 standards (see Opens new windowSide by Side WCAG vs. 508HL134 for more detail), the attention paid to meeting these standards significantly increases the accessibility of the content. The second most important consideration is to know what supported reading software the student will be using and to acquire file formats that can be read by that software. For a searchable database of software that offers assistive technology or other types of reading support, and their associated file formats, see the Opens new windowTechMatrixHL135 from American Institutes for Research.  The most comprehensive analysis of accessibility related to digital media is the Opens new windowAccesible Digital MediaHL136 compendium from the National Center on Accessible Media (NCAM).

Statutory Requirements

NIMAS/NIMAC The National Instructional Materials Accessibility Standard (NIMAS) and the associated National Instructional Materials Accessibility Center (NIMAC) represent an effort to systematize the source file format used to create specialized versions of print materials, including e-text versions.

All states have agreed to coordinate with the NIMAC for acquiring AIM for qualified students. This means that states (and local districts), in their curriculum materials procurement contracts with publishers, require publishers to provide NIMAS filesets of contracted print materials to the NIMAC. The NIMAC then makes these filesets available to Accessible Media Producers (AMPS) (Braille, audio, e-text, large print) designated by states. The NIMAS/NIMAC initiative is designed to increase the availability of content for the creation of e-text and helps to guarantee that the content itself will be accurate and of high quality.

Concurrent with the NIMAS/NIMAC initiative is the renewed expectation placed on state and local education systems to provide accessible instructional materials in a timely manner to any student served under IDEA who requires them. While some of these materials will come from the NIMAC, some of them will not, and for this reason Congress included in the IDEA 2004 re-authorization a section that indicates that states and local education agencies can meet accessible materials requirements of the law through the purchase of accessible instructional materials directly from publishers.

How to Locate: e-text
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Educators, instructional specialists, and others who need e-text editions of print instructional materials should be aware of the following references and resources:

NOTE: e-text versions of print instructional materials are considered "specialized formats" under section 121(d)(3) of title 17, United States Code (the "Chafee" exemption to copyright).

  • Check to see if your district/school has a membership to Bookshare.org or Recording for the Blind & Dyslexic. Specialized format materials from these organizations are free to qualifying K–12 students.
  • Accessible e-text versions of print instructional materials may be available for sale directly from a publisher. Check with a publisher’s web site, sales representative, or contact designated to respond to instructional materials requests. The AccessText network has created a look-up service for post-secondary textbook publishers, and this might be a good place to start to find a representative responsible for K–12 permissions: Opens new windowhttp://www.publisherlookup.org/.
  • Contact your state’s NIMAS/NIMAC Coordinator (use the drop-down menu under “AIM in Your State” on the right sidebar at Opens new windowhttp://aim.cast.org/) to determine which state or regional agencies or individuals have been identified as eligible to acquire NIMAS filesets from the NIMAC and to transform them into accessible, student-ready versions.
  • Consult the NIMAC database (Opens new windowhttp://www.nimac.us/). Opened in December, 2006, the NIMAC (National Instructional Materials Access Center) provides public information about the availability of NIMAS filesets for a specific publication or series, and information about accessible, alternate-format, student-ready versions that may be available; where they are located, and how to obtain them.

Large Print

Prior to IDEA 2004, large print was not considered a "specialized format" under the Chafee copyright exemption. Within the NIMAS/NIMAC components of IDEA 2004, Part B, Congress amended the Chaffee exemption by adding:

(B) with respect to print instructional materials, includes large print formats when such materials are distributed exclusively for use by blind or other persons with disabilities.

This addition means that large print is now considered a specialized format and may be created and distributed in the same manner as BRaille, audio, and e-text.

Existing Solutions
National Library Service

In 2005, NLS produced an extensive resource for parties interested in exploring large print as a reading resource or in obtaining large print materials. Individuals who qualify for materials provided by NLS also qualify for large print resources. Opens new windowReading Materials in Large Print: A Resource GuideHL137 offers an overview of the levels of large print most commonly available, resources for obtaining large print versions of print works, an extensive bibliography relating to large print research, and selected Internet resources.

American Printing House

APH maintains the Opens new windowLOUIS database,HL138 which lists large print resources from over 180 national agencies.

American Foundation for the Blind

AFB's listing of the state and regional Opens new windowInstructional Resource Centers for the Blind and Visually ImpairedHL139 provides a comprehensive listing and contact information for local low-vision resources.

The Blind Reader’s Page also offers a Opens new windowcomprehensive listing of large print sources.HL140

Emerging Solutions

In much the same way that the NIMAS/NIMAC initiative will expand the timely availability of Braille, audio, and e-text resources, it will also increase both the quality and the quantity of large-print formats for print-disabled students. One important aspect of the NIMAS technical specification is the inclusion of images: graphical elements that exist in a print work must be included in that work’s NIMAS fileset submitted by publishers to the NIMAC. This means that it is possible to create subsequent large print versions with images from these NIMAS files.

The NIMAS fileset requirements specify that image files are to be included as Opens new windowScaled Vector GraphicsHL141 (SVG) images, Opens new windowJoint Photographic Experts GroupHL142 (JPEG) images, or as Opens new windowPortable Network GraphicHL143 (PNG) images, in that order of preference. If images are to be provided in JPEG or PNG format, they must be rendered at a minimum of 300 dpi (dots per inch) which will allow the image to be enlarged without significant loss of resolution.

How to Locate: Large Print
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Educators, instructional specialists, and others who need large print editions of print instructional materials should be aware of the following references and resources:

NOTE: Large print versions of print instructional materials are considered "specialized formats" under the IDEA 2004 amendment to Section 121(d)(3) of title 17, United States Code (the "Chafee" exemption to copyright).

  • Consult the NIMAC database (Opens new windowhttp://www.nimac.us/). Opened in December, 2006, the NIMAC (National Instructional Materials Access Center) provides public information about the availability of NIMAS filesets for a specific publication or series, and information about accessible, alternate-format, student-ready versions that may be available; where they are located, and how to obtain them.
  • Contact your state’s NIMAS/NIMAC Coordinator (use the drop-down menu under “AIM in Your State” on the right sidebar at http://aim.cast.org/) to determine which state or regional agencies or individuals have been identified as eligible to acquire NIMAS filesets from the NIMAC and to transform them into accessible, student-ready versions.

V. Systems of Support

State-Level Procedures

IDEA 2004 re-affirms the responsibility of State Education Agencies (SEAs) to provide accessible instructional materials to print-disabled students in a timely manner. Beyond special education law, however, precedent for the provision of accessible versions of instructional materials exists within the expectations of civil rights legislation: Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, and the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).

The application of the civil rights "equal access" provisions to K–12 educational systems was clearly stated by the Office of Civil Rights (OCR), United States Department of Justice, in a letter to Los Rios Community College District, OCR Case No. 09932214, 1994:

OCR has the responsibility under Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, and its implementing regulation at 34 C.F.R. Part 104, to ensure that a recipient of Federal financial assistance through the Department does not discriminate against persons participating in its programs and activities, such as students, on the basis of disability. OCR also has jurisdiction as a designated agency under Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990, and its implementing regulation at 28 C.F.R. Part 35, over complaints of disability discrimination filed against public educational entities, including public elementary and secondary systems and institutions.

In that same letter, the OCR also detailed the responsibility of the educational agency to provide alternate-format materials:

"… It should be noted that if the student with the visual impairment prefers, and the public entity is willing to provide, access through "e-text" (electronic text in a digital format read by computer), such method may be used in lieu of access through another medium."

"…the post-secondary public institution should be prepared to deliver in a reasonable and timely manner the printed materials relied upon in its educational program in all of the following mediums: auditory, tactile (Braille), and enlarged print.…

The following section provides an overview of suggested strategies that can be implemented by states to meet both the NIMAS mandate included in IDEA 2004 and to craft strategies for meeting the needs of print-disabled students who may not qualify for NIMAS/NIMAC-derived materials.

Coordination of Agencies
Special Education

Because the accessible instructional materials mandates (including the NIMAS/NIMAC initiative) exist as a component of IDEA 2004, the primary responsibility for ensuring compliance rests with a state department or agency responsible for special education services. In order to facilitate this leadership role, the NIMAS Technical Assistance Center has created a planning document, State Director of Special Education Suggested Responsibilities Regarding NIMAS & NIMAC.HL144 In 17 sequential steps, the NIMAS TA Center document combines items that are required by statute with voluntary steps that can be taken to ensure that statutory requirements are met.

Similarly, the American Foundation for the Blind (AFB) has created the Opens new windowNIMAS Guidelines Checklist: A Self-Study ToolHL145 to assist states and local education agencies in meeting the NIMAS mandate in IDEA 2004.

Included in the NIMAS/NIMAC section of IDEA 2004 is the expectation that state education agencies will coordinate with other state agencies responsible for assistive technology.

Assistive Technology

As a part of the Assistive Technology Act of 1998 (as amended [P.L. 108-364]), agencies in each of the 50 states receive a modest level of funding to facilitate the dissemination of assistive technology research, resources, and referrals. In some states, the state education agency (SEA) itself funds assistive technology programs, while other states rely on a combination of state and federal funding. The National Assistive Technology Technical Assistance Partnership (NATTAP) provides a Opens new windowState Contact ListHL146 of member state agencies, as does the Opens new windowAssociation of Assistive Technology Act Programs (ATAP).HL147 Both of these organizations seek to provide state leadership activities, technical assistance, and up-to-date information regarding assistive technology. In addition, the Opens new windowAssistive Technology Industry Association (ATIA)HL148 is the trade organization for assistive technology producers and vendors, and is actively engaged in facilitating the ongoing development of assistive technologies that will access and optimize accessible instructional materials. ATIA is also a resource for directing inquiries related to the availability of software and products designed to take advantage of alternate-format materials.

Curriculum & Instruction

Another critical component of state-level accessible materials coordination is the inclusion of state agencies or departments involved in the recommendation, selection, or authorization of use/purchase of textbooks and related instructional materials.

Textbook Adoption States

Twenty states employ state adoption procedures that involve state-level textbook adoption committees. For a complete listing of these states, refer to the Opens new windowNational Association of State Textbook Administrators (NASTA)HL149 or consult the resource provided by the Association of American Publishers, School Division: Opens new windowInstructional Materials Adoption.HL150 In textbook adoption states, a State Textbook Administrator and a State Textbook Adoption Committee provide an immediately identifiable and logical point of coordination for the state's special education department and the state's assistive technology agency.

Open Territory States

Thirty states are referred to as open territory states, locales where the state plays little if any regulatory role in the selection or procurement of textbooks. In these states, textbook purchases are left to regional- or district-level curriculum committees and/or local school boards.

In both textbook adoption and open territory states, a state's department of special education can play a crucial and supportive role by suggesting language in textbook adoption contracts that supports the acquisition of accessible, alternate-format instructional materials for print-disabled students who qualify for NIMAS/NIMAC-derived materials and for those who do not. Suggested contract language for states and local education agencies (LEAs) who are coordinating with the National Instructional Materials Access Center (NIMAC) is available on the AIM web site: Sample Language for Adoption Contracts and LEA Purchase OrdersHL151 (at bottom of page).

District-Level Procedures

Part B, Section 613 of IDEA 2004 also requires that each local education agency (LEA) provide assurances to the Secretary of Education regarding the timely provision of accessible, alternate-format materials for students with identified print disabilities. With the exception of encouraging coordination with the state agency for assistive technology, the obligations for LEAs are identical to those required by states.

Coordination of Effort
Special Education

Since the mandate for accessible instructional materials originates in Special Education Law, the Special Education Department at the LEA level has primary responsibility for coordinating NIMAS compliance efforts. In most LEAs, however, the Special Education Department is often not involved in the procurement of core instructional materials such as textbooks. In that circumstance, the Special Education Department should initiate communication with the local coordinator of curriculum and instruction or any department heads or administrators who oversee textbook purchasing. In addition, any local or regional agency that provides assistive technology support should also be involved.

A document prepared by the NIMAS centers for state directors of special education, State Director of Special Education Suggested Responsibilities Regarding NIMAS & NIMAC,HL152 should provide resources for local directors as well. In particular, the ‘Sample Language for Adoption Contracts and LEA Purchase Orders’ section at the bottom of the posting’s web page provides useful guidance for including NIMAS-related language in contracts with curriculum publishers.

In addition to the mentioned suggested contractual languageHL153 section, local special education departments are encouraged to consider adding language to IEPs to address students’ needs for accessible, alternate format materials. The NIMAS centers have published a page which addresses this suggestion: Accessible Instructional Materials and the IEP.HL154 By including a consideration for alternate format materials in a student’s IEP, a local education agency effectively empowers an IEP team with decision-making authority. This is felt to be appropriate and recommended since the IEP team is responsible for determining and implementing a student’s educational plan.

Curriculum & Instruction

Local departments of curriculum and instruction or other administrative personnel and department heads have not traditionally been involved in the provision of instructional materials for special education students. While the new IDEA 2004 requirements do not mandate the active participation of these customary textbook purchasers, implementing necessary assurances would be difficult if not impossible without their active involvement.

Further, LEA personnel need to be made aware of the civil rights expectations of Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act and of the Americans with Disabilities Act (see Section 5, State-Level Procedures) with respect to accessible instructional materials. Finally, the Adequate Yearly Progress measurements of No Child Left Behind (NCLB) also require that the academic progress of students with disabilities be included in a school’s and district’s achievement statistics. For all these reasons, the purchase of core instructional materials must now take into account the needs of print-disabled students.

Assistive Technology

Local departments or regional agencies that provide and support assistive technology services and equipment to schools also need to participate in the curriculum materials acquisition process. These are the personnel with the most expert knowledge of the software and hardware available to, and currently in use in, a district’s schools. While these specialists may not need to be active participants in contractual negotiations with publishers, they do need to lend their expertise to the subsequent determination of how actual student-ready versions of these materials will be obtained. Will an LEA rely on national organizations like RFB&D, Bookshare.org, or the American Printing House for the Blind for audio, e-text, and Braille versions? Who will coordinate with the regional Instructional Materials Center or any other agency identified by a state as a coordinating user of the NIMAC? Will the formats available from these sources work effectively with a school’s existing hardware and software? In most instances, it will be the assistive technology personnel who will be able to answer these and other related questions.

The Copyright Conundrum

The existing discrepancy between the expectations of civil rights legislation and current exemptions to copyright law are spotlighted by the needs of students with print disabilities in the nation’s Pre-K–12 classrooms. Legal opinions from the Office of Civil Rights places responsibility for the provision of accessible, alternate format core instructional materials squarely on the shoulders of education institutions. The new provisions in special education law re-affirm that obligation, and, while they require the adoption of a standardized format (NIMAS) for the delivery of publisher-produced files to a central repository (NIMAC), materials created from this format may only be distributed to students whose qualifications meet existing copyright law. Students eligible for specialized-format materials produced via the NIMAS/NIMAC initiative are only a sub-set of those students who may be print-disabled; nevertheless, SEAs and LEAs are still responsible for providing materials to all print-disabled students. For a more extensive review of the challenge presented by this civil rights/copyright challenge, consult The Promise of Accessible Textbooks: Increased Achievement for All StudentsHL155 and the fact sheets produced by the Library of Congress, National Library Service: Opens new windowCopyright Law Amendment (1996)HL156 and Opens new windowTalking Books and Reading Disabilities (1997).HL157

The Chafee Amendment

As has been extensively referenced in other publications, the Chafee exemption to copyright was created as a “relief valve” in order to provide specialized-format conversion organizations and governmental agencies with the ability to create alternate versions of instructional materials for individuals with disabilities without the need to obtain prior permission from the copyright holder. It was not envisioned as the foundation of a large-scale, national file creation effort; although it now serves that function. Inadvertently, and, some might say, ironically, the very legislation that was devised to decrease discrimination against individuals who cannot effectively access or use print-based materials is now itself the basis for continuing discrimination. Under current NIMAS/NIMAC intellectual property constraints, some students with print disabilities will qualify and some students with print disabilities will not.

The Broader Challenge

Under existing copyright law, students unable to read print due to physical limitations—those with visual impairments, physical disabilities, and some with learning/reading disabilities—(once qualified by a physician) will be provided with access to NIMAS-derived materials. Many students with learning, attentional, hearing, or other cognitive disabilities; and those receiving accommodation under Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act, but not services under IDEA,  will not qualify for these materials, yet it is still the responsibility of SEAs and LEAs to provide them. Given this challenge, and the presently limited range of available solutions, the following options are likely to be considered:

Option 1: Give preference to publishers who offer accessible, alternate-format instructional materials directly for sale to SEAs and LEAs. For an example of language promoting this approach, see a reference to New York State's Chapter 377 statuteHL158 at the AIM Center web site. This option aligns with NIMAS/NIMAC provisions in IDEA 2004. Under Part B Section 612 and 613 an SEA or LEA—

…as part of any print instructional materials adoption process, procurement contract, or other practice or instrument used for purchase of print instructional materials, shall enter into a written contract with the publisher of the print instructional materials to—

(ii) purchase instructional materials from the publisher that are produced in, or may be rendered in, specialized formats.

This option promises the best opportunity for SEAs and LEAs to acquire high-quality, alternate format materials. It supports compensation for materials producers and rights holders, and builds a foundation for universally-designed materials for all students who struggle with the limitations of print. It is anticipated that this option will, however, take some time to implement; but its potential for expanding educational access for all students makes it worth the wait.

Option 2: Qualify students under existing Chafee exemption guidelines. The Opens new windowFinal Regulations for IDEA 2004HL159 (PDF format) refer to the Library of Congress regulations (36 CFR 701.6(b)(1)) related to the Act to Provide Books for the Adult Blind (approved March 3, 1931, 2 U.S.C. 135a). Blind persons or other persons with disabilities includes—

(i) Blind persons whose visual acuity, as determined by competent authority, is 20/200 or less in the better eye with correcting glasses, or whose widest diameter if visual field subtends an angular distance no greater than 20 degrees.
(ii) Persons whose visual disability, with correction and regardless of optical measurement, is certified by competent authority as preventing the reading of standard printed material.
(iii) Persons certified by competent authority as unable to read or unable to use standard printed material as a result of physical limitations.
(iv) Persons certified by competent authority as having a reading disability resulting from organic dysfunction and of sufficient severity to prevent their reading printed material in a normal manner.

The referenced statutes also define 'competent authority' as—

(i) In cases of blindness, visual disability, or physical limitations "competent authority" is defined to include doctors of medicine, doctors of osteopathy, ophthalmologists, optometrists, registered nurses, therapists, professional staff of hospitals, institutions, and public or welfare agencies (e.g., social workers, case workers, counselors, rehabilitation teachers, and superintendents).
(ii) In the case of a reading disability from organic dysfunction, competent authority is defined as doctors of medicine who may consult with colleagues in associated disciplines.

Both Opens new windowBookshare.orgHL160 and Opens new windowRecording for the Blind and DyslexicHL161 accept the documentation of students with print disabilities from any of the 'competent authorities' listed under (i) above.

Option 3: Localized solutions—scanning text. This option, while pragmatic in that it can generate alternate format materials in a timely manner, generally addresses only the needs of some print-disabled students (those who can benefit from e-text), perpetuates the status quo, and continues to place education personnel in the position of retro-fitting publisher materials. Nevertheless, in the absence of other alternatives, scanning does allow an LEA to meet the accessible instructional materials mandates of IDEA 2004 and the equal access expectations of Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act and of the Americans with Disabilities Act.

VI. Additional Resources

The following collection of resources is provided for those educators who wish to further explore the location, creation, distribution, or use of specialized-format materials.

Braille

Texas School for the Blind and Visually Impaired
Braille Instruction Resources
Opens new windowhttp://www.tsbvi.edu/instructional-resources

Washington Assistive Technology Alliance
Technology for Low Vision/Blindness
Opens new windowhttp://wata.org/resource/vision/index.htm

Mayer, A., National Public Radio
Nuances of Graphics, in Braille
Opens new windowhttp://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=3877885

New York Institute for Special Education
Blindness Resource Center
Opens new windowhttp://www.nyise.org/blind.htm

Audio

Audio Textbook—Sources and Resources
Opens new windowhttp://audioforbooks.com/2010/06/audio-textbook-sources-and-resources/

Accessible Books, Cooper, H., Texas School for the Blind and Visually Impaired
Opens new windowhttp://www.tsbvi.edu/Outreach/seehear/summer02/books.htm.

Digital Talking Book Projects, Mid-Illinois Talking Book Center
Opens new windowhttp://www.alliancelibrarysystem.com/indexmitbc.cfm

OverDrive Media Console, OverDrive, Inc.,
Opens new windowhttp://www.overdrive.com/software/omc/

Audible.com
Opens new windowhttp://www.audible.com

e-text

Finding e-books on the Internet, Second Edition (EBOOK), Dresner, A. National Braille Press
Opens new windowhttp://www.nbp.org/ic/nbp/EBOOK.html

Accessible E-books, E-texts and Textbooks, Blind Bookworm
Opens new windowhttp://www.panix.com/~kestrell/sources.html#braille

Design Guidelines for Electronic Publications, Multimedia and the Web; Guideline D: Access to Digital Publications, National Center for Accessible Media
Opens new windowhttp://ncam.wgbh.org/invent_build/web_multimedia/accessible-digital-media-guide

E-Text and Alternate Media Production, Access Technologists in Higher Education Network (ATHEN), E-Journal Issue #1
Opens new windowhttp://athenpro.org/node/34

Large Print

Reading Materials in Large Print: A Resource Guide, National Library Service
Opens new windowhttp://www.loc.gov/nls/reference/circulars/largeprint.html

Huge Print Press
Opens new windowhttp://www.hugeprint.com/

Best Place to Look for Large Print Books and Low Vision Aids? American Foundation for the Blind, AFB Message Board
Opens new windowhttp://www.afb.org/message_board_replies.asp?TopicID=1305&FolderID=8

Large Print Books and Magazines
Opens new windowhttp://blindreaders.info/lpbooks.html

VII. Embedded Hyperlinks

HL1. National Center on AIM
http://aim.cast.org/

HL2. NIMAS Center
http://aim.cast.org/collaborate/NIMASCtr

HL3. NIMAC
http://www.nimac.us

HL4. Recording for the Blind & Dyslexic (RFB&D)
Opens new windowhttp://www.rfbd.org/

HL5. Bookshare.org
Opens new windowhttp://www.bookshare.org/

HL6. Pearson’s HTMLBooks
Opens new windowhttp://www.pearsonschool.com/index.cfm?locator=PSZ16d&PMDbSiteId=2781&PMDbSolutionId=6724&PMDbSubSolutionId=&PMDbCategoryId=806&PMDbSubCategoryId=&PMDbSubjectAreaId=&PMDbProgramId=67381

HL7. UDL Guidelines
http://www.udlcenter.org/aboutudl/udlguidelines

HL8. National Center on Universal Design for Learning
http://www.udlcenter.org/

HL9. National Library Service Reference Directories
Opens new windowhttp://www.loc.gov/nls/reference/directories/sources.html

HL10. eligibility requirements
Opens new windowhttp://www.loc.gov/nls/signup.html

HL11. Federal Quota Program
Opens new windowhttp://www.aph.org/fedquotpgm/quickfed.htm

HL12. Instructional Resource Centers for the Blind and Visually Impaired
Opens new windowhttp://www.afb.org/Section.asp?SectionID=58&TopicID=255&DocumentID=2964

HL13. LOUIS database
Opens new windowhttp://www.aph.org/louis/switch.html

HL14. registered users
Opens new windowhttp://www.aph.org/louis/reposagree.html

HL15. Accessible Textbooks department (ATIC)
Opens new windowhttp://www.aph.org/louis/reposagree.html

HL16. National Braille Press
Opens new windowhttp://www.nbp.org/

HL17. Braille Institute of North America
Opens new windowhttp://www.brailleinstitute.org/

HL18. gh
Opens new windowhttp://www.ghbraille.com/

HL19. TechAdapt
Opens new windowhttp://www.techadapt.com/

HL20. Braille Transcription Resources List
Opens new windowhttp://www.nfb.org/nfb/Braille_transcription.asp?SnID=671186215

HL21. Sources of Braille Children's Books and Magazines
Opens new windowhttp://www.afb.org/Section.asp?SectionID=6&DocumentID=1249

HL22. Alternative Media Producers
Opens new windowhttp://www.aph.org/ampdb.htm

HL23. Trends in Braille and Large-Print Production in the United States: 2000–2004
Opens new windowhttp://www.afb.org/store/product.asp?sku=jvib000303&mscssid=U93XAN

HL24. Braille in DAISY: A Survey of the State of the Art
Opens new windowhttp://www.daisy.org/projects/braille/braille_in_daisy_state_of_the_art_survey.html

HL25. The Braille Literacy Crisis in America: Facing the Truth, Reversing the Trend, Empowering the Blind
Opens new windowhttp://www.marchforindependence.org/site/R?i=RP3iVhM3WJfE_zdtfAB_IQ

HL26. National Instructional Materials Accessibility Standard (NIMAS)
http://aim.cast.org/experience/technologies/spec-v1_1

HL27. National Instructional Materials Access Center (NIMAC)
Opens new windowhttp://www.nimac.us/

HL28. Duxbury Systems, Inc.
Opens new windowhttp://www.duxburysystems.com/dbt.asp

HL29. NimPro
Opens new windowhttp://www.duxburysystems.com/nimpro.asp

HL30. Computer Applications Specialties Company
Opens new windowhttp://www.braille2000.com/

HL31. Braile2000
Opens new windowhttp://www.braille2000.com/brl2000/V2/index.htm

HL32. Production of Braille Textbooks
Opens new windowhttp://www.afb.org/section.asp?SectionID=44&TopicID=192&DocumentID=1286

HL33. Conversion Services
http://aim.cast.org/learn/practice/production/conversion_services

HL34. American Printing House for the Blind
Opens new windowhttp://www.aph.org/

HL35. Bookshare.org
Opens new windowhttp://www.bookshare.org/

HL36. Accessible Textbooks Department (ATIC)
Opens new windowhttp://www.aph.org/atic/

HL37. Braille Certification Training Program
Opens new windowhttp://www.nfb.org/nfb/Braille_Certification.asp

HL38. Using Source Files
Opens new windowhttp://www.afb.org/learn/course.asp?eid=1317

HL39. Braille Textbook Transcriber Curriculum
Opens new windowhttp://www.afb.org/Section.asp?SectionID=44&TopicID=192&SubTopicID=75

HL40. National Braille Association
Opens new windowhttp://www.nationalbraille.org/

HL41. Reference Directory
Opens new windowhttp://www.loc.gov/nls/reference/directories/sources.html

HL42. Instructional Resource Center
Opens new windowhttp://www.afb.org/Section.asp?SectionID=58&TopicID=255&DocumentID=2964

HL43. NIMAS/NIMAC Coordinator
http://aim.cast.org/learn/policy/state/nimas_nimac_contacts

HL44. LOUIS database
Opens new windowhttp://www.aph.org/louis/switch.html

HL45. DAISY
Opens new windowhttp://www.daisy.org/about_us/dtbooks.asp

HL47. eligibility requirements
Opens new windowhttp://www.loc.gov/nls/signup.html

HL46. Braille and Audio Reading Download
Opens new windowhttps://nlsbard.loc.gov/instructions.html

HL48. via direct download
Opens new windowhttp://www.rfbd.org/AudioPlus-Downloadable/167/

HL49. Recording for the Blind & Dyslexic Frequently Asked Questions
http://aim.cast.org/learn/practice/acquisitiondistribution/rfbd_faq

HL50. Learning through Listening
Opens new windowhttp://www.learningthroughlistening.org/

HL51. Eligibility
Opens new windowhttp://www.rfbd.org/membership.htm

HL52. Talking Book Production Services
Opens new windowhttp://www.talkingbookproductions.com/services.asp

HL53. Audio Books and Magazines
Opens new windowhttp://blindreaders.info/audiobks.html

HL54. Amazon
Opens new windowhttp://www.amazon.com/

HL55. Ambling BookPlayer
Opens new windowhttp://amblingbookplayer.com/index.html

HL56. Ambling Books
Opens new windowhttp://amblingbooks.com/

HL57.Audiobook Player
Opens new windowhttp://itunes.apple.com/app/audiobook-player-2300-free/id315163423?mt=8

HL58. Bookmark
Opens new windowhttp://itunes.apple.com/WebObjects/MZStore.woa/wa/viewSoftware?id=326290323&mt=8&ign-mpt=uo%3D6

HL59. iBook
Opens new windowhttp://www.apple.com/support/ibook/

HL60. DAISY Reader
Opens new windowhttp://www.ohloh.net/p/android-daisy-epub-reader

HL61. Learn Out Loud
Opens new windowhttp://www.learnoutloud.com/Free-Audio-Video#directory

HL62. supported reading software
http://aim.cast.org/experience/training/tutorials

HL63. Balabolka
Opens new windowhttp://www.cross-plus-a.com/balabolka.htm

HL64. DSpeech
Opens new windowhttp://dimio.altervista.org/eng/

HL65. Read the Words
Opens new windowhttp://dimio.altervista.org/eng/

HL66. Spoken Text
Opens new windowhttp://www.spokentext.net/

HL67. ePUB format
Opens new windowhttp://www.idpf.org/

HL68. not incorporating all of the DAISY elements
Opens new windowhttp://www.altformat.org/index.asp?id=5&pid=383

HL69. ePUB revision
Opens new windowhttp://www.idpf.org/idpf_groups/IDPF-EPUB-WG-Charter-4-6-2010.html

HL70. Free Audio Books
Opens new windowhttp://websearch.about.com/od/howtofindanything/a/free-audiobooks.htm

HL71. catalogue
Opens new windowhttps://custhub.rfbd.org/SearchCatalog.asp

HL72. NIMAS/NIMAC Coordinator
http://aim.cast.org/learn/policy/state/nimas_nimac_contacts

HL73. Universal Design for Learning
http://www.cast.org/research/udl/index.html

HL74. UDL Editions
http://udleditions.cast.org/

HL75. HTMLBooks
Opens new windowhttp://www.pearsonschool.com/index.cfm?locator=PSZ16d&PMDbSiteId=2781&PMDbSolutionId=6724&PMDbSubSolutionId=&PMDbCategoryId=806&PMDbSubCategoryId=&PMDbSubjectAreaId=&PMDbProgramId=67381

HL76. Thinking Reader
Opens new windowhttp://www.tomsnyder.com/products/product.asp?sku=THITHI

HL77. AccessText
Opens new windowhttp://www.accesstext.org/

HL78. National Center on AIM
http://aim.cast.org/

HL79. mainstream sources of digital e-text
http://aim.cast.org/learn/practice/acquisitiondistribution

HL80. CK–12 Flexbooks
Opens new windowhttp://www.ck12.org/flexr/

HL81. Curriki
Opens new windowhttp://www.curriki.org/xwiki/bin/view/Main/WebHome

HL82. Agile Mind
Opens new windowhttp://www.agilemind.com/

HL83. Wikibooks
Opens new windowhttp://en.wikibooks.org/wiki/Main_Page

HL84. Free Reading
Opens new windowhttp://www.freereading.net/

HL85. The Future of Digital Textbooks
Opens new windowhttp://assets.en.oreilly.com/1/event/33/The%20Future%20of%20Digital%20Textbooks%20Presentation.ppt

HL86. Speak Up 2009 National Findings: Creating Our Future: Students Speak Up about their Vision for 21st Century Learning
Opens new windowhttp://www.tomorrow.org/speakup/pdfs/SU09NationalFindingsStudents&Parents.pdf

HL87. Bookshare.org
Opens new windowhttp://www.bookshare.org/

HL88. Accessible Book Collection
Opens new windowhttp://www.accessiblebookcollection.org/

HL89. Internet Archive’s Open Library
Opens new windowhttp://openlibrary.org/subjects/accessible_book

HL90. Bookshare Frequently Asked Questions
http://aim.cast.org/learn/practice/acquisitiondistribution/bookshare_faq

HL91. Library of Congress NLS program
Opens new windowhttp://www.loc.gov/nls/

HL92. eligible students with print disabilities
Opens new windowhttp://www.bookshare.org/web/AboutMembership.html

HL93. Acquisition and Distribution
http://aim.cast.org/learn/practice/acquisitiondistribution

HL94. The National Center for Supported E-Text
Opens new windowhttp://ncset.uoregon.edu/

HL95. public page of e-text-related resource
Opens new windowhttp://delicious.com/Supported_etext

HL96. Using Technology to Support Diverse Learners
Opens new windowhttp://www.wested.org/cs/tdl/print/docs/tdl/home.htm

HL97. comprehensive hand-out on sources of e-text
Opens new windowhttp://www.wested.org/cs/tdl/download/lib/2527

HL98. Electronic Books
Opens new windowhttp://www.lib.utexas.edu/books/etext.html

HL99. Kindle
Opens new windowhttp://www.amazon.com/Kindle-Wireless-Reading-Display-Generation/dp/B0015T963C

HL100. Nook
Opens new windowhttp://www.barnesandnoble.com/nook/index.asp

HL101. Aluratek Libre E-Book Reader Pro
Opens new windowhttp://blogs.zdnet.com/mobile-gadgeteer/?p=3083

HL102. Kobo Reader
Opens new windowhttp://blogs.zdnet.com/mobile-gadgeteer/?p=3035

HL103. Reading Rights Coalition
Opens new windowhttp://www.readingrights.org/

HL104. joint letter to all United States college and university presidents
Opens new windowhttp://www.ada.gov/kindle_ltr_eddoj.htm

HL105. Kindle DX
Opens new windowhttp://www.amazon.com/Kindle-Wireless-Reading-Display-Generation/dp/B0015TG12Q

HL106. Stanza
Opens new windowhttp://www.lexcycle.com/

HL107. eReader
Opens new windowhttp://www.ereader.com/ereader/software/browse.htm

HL108. Aldiko
Opens new windowhttp://www.aldiko.com/

HL109. Kobo
Opens new windowhttp://www.kobobooks.com/

HL110. FBReader
Opens new windowhttp://www.fbreader.org/FBReaderJ/

HL111. many others
Opens new windowhttp://www.mobileread.com/forums/showthread.php?t=70921

HL112. E-Boook Reader Matrix
Opens new windowhttp://wiki.mobileread.com/wiki/E-book_Reader_Matrix

HL113. E-book Reader Comparison Chart
Opens new windowhttp://www.wireless-reading-device.net/ebook-reader-comparison-chart

HL114. Multi-reader project
Opens new windowhttp://www.multireader.org/

HL115. iBooks with Voiceover for iPad
Opens new windowhttp://www.apple.com/ipad/features/ibooks.html

HL116. Vbookz
Opens new windowhttp://vbookz.com/v1/Home.html

HL117. e-book and audio book software
Opens new windowhttp://www.pure-mac.com/ebook.html

HL118. How to Scan a Book
Opens new windowhttp://www.proportionalreading.com/scan.html

HL119. Book Scanning
Opens new windowhttp://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Book_scanning

HL120. an extensive online resource
Opens new windowhttp://www.adobe.com/accessibility/

HL121. creating structured documents in Microsoft Word
Opens new windowhttp://www.webaim.org/techniques/word/#create

HL122. WebAIM
Opens new windowhttp://www.webaim.org/

HL123. Comparison of E-Book Formats
Opens new windowhttp://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Comparison_of_e-book_formats

HL124. DAISY web site
Opens new windowhttp://www.daisy.org/about_us/dtbooks.asp

HL125. NCX
Opens new windowhttp://www.daisy.org/glossary/12#term449

HL126. XML textual content file
Opens new windowhttp://www.daisy.org/glossary/12#term330

HL127 DAISY Consortium’s Tools page
Opens new windowhttp://www.daisy.org/tools/

HL128. Adobe Reader
Opens new windowhttp://www.adobe.com/products/acrobat/readstep2.html

HL129. Microsoft Reader
Opens new windowhttp://www.microsoft.com/reader

HL130. Adobe Digital Editions
Opens new windowhttp://www.adobe.com/products/digitaleditions/

HL131. Text-to-speech Package
Opens new windowhttp://www.microsoft.com/reader/developers/downloads/tts.aspx

HL132. plug-in for MS Word 2002
Opens new windowhttp://www.microsoft.com/reader/developers/downloads/rmr.aspx

HL133. ReaderWorks 2.0
Opens new windowhttp://www.overdrive.com/readerworks/

HL134. Side by Side WCAG vs. 508
Opens new windowhttp://jimthatcher.com/sidebyside.htm

HL135. TechMatrix
Opens new windowhttp://www.techmatrix.org/

HL136. Accesible Digital Media
Opens new windowhttp://ncam.wgbh.org/invent_build/web_multimedia/accessible-digital-media-guide

HL137. Reading Materials in Large Print: A Resource Guide
Opens new windowhttp://www.loc.gov/nls/reference/circulars/largeprint.html#two

HL138. LOUIS database
Opens new windowhttp://www.aph.org/louis.htm

HL139. Instructional Resource Centers for the Blind and Visually Impaired
Opens new windowhttp://www.afb.org/Section.asp?SectionID=58&TopicID=255&DocumentID=2964

HL140. comprehensive listing of large print sources
Opens new windowhttp://blindreaders.info/lpbooks.html

HL141. Scaled Vector Graphics
Opens new windowhttp://www.techterms.org/definition/vectorgraphic

HL142. Joint Photographic Experts Group
Opens new windowhttp://www.techterms.org/definition/jpeg

HL143. Portable Network Graphic
Opens new windowhttp://www.techterms.org/definition/png

HL144. State Director of Special Education Suggested Responsibilities Regarding NIMAS & NIMAC
http://aim.cast.org/learn/policy/statereresources/sea_sped

HL145. NIMAS Guidelies Checklist: A Self-Study Tool
Opens new windowhttp://www.afb.org/Section.asp?SectionID=58&TopicID=255&DocumentID=2944

HL146. State Contact List
Opens new windowhttp://www.resna.org/taproject/at/statecontacts.html

HL147. Association of Assistive Technology Act Programs
Opens new windowhttp://www.resnaprojects.org/nattap/at/statecontacts.html

HL148. Assistive Technology Industry Association
Opens new windowhttp://www.atia.org/

HL149. National Association of State Textbook Administrators
Opens new windowhttp://www.nasta.org/

HL150. Instructional Materials Adoption
Opens new windowhttp://www.aapschool.org/vp_adoption.html

HL151. Sample Language for Adoption Contracts and LEA Purchase Orders
http://aim.cast.org/learn/policy/local

HL152. State Director of Special Education Suggested Responsibilities Regarding NIMAS & NIMAC
http://aim.cast.org/learn/policy/statereresources/sea_sped

HL153. suggested contractual language
http://aim.cast.org/learn/policy/local

HL154. Accessible Instructional Materials and the IEP
http://aim.cast.org/learn/policy/local/accessible_iep

HL155. The Promise of Accessible Textbooks: Increased Achievement for All Students
http://www.cast.org/publications/ncac/ncac_accessible.html

HL156. Copyright Law Amendment (1996)
Opens new windowhttp://www.loc.gov/nls/reference/factsheets/copyright.html

HL157. Talking Books and Reading Disabilities (1997)
Opens new windowhttp://www.loc.gov/nls/reference/factsheets/readingdisabilities.html

HL158. Chapter 377 statute
http://aim.cast.org/learn/policy/state/new_york

HL159. Final Regulations for IDEA 2004
Opens new windowhttp://a257.g.akamaitech.net/7/257/2422/01jan20061800/edocket.access.gpo.gov/2006/pdf/06-6656.pdf

HL160. Bookshare.org
Opens new windowhttp://www.bookshare.org/web/AboutDisabilities.html

HL161. Recording for the Blind and Dyslexic
Opens new windowhttp://www.rfbd.org/membership.htm


Footnotes:

1- Perl, E. S. (2002). Federal and state legislation regarding accessible instructional materials. Wakefield, MA: National Center on Accessing the General Curriculum (NCAC). Retrieved 7/25/06 from http://www.cast.org/publications/ncac/ncac_policy.html#report3.

2- Library of Congress, National Library Service. (2006). NLS: That all may read. Retrieved 7/25/06 from Opens new windowhttp://www.loc.gov/nls/about_history.html.

3- Nail-Chiwetalu, B. (2000). Guidelines for accessing alternative format educational materials. Retrieved 7/25/06 from Opens new windowhttp://www.loc.gov/nls/guidelines.htm.

4- Emerson, R.W., Corn, A., & Siller, M.A. (March 2006). Trends in Braille and large print production in the United States: 2000–2004. Journal of Visual Impairment and Blindness, 100 (3).

5- Recording for the Blind and Dyslexic. The RFB&D story. Retrieved 7/26/2006 from Opens new windowhttp://www.rfbd.org/about.htm.


This report was updated with support from the AIM and NIMAS centers, cooperative agreements between CAST and the U. S. Department of Education, Office of Special Education Programs (OSEP), Cooperative Agreement no.s H327T090001and H327P090001. The opinions expressed herein do not necessarily reflect the policy or position of the U. S. Department of Education, Office of Special Education Programs, and no official endorsement by the Department should be inferred.

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Last Updated: 11/26/2013

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