Change display time — Currently: Eastern Daylight Time (EDT) (Event time)

Coordinating State and Local Systems for Providing Accessible Educational Materials (AEM)

Pennsylvania Convention Center, 113C

Participate and share: Interactive session
Streaming Session
Recorded Session
Save to My Favorites


Director of Technical Assistance
Cynthia Curry is Director of Technical Assistance at CAST. As Principal Investigator and Project Director for the AEM Center, she leads a national initiative to build coordinated state and local systems for providing accessible materials and technologies for all learners. Cynthia has enjoyed diverse roles for promoting accessibility and Universal Design for Learning (UDL) in both K-12 and higher ed, including as a middle and high school science teacher, statewide technology integration mentor, trainer and technical assistance provider, teacher education faculty, instructional designer, and disability services coordinator.
Digital Teaching and Learning Consultant
NC Dept. of Public Instruction
Donna Murray is a consultant for the Office of Digital Teaching and Learning at the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction, supporting the design and implementation of effective digital teaching and learning environments. She serves as a consultant for digital accessibility and universal design, and she co-leads the NC Accessible Educational Materials leadership team. Donna has been engaged in the implementation of the North Carolina Digital-Age Learning Initiative, with a focus in the areas of digital content and virtual/blended learning. As a parent to a disabled child, Donna is passionate about inclusive design and the intersection of accessibility and technology.
Technical Assistance Specialist

Session description

The National AEM Center will share recommendations and resources from a cohort of seven states in their third year of creating coordinated statewide systems for providing AEM and technologies for learners with and without disabilities. You'll leave with tools to replicate these systems in your own settings.

Purpose & objective

For some students with disabilities, educational materials and technologies present barriers to their participation in the general education curriculum. Some students may have visual disabilities that make it difficult to see and interact with information. Other students may be unable to hold materials or manipulate technologies because of a physical disability. Still others may be unable to read or derive meaning because of a learning disability. Federal statutes, including civil rights legislation and statutes in several states, require states and districts to ensure that students with disabilities access, participate, and achieve in the general education curriculum and receive accessible educational materials (AEM) and accessible technologies.

The National AEM Center, funded by the U.S. Department of Education, leads a cohort of seven states that are creating coordinated statewide systems for providing high-quality and timely AEM and accessible technologies for all learners who need them. Using the AEM Center’s Quality Indicators, leadership teams in each state are partnering with a cohort of their school districts to conduct self-assessments, identify goals, and implement data-driven guidelines, procedures, practices, and training. What each leadership team is learning is informing their own statewide implementation of a coordinated system for providing AEM and accessible technologies.

As a result of attending this session, participants will:
Understand the meanings of “accessible,” “accessible educational materials (AEM),” and “accessible technologies.”
Know the federal laws that relate to the responsibilities of states and districts to provide AEM and accessible technologies.
Identify strategies and resources used by states in the National AEM Cohort that can be applied to their own settings.
Practice the use of no-cost tools for implementing the AEM Quality Indicators, including self-assessments, a study guide, and a roadmap template.
Access additional no-cost AEM Center resources for acquiring, creating, and using AEM and accessible technologies.

More [+]


The following outline features the content and activities of this session:
Introduction and objectives - 2 minutes
Administration of a series of three brief polls to understand our audience and the variability of readiness to improve the provision and use of AEM and accessible technologies for students with disabilities, with time for interpretation and discussion of results - 5 minutes
Introduction to the meaning of “accessible” with a 4-minute video (closed captioned and audio described) of students with varied disabilities discussing how they use AEM and accessible technologies. Participants turn and talk to nearby peers using the following prompt to guide the discussion: “How do the stories of the students in the video change, reinforce, or enhance your understanding of AEM and accessible technologies?” - 8 minutes
Overview of the National AEM Cohort, including origin, goals, and participating states and districts - 3 minutes
Explanation of the AEM Quality Indicators with participants being provided an accessible digital document with the statements, intents, and critical components of each. Participants independently review with the following prompt as a guide: “Look for areas of strength and weakness for your state or district agency” - 6 minutes
Opportunity for participants to learn about how a state in the AEM Cohort is implementing the Quality Indicators via a video featuring the state leaders. Participants will choose which state story via a poll - 6 minutes
Presentation of the AEM Center’s no-cost tools that the National AEM Cohort is employing to build their coordinated systems for providing AEM and accessible technologies, including two versions of a self-assessment, study guide, and roadmap template. Participants will be guided to interact with each during the presentation - 15 minutes
Reflections and discussion with the following guiding questions: “How prepared is your state or district to begin implementing the Quality Indicators?” “What supports do you need to start engaging stakeholders?” - 10 minutes
Closing remarks featuring additional AEM Center resources and staff contact information - 5 minutes

More [+]

Supporting research

National Center on Accessible Educational Materials

K-12 Critical Components of the Quality Indicators for the Provision of Accessible Educational Materials Accessible Technologies

OERs: Ensuring Inclusive Learning in Uncertain Times

The Right of Students with Disabilities Who Need Accessible Educational Materials to Receive These Materials in a Timely Manner

Accessible Educational Materials in the IEP

AEM Navigator

Shaheen, N. L. (2022). Technology accessibility: How U.S. K-12 schools are enacting policy and addressing the equity imperative. Computers & Education. 179(April 2022), 1-12.

More [+]

Session specifications

Grade level:
Skill level:
Chief technology officers/superintendents/school board members, Curriculum/district specialists, Principals/head teachers
Attendee devices:
Devices required
Attendee device specification:
Smartphone: iOS, Windows, Android
Laptop: Chromebook, Mac, PC
Tablet: Android, iOS, Windows
Subject area:
Special education
ISTE Standards:
For Education Leaders:
Systems Designer
  • Lead teams to collaboratively establish robust infrastructure and systems needed to implement the strategic plan.