Accessible Instructional Materials (AIM) and Universal Design for Learning (UDL): What Does it Look Like in Practice? by Dave Edyburn

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Lately I have been thinking a lot about the relationship between Accessible Instructional Materials (AIM) and Universal Design for Learning (UDL). Today, let’s explore some examples to see if we can draw any conclusions about what AIM and UDL look like in practice. Let’s begin by assuming that a teacher is going to teach a science lesson about bears. As she has always done, the teacher plans to assign students to read about bears on pp. 214-221 in the textbook. Do you anticipate any problems when the students enter the classroom tomorrow?

• How will the student who is blind access the print textbook? (Work with his itinerant TBVI to have the pages scanned into JAWS?)

• How will the students who have reading and learning disabilities, with independent reading levels several grades below their grade placement, be able to read and understand the reading assignment? (Work with their special education teacher to obtain a copy of the textbook from NIMAS or Bookshare?)

• How will English as Second Language (ESL) students access the text since they do not have grade level English skills to be able to read the text independently? (Work with their ESL teacher to obtain a version of the text in their native language?)

Each of these types of students begins the lesson with a disadvantage since they do not have access to instructional materials that provide them with the access they need. How many times a day do you think these scenarios play out in classrooms across the country?

What responsibility does the teacher have for providing students with the instructional content they need in a format that is accessible for their special learning needs? Or, should accessible instructional materials be the responsibility of the publisher to provide? Let’s consider some options:

• What if content could be provided in both print and digital format? Learning to Live With Bears Good information, however, the PDF is not fully accessible. Wikipedia: Bear Again, good information, however, the text is written at a very advanced level.

• What if content could be provided at a level that is written so students with reading or language deficits could understand the key ideas? Simple English Wikipedia: Bear Very useful for a variety of learners.

• What if the reading assignment was presented in a web-based format where the text is tiered to address students interest and background knowledge, and accessibility supports such as changing the font size, altering the background color, test to speech, and second language translation were built into the delivery system? Bears (Full disclosure: This is a web page I created using a tool that I helped develop.). Is this what AIM looks like when it is delivered to all students using UDL?

Do you have examples that you like to share with others to help them understand the design and use of accessible instructional materials? Some of my favorites include: - Literacy Center Education Network

- Star Child

- The Brain: From Top to Bottom

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