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Accessible Educational Materials and the IEP


Diana Carl, Joy Zabala, & Joanne Karger


National Center on Accessible Educational Materials (AEM Center)


Questions often arise about how accessible educational materials (AEM) might be included in individualized education programs (IEPs). This resource discusses a number of locations in the IEP where it might be appropriate to refer to a student’s use of AEM. The right to accessible educational materials when needed is an inherent component of the obligation of SEAs and LEAs to ensure that students with disabilities receive a free appropriate public education (FAPE). IDEA specifically focuses on the provision of accessible formats of print instructional materials such as braille, large print, audio, and/or digital text when needed.  There is no specific requirement in IDEA regarding where to include the consideration of AEM in developing the IEP. However, to promote clarity and consistency across IEP teams, SEAs and LEAs are encouraged to provide guidance related to considering a student's need for accessible materials in the IEP.

Accessible Educational Materials (AEM)

Print- and technology-based educational materials designed to be usable across the widest range of individual variability.

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Individual Education Program (IEP)

Written plan individually developed for students identified as having a disability under IDEA.

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Local Education Agency (LEA)

Agency legally authorized to provide administrative control or direction of publically funded schools.

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Free Appropriate Public Education (FAPE)

Under IDEA, special education is provided at public expense, under public supervision, and without charge.

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Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA)

Federal law governing rights of children with disabilities to receive free and appropriate public education in least restrictive environment.

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Print Instructional Materials

Printed materials written and published for use in elementary and secondary school instruction, required by a SEA or LEA for use by students in classroom.

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

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Digital Text

Published material retrieved and read via a computer.

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Cite As

Carl, D., Zabala, J., & Karger, J. (2015). Accessible educational materials and the IEP. Wakefield, MA: National Center on Accessible Educational Materials. Retrieved [insert date] from