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October 2, 2007
OSEP Funds 15-State Consortium to Speed Delivery of Accessible Instructional Materials to Students with Disabilities
CAST to coordinate $4.9 million, 18-month effort to implement IDEA 2004 mandate
Wakefield, Mass., October 2, 2007--The U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Special Education Programs (OSEP) has awarded 15 states and CAST, a leading education research and development organization, $4.9 million to launch the Accessible Instructional Materials (AIM) Consortium to improve the quality, availability, and timely delivery of accessible instructional materials to K-12 students with print disabilities. The office of Sen. Edward M. Kennedy (D-MA) notified CAST of the award, which covers an 18-month span, by telephone last week. The Federal grant will cover 100% of the costs associated with AIM Consortium activities.
The AIM Consortium will explore the most efficient means to provide students with disabilities the materials they need to access, participate, and achieve in the general educational curriculum. The major federal special education and general education laws—the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) and the No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB), respectively—both call on states to guarantee such access. IDEA 2004, in particular, mandates that all State Education Agencies adopt the National Instructional Materials Accessibility Standard (NIMAS).
"With this work, the AIM Consortium member states will blaze a trail for all U.S. states and territories by determining how best to meet the mandates of IDEA and NCLB and help improve academic outcomes for students with print disabilities,” said Chuck Hitchcock and Skip Stahl, the project’s Co-Directors. “The AIM Consortium will develop a system to efficiently and effectively acquire and deliver general education materials in accessible formats, such Braille, digital audio, electronic text, and large print.”
The AIM Consortium includes Delaware, Georgia, Iowa, Louisiana, Maine, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, New York, Pennsylvania, Utah, Vermont, Wisconsin, and Wyoming. Their efforts will be coordinated and supported by CAST, a nonprofit educational organization with a decade’s worth of experience leading major federal centers to improve access to the curriculum.
The goals of the AIM Consortium are to:
- Develop state systems for increasing the timely provision of accessible instructional materials for student with print disabilities;
- Ensure that state systems for identifying, acquiring, and using accessible instructional materials employ high quality procedures and practices; and
- Produce related products and services scalable and made available to all U.S. states and territories, thus contributing to nationwide efforts to improve academic outcomes for all students with disabilities.
Most of the $4.9 million in funds will be distributed among the 15 state partners to develop and share systems and best practices for procuring appropriate materials. Project Co-Directors Chuck Hitchcock and Skip Stahl of CAST also direct the NIMAS Centers at CAST, which facilitate the implementation of the national standard. Joy Zabala, Ed.D., a nationally known specialist in educational and assistive technologies, will join CAST’s staff as project manager. Dr. Zabala brings more than three decades of experience as a general and special educator, consultant, and professional developer to her role.CAST is a nonprofit education R&D organization that works to expand learning opportunities for all individuals, especially those with disabilities, through the development of innovative, technology-based educational resources and strategies. CAST is host of the federally funded NIMAS Development and Technical Assistance Centers for the delivery of accessible instructional materials. To learn more, go to www.cast.org.