Education A Washington Roundup

Federal Aid Underwrites Textbook Accessibility

By Kathleen Kennedy Manzo — August 11, 2004 1 min read

A federally supported panel of publishers, education experts, technology specialists, and special education groups has established voluntary standards for electronic textbooks and instructional materials for students with disabilities.

The National Center on Accessing the General Curriculum, located at the Center for Applied Special Technology, a nonprofit education research organization in Wakefield, Mass., convened the panel with funding from the Department of Education.

Organizers say the National Instructional Materials Accessibility Standards are intended to encourage publishers to use standard electronic formatting for the materials to allow them to be easily adapted to Braille and audio formats.

The Education Department will also finance two centers to help states implement the standards.

“This forward- thinking, inclusive standard assures that digital instructional materials will be developed and distributed as equitably as possible for all students,” John D. Kemp, a founder of the American Association of People with Disabilities, said in a statement.

Traditionally, publishers have used different formats, which has often delayed the availability of editions for students with disabilities.