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Do Accessible Instructional Materials Work?

Every educator would like an answer to this question, as accessible instructional materials, AIM, become more prevalent in classroom use. Think of AIM as the books from Bookshare or content “read” in non-traditional ways, beyond print on a page. Often reading AIM combines multiple modalities such as seeing a word and hearing it at the same time.

Good news is emerging that yes, AIM does help improve student outcomes. We have early, encouraging indications from informal research, not from controlled studies, pointing to better performance.

The first sign of success comes from an informal survey of teachers in K-12 who use Bookshare books with their students with print disabilities. Eighty-five percent of teachers responding to the survey said that “using Bookshare helps their students keep up with their classmates and assignments.”

Then, the National Center on Accessible Instructional Materials at CAST posted a video produced by the Missouri Assistive Tech Advisory Council under a contract with the AIM Consortium; all organizations funded by OSEP in the U.S. Department of Education. This study found that of the 20 students using AIM:

  • 95% graduated on time
  • 85% improved in academic achievement
  • 55% increased the amount of time in general education classrooms and decreased the time spent receiving support
  • 95% decreased their reliance on human assistance
  • And 55% had increased parental satisfaction.

One source of AIM in this study, not the only source, was Bookshare books.

Students have been telling us for years that AIM helps them feel smart and do better on tests. Now we’re moving from anecdotal evidence to informal results. I’m sure more proof points will emerge in the coming months and years.

If you have evidence from your schools and districts, please comment and share.

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