When I was in high school, I was unable to read the textbooks that my teachers used in class. Since my middle school didn’t use textbooks, I was surprised to find out that I had to work with them so much. Because the books were older, I was unable to find copies of them to purchase digitally. Thankfully, I was able to use AIM-VA to receive accessible digital copies of my textbooks.
What is AIM-VA?
Accessible Instructional Materials Virginia, also known as AIM-VA, is an organization affiliated with the Department of Education. They provides accessible materials, not just textbooks, to students with IEPs and print disabilities across Virginia. Each state has their own version of this program.
Through their service, I was able to receive math, science, Spanish, and English textbooks. The math and science textbooks were the most important because each letter, number, and symbol is important. This is less important with English books, since the brain can miss a letter while reading and still understand what word is on the page. I benefited tremendously from these textbooks, and have written some tips on how to help other students benefit from receiving services from AIM-VA as well.
Digital rights managers can order materials for the next school year starting in late March. Once your schedule is finalized, I recommend placing the order. Some textbooks can be downloaded instantly, others may require processing time. Do not wait until a month into the school year to order textbooks- after all, shouldn’t all students get their textbooks at the same time, not just the sighted ones?
Order ALL the books
Math and science are just as important as English and history. If someone can’t see small letters, they can’t see small numbers either. Also remember that some classes may use multiple textbooks, and it helps to have all materials available. These materials come at no cost to the school, so why not order everything the student will need?
Think beyond textbooks
Do you use workbooks? How about music books? AIM-VA can make all of these materials accessible. This includes materials used in the classroom such as worksheets and pamphlets that the school might not know how to make accessible. They come in a file format than can be accessed by students with print disabilities quickly and easily.
- Ten Spooky Inaccessible Assignments and How To Fix Them
- Common File Types For Vision Impairment and Print Disabilities
Choose a software
Good old Adobe reader works great for reading textbooks, but not all students may be able to take a laptop to school. Back up files to storage solutions such as Google Drive (and ensure they are deleted after the student is done using them for the year). That way, the materials are available on any device. They can also be input into programs like Notability, which allows students to easily read and annotate documents.
The textbooks and workbooks I receive from AIM-VA were very high quality, and I was able to easily follow along in class using my laptop. Since my first high school did not have wifi available for students, I especially appreciated that the files were available to be downloaded offline so I didn’t have to worry about losing access to the files. AIM-VA is a great resource, and ensures that students with print disabilities have the right to read in an accessible format alongside their peers.