In 2008, an Advisory Commission on Accessible Instructional Materials (AIM) in Postsecondary Education for Students with Disabilities was created to assess the availability and state of of accessible materials for students with disabilities in postsecondary education and to make recommendations for improving both the quality and quantity of these materials. This 19 member committee was asked to report on best practices in digital accessibility; to identify and support model programs for quality and efficiency while ensuring that they comply with copyright laws; to make recommendations on legal definitions as they relate to postsecondary education and students with disabilities; and help to inform federal legislation as it works to catch up with technology.
The committee published its final report in December 2011. The 174 page report identifies a number of barriers confronting postsecondary students with disabilities and noted that the solutions are as varied as the sources of the materials themselves. The report provides 18 official recommendations which span a variety of realms including amendments to legislation, directed market solutions, capitalizing on technologies, building capacity and funding demonstration projects.
While many of the findings of the committee are not revelations for those of you who have been working for and advocating digital accessibility all along, having it all laid out in an “official” comprehensive report is not only nicely validating but also very encouraging. While the committee admits, it doesn’t have all the answers, the report does open up the discussion to a broader audience and will hopefully pave the way to a fully accessible future.
The full report can be found on the ED.gov website.