Accessible Instructional Materials (AIM)/ Accessible Educational Materials (AEM)


Some students with disabilities have difficulty reading printed materials. Some of those students are considered to have a “print disability”. Students with a print disability have the right to have printed curriculum materials provided to them in an ‘alternative format’. Alternative formats, as referenced here, are braille, large print, audio, and digital text. Students who need curriculum materials in an alternative format are to be provided those materials in a “timely manner”. Timely manner is defined in the Iowa Administrative Code Regarding Special Education (2007) as “at the same time as other children receive instructional materials”.

AIM can be acquired from a variety of sources, including:

  1. Publishers: Digital versions of textbooks you already own may be available free or titles may be purchased directly from the publisher
  3. Iowa Dept. of the Blind
  4. Other sources: Typically online sources
  5. Locally created: Books and teacher materials can be scanned by the local school for students who qualify

Generally speaking students on an IEP with a print disability can acquire materials from any of the above sources. Again, generally speaking, students on a 504 plan with a print disability can acquire materials from any of the above sources, also.

There are many factors to be considered when thinking about accessible instructional materials for students.  There are also many sources to support the acquisition of AIM/AEM.

Information sources

True AIM
The Iowa Assistive Technology Liaison group, along with the Department of Education, put together the True AIM website. This has now been folded into Iowa’s DOE site.
True AIM provides guidance specific to students in Iowa schools.

The PACER Center and the National Center on Accessible Instructional Materials (AIM Center) have collaborated to provide guidance to families, educators, and State and Local Education Agencies around the provision of AIM for students. Two documents which are aimed at families, but are also great for educators, especially those new to AIM are…

Accessible Instructional Materials (AIM) Basics for Families
This introductory document gives a nice overview of what AIM are, who needs it, and how it is acquired.

Accessible Instructional Materials (AIM) A Technical Guide for Families and Advocates
Similar to the above document, this guidebook goes into more detail providing links to additional resources including the law, acquiring AIM (including links to audio book sources) and more.

Iowa Department of Education provides links to these legal resources…

AIM Sources


Source Type Notes
NIMAC NIMAS Repository for NIMAS filesets NIMAS & Non-NIMAS Iowa AMP; free for students with print disability
IDB (IA Dept for Blind’s Library Services) NIMAS & Non-NIMAS Iowa AMP; free for Iowa students with print disability
Project Gutenberg Non-NIMAS Free public domain
Learning Ally (Formerly RFB&D) Non-NIMAS Subscription-based
Accessible Book Collection Non-NIMAS Subscription-based Non-NIMAS Purchase Non-NIMAS Purchase
Barnes & Noble Non-NIMAS Purchase
iBooks app for iPad, iPhone & iPod Non-NIMAS Purchase & free public domain books within the app


Tools for Accessing AIM

Tool Platform Notes
UDL TechTool Kit Mac and Win Myriad resources for students with disabilities
GhostReader Macintosh Inexpensive text-reader with high quality voices
NaturalReader Mac and Win Free, basic text-reader; Purchase option for better voices
Kurzweil 3000 Mac and Win Text-reader with study skills supports
Read&Write Gold Mac and Win Integrated toolbar with text-reader and study skills supports
Safari Reader Mac and Win / iOS Isolates main text on page for fewer distractions
TechMatrix Mac and Win Compare features of various applications
iBooks iOS (iPad, iPod &/or iPhone) App: Free app; Books for free or purchased; Text-to-speech enabled
Voice Dream Reader – Text to Speech iOS (iPad, iPod &/or iPhone) App: Download and read text from Bookshare and other sources