The Alaska Center for Accessible Media
The Alaska Center for Accessible Media (akCAM) is your one stop shop for accessible instructional materials (AIM) across the state of Alaska. If you’re a parent, teacher, or school administrator who wants to learn more about AIM, or schedule training on AIM and/or NIMAS services, hardware or software, we can help!
akCAM is a program run by ATLA, funded by the Alaska Department of Education and Early Development via a grant.
What is AIM?
Accessible Instructional Materials (AIM) are specialized formats of learning materials like textbooks that can be used by all learners who are unable to read or use standard printed materials.
- Large print
- Audio and digital text
A large part of learning in many classrooms involves textbooks and other print materials. Being unable to access these important materials is a barrier to learning. AIM bridges that gap and allows students who would otherwise struggle with reading to focus on learning the material.
How do I get AIM?
Bookshare and Learning Ally are online libraries of digital print materials that are available to qualifying students of all ages. Bookshare is federally funded and can provide materials free of charge to students and qualifying institutions. Bookshare provides digital text in the DAISY format. Learning Ally charges a nominal fee for its services and provides both digital and audio instructional materials.
Textbook publishers often have digital files associated with their print materials. School districts have the option to include accessible formats with all new textbook orders as part of the purchasing agreement. Not all electronic files are accessible, so some modifications may be required to meet the needs of the specific students who will be assigned such textbooks.
The National Instructional Materials Accessibility Center (NIMAC) is a federally-funded, national electronic file repository that makes NIMAS files available for the production of core print instructional materials in specialized formats. NIMAC receives source files in NIMAS format from textbook publishers, and makes these files available for download through an online database. Once downloaded, files can be used to create a variety of specialized formats, such as braille, audio, or digital text, on behalf of qualifying blind, visually-impaired or print-disabled students in elementary or secondary school.
Locally created materials – instructional materials developed by teachers and other educators – also need to be provided in accessible formats. The prevalence of electronic tools such as word processing programs and websites helps by allowing teachers to create the materials once and distribute them in the appropriate format according to student need.
The Internet offers many free and open-source files. Project Gutenberg, Google Books, and your local library’s online catalog are all great online resources. As always, remember to download responsibly!
Who Can I Contact for Assistance?
Housed here at ATLA, akCAM can provide information and help find textbooks and other print materials across a variety of sources. We can assist in getting textbooks in different specialized formats, and provide training and support for districts looking to implement AIM on a district or school-wide basis. Costs can vary, but asking for help is free! Give us a call today, and like us on Facebook!