Accessible Content for All: Building Equity & Engagement with Tech Tools

Resources, Glossary, & Research


Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)

Assistive Technology Act of 2004


CAST's 2023 tipsheet for creating accessible docs: Tips for Accessible Education Materials

Communicating Digital Accessibility Requirements (CAST)

Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) 2004

National Center on Accessible Educational Materials (AEM)

OCR video series

SETC's 8 Tips to Make Curriculum Content Accessible

SETC's webpage:  Accessible Educational Materials (AEM)

SETC's Accessible Educational Material (AEM) Checklist

SETC’s webpage: Access to Storybooks

SETC’s webpage:  Access to Chapter Books, Text Books and More

SETC's webpage: Accessibility of Learning Management Systems for Distance Learning

SETC's webpage:  Accessibility Tools Across Platforms

SETC's webpage:  Expression Ideas with Multimedia Support

SETC's webpage:  Learn more about CC and translation tools

SETC's webpage: Converting Worksheets with iPad

SETC's Links and Resources to Support Students with Specific Disabilities

SETC's webpage:  Making Worksheets Accessible

SETC's webpage: Options to Support the Writing Process

SETC's webpage: Read Aloud Accessibility Features and Tools 

SETC's Tech Accessibility Profile

SETC's webpageLearn more about CC and translation tools

Course Glossary 

  • Accessibility - The practice of making information, activities, and/or environments sensible, meaningful, and usable for as many people as possible.
  • Accessible digital text - malleable and can be easily transformed in many different ways depending upon student needs and the technology being used to display the content.
  • Accessible Reading Format - customized format for specific needs such as audiobooks, braille, large print, following with highlighted text.color backgrounds and text style.
  • Accessible Technology Tools - are universal support technology tools that are available to all students to support a wide range of educational needs.  Accessible technologies may include supports such as text to speech, speech to text, word prediction, graphic organizer and translation tools.
  • Accommodation - An alteration of the environment, curriculum format, or equipment that allows an individual with a disability to gain access to content and/or complete assigned tasks.
  • ADA - Americans with Disability Act is a law which mandates that public and private spaces must be made accessible to individuals with sensory, cognitive and physical impairments or limitations. 
  • AEM:  Accessible Education Materials are content and materials designed to be accessible to all learners, including those with disabilities, ensuring equitable access and engagement with educational resources.
  • AEM formats - The customarily accessible formats include braille, tactile graphics, large print, audio and accessible digital text.
  • AI - Artificial Intelligence simulates human intelligence through the programming of a computer or machine to perform complex tasks. 
  • Alternative Access -  Adaptive computer input methods or devices to enable a person with disabilities to use a computer. Input methods may include touch, switch, mouse and eye gaze. Devices may include joysticks, modified keyboards, or modified keyboards.  
  • Alternative Pencil - is anything that provides a student with access to all 26 letters of the alphabet for use in writing.  Access for students with significant disabilities often involves partner assisted scanning.
  • Alternative Text: A concise description added to an image or graphic in digital content, providing a text alternative for those with low vision or blindness or others who prefer text descriptions.
  • Annotation - a note or drawing added to an image, diagram, or document.
  • Assistive Technology: Tools, devices, software or equipment that assist individuals with disabilities in enhancing their functional capabilities and promoting independence in various aspects of life.
  • AT Consideration Process - The process of considering if a student requires Assistive Technology (AT) to make progress toward academic and IEP goals, as well as have access to core grade-level curriculum.
  • Audio or Voice Note - is an audio file that is created by speaking into an electronic device which can be saved and accessed later as a reminder or to support the brainstorming process in writing.
  • CAST National AEM Center - Center for Applied Special Technologies:  National Accessible Educational Materials Center
  • CC - Closed Captions (Captioning) or subtitles are both processes of displaying text on the screen of a computer or television for people who cannot hear the audio or need both audio and visual to make a video fully accessible. 
  • Computer Platform - A computer or hardware device and/or associated operating system, or a virtual environment, on which software can be installed or run. 
  • Descriptive Text (or audio description): is a text or voice narration that provides concise and objective descriptions of visual elements within a video to make it accessible for individuals who are blind or have low vision or others who have difficulty processing visul information.
  • Digital Accessibility -  is the design of technology content, products and environments using assistive technology to help people with various disabilities have full access to that content or service.
  • Digital Platform - is a structured learning system that provides an accessible library of online resources including courses, multimedia content, archives and evaluations.
  • Digital Screen Reader - software program that allow users with visual or learning difficulties to read the text that is displayed on the computer screen with a speech synthesizer or braille display.
  • EPUB - is an accessible ebook file format for digital books, compatible with eReaders on your smartphone, tablet, or computer.
  • Graphic Organizer -  is a powerful organization tool to support writing that uses visual design templates to demonstrate relationships between facts, concepts or ideas.
  • Human narrated books - read by a human person and recorded as an audio file
  • Instructional Materials Adoption - is a process guided by state legal requirements that is used to select and approve instructional materials for students.
  • Keyboard Strokes: Using specific combinations of keys on a keyboard to navigate, interact, and access digital content and applications without relying on a mouse or other pointing devices, ensuring accessibility for individuals with mobility or dexterity impairments.
  • Learning Management System - is a software application or web-based technology that provides a framework to facilitate the learning process.
  • Live translated Captions - is the process of taking audio and simultaneously converting it into text in real-time.
  • NIMAS - The National Instructional Materials Access Center is a conformance standard for providing accessible textbook files, related core instructional materials and digital instructional materials to students in the classroom.
  • OCR: Optical Character Recognition is a method for scanning text and using text recognition to convert a picture of that text into a format that can be read aloud and edited.
  • OCR - Office of Civil Rights
  • POUR - The acronym POUR stands for Perceivable, Operable, Understandable and Robust.  These 4 qualities define an accessible user experience.
  • RFP's - Request For Proposal is a document that an organization or school district creates as a proposal to a potential vendor for purchase of curriculum content or a technology tool.
  • Select to Speak or Speak Selection - is a feature that reads text on a screen after it has been selected with mouse cursor of touch access method.
  • SLIDE - is a mneumonic that stands for styles, links, images, design and evaluation which represent the guidelines for creating accessible documents and presentations.
  • STT - Speech to Text (AKA speech recognition or dictation) is technology that enables human speech to be converted automatically into text. 
  • Tactile Graphics - images, such as maps, charts, and graphs that are designed to be interpreted by touch.
  • Translation - is the process of reworking text from one language into another to maintain the original message and communication. 
  • Transcripts - provide a text record of the dialogue, narration, or audio elements in a video or audio file, enabling accessibility for those who are deaf or hard of hearing or those who prefer reading over listening.
  • TTS - Text to Speech is the conversion of printed or digital text to audio.
  • Universal Technology -  A range of technology tools, devices, and software that are accessible and available to all students, facilitating learning and accommodating diverse needs and abilities.
  • WCAG - Web Content Accessibility Guidelines set a global standard for making web content more accessible for people with disabilities and others who need accommodations for vision and hearing loss, limited movement, speech disabilities, photosensitivities, learning disabilities and cognitive limitations.
  • Web Browser - is a type of software that allows users to find and view websites on the internet.
  • Word Prediction - is a digital tool that support spelling by predicting words as the user types letters based on spelling, syntax, and frequency of word use.


Carl, D., Zabala, J., Karger, J., & Curry, C. (n.d.). AEM Center Brief: Accessible Educational Materials in the IEP. National Center on Accessible Instructional Materials. 

CAST (2018). Universal Design for Learning Guidelines version 2.2. Retrieved from

Edyburn, D. L. (2010). Would You Recognize Universal Design for Learning if You Saw It? Ten Propositions for New Directions for the Second Decade of UDL. Learning Disability Quarterly, 33(1), 33–41.

Fullan, M., & Quinn, J. (2015). Coherence: The right drivers in action for schools, districts, and systems.      Corwin Press.

Lewis, T. (2022). High-leverage practices for Inclusive Classrooms. (J. McLeskey, B. Billingsley, M. Brownell, & L. Maheady, Eds.). ROUTLEDGE. 

Maheady, L., Billingsley, B., Brownell, M., & Lewis, T. (2019). High-leverage practices for inclusive classrooms. J. McLeskey (Ed.). New York, NY: Routledge.

National Center on Accessible Educational Materials. (2021, July 20). Module 4: Selecting Accessible Digital Materials & Technologies. CAST.

National Center on Accessible Educational Materials. (n.d.). Vetting for accessibility. CAST.