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"Fall for The Book," Meet Authors, Then Read Their Accessible Versions Thanks to AIM-VA, AEM

Available From AIM-VAThere is a lesson for parents and teachers of struggling readers who have a print disability and cannot decode the text or read traditional books as quickly as their peers. Book events consist mostly of books in print and inaccessible digital text. But there is a way to get many of those inaccessible books in converted formats that make them readable. 

Local Book Events  Meeting authors in person at book events inspires reading. For families with students who have print disabilities, their literacy-minded special education teams can connect individual students to a versatile book service. The accessible educational materials (AEM) program offers a reliable library with book conversions. It represents many authors and converts to many formats that meet individual student needs. This happens thanks to federal education funding and an exception to copyright law. There is no cost to schools or families for eligible students and the program operates nationwide. Guidance is available to help education teams provide AEM with hundreds of thousands of books and textbooks that are ready to read right now. 

Fall For A Book  As an example, "Fall for The Book" begins today in and around Northern Virginia and runs from Sept. 27 to Oct. 5. This is a grand literary event that is now in its 17th year at George Mason University, the City of Fairfax, and locations around the metro area. There are plentiful book-centered activities. Books featured are mostly in print or inaccessible digital formats chosen by publishers.

Who Qualifies? Students who are eligible for converted books with accessible digital text have learning disabilities, including dyslexia, or visual and physical impairments. Their education teams follow guidelines to consider and select accessible materials on their Individualized Education Program plans. Examples include audiobooks with specialized learning supports, PDFs, braille, large print and eight other choices that might aid learning. Students who need these can have more than one format at school and for homework.

Meeting Then Reading In Fairfax this week, author Wendy Shang will be at Barnes & Noble at 4 p.m. Students with AEM services can immediately download two of Shang's books from an AIM-VA partner, Bookshare: The Way Home Looks Now and The Great Wall of Lucy Wu. And, in another part of the state next month, the 2nd annual Virginia Children's Book Festival will be held on October 16-17 at Longwood University in Farmville. Young readers there can meet Shang as well as Kid lit/YA award-winning superstars—Jacqueline Woodson, Kwame Alexander and Cece Bell. AIM-VA has several of Woodson's and Alexander's books available that currently are converted to accessible versions.

Bell's work, El Deafo, is a graphic novel and is not converted, but it works well as a read-aloud. This story is both entertaining and a compelling tale of how a deaf girl's assistive technology, a listening device, becomes wildly empowering. Since assistive technology is used to deliver converted text in most AEM formats, this tale may be especially meaningful to readers with special needs. 

We Are AIM-VA   To find more information on eligibility and services for print disabilities, start on the AIM-VA home page for students in Virginia. In other states, contact a special education teacher or school administrator to learn about eligibility for AEM and mention the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act; or you can download the list of AEM state contacts.External Link to download the list of AEM state contacts (New Window).

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