Visible & Invisible Differences

Some of the common student skills that relate to a student’s need for specialized formats include:

Cognitive skills:

Since specialized formats are exactly the same content presented in different ways, it is important to revisit a student’s ability to understand the content and gain information from presentation of the content in a specialized format. If the information is too dense, modified content or alternative materials may be needed.
Ideas: Text Compactor or Wikipedia Simple English

Vision, visual skills & print disabilities:

Students who are blind or visually impaired or those who have print disabilities who cannot read standard print materials will need alternative ways to access instructional materials such as braille, large print, or text to speech. Additionally, some students who are not visually impaired as defined by IDEA may have visual field or visual tracking deficits which affect their ability to use text. When students have visual tracking deficits, the team may institute a trial period with one or more specialized formats to determine an appropriate format.
Ideas: Digital Documents, Text to Speech Tools: Balabolka, Google Translate, Images with Alt Text.

Motor skills and physical stamina:

A student’s ability to hold textbooks and turn pages will impact the need for AIM. Additionally, limited strength and physical stamina may indicate the need for AIM.
Ideas: Digital documents

Expressive and receptive language skills:

The student’s language skills affect his/her ability to understand print materials.
Ideas: Graphic Organizers, eText with prompts

Listening ability:

A student’s ability to listen and remember what is heard will have an impact on the format that the team selects. Formal and informal tests of listening comprehension, auditory memory, and other listening skills may be used to help the team determine the appropriate specialized format(s) a student might need.
Ideas: Audio files- mp3 format, podcasts, videos, to practice listening and for review

English language learner:

Students with disabilities who are also English language learners (ELL) may have difficulty listening to auditory text and may also need supported text as a specialized format.
Ideas: Digital documents using Google Translate


A student’s short term and long term memory abilities should be considered when choosing specialized format
Ideas: Whiteboard or screencast recordings of concept demonstration