SPECIAL EDUCATION VOCABULARY
Accessible Educational Materials (AEM)
Sometimes also referred to as Accessible Instructional Materials (AIM)
Instructional materials—curricula, books, worksheets, etc.—that are modified so that students can better access them. Examples of AEM include Braille, larger print text, and audio format.
For more information on AEM, see the National Center on Accessible Educational Materials's AEM Basics.
A range of equipment that helps individuals with disabilities adapt to daily life, specifically with self-care. As with AT devices, adaptive equipment may run from very simple to something much more complex. Examples include lifts, standing frames, wheelchairs, bath chairs, etc. For more information on adaptive equipment, see the Adaptive Design Association.
Augmentative & Alternative Communication (AAC)
AAC is any form of communication other than oral speech (sign language, facial expressions, text, etc.). AAC devices help individuals who are non-verbal or who have limited speech express their thoughts. Examples include communication books/boards and voice input/output software.
Free and Appropriate Public Education (FAPE)
FAPE is a term used in the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). It means that children who get special education services should get those services at no cost to their families, and that services should be tailored to meet the individual needs of each student. For more information on FAPE, see Understood's At a Glance: Free and Appropriate Public Education (FAPE).
Individualized Education Program (IEP)
A student’s Individualized Education Program (IEP) is an important legal document that outlines the student’s needs and the special education services that he or she is entitled to receive. An IEP team creates the IEP and updates it every year at an annual IEP meeting. For more information, see Advocates for Children of New York's Guide to Special Education [PDF].
Least Restrictive Environment (LRE)
The term "least restrictive environment" (LRE) comes from the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). It means that to the maximum extent possible, a child with a disability should be educated with his/her non-disabled peers. In other words, your child should receive the supports and services he/she needs to progress academically in the most integrated setting possible.
Related services are defined by the U.S. Department of Education as "developmental, corrective, and other supportive services, including psychological, counseling and medical diagnostic services and transportation." Related services can include assistive technology, speech and language therapy, occupational therapy (OT), physical therapy (PT), counseling, hearing and vision services, orientation and mobility services, and school health services.
Universal Design for Learning (UDL)
Under the Universal Design for Learning concept, schools are expected to offer all curricular material in multiple formats. Text, audio, visual, and hands on formats should all be used so that students who take in information in a variety of ways will have access to the same subject matter. Similarly, proper use of UDL means that students will be able to demonstrate what they've learned through multiple formats as well.
For more information, see the National Center on Universal Design for Learning's What is UDL?.