AEM has been awarded a multiyear grant from the U.S. Department of Education's Office of Special Education Programs (OSEP) to lead the new Rhonda Weiss Center for Accessible IDEA Data. The Weiss Center will improve state capacity to provide equitable access to data under Part B and Part C of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) and enhance understanding of accessibility standards and best practices.
Through an inclusive design approach, the Weiss Center will work to remove barriers for individuals with, but not limited to, visual impairments, motor impairments, and cognitive disabilities to engage data in accessible, dynamic formats. Whether at the federal, state, or local levels, the team will also make it easier for individuals with disabilities to collect, report, analyze, and use IDEA data.
“We understand the landscape, and our work is inclusive by design,” said Fred Edora, Center co-director. “Our focus will be addressing specific IDEA data-related challenges and engaging in collaborative activities with other OSEP centers and trusted accessibility partners to ensure the equitable access and transparency of this data.”
AEM will lead the development of an accessible open-source solution that allows IDEA data to be used in formats that provide equitable access to people with disabilities, far exceeding current accessibility standards. AEM will also provide a range of technical assistance supports to improve state capacity under Part B and Part C of IDEA to assist stakeholders in developing and implementing strong processes to support accessible data practices.
“Fundamentally, our work is focused on outcomes for students with disabilities and their families,” said Bill Huennekens, senior advisor. “We’re working on improving the lived experience of individuals with disabilities, offering needed supports for those who require accurate, accessible data to inform and make policy decisions.”
AEM partners also offer a depth of experience developing and using accessible data products and working to advance practice in this space.
The Rhonda Weiss Center for Accessible IDEA Data honors Rhonda Weiss, a visually impaired Department attorney and disability advocate. Rhonda passed in October 2021.