VDOE Grant Awarded to Mason Faculty in Support of AIM-VA Initiative

January 23, 2024

Marci Kinas Jerome

A Virginia Department of Education (VDOE) grant providing funding for AIM-VA, an initiative that makes accessible instructional materials available to eligible Virginia K-12 students at no cost, has been awarded to Marci Kinas Jerome, associate professor in the Special Education program at George Mason University’s School of Education. AIM-VA is administered by the Helen A. Kellar Institute for Human disAbilities which is located on Mason’s Fairfax, Virginia campus.

Accessible instructional materials are print-based educational materials presented in alternate formats such as braille, large print, audio, and digital text, designed to meet the individual learning needs of students with disabilities that make it difficult for them to access standard text. To be eligible for services provided by AIM-VA, students must have an Individualized Education Program (IEP) and an identified print disability. A student with a print disability is one who cannot effectively read print because of a visual, physical, perceptual, developmental, cognitive, or learning disability.

In describing this initiative, Jerome emphasized that AIM-VA removes barriers to learning for these students by providing them access to alternate text formats and the assistive technology needed to use those formats. Jerome added that in the absence of the services available through AIM-VA, students who face challenges in reading traditional text would be denied learning opportunities that come with being able to physically read.

VDOE developed AIM-VA as a statewide K-12 public education service to carry out the requirements of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act. As referenced on the AIM-VA website, this act requires that both state and local educational agencies ensure that blind persons or other persons with print disabilities are provided with accessible instructional materials in a timely manner to ensure they receive a Free Appropriate Public Education (FAPE) that meets their needs.

To learn more about this initiative, please visit the AIM-VA website. For information about degree offerings in Mason’s Special Education program, we encourage you to visit the program website.