The Department of Education is soliciting grant applications for its Educational Technology, Media, and Materials for Individuals with Disabilities Program.

In a notice posted on the Federal Register, the Department of Education said the purpose of the grant program is to improve results for students with disabilities by promoting the development, demonstration, and use of technology; supporting educational media activities designed to be of educational value in the classroom for students with disabilities; providing support for captioning and video description that is appropriate for use in the classroom; and providing accessible educational materials to students with disabilities in a timely manner. The department said it has a total of $2 million available in funding.

With the grant funding, the Department of Education is looking to fund three cooperative agreements that will improve the learning opportunities for children and youth with disabilities by providing access to video programming through accessible high-quality audio descriptions and captioning. The department anticipates that the projects will run for roughly 60 months and will each receive between $650,000 to $666,000 per year.

The Federal Register notice said that improved access will be accomplished by “making available television programs that are appropriate for use in classroom settings and online learning environments that are not otherwise required to be captioned or described by the Federal Communications Commission.”

The selected projects will have to work with the Office of Special Education Programs (OSEP) project officer to caption and describe certain media in Spanish for eligible users who are learning English and live in households where Spanish is the dominant language.

The projects must achieve the following expected outcomes:

  • Increased access to captioned and described video programming by children with sensory disabilities and other disabilities;
  • Increased number of described and captioned educational video programs, both in English and in Spanish, available for use by children with disabilities;
  • Increased cost-effectiveness and efficiency in the production and dissemination of accessible video programming;
  • Increased quality and usability of described and captioned products;
  • Increased use of technology in the projects’ production and dissemination workflows and related processes; and
  • Increased alignment and coordination across the three projects and the Captioned and Described Educational Media Center.

As part of the application process, interested parties must also identify and show how new and emerging technologies and processes will improve the quality, availability, cost-effectiveness, and usability of accessible educational media, materials, and products for children with disabilities.

The program is open to state educational agencies (SEAs); local educational agencies (LEAs), including public charter schools that operate as LEAs under State law; IHEs; other public agencies; private nonprofit organizations; freely associated States and outlying areas; Indian Tribes or Tribal organizations; and for-profit organizations.

Applications are due by April 27, 2021.

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Kate Polit
Kate Polit
Kate Polit is MeriTalk SLG's Assistant Copy & Production Editor, covering Cybersecurity, Education, Homeland Security, Veterans Affairs