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Local Purchase Order and Contract Language

LEAs play a critical role in ensuring that all instructional media that is purchased is accessible and usable by all students. IDEA includes important specifications related to the provision of print instructional materials which mean printed textbooks and related printed core materials. In the ever-changing world, in addition to print instructional materials, SEAs and LEAs are incorporating more and more digital technology and online learning materials in their purchases. Text, images, audio, and video all need to be accessible. The AEM Center has launched an initiative, Purchase Accessible Learning Materials (PALM), to address this issue. The purchase of both print and digital instructional materials will be addressed below.

For Print Instructional Materials

In addition to ensuring that all print-disabled students receive appropriate accessible versions of core curriculum materials in a timely manner, SEAs and LEAs play an important role in obligating publishers to submit essential source materials to the NIMAC. This is accomplished by contract or by including appropriate language in purchase orders that require publishers to submit NIMAS-conformant files to the NIMAC, or provide assurances that they have already done so, for a specific title and version that is to be purchased.

The following Q&A is excerpted from the U.S. Department of Education, Office of Special Education Program’s Building the Legacy: IDEA 2004 web site.

Questions and Answers on the National Instructional Materials Accessibility Standard (NIMAS)
Revised August 2010

Question A-8: Instructional materials such as textbooks are typically acquired through textbook purchasing offices at the SEA or LEA level. Are these offices required to comply with NIMAS requirements in their purchase of textbooks and other instructional materials?

Answer: If an SEA chooses to coordinate with the NIMAC, the SEA must, as part of any print instructional materials adoption process, procurement contract, or other practice or instrument used for purchase of print instructional materials, enter into a written contract with the publisher of the print instructional materials to— 1) require the publisher to prepare and, on or before delivery of the print instructional materials, provide to the NIMAC electronic files containing the contents of the print instructional materials using the NIMAS; or 2) “purchase instructional materials from the publisher that are produced in or may be rendered in specialized formats.” (See 34 CFR §300.172(c) and 300.210(a).) The SEA must ensure that all public agencies take all reasonable steps to provide instructional materials in accessible formats to children with disabilities who need those instructional materials at the same time as other children who receive instructional materials (34 CFR §300.172(b)(4)). Therefore, SEAs should inform all relevant offices and parties within the State, including LEAs, of their obligation to meet the requirements for access to instructional materials. For example, SEAs and LEAs should communicate these requirements to textbook adoption committees, as well as procurement and contracting offices.

Please note that, in a letter dated June 22, 2012, the U.S. Department of Education encouraged SEAs and LEAs to ask publishers to also use the MathML3 Structure Guidelines recommended by the NIMAS Center, stating that these guidelines reflect the most effective method of providing accessible print instructional materials involving mathematical and scientific content to students who are blind or with print disabilities and do not conflict with the minimum requirements in the NIMAS.

  1. In TEXTBOOK ADOPTION STATES, it is important that LEAs’ state-level adoption agreements (contracts) include the requirement that NIMAS filesets be prepared and deposited in the NIMAC. Many adoption states also allow OFF-LIST PURCHASES and LEAs should be encouraged to include the NIMAS language suggested below or SEA-recommended NIMAS language in or with LEA purchase orders.
  2. In OPEN TERRITORY STATES, LEAs are reminded to include NIMAS language suggested below or SEA-recommended NIMAS language in or with LEA purchase orders.

Sample Contract Language

A sample statement that could be included in a contract or purchase order follows:

Local Education Agency (LEA)

Agency legally authorized to provide administrative control or direction of publically funded schools.

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Accessible

Content, activity, or technology that is usable by everyone with equivalent ease of use.

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Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA)

Federal law governing rights of children with disabilities to receive free and appropriate public education in least restrictive environment.

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Print Instructional Materials

Printed materials written and published for use in elementary and secondary school instruction, required by a SEA or LEA for use by students in classroom.

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State Education Agency (SEA)

Agency responsible for supervision of a state’s or territory’s public elementary and secondary schools.

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Technology

Equipment or system where principal function is creation, conversion, duplication, control, display, interchange, transmission, reception, or broadcast of data.

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Audio

Digital form or representation of a sound which may be used for non-visual access to text and images.

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Video

Recording, reproducing, or broadcasting of moving visual images, made digitally or on videotape.

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Accessible Educational Materials (AEM)

Print- and technology-based educational materials designed to be usable across the widest range of individual variability.

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PALM Initiative (Purchase Accessible Learning Materials)

Create demand for, promote, and encourage development of accessible digital materials and technology to be used by all students.

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National Instructional Materials Access Center (NIMAC)

Central national repository established at American Printing House for the Blind to store, validate, maintain and disseminate NIMAS filesets.

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NIMAS-conformant files

XML files valid to the NIMAS technical specification used to create accessible specialized formats of print-based instructional materials.

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Print Disability

Blindness or other disability that prevents the effective use of printed materials.

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By agreeing to deliver the materials marked with "NIMAS" on this contract or purchase order, the publisher agrees to prepare and submit, on or before ___/___/_____ a NIMAS file set to the NIMAC that complies with the terms and procedures set forth by the National Instructional Materials Access Center (NIMAC), (IDEA Title I, Part D, sec. 674(e)). The publisher also agrees to mark up materials eligible for NIMAS submission that contain mathematical and scientific instructional content by using the MathML3 (refer to latest applicable version) module of the DAISY/NIMAS Structure Guidelines as posted and maintained at the DAISY Consortium web site. Should the vendor be a distributor of the materials and not the publisher, the distributor agrees to notify the publisher immediately of its obligation to submit NIMAS filesets of the purchased products to the NIMAC. The files will be used for the production of alternate formats as permitted under the law for students with print disabilities (IDEA Title I, Part B, sec. 612(a)).

For additional information about NIMAS, please refer to http://aem.cast.org.
For additional information about the NIMAC, please refer to http://nimac.us.

This is page __ of __ of this contract or purchase order.

In keeping with existing practice, some state and local education agencies may meet NIMAS-related requirements contained in IDEA by contracting with curriculum publishers directly to purchase accessible, student-ready versions. Some have referred to this approach as the "market model" and expect that at some point accessible instructional materials will be ordered directly from publishers at the same time as print textbooks are ordered.

For Digital Materials: Purchase Accessible Learning Materials (PALM)

National Instructional Materials Accessibility Standard (NIMAS)

A technical standard used to produce XML-based source files for print-based educational materials.

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Accessible Instructional Materials (AIM)

Print-based educational materials converted into specialized formats, related to the requirements of the IDEA statute.

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PALM logo

Accessible learning materials are educational materials that are fully usable by all students. As classrooms are adopting more digital content and online learning media, to ensure this is possible, both the content and the technology used to deliver and interact with the content need to be accessible, so both must be considered. For example, both an e-book (content) and an e-book reader (delivery system) need to be accessible. The same applies to e-learning systems. A computer used to access the information and the content within an e-learning system needs to be accessible. If only one component is accessible, then the materials will not be accessible to all learners. Detailed information, resources, and suggested actions are available on the PALM Initiative web pages on the AEM Center web site.

Sample Contract Language

Contract language for the purchase of accessible digital materials could be combined with contract language for the purchase of print materials. A sample statement for digital materials is—

e-book

Electronic version of a book.

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Vendor represents that the materials delivered under this contract or purchase order conform to, at a minimum, the standards for accessibility as set forth in—

Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, as amended (29 U.S.C. § 794d), and its implementing regulations (36 C.F.R. § 1194), or Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.0 (minimum of Level AA conformance).

Should any portion of the materials not conform to the aforementioned standards of accessibility, vendor agrees to provide a written explanation of the reason for non-conformance, and grants permission to create accessible versions for students who meet the appropriate copyright criteria.

For additional information, please refer to  http://aem.cast.org.