State Director of Special Education Suggested Responsibilities Regarding NIMAS & NIMAC
v4.1 updated 3/20/14
Each item presented below lists an action, required or suggested activities, and a suggested timeline for implementation. Items 1–3, 9–11, and 14 are required by statute or proposed regulation. Other items are suggested actions and activities. See below for background information and definitions of key terms.
- Adopt NIMAS. Complete and submit Office of Special Education Program (OSEP) IDEA 2004 Part B Assurances as part of the Federal Fiscal Year (FFY) 2006 application for funds. Submitted by 4/21/06 and each year thereafter.
- Opt in or out of the NIMAC. Complete and submit Office of Special Education Program (OSEP) IDEA 2004 Part B Assurances as part of the Federal Fiscal Year (FFY) 2006 application for funds. State Education Agency (SEA) assumes role of coordinating agency with the NIMAC. Submitted by 4/21/06 and each year thereafter.
- For States that opt out of the NIMAC, provide an assurance to OSEP that you will provide instructional materials to blind persons or others with print disabilities in a timely manner. Complete and submit OSEP IDEA 2004 Part B Assurances as part of the FFY 2006 application for funds. Submitted by 4/21/06 and each year thereafter.
- Name a NIMAS/NIMAC primary contact to improve communications.
- Designate a SEA Special Education employee as primary contact for NIMAS- and NIMAC-related matters. Inform NIMAS Technical Assistance (TA) Center of contact information by email to firstname.lastname@example.org and NIMAC to email@example.com. Now.
- Review the NIMAS section of this website for background information, technical specifications, and available resources. Now.
- Review the NIMAC website for background information and available resources. Now.
- Organize a NIMAS or Accessible Learning Materials Coordinating Council for the state to improve communication among those with shared responsibility for the successful implementation of the NIMAS. Suggested council members:
- Primary contact,
- Assistive technology (AT) agency representative,
- Textbook Administrator (if state has one),
- Education technology program representative
- Services for blind/low vision students representative
- State-wide assessment office representative
- Parent representative (e.g., from Parent Training and Information (PTI) centers)
- Educational publisher representative
- Identify and review current SEA and Local Education Agency (LEA) approaches for providing specialized formats to students with print disabilities. With the NIMAS/NIMAC Coordinating Council as a resource, the primary contact reviews existing systems for production and delivery of specialized formats available to and within the state. Now.
- Require that LEAs choose to either coordinate or not (opt in or out) with the NIMAC as part of LEA assurances to the SEA. This is a requirement for LEAs in order to be eligible to receive IDEA funds. The SEA's application package sent to LEAs should include the assurance at 613(a)(6). If the SEA has already sent out its application package and did not include the NIMAS assurance at 613(a)(6) it may send out a separate opt in or out selection form to be returned to SEA with signature. The form should make clear that this is an eligibility requirement. Resources available at—
- Develop procedures to ensure the timely delivery of specialized versions to students with print disabilities. (If you have a NIMAS Coordinating Council, you may want to have it work on this.) Consider the following topics:
- In keeping with established NIMAC policies, implement approaches for downloading NIMAS filesets from the NIMAC (who will be allowed to do so, where, for what purpose, access by contractors, etc.).
- Develop policies regarding appropriate materials to be included in SEA and LEA requests for files submitted to the NIMAC.
- Identify approaches to developing and delivering specialized formats to students with print disabilities.
- Consider use of national authorized entities such as American Printing House for the Blind (APH), Bookshare, and Learning Ally. Explore various membership arrangements such as student, school, district, county, state-level agreements with such entities.
- Consider use of state-level Instructional Resource Center/s (IRC) for Braille, large print, and tactile graphics.
- Consider contracts with conversion houses to develop specialized versions for students within the state.
- Consider purchase of specialized formats directly from K–12 publishers if and when available.
- Define policies regarding the purchase, use, and protection of print instructional materials when specialized formats are provided to students in electronic formats.
- Consider purchasing a state license for essential hardware and software. Where appropriate, add items that meet state-specific specifications to the state bid list.
- Consider naming Bookshare and/or Learning Ally as state authorized users. This promotes the timely creation of specialized formats from NIMAS filesets by authorizing conversions when a request is made on behalf of a qualified student.
- Coordinate with the NIMAC (applies to states that elect to coordinate or opt in to the NIMAC). Guidance will be provided by the NIMAC Director regarding—
- Authorized users for the state (provides direct access to NIMAC source files for conversion to student-ready versions and might include a state-funded accessible materials center, an IRC, a regional technology center, a college or university with a contract to prepare student-ready versions, a trusted contractor, etc.
- Access by national authorized entities to the NIMAC.
- Access to the NIMAC by LEAs.
- Limitation-of-Use Agreements as required by the NIMAC.
- Encourage documentation of student-preferred specialized formats within each Individualized Education Program (IEP) as appropriate. Language will be suggested by the NIMAS TA Center and posted to the NIMAS web site. Note: It is important for students with print disabilities who use text-to-speech (TTS), for example, to have considerable experience with such accommodations within the general curriculum prior to its use with assessment. Provide guidance to LEAs now regarding IEPs prepared during the '06–07 school year and periodically thereafter.
- Establish and distribute policies and procedures to protect the intellectual property rights of K–12 publishers. Work with NIMAS TA Center (and NIMAC if the SEA coordinates with the NIMAC) to develop and implement policies and procedures that consider the qualified student populations to be served and accessible materials use policies designed to protect the intellectual property rights of K–12 educational publishers. Summer and Fall 2006 and periodically thereafter.
- For States that opt in (i.e., elect to coordinate with the NIMAC). Textbook Adoption States:
- When an agreement with a K–12 publisher is made to adopt print instructional materials, the SEA requires the publisher to submit a NIMAS fileset to the NIMAC, or purchases instructional materials from the publisher that are produced in, or may be rendered in, specialized formats.
- Sample language for contracts: see additional information on page 6.
- When an LEA is allowed to purchase print instructional materials that are not included on an adoption list, the procedure for Open Territory States should be used.
- When agreement with a K–12 publisher is made to purchase print instructional materials, an LEA that has opted in requires the publisher to submit a NIMAS fileset to the NIMAC, or purchases instructional materials from the publisher that are produced in, or may be rendered in, specialized formats.
- Sample language for purchase orders: see additional information below this table.
- For states that opt out (i.e., elect not to coordinate with the NIMAC). Textbook Adoption States:
- SEAs and/or LEAs purchase source files when and if they are available directly from publishers, establish a secure access, distribution, and tracking system, and arrange to use such files to produce student-ready specialized formats, and/or
- SEAs and/or LEAs purchase student-ready versions when and if they are available directly from publishers, and/or
- SEAs and/or LEAs establish a workflow for scanning print materials and producing or otherwise obtaining audio books, Braille, large print, and other appropriate specialized formats in a timely manner.
- LEAs purchase source files when and if they are available directly from publishers, establish a secure access, distribution, and tracking system and arrange to use such files to produce student-ready specialized formats, and/or
- LEAs purchase student-ready versions when and if they are available directly from publishers, and/or
- LEAs establish a workflow for scanning print materials and producing or otherwise obtaining audio books, Braille, large print, and other appropriate specialized formats in a timely manner.
- Monitor the provision of appropriate specialized formats to students with print disabilities. Record-keeping—
- Maintain a summary of SEA-level activities related to the preparation and delivery of specialized formats.
- Require that LEAs maintain a record of local activities related to the preparation and delivery of specialized formats.
- In coordination with the state assistive technology (AT) agency or agencies, identify and share LEA best practices regarding accessible materials and appropriate access hardware and software. Categories might include—
- Determining student needs
- Reading tools (TTS, screen readers, etc.)
- Training general and special education staff
- Monitoring progress
- Application of skills to state-wide testing
- Providing information regarding available student-ready versions to the APH LOUIS database.
National Instructional Materials Accessibility Standard (NIMAS)
A technical standard used to produce XML-based source files for print-based educational materials.View in glossary
Office of Special Education Programs (OSEP)
Provides leadership and financial support to assist states and local districts in improving results for children and youth with disabilities.View in glossary
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.View in glossary
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.View in glossary
State Education Agency (SEA)
Agency responsible for supervision of a state’s or territory’s public elementary and secondary schools.View in glossary
State and local agencies who coordinate with the NIMAC by directing publishers to provide NIMAS-conformant files to the NIMAC.View in glossary
A person who cannot effectively use printed materials because of a disability.View in glossary
Content, activity, or technology that is usable by everyone with equivalent ease of use.View in glossary
Equipment or system where principal function is creation, conversion, duplication, control, display, interchange, transmission, reception, or broadcast of data.View in glossary
Local Education Agency (LEA)
Agency legally authorized to provide administrative control or direction of publically funded schools.View in glossary
Non-profit organization or governmental agency with primary mission to provide specialized services to blind or other persons with disabilities.View in glossary
American Printing House for the Blind (APH)
Largest non-profit organization creating products and services for people who are visually impaired.View in glossary
Images designed to be touched rather than seen.View in glossary
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.View in glossary
Agent of a coordinating agency with access to the NIMAC database to download NIMAS-conformant files.View in glossary
LUA (Limitation-of-Use Agreement)
Legal agreement ensuring NIMAS filesets are converted for the exclusive purpose of producing accessible instructional materials for print disabled.View in glossary
Individual Education Program (IEP)
Written plan individually developed for students identified as having a disability under IDEA.View in glossary
Artificial production of human speech, using special software and/or hardware.View in glossary
Digital form or representation of a sound which may be used for non-visual access to text and images.View in glossary
Background Information Regarding NIMAS
Intellectual Property Rights Protections
Section 306 of IDEA 2004, which amends the Copyright Act, provides publishers with the right to transfer electronic materials to the NIMAC as long as they possess the print rights to such materials. This protection is to ensure the delivery of materials for which electronic rights may not have been obtained or are simply not available.
This protection does not apply to files delivered directly to SEAs and LEAs by publishers for the purpose of creating specialized formats for students with print disabilities.
SEA- and LEA-Produced NIMAS Filesets
In the case where an SEA or LEA has developed a K–12 textbook and/or related printed core instructional materials and wishes to submit such materials to the NIMAC, technical expertise will be needed to produce NIMAS-conforming XML content, a conforming XML package file, organized and properly conforming images, and a PDF file of the title page or other page that references the ISBN if appropriate. Any SEA or LEA that intends to prepare and submit such materials should be prepared to demonstrate that they possess all of the intellectual property rights for content to be submitted.
As is the case with K–12 textbook and supplementary publishers, such files will have to be validated by the NIMAC or will be returned for revision.
Suggested LEA Practices
Include recommendation for accessible print materials and the tools required to use such materials within the IEP.
Provide training and support for technologies to be used by students with print disabilities. Consider use of similar formats for state-wide assessments where allowed.
Sample Language for Adoption Contracts and LEA Purchase Orders
In addition to ensuring that all print-disabled students receive appropriate accessible versions of core curriculum materials in a timely manner, SEAs and LEAs will play an important role in obligating publishers to submit essential source materials to the NIMAC. This will be 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.
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.
A sample statement that could be included in a contract or purchase order follows:
American Foundation for the Blind (AFB)
Non-profit organization that expands possibilities for people with visual impairments.View in glossary
XML (EXtensible Markup Language)
Universal format for structured documents and data. Set of rules, guidelines, and conventions for designing text formats for data.View in glossary
Identifies all other files in a publication and provides descriptive and access information about them.View in glossary
PDF (Portable Document Format)
Universal computer file type used to exchange and view documents on any computer with Adobe Acrobat or Foxit Reader software installed.View in glossary
International Standard Book Number (ISBN)
Unique book identifier used to identify particular book title, edition, publisher, and geographic group of origin.View in glossary
XML files valid to the NIMAS technical specification used to create accessible specialized formats of print-based instructional materials.View in glossary
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 immediately notify the publisher of its obligation to submit NIMAS file sets 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)).
This is page __ of __ of this contract or purchase order.
Adopt: An SEA or LEA commits to the use of NIMAS source filesets to create student-ready versions.
Blind or other person with print disabilities: The term 'blind or other persons with print disabilities' means children served under IDEA and who may qualify in accordance with the Act entitled 'An Act to provide books for the adult blind', approved March 3, 1931 (2 U.S.C. 135a; 46 Stat. 1487) to receive books and other publications produced in specialized formats.
NIMAC: The National Instructional Materials Access Center at the American Printing House for the Blind (APH) serves as the national repository for NIMAS filesets. By statute, it was established on 12/3/05 and became operational on 12/3/06.
NIMAS: The National Instructional Materials Accessibility Standard is a technical specification developed for the purpose of promoting the development of high quality and consistent source files to be used to create specialized formats for students with print disabilities.
Open Territory State: A state that is not a textbook adoption state and generally allows LEAs to determine which textbooks and related core materials are appropriate for each LEA.
Opt In: An SEA or LEA chooses to coordinate with the NIMAC. Note that this is not intended to prevent SEAs or LEAs from maintaining current practices, but it is generally thought that the use of the NIMAC will prevail once the national repository is populated with K–12 textbooks and related printed core materials source files. Another choice available under opting in is to acquire student-ready versions or source files directly from K–12 publishers when and if such materials are available.
Opt Out: An SEA or LEA chooses not to coordinate with the NIMAC and assumes full responsibility for producing and delivering specialized formats to students with print disabilities in a timely manner.
Print Instructional Materials: The term 'print instructional materials' means printed textbooks and related printed core materials that are written and published primarily for use in elementary school and secondary school instruction and are required by a state educational agency or local educational agency for use by students in the classroom. In most cases, an SEA or LEA will determine what should be considered "related printed core materials."
Specialized Formats: The term 'specialized formats' has the meaning given the term in section 121(d)(3) of title 17, United States Code with the addition of large print formats.
Textbook Adoption State: A state that has established policies and procedures for evaluating and recommending textbooks and related print instructional materials for use within that state for the purpose of achieving standards.
References to NIMAS within IDEA 2004
Part B, Section 612 (a)(23) and Section 613 (a)(6) of IDEA
Part D, Section 674 (e) of IDEA
Title III, Section 306, which amends the Copyright Act in 17 USC 121.
IDEA Part B Assurances
24a. The state adopts the NIMAS for the purposes of providing instructional materials to blind persons or other persons with print disabilities, in a timely manner, after the publication of the NIMAS in the Federal Register in accordance with 20 U.S.C. 1412(a)(23)(A).
24b.1 The SEA coordinates with the NIMAC and not later than two years after the date of enactment of the IDEA of 2004 the SEA as part of any print instructional materials adoption process, procurement contract, or other practice or instrument used for purchase of print instructional materials, enters into a written contract with the publisher of the print instructional materials to:
- 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
- purchase instructional materials from the publisher that are produced in, or may be rendered in, specialized formats. 20 U.S.C. 1412(a)(23)(C).
24b.2 The SEA has chosen not to coordinate with the NIMAC but assures that it will provide instructional materials to blind persons or other persons with print disabilities in a timely manner. 20 U.S.C. 1412(a)(23)(B).
Have questions or comments? Please contact: firstname.lastname@example.org
Blind or Other Persons with Print Disabilities
Eligible students must qualify under IDEA and the 1931 Act to receive books and publications produced in specialized formats.View in glossary
Current or revised electronic and information technology accessibility standards developed under Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act.View in glossary