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AEM Guide to AMPs

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Revised January 2019

The purpose of this guide is to provide information related to the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) which requires state and local education agencies to ensure that students with disabilities receive accessible formats of print instructional materials when needed.

IDEA contains important requirements regarding the timely provision of printed textbooks and related printed core materials in specialized formats (braille, large print, audio and digital text) to students with visual, physical, and other disabilities that prevent reading and using information in traditional printed materials. While only students served under IDEA who also meet copyright criteria may use materials sourced through the National Instructional Materials Access Center (NIMAC), IDEA regulations make it clear that all students with disabilities who need access to instructional materials must be provided with them whether or not the NIMAC can be used as a source for the needed materials. IDEA specifically refers to printed materials that are written and published primarily for use in elementary and secondary schools and are required by a state education agency or local education agency for use by students in a classroom. However, educators should be aware students needing accessible formats of these materials will typically also require other instructional materials in accessible formats.

There are various sources for acquiring accessible materials, and every learner may not meet the eligibility requirements to receive materials from every source. Keep in mind that many individuals may need more than one accessible format and may need materials from more than one source. In addition, students needing accessible formats of textbooks will typically also require other instructional materials (e.g., teacher-made materials, assessments) in accessible formats. 

For each individual with a disability who may need accessible materials, determine:

  • what accessible materials are needed in which format 
  • which sources have the materials in the format needed, and
  • the eligibility criteria established by the source for obtaining materials from that source.

Authorized Users (AUs)

Only authorized users (AUs) registered with the NIMAC may download files directly from the NIMAC or assign them to an accessible media producer (AMP) for conversion to student ready materials. AMPs may also be designated as an AU by a state education agency (SEA).

Accessible Media Producers (AMPS)

Accessible media producers (AMPs) are authorized entities that produce and distribute accessible, user-ready materials to eligible people. AMPs may use source files formatted according to the National Instructional Materials Standard (NIMAS) to convert materials into student-ready specialized formats or they may produce materials from a variety of other sources. Materials produced by AMPs are generally available to students and others who meet copyright criteria to receive specialized formats; however, only those students who are dually qualified (meet copyright criteria and are served under IDEA) can receive specialized formats created from NIMAS filesets obtained from the NIMAC.

There are increasing numbers of private and nonprofit accessible media producers in the U.S., each offering a distinct set of services. For a listing of AMPs, the American Printing House for the Blind (APH) maintains a searchable Accessible Media Producers Database. The information below presents the services and eligibility requirements for three major AMPs that provide services on a national level: American Printing House for the Blind (APH), Bookshare, and Learning Ally.

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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Local Education Agency (LEA)

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

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

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Digital Text

Published material retrieved and read via a computer.

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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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Authorized User

Agent of a coordinating agency with access to the NIMAC database to download NIMAS-conformant files.

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Accessible Media Producers (AMPs)

Produced specialized formats of instructional materials for use by blind or other persons with print disabilities.

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Authorized Entity

Non-profit organization or governmental agency with primary mission to provide specialized services to blind or other persons with disabilities.

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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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American Printing House for the Blind (APH)

Largest non-profit organization creating products and services for people who are visually impaired.

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American Printing House for the Blind (APH)

No Other Place Like It: American Printing House for the Blind

APH materials and products are designed primarily for people who are blind or visually impaired. APH supplies educational materials for registered blind and visually impaired students in the U.S. in early intervention, preschool, elementary and secondary education through the Federal Quota Program. APH uses a variety of means, including NIMAS source files from the NIMAC, to produce instructional materials in digital and hard-copy braille, large print, and digital text files for e-readers. APH materials may require the use of mainstream technology as well as assistive technology devices.

Contact information:
1839 Frankfort Avenue
Louisville, KY 40206
Phone: (502) 895-2405
Fax: (502) 899-2284


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

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Possibilities Abound with Bookshare!

Bookshare is a national, nonprofit organization that maintains an online accessible library of copyrighted e-books for people with print disabilities. Through an award from the U.S. Department of Education, Office of Special Education Programs (OSEP), memberships are free for U.S. students with qualifying print disabilities and the schools serving them. Bookshare contains more than 325,000 titles, including educational materials, NIMAC-sourced textbooks, children’s books, bestsellers, newspapers and magazines. These materials are available in accessible formats such as DAISY, EPUB, BRF (Braille Ready Format), and MP3 that let students listen to words read aloud, follow along with word highlighting, and read in enlarged fonts or braille on a wide variety of reading tools such as computers, tablets, smartphones, assistive technology devices and more. Bookshare also offers free reading software to members.

Contact information:
480 S. California Ave.
Suite 201
Palo Alto, CA 94306
Phone: (650) 352-0198


Electronic version of a book.

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Print Disability

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

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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.

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Digital Accessible Information System (DAISY)

Technical standard for producing accessible and navigable multimedia documents.

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Distribution and interchange format standard for digital publications and documents.

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BRF (Digital Braille)

File type using Grade II Braille. May also be used with common Braille devices or printers.

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Learning Ally

Learning Ally Audiobooks in the Classroom: Helping Students Learn and Succeed

Learning Ally is a largely volunteer organization that provides an extensive accessible audio book library. Learning Ally serves qualifying individuals of all ages who cannot read or use standard print. Learning Ally’s collection of textbooks and literature titles are primarily digitally recorded human speech. Materials are downloadable and accessible on mainstream technology and e-readers as well as many assistive technology devices.

Contact information:
20 Roszel Road
Princeton, NJ 08540
Phone:(800) 221-4792
Fax: (609) 520-7990

AEM Guide to Accessible Media Producers: Summary Table of Services

The AEM Guide to AMPs: Summary Table of Services presents an overview of the services provided by each AMP to students who meet copyright criteria for specialized formats of printed materials. Review the table to determine if the AMP listed provides the types of services needed and use the links to get more detailed information on the AMPs’ web sites. You may also want to refer to the separate FAQ documents for each AMP listed above. Please note that services listed are those directly provided by the AMP; however, files obtained from the AMP may be converted into other specialized formats using other software and hardware solutions.

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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