NIMAS and the NIMAC are provisions in IDEA 2004, the special education law for elementary and secondary education.
For some students with disabilities, the text in instructional materials is a barrier to their participation in the general education curriculum. Some students may have visual disabilities that make it difficult for them to see the text. Other students may be unable to hold materials because of a physical disability. Still others may be unable to read or derive meaning from the text because of their disability-related needs. For these reasons, some students with disabilities need instructional materials that are converted into accessible formats in order to learn the same curriculum that is being taught to other students in the class.
In 2004, provisions were added to the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) to help improve the quality and delivery of accessible formats to students with disabilities who need such materials. Among these provisions, States were required to adopt NIMAS, which stands for the National Instructional Materials Accessibility Standard. NIMAS is a technical standard used by publishers to prepare “electronic files” that are used to convert instructional materials into accessible formats. The “electronic files” are known as NIMAS source files. The purpose of NIMAS is to help increase the availability and timely delivery of instructional materials in accessible formats for qualifying students in elementary and secondary schools.
AEM Center Notes
A student is eligible to receive accessible formats that have been developed from NIMAS files through the NIMAC if the student:
- Is receiving special education services under IDEA and
- Meets the definition of “eligible person” found in section 121 of the U.S. Copyright Act, also known as the Chafee Amendment
In addition, State educational agencies (SEAs) and local educational agencies (LEAs) were given the option to coordinate with the National Instructional Materials Access Center (NIMAC), a national center that stores NIMAS source files from publishers.
The NIMAC is operated by the American Printing House for the Blind (APH).
To date, all States have chosen to coordinate with the NIMAC. In carrying out the IDEA provisions pertaining to NIMAS, SEAs are required to work with the State agency responsible for assistive technology, to the maximum extent possible. Read the NIMAS FAQ for additional information.
Review the responsibilities regarding NIMAS for state and local education agencies.
Learn how to produce files that conform to the NIMAS standard.
Key changes to NIMAS and the NIMAC since IDEA 2004
Recent statutory changes had implications for the provisions in IDEA pertaining to the National Instructional Materials Accessibility Standard (NIMAS). These changes are incorporated into the information about NIMAS and the NIMAC on this page.
- In 2019, Congress updated the statute that authorizes the National Library Service (NLS) to administer the “free national library program for print-disabled individuals.” To provide consistency with the Marrakesh Treaty Implementation Act, the NLS statute was revised to include new terminology. In particular, the qualification language under the new term “eligible person” removed the requirement for certification by a medical doctor for those with reading disabilities. See NIMAS Terms Clarified Post Marrakesh.
- In 2020, the U.S. Department of Education issued a final Notice of Interpretation, clarifying that the definition of “print instructional materials” in IDEA now includes digital instructional materials. So moving forward, the NIMAC may accept digital instructional materials that conform to the NIMAS specification. See NIMAS and Digital Materials: May 2020 Notice of Interpretation.
More about NIMAS & NIMAC
Find the sections of IDEA 2004 that reference NIMAS.
Find answers to commonly asked question about the National Materials Accessibility Standard (NIMAS).
Learn about the changes to copyright law resulting from the Marrakesh Treaty Implementation Act.
Find answers to likely questions related to the May 2020 Notice of Interpretation on NIMAS and digital materials.